Eager for tales of artificial intelligence and menacing robots? Itching to dive into the world of space simulation and bipedal dragons? We’ve got you covered. This spring is delivering a fantastic crop of sci-fi and fantasy books, including titles from favorites Cory Doctorow and Sylvain Neuvel. Not to mention that fans of Marie Brennan will be delighted to get their hands on the final book in her Memoirs of Lady Trent series. Meanwhile, readers looking for a brand new adventure will have to decide whether to pick up a tale of Appalachian magic or one of a family curse first. There are ten books on this list, so you’d better start reading because summer beach reads are right around the corner.
Love stinks. Yeah. Yeah.
As a Villarca, Iris, the protagonist of Catriona Ward’s The Girl from Rawblood, is marked with the knowledge that to love and wed means awakening the deadly curse which has marked her family for centuries. Though Iris vows to her father that she will remain cloistered in their mansion, she finds her promise impossible to uphold, when, at age 15, she finds love. With a nod to the Gothic novels of old, the narrative travels back in time and from England to Italy, in order to bring to life this haunting, mysterious tale.
On shelves: March 7
We are family
Appalachian magic, emperors, wizard-priests, and dragoons populate the world of D.J. Butler’s Witchy Eye, where 15-year-old Sarah Calhoun is on a quest that might just mean the end of her family. Even though she would prefer to be left alone and forgo her skill for hexing, after a thwarted kidnapping attempt, she learns of her heritage and seeks to claim it. This is a must-read, according to the starred review in Publisher’s Weekly: “Sarah is the epitome of the downtrodden hero who refuses to give up until she gets what she needs, and her story will appeal to fantasy readers of all stripes.”
On shelves: March 7
Some people call me the space cowboy
Exploration is never easy. The explorer is out at the edges of the Earth, away from all that is loved and known, making it a lonely and sometimes terrifying pursuit. Even simulated exploration can stretch one beyond one’s limits. It is at those limits that you find Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, within which three astronauts vie for a place on the first exploration to Mars. By engaging in a 17-month simulation, the astronauts are tested nearly beyond their personal breaking points. According to the Kirkus review, “Although the contours of a space drama may seem familiar to a 21st-century readership, Howrey, through the poetry of her writing and the richness of her characters, makes it all seem new.”
On shelves: March 14
Go with the Flow
Within the pages of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (author of the Old Man’s War series) civilizations are connected by an ever-shifting network called The Flow. During some shifts, entire worlds have been isolated from the rest of humanity. When The Flow begins to shift in an entirely new and terrifying way which threatens to separate all of the worlds from one another forever, a scientist, starship captain, and empress band together to find a way to change this dangerous course and save their empire, and ultimately, mankind itself.
On shelves: March 21
There’s a bad moon on the rise
Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon, the sequel to Luna: New Moon, follows the surviving family members 18 months after the fall of Corta Helio, which was one of five family corporations that ruled the moon. At the center of the narrative are Lucas, who sets out on a journey in search of allies, Lucasinho who redeems himself through an act of bravery, as well as several other survivors. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly promises, “Fans of the first volume will love this one and eagerly look forward to the next.”
On shelves: March 28
What’s a god to a nonbeliever?
In Waking Gods, book two of the Themis Files and sequel to Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel once again bends genres and examines the lines of human and alien contact. Physicist Rose Franklin and the Earth Defense Corps are dedicated to studying the unearthed colossal, humanesque robot. But for Rose the quest is personal: When she was a child, she found the enormous metallic hand that led to the discovery. Now, a second robot has entered the world, bringing with it destruction and fear. But this is only the beginning, as more machines rain down upon Earth, and Rose and her team race against time to save humanity.
On shelves: April 4
Born(e) to be wild
Borne, title character in Jeff Vandermeer’s latest, is difficult to discern. Professional scavenger Rachel finds Borne trapped in the fur of an enormous tyrannical bear which roamed through the Company, a biotech firm, until breaking free and causing fear in the nearby city. Rachel is troubled by Borne, but she is also clearly intrigued by Borne’s origins. Against her best judgment, Rachel feels drawn to Borne, which is something she heartily resents, as caring is a weakness. In fact, Borne reminds her of her island home, which was covered over by rising sea levels. In convincing her lover, Wick, not to render Borne into material for his salable drugs, Rachel opens herself up to the discovery that she might, indeed, be sleeping with the enemy.
On shelves: April 25
Do the walk of life
Hubert, Etc. is an everyman of the new world order in which the rich have gotten richer and everyone else has given up on aspirational thinking. In Cory Doctorow’s latest adult novel, Walkaway, the reality is that one need not live within a society at all because basic necessities are easily met by pressing “print” and creating what you need. On the surface, this world seems ideal, even to those who are not wealthy. But once Hubert and his ragtag crew find a way to preserve consciousness online, everything is set off kilter, suggesting that maybe knowledge truly is power.
On shelves: April 25
She sells sanctuary
Marie Brennan’s Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the fifth and final book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, which spans nearly five decades. Though much is now known of Lady Trent, there is clearly more to learn about this explorer and dragon expert. Here, Lady Trent’s legendary adventure in search of a new type of dragon is revealed, as she journeys through enemy territory where she discovers what appear to be the remains of a Draconean god. Only then does her final adventure to the Sanctuary of Wings begin.
On shelves: April 25
Turn on your heart light
Radiate, the third book in C.A. Higgins’ Lightless series, is a genre-bending fusion of science fiction, drama, and suspense, following sentient AI, Ananke, on her quest to understand her creators and, in the process, maybe even find love. Accompanied by her mother-figure, Althea, Ananke is in search of the the programmer who brought her to life, Matthew. Unbeknownst to her, he is on a quest of his own. The three of them race toward a conclusion that promises to produce as big a bang as creation itself.
On shelves: May 23