Readers, get ready to spring forward with this season’s crop of science fiction and fantasy releases. Fan-favorite Seanan McGuire returns with her latest stand-alone fantasy. Meanwhile, Rebecca Roanhorse and Tessa Gratton are back with the second installments in their respective series, and debut authors Arkady Martine and Caitlin Starling are hitting the ground running. This spring’s must-read sci-fi and fantasy novels are filled with intrigue and time-hopping, magic and mystery, and politics and war.
Set in the dark era of the Spanish Inquisition, The Bird King follows Fatima, a 17-year-old concubine in the court of Al Andalus in Granada, and her friend Hassan, a mapmaker with the magical ability to map brand new worlds. When a visitor notes Hassan’s abilities, Fatima and Hassan must escape the palace. The pair travels across Spain aided by a jinn named Vikram, encountering obstacles and setbacks on their way to find the legendary Bird King. Author G. Willow Wilson wows with her second novel. In a starred review Kirkus called The Bird King “A thoughtful and beautiful balance between the real and the fantastic.”
On shelves: March 12
Cursed sisters Muna and Sakti are new to Zen Cho’s Sorcerer series and at the center of the action of this second installment. They wake up with amnesia on Janda Baik, an island where witches live. There, they meet the witch Mak Genggang who will protect, but only to a point. The sisters have three big unanswered questions: Who put the curse on them, why is Sakti disappearing, and how can Muna save her? To find answers and save her sister, Muna must travel to the Sorceress Royal’s academy in England.
On shelves: March 12
Last year Tade Thompson introduced readers to the Nigerian city of Rosewater and its strange relationship with an alien known as Wormwood. Insurrection picks up in 2067. Rosewater is now a free state run by Mayor Jack Jacques. The city is thriving thanks to its connection to Wormwood, an alien that plans on replacing humanity, but in the meantime offers its gifts of healing, electricity, and more to Rosewater and its citizens. Wormwood’s replacement plan seems to be taking effect when Alyssa Sutcliffe wakes up without any memories and with DNA replaced with alien matter. Government worker Animat is tasked with finding Alyssa, but she isn’t the only one hunting for her. We recommend picking up Rosewater before diving into this thrilling sequel!
On shelves: March 12
This military science fiction novel introduces readers to Dietz, an infantry recruit whose city was destroyed by Martians. As a soldier in the war against Mars, Dietz’s body breaks down into light to allow her to travel through time and space and drop into warzones. It’s well known that some recruits handle the process better than others. But Dietz’s drops are different. She finds herself in the wrong place and time over and over again. She begins to question whether she’s the one out of sync or if the war and the enemy are not what she thought they were.
On shelves: March 19
A new ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire, Mahit Dzmare is quickly thrown off balance when she discovers that Yskandr, the previous person to hold the ambassadorship, is dead. The circumstances of his death are somewhat mysterious, and this doesn’t give Mahit a great feeling. Mahit must use her understanding of Teixcalaanli culture in order to adapt as quickly as possible while she searches for clues about what happened to Yskandr and protect herself from sharing his fate. Debut author Arkady Martine dazzles readers with this political space opera. As a pre-release treat, she even shared her favorite books about government with us!
On shelves: March 26
Prepare to go underground in Caitlin Starling’s debut sci-fi thriller, which takes place on a sparsely populated planet with few resources. In order to go looking for her mother, Gyre Price needs cash—and fast. Out of desperation, she lies her way into a job she’s unqualified for: mapping mineral deposits. Gyre believes the job will be simple. What she doesn’t account for is that her above-ground boss Em knows the truth about Gyre’s credentials and is prepared to use that knowledge against her. The deeper Gyre descends, the more dangerous her surroundings become. Along the way, she begins to believe that she isn’t alone in the caves after all. Or is it just her mind playing tricks on her?
On shelves: April 2
Rebecca Roanhorse and her characters are back with the second book in the Sixth World series. Monster hunter Maggie Hoskie lives in the protected land of Dinétah, but in this installment she must venture into the drowned world known as Big Water. Her mission is to save her beloved Kai Arviso, a medicine man who Maggie believes has been kidnapped by a cult led by White Locust. Maggie’s not alone in her search. Joining her are Rissa (who readers will remember from the first book) and a new character named Ben. These three young women join together to fight the cult, rescue Kai, and, ultimately, save Dinétah.
On shelves: April 23
In 2018, Tessa Gratton wowed readers with her nod to Shakespeare’s King Lear in adult fantasy novel The Queens of Innis Lear. Gratton returns to the island Innis Lear with Lady Hotspur, inspired by Henry IV. Hundreds of years have passed since the events of the first book, but the drama in Innis Lear lives on. Hal believed she was destined to protect Banna, the future queen of Aremoria. But after a rebellion led by Hal’s mother, Hal finds herself on the throne and Banna takes refuge in Innis Lear. As Hal struggles to make peace with the choices that led her to the throne, including betraying her lover Lady Hotspur, Banna searches for a way to regain what she lost and make all who took it from her pay dearly.
On shelves: April 30
Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu
Originally published in China in 2013, Chen Qiufan’s environmental sci-fi novel is resurrected for a new audience through Ken Liu’s thoughtful translation. Waste Tide is set in a near-future dystopian China and focuses on Silicon Isle, a dumping ground for electronic waste off the country’s southeastern coast. This is the story of the people who sort through the detritus in hopes of striking it rich. Those inhabitants include Luo Jincheng, the head of a powerful clan; Chen Kaizong, a Chinese-American interpreter in search of his roots; American Scott Brandle, who hopes to help the corporation he works for cash in on Silicon Isle; and Mimi, a waste girl on the lowest rung of the Silicon Isle society. When cargo arrives infected with a dangerous virus, it sparks a rebellion that could change everything.
On shelves: April 30
Fans of award-winning author Seanan McGuire will delight at her latest modern fantasy novel, Middlegame. Alchemist James Reed plans to live forever. He’s worked tirelessly to find a way to give himself all of the powers of a god, and he believes he’s close to succeeding. Part of his plan involves Roger and Dodger, twins separated at birth and created in Reed’s lab. For Reed’s plan to succeed, the twins must remain unaware of his goals and stay apart to grow into their designed abilities—Dodger is a mathematical genius, while Roger is a language prodigy. But despite Reed’s best attempts, Dodger and Reed find themselves drawn to each other time and time again. If they team up, they could ruin Reed’s plans and, perhaps, take over the world.
On shelves: May 7