Maybe it’s Halloween around the corner, but we feel as though the fall makes for the perfect time to read science fiction and fantasy. This season brings a host of reads featuring ghosts, vampires, and dystopian worlds frightening enough to have us ducking under the covers. Favorite authors such as William Gibson and Anne Rice return after years-long absences to delight us with new reads, while Kim Harrison bids an exciting adieu to her bestselling Hollows series. Whether you are in need of a trip to outer space or merely need to escape to a familiar-but-different world, our fall preview has the books to satisfy your every craving.
Lizzie Borden took an axe…
You may know Cherie Priest from her Nebula-nominated Boneshaker, though her latest leaves the steampunk behind and instead combines Lovecraftian elements with American true crime. Lizzie Borden (subject of creepy nursery rhymes and Lifetime movies alike) was acquitted of the violent axe murders of her father and stepmother, but never was able to shake her community’s conviction of her guilt. In Maplecroft, Priest turns Borden into a brilliant and badass heroine hell-bent on finding out more about whatever it was that took over her father and stepmother and transformed them into dangerous creatures.
On shelves: September 2
Manhattanites with bite
Melissa de la Cruz has us wrapped around her magical finger, meaning that we’ll happily make time in-between watching (and rewatching) episodes of Lifetime’s Witches of East End to pick up her latest paranormal novel. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we’re already in love with the characters. Older, more charming, and more dangerous, Vampires of Manhattan is set about ten years after the final book in Cruz’s Blue Bloods series and mixes a host of new characters with fan favorites like Mimi, Oliver, and more. Oliver takes center stage, fleeing from vampire secret police set on having him killed after his human lover is found murdered. He’s running out of time to find the truth and clear his name before his Coven’s hard-earned peace crumbles.
On shelves: September 9
I put a spell on you
Rachel Morgan has saved the world, but the fight isn’t over yet. In the final installment of the New York Times bestselling Hollows series, our favorite witch/day-walking demon is back and doing everything she can to bring together the elf and demon races that seem determined to remain divided. Titled The Witch with No Name, an allusion to the Spaghetti Western Dollars trilogy, Kim Harrison delivers a dramatic finish to her 13-book series and we’re sure fans can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.
On shelves: September 9
The things that keep us up at night
Lauren Oliver, best known for YA novels Delirium and Before I Fall, makes her adult debut with Rooms. After Richard Walker’s death, his family must clean out his country home. They expect to be haunted by his lingering memory, not by the ghosts trapped within the walls. Unable to communicate, the house translates what the ghosts cannot say through flickering bulbs and bumps in the night. It isn’t until the arrival of a new spirit that the living and the dead meet head-on and tightly wound secrets begin to unravel.
On shelves: September 23
The needs of the many
Ann Leckie’s 2013 space opera has won a Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus, and Arthur C. Clarke award—not too shabby for a debut novel! Those who hadn’t picked up the first of the trilogy are surely scrambling to do so now that the second title is set to be released. Certain to pull in fans new and old, Ancillary Sword picks up where Ancillary Justice left off with Breq in command of the Mercy of Kalr and heading to Athoek Station, where injustice threatens peaceful existence and begins attracting the attention of alien undesirables.
On shelves: October 7
Nothing happens in contradiction to nature
Our minds ran wild with ideas when we found out that Agent Scully was going to be collaborating with author Jeff Rovin on a sci-fi thriller, and now that it’s almost here, we can barely contain our excitement. Gillian Anderson admitted that after years of starring in The X-Files, she has internalized the rhythm for “living in a semi-science-fictional universe.” Using those years of experience, she’s crafted A Vision of Fire, an exhilarating ride where a child psychologist has to race against the clock to uncover the mystery of why teenagers around the globe are being overcome by violent and deadly bouts of self-harm. Add in a world on the brink of nuclear war and you have a promising start to Scully’s first series.
On shelves: October 7
Dream a little dream
A literary fantasy, Jonathan Carroll’s Bathing the Lion is already garnering praise from authors such as Neil Gaiman—who called it a “brain-smooshing work,” in the best of ways, we’re assured. Five seemingly ordinary individuals turn in for the night in their shared New England town, and when they wake up, they remember impossible things. After sharing the same dream, they recall their forgotten lives as “mechanics,” the nonhuman fixers of the universe, picking up the pieces that Chaos scatters. They had all retired, with memories of their past lives removed, though the dream signals a call back to the old ways… but why? What does Chaos have planned? Ideal for fans of magical realism, this understated novel will leave readers with powerful ideas about the value of life and their role in the universe.
On shelves: October 21
Hell’s bells ringing
After 11 years of nothing, which feels like an eternity to us mere mortals, there is finally cause for celebration: the Brat Prince is back! Earlier this year Anne Rice announced she would be writing a new Vampire Chronicles novel and simultaneously made all of our vampire fantasies come true when she revealed that it would be about the charming and introspective Lestat de Lioncourt. A sequel to Rice’s 1988 The Queen of the Damned, Prince Lestatpicks up with ancient vampires being compelled by a Voice to burn vampire-mavericks. A few new faces, plus plenty of familiar friends, ensure that Rice fans will be please. Ugh, just take our blood now! Er… money, we mean take our money now.
On shelves: October 28
English-speaking readers finally have the opportunity to bask in the genius of China’s most prolific science fiction writer: Liu Cixin. Set during the height of Chairman Mao’s Chinese rule, an undercover military group has been sending signals into space, hoping for contact with alien life. When an alien colony—with problems of its own—receives the transmission, they decide to leave their desolate planet and claim Earth as their own. Compared with the likes of Dune, Cixin’s novel is both epic and extraordinary in its execution.
On shelves: November 11
Anne Rice isn’t the only author making a comeback. William Gibson returns this fall with his first novel since Zero History. In his latest sci-fi adventure, the father of cyberpunk introduces readers to siblings Flynne and Burton. One night, Burton asks his sister to cover a job for him, and for the right price in a bad economy, Flynne is ready to try just about anything. It’s game testing and seems simple enough: Guard the perimeter of a tower building. But the more she plays, the more Flynne realizes that the game isn’t at all what it seems.
On shelves: November 25