Printable Drugs, Dragons, and Gifted Girls: Spring’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Printable Drugs, Dragons, and Gifted Girls: Spring’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy

This spring’s most anticipated sci-fi and fantasy adventures are a mix of beloved authors getting us all revved up about their new books, and breathtakingly cool ideas from less familiar faces. (We’ll give you a hint: Dangerous futuristic animal parks and print-your-own drugs.) Will McIntosh switches from dating to veterans with Defenders, while Marie Brennan indulges our love of dragons with The Tropic of Serpents, and Jim Butcher drops Harry Dresden into even more trouble. Brandon Sandersoncontinues his new series with Words of Radiance, while Trudi Canavan kicks off a new series with Thief’s Magic. And of course, we have to include Joss Whedon’s new favorite… Read on for the spring releases you’ll want to pre-order immediately.

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    1. The Girl With All the Gifts

    M.R. Carey (you might also know him as The Unwritten creator Mike Carey) has written a zombie book where, in his words, “we don’t use the z word even once.” You know what z word Carey’s new novel does bring to mind? Buzz. After Joss Whedon tweeted his praise in January, even more readers were dying to meet Melanie, the eponymous infected girl who’s part monster and who struggles to control her deadly instincts.

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    2. Defenders

    The man who brought us a scarily prescient vision of futuristic online datingin Love Minus Eighty cleverly turns the archetypal veteran’s “coming home” story on its ear: When aliens invade, humans create 17-foot-tall “defenders,” genetically-engineered soldiers. But when they win peace for mankind, what happens to the millions of soldiers who have no way to integrate into society? Defenders, which started out as a short story inLightspeed Magazine, has already been optioned for film.

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    3. Words of Radiance

    Having wrapped up Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series, Brandon Sanderson is free to start his own decade-spanning epic—which he began in 2010 with his new series, The Stormlight Archive. The first book, The Way of Kings, introduced us to the world of Roshar, whose surface is ravaged by deadly hurricanes and whose races (the humans and the humanoid Parshendi) are at war. In the sequel, military slave-turned-Knight Radiant Kaladin leads his newfound armies into the Shattered Plains to do battle with the Parshendi. But the real focus of the second book is Shallan, a troubled young student searching for a mythical city.

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    4. Peacemaker

    You know what kind of occupation we haven’t seen in sci-fi lately? Park ranger. Virgin Johnson runs Birrimun Park, the world’s last natural landscape. It used to be that the park’s biggest problem was the megacity overshadowing it, but once an imaginary animal from Virgin’s past—not to mention some dead bodies—start cropping up, she reluctantly must team up with cowboy Nate Sixkiller to figure out what troubles lurk in the endangered wilds of nature. This premise, plus the buzz around the book, makes it a must-read for spring.

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    5. Skin Game

    Fans of Chicago’s only wizard detective Harry Dresden will enjoy the latest installment of Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files series, which sees Harry in his new job as Winter Knight to Queen Mab herself. Even worse, he has to team up with his archnemesis. To steal the Holy Grail. From Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Yeah, Harry’s life has gotten even more complicated.

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    6. Afterparty

    Daryl Gregory‘s violent new novel jumps five minutes into the future, where any teenager with an Internet connection and the right kind of printer can print out drug recipes—or invent new ones. Lest you think this is just a retread of Requiem for a Dream, however, consider this: A new mind-altering drug called Numinous becomes the sacrament for a church preying on lower-class folks looking for reason. And that’s when the murders and cover-ups start. For anyone who’s captivated and/or terrified by the trend toward printing 3-D anything, this is your must-read.

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    7. Raising Steam

    The latest installment in Terry Pratchett‘s acclaimed Discworld series introduces a mighty steampunk machine that utilizes earth, air, wind, and fire for power… but has no owner. Enter Post Office and Royal Bank Master Moist von Lipwig, who is used to exerting his greatest effort in oratory, and not over a clanging, greasy, monstrous machine. This odd-couple duo must fend off Dwarfish terrorists while building a railroad in the 40th Discworld adventure.

  8. 8. Thief’s Magic

    Trudi Canavan‘s new epic fantasy series envisions a world where the industrial revolution is powered by magic, and a soul trapped in a book who holds the secrets to a coming disaster. We’re suckers for sentient objects—see last year’s runaway hit (and Nebula nominee!) Ancillary Justice, about a starship-turned-fragile-human—so we’re excited to see where Canavan takes this concept. Plus, the commentary on magic being such a cornerstone of society can’t be beat.

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    9. The Burning Dark

    The anticipated second book from Adam Christopher combines some of our favorite facets of space stories: A human with robot parts with perhaps the most American name (Abraham Idaho Cleveland); a decommissioned space station; and a mysterious female voice over radio wave from a thousand lightyears—and maybe many actual years—away. We will happily follow this book—blurbed as “a widescreen Hollywood spectacular in novel form”—into the dark.

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    10. The Tropic of Serpents

    Those of you who were pleasantly surprised by Marie Brennan‘s 2013 novel A Natural History of Dragons will be excited to reunite with Lady Trent in her next magical memoir. In volume two of her journey toward becoming the most renowned dragon naturalist, young Isabella embarks on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga. Her journeys into the foreboding (and forbidden) jungle known as the “Green Hell” will bring her closer to all manner of draconian species. Brennan’s background in anthropology, archaeology, and folklore cements The Tropic of Serpents one of this year’s must-reads.

Natalie Zutter
Seeing as Natalie spent her childhood reading Star Wars and Tamora Pierce novels, she’s used to being the token geek at anything from celebrity websites to book websites. (Though she’s also a recent romance convert!) A graduate of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she stages plays about superheroes, sex robots, and Internet fandom in her spare time. As a pop culture blogger, she has written for, Crushable, Quirk Books, BlackBook, and other outlets.


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