To Infinity and Beyond: Fall 2016’s Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

To Infinity and Beyond: Fall 2016’s Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Want to take a trip this fall? Let us be your travel agent. For readers who want to journey to the Pacific Ocean, the legendary Peter S. Beagle has a fantastical tale set near the Puget Sound. Those who want to explore international writers will not want to miss Ken Liu’s collection of Chinese science fiction. Readers seeking a romantic getaway should check out Connie Willisnovel about technology-induced empathy, while those who prefer something more adventurous can indulge in Mira Grant’s zombie universe. The possibilities are endless, and there’s no need to even check a bag. Just sit back, relax, and pick your next adventure.


Bloom and grow

The Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle is back with a fantastical reimagining of the legend of Persephone. Abe Aronson lives on one of the islands in the Puget Sound, and his lover Joanna Delvecchio lives in Seattle with her daughter Lily, visiting him when she can. Their lives have settled into quiet and familiar patterns with few surprises. When they meet Lioness Lazos, a new waitress on the island, they’re captivated by her beauty and the mystical aura that seems to surround her. Abe invites her to take up residence in his garage until she finds another place to live, and from that moment on, his life with Joanna changes forever. With Lioness around, longtime dreams are more alluring than ever before and they all feel in reach. Despite her fear of the sea, Joanna takes up kayaking. Abe joins a jazz band. The summer stretches on, but it can’t last forever. The changing of seasons brings a secret from Lioness’ past that will disrupt the fragile happiness her presence brought to the island.

On shelves: September 6


Utopia on Earth

Nisi Shawl, best known for her short stories, takes readers deep into Africa in this reimagining of the Belgian colonization of the Congo. African-American missionary and Civil War veteran Thomas Jefferson Wilson has dedicated his life to helping former slaves return to Africa and begin anew. With the help of Great Britain’s Fabian Society, a group that hopes to create a utopia, he purchases land in the Congo from King Leopold II of Belgium. The land becomes Everfair, a safe place for escaped slaves and any who wish to escape King Leopold II’s savage reign. Shawl blends steam technology into this new world, giving readers an incredibly original alternate history steampunk novel.

On shelves: September 6

Women of Futures Past

Look at where we are, look at where we started

If you’re looking for high quality fiction, but aren’t in the mood to read an entire novel (or simply want a quick fix for your SFF addiction), this is the book you’re looking for. Compiled by author and editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch, this collection features short stories by some of the greats: Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Ursula K. Le Guin. These are writers who have shaped the SFF genres and subgenres over the years in ways that readers will instantly recognize when flipping through these pages. There’s certainly something for everyone here: adventurous tales, space operas, time travel, aliens, and post-apocalyptic prophecies. Veteran fans of the genre and new readers alike won’t want to miss this collection.

On shelves: September 6


The Queen of Blood

All hail the Queen

Sarah Beth Durst’s new epic fantasy series takes place in a land where everything in nature has a spirit: the trees, the water, the wind. But these spirits don’t want to live in harmony with humans; they want to cleanse the world of them. It’s the job of the Queen to keep the spirits at bay so that humans can remain safe. The Queen is in constant danger, so young women are chosen to train to be her replacement at a moment’s notice. One such trainee is Daleina. She never imagined herself as Queen until she frightens away a group of spirits who were destroying a village. Unsure how to manage her powers, Daleina begins training with Ven, the current queen’s former lover. They don’t have much time to spare. The Queen is losing her powers and the vengeful spirits are poised to attack the moment humans are vulnerable. Readers will leave this dark and violent tale itching for the next installment.

On shelves: September 20

Death’s End

We don’t come in peace

Cixin Liu is China’s most popular science fiction author, and he’s been taking America by storm with his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. The third and final book in this space opera series is hitting shelves this fall, giving readers the thrilling conclusion they’ve been waiting for. Earthlings and the alien Trisolarans are enjoying a fragile peace and learning to coexist. But the threat of invasion and destruction hasn’t passed just yet. When aerospace engineer Cheng Xin awakens from hibernation, she is given the key to Earth’s defense. Can one woman prevent the destruction of humanity and hold off an entire alien fleet? You’ll just have to read and see.

On shelves: September 20

A Night Without Stars

Darkest before the dawn

Peter F. Hamilton wraps up his Chronicle of the Fallers duology with A Night Without Stars. The planet Bienvenido escaped the Void and is once again in regular space. But their struggle isn’t over yet. Humans are fighting to save the planet from Fallers, and they’re stranded too far from the Commonwealth to even hope for backup. The only hope for the people of Bienvenido is Warrior Angel, a resistance leader armed with forbidden technology. As she tries to hold the enemies off, a child is discovered, a child that could spell the planet’s salvation. Kirkus says it best: This novel is “[a]n atomic blast of a yarn. Hamilton in peak form and absolutely not to be missed.”

On shelves: September 27



A gift and a curse

On the morning of her 13th birthday, Lily gives her father a good morning kiss and receives a vision of his death in return. It’s an unwanted and horrifying gift, and one that her mother believes they can profit from. When her father dies, exactly as Lily saw it, her mother takes Lily from the village they called home and sells her talents to an evangelical preacher. Kirkus says that Lily’s journey is “nearly impossible to stop reading,” and we think you’ll agree. The entire novel is also peppered with captivating macabre illustrations by Staven Andersen. Fairy tale lovers won’t want to miss Michael Thomas Ford’s strange and mystical tale.

On shelves: October 1



All the candidate’s bloggers

Mira Grant’s engrossing Newsflesh series takes readers to a version of America where the zombie apocalypse seems inevitable. The first book, Feed, followed the Mason siblings as they blogged about the presidential election occurring during a zombie outbreak. Feedback takes place at the same time and follows bloggers focusing on the 2040 Democratic candidate, Susan Kilburn. Our guides through the tale are Ash North, her green-card husband Benjamin, her girlfriend Audrey, and Mat, a gender-fluid makeup blogger. Together they uncover a deadly plot to manipulate the American people and control the election. When the bloggers are discovered, they become the next targets for assassination.

On shelves: October 4


Love in a hopeless place

In a semi-distant future, doctors have created a procedure to grow the empathy between romantic partners. When Briddey Flannigan’s boyfriend suggests they undergo the operation, she’s ecstatic and sees it as a hopelessly sweet gesture. If all goes well, a proposal might be around the corner for the happy couple. But something goes wrong, and she winds up telepathically connected with her coworker C.B. Schwartz instead. Connie Willis’ first novel since 2010 is a hilarious and thought-provoking look at love, privacy, and human connection.

On shelves: October 4

Invisible Planets

International intergalactic tales

Author and translator Ken Liu is on a mission to bring Chinese science fiction to English readers, and this stunning anthology proves he’s bound to succeed. He’s already introduced us to the great Cixin Liu (whose final volume in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy is featured above), and in this collection, he’s compiled and translated 13 of the best works of Chinese science fiction. It’s no surprise that Cixin Liu makes an appearance, alongside authors Ma Boyong, Xia Jia, and Hao Jingfang. Readers who are unfamiliar with the authors featured will find that name recognition doesn’t matter when the stories themselves shine as brightly as these do. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it as “superb compilation,” and we consider it to be essential reading for fans of the genre.

On shelves: November 1



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