I'm afraid you have a problem coming your way in February. There are only twenty-eight days in the month but there are at least thirty science fiction, fantasy, and horror books that demand your attention. Here are the titles on tap...

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Imagine a tidally-locked planet where one side of the world always faces the sun and the other always faces away from it. One half is perpetually bathed in intense heat, and the other is endlessly frozen. That's the setting of The City in the Middle of the Night, where people live in cities located in the perpetual dusk. Sophie is a student who comes to realize that life in the cities is just as harsh as the wastelands when circumstances and a flirtation with revolution lead her down a path of monumental change.

Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

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Leveraging the popularity of the Netflix series Stranger Things, Suspicious Minds is the prequel story that fans have been waiting for. Set in 1969, the novel tells the story of Terry Ives, a restless college student who will eventually become the mother of the enigmatic character named Eleven. Terry starts down that course when she signs on as a test subject for a mysterious government experiment deep in the woods involving mind-altering substances.

The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois

The final capstone to a highly distinguished career, The Very Best of the Bestincludes highlights from three and a half decades of late editor Gardner Dozois's long-running science fiction anthology series. The series has always been about great stories, but it's also a testament to a lifelong love and dedication to short fiction. This must-have anthology features stories by Kage Baker, Stephen Baxter, Pat Cadigan, James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Kress, Yoon Ha Lee, Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, Alastair Reynolds and more.

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock

Take the age-old battle between angels and demons, place it in 1932 Spain and Germany, and you end up with the lyrical historical fantasy that is Where Oblivion Lives. Diago Alvarez, born of daimon and angel and therefore the embodiment of both light and darkness, aims to win the oncoming supernatural war and save humankind. To do so, he enlists Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who are able to harness the power of music and light.

Corax: Lord of Shadows by Guy Haley

In the massively imagined, far-future world of the Warhammer 40K universe, the Emperor of Mankind genetically-engineered twenty transhuman sons, called Primarchs, to unite the universe under his rule in a great Crusade. Corvus Corax is one of those Primarchs. As leader of the mighty Raven Guard soldiers, he is tasked with returning the one thousand space-cities of the Carinae under imperial rule. However, the lords of the Carinae are not ones to go willingly. Instead, they unleash a mighty bio-weapon from humanity's past that proves to be an overwhelming challenge even to the Raven Guard.

Black Wings Black Wings by Megan Hart

In this chilling horror novel, Marian is a mother who is concerned about her child, Briella, who has seemingly befriended a raven. Marian is unable to prevent Briella from interacting with the bird, which is an integral part of Briella's experiments with recreating personality and memory, and proving the existence of angels, souls, and the afterlife. When Marian becomes pregnant with her second child, Briella's odd behavior gets even worse. Marian is forced to confront the fact that Briella just might be evil.

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks

Swine Hill is a dying town populated by ghosts that inhabit the bodies of its residents. Jane's ghost has been with her since she was a child and tells her what the people around her are thinking and feeling, whether or not Jane wants to know. Jane's brother, Henry, is possessed by a "genius ghost" that forces him to build strange, dangerous machines. Their mother is home to a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. Now, this haunted family must contend with newcomers who are taking the last of the jobs, an economic trigger that enrages human and ghost alike.

The Ingenious by Darius Hinks

Some fantasies are known for their setting as much as their characters and stories. That seems like the case for The Ingenious, which takes place in the city of Athanor, which was set adrift in time and space by alchemists. Athanor's scariest alleyways is where Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles make their living through petty crimes. But Isten and her crew want nothing more than to leave Athanor and return to their faraway homes. Doing so might mean sparking a revolution.

Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg

The premise of this appealing fantasy is that humans play host to ancient spirits, regardless of whether they have given their consent. Sandis is one of these human vessels and at her master's command, she can be transformed into a monster under his control, sent out to do whatever he wants. To stay alive, Sandis must flee, trying to stay one step ahead of the man who sends monsters out to capture her. Her only ally is a thief who possesses a strange device that grants immortality for a single minute every day.

Black Leopard Red Wolf Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

James's novel combines myth, fantasy, and history into a spellbinding swords-and-sorcery epic tale about the search for a missing boy. That child has been missing for three years by the time Tracker is enlisted to help. Tracker is renowned for his hunting abilities and in particular his keen sense of smell, but he usually works alone. That's why his guard is up when he finds himself part of a search party for the missing child…never mind that they each have their own dark secrets, like the shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As they cross dangerous ancient cities and get closer to the boy, they encounter creatures determined to kill them.

For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

In this first book of a new fantasy adventure trilogy, the people of Darassus enjoy an uneasy peace thanks to the great sword that hangs in the hall of champions. The legendary sword keeps the Noar hordes at bay because legend says the king of the Naor hordes will die by that sword. When squire Elenai's aging mentor uncovers evidence that the sword is actually a forgery, she must flee Darassus. She teams up with Kyrkenall the archer to find the real sword, but along the way uncovers a conspiracy that leads all the way back to the Darassan queen.

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is an extended edition of Le Guin's 1985 classic, which is framed as an anthropologist's report of the survivors of an ecological catastrophe, depicts a post-apocalyptic California. Le Guin worked closely with Library of America before her passing to expand this already-ambitious novel. It includes new material like two "missing" chapters of the Kesh novel Dangerous People and a selection of Le Guin essays about the novel's genesis and goals.

The Raven Tower The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

In this new epic fantasy, the flourishing kingdom of Iraden is ruled by a powerful god known as the Raven. His will is enacted via a bird known as the Instrument to a human ruler (known as the Raven's Lease), who vows to sacrifice his own life when the Instrument dies. When the warrior Mawat, the Lease's heir, returns from battle with his loyal aide, Eolo, he discovers the previous Instrument is dead but the current Lease is still claiming to be the rightful ruler. Eolo aims to help Mawat claim his rightful place on the throne and, in doing so, uncovers a dark secret beneath the Raven's Tower that could change the order of the world.

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

When Kihrin, a thief and a minstrel's son who grew up in the slums, is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, he finds himself a pawn in his new family's ruthless power plays and political ambitions. Although raised on stories of the hero who saves the world, Kihrin comes to realize that he may actually be the one who destroys it. The first of a projected five-book series, The Ruin of Kings recounts an intricate tale of magic and deception told largely through a dialogue between a shape-shifting assassin/jailor named Talon and Khirin, her prisoner.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

In this thought-provoking novel, time travel was invented in 1967 by four women scientists. When their time machine is to be announced, one of them (Barbara), suffers a breakdown and is removed from the project and effectively from her historic contribution. In 2017, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows, despite the lack of information, that her beloved grandmother was one of its pioneers. Then Ruby receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from 2018 indicating that someone who might be her grandmother was the victim of murder. Ruby becomes obsessed with stopping the murder.

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

If you like a little romance with your science fiction, this fast-moving adventure should do the trick. Ada von Hasenberg is a princess in one of the three ruling houses. She has a bounty on her head because she's on the run after skipping out on her arranged marriage to a prince from a rival house. The story begins two years after she ran out, unfortunately captured by space mercenaries. She is thrown in with an infamous outlaw soldier named Loch. Ada and Loch are forced to form an uneasy alliance to escape the mercenaries, avoid a spurned space prince who is hot on their tail, and try to prevent political upheaval.

All Roads End Here by David Moody

Set in the world of Moody's terrific, page-turning Hater series—where much of the population is subject to violent fits of murderous rage against the unaffected—non-Hater Matthew Dunne braves the dangerous countryside to return home. There, he finds that it's become a walled-off refugee camp. Matt possesses an ability to anticipate and predict Hater behavior, which puts him in the middle of danger.

Fleet of Knives by Gareth L. Powell

In the enjoyable space opera Embers of War, a sentient warship named Troubled Dog, distressed for her violent role in the just-ended war, joins the House of Reclamation, an organization dedicated to rescuing ships in distress. In the sequel Fleet of Knives, the ragtag crew of Troubled Dog investigates a distress call from a human starship named Lucy's Ghost. The crew of Lucy's Ghost are forced to abandon their ship, seeking refuge on a millennia-old alien ship that holds dark secrets and endless danger. Now, Troubled Dog and her crew must rescue them from the alien ship.

Priory of the Orange Tree The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

In the massive epic fantasy, women from three corners of the world set about to make sure the nameless one—the leader of dangerous fire-breathing dragons set on destroying all humans—remains trapped: Queen Sabran of the Ninth of Virtudom, a pious society that considers all dragons evil; Ead Duryan of the South, where a hidden society of female mages called the Priory worship the Mother; and Tané of the East, a dragonrider from a land where non-fire-breathing dragons are worshipped as gods. Together, they must fight the forces of that would unleash chaos on the world.

SHORT FICTION

In addition to The Very Best of the Best noted above, seek out these other worthwhile short fiction anthologies, collections and novellas:

 

  • Sunspot Jungle: The Ever Expanding Universe of Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Bill Campbell
  • Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
  • Death & Honey by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen, and Chuck Wendig
  • The Mammoth Book of Nightmare Stories: Twisted Tales Not to Be Read at Night! edited by Stephen Jones
  • The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • A People's Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle & John Joseph Adams
  • Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation edited and translated by Ken Liu
  • Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore
  • The Outcast Hours edited by Mahvesh Murad Jared Shurin
  • The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
  • More Walls Broken by Tim Powers

 

Happy reading!

John DeNardo is the founding editor of  SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.