There are lots of wonder-filled science fiction and fantasy books releasing this month. Here's a sampling of some of the best of them to get you on your reading way.


23 Years on Fire by Joel Shepherd

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Cassandra Kresnov, a highly advanced hunter-killer android, sets her sights on a rogue government who aims to take away the free will of its people.

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WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov novels include all the kick-butt action and swift-moving plotlines that reader's eat like candy. Oh, and did I mention Kresnov is a highly advanced hunter-killer android? I did? Well, that's because it's worth mentioning twice.


All Is Fair by Emma Newman

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Young love in dueling families that exist in the land between magic and reality.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Newman's complex magical world is as inventive as it is charming, and this latest "Split Worlds" story contains deceit, deception and intrigue in all the right places.


Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In turn-of-the-century San Francisco, a wealthy young woman discovers that she not only can speak with ghosts, but also that she is in a unique position to help them.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Although this is her debut novel, Moyer seems to tap into readers' desire for a great hook, and she's got one here: Her protagonist is enlisted by a ghost to find a serial killer.


Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In this sequel to The Shining, a now middle-aged Dan Torrance confronts a tribe of murderous paranormals who feed off people who possess the "shining" ability.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: What part of "sequel to The Shining" do you not understand?


MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In a postapocalyptic world brought about a plague caused by greedy corporations dabbling in genetic engineering, the last two humans deal with issues of equality and love.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: In this conclusion to Atwood's dystopian trilogy (following Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood), the characters—including Adam, who seem more cult leader than self-proclaimed messiah—are so endearing and realistic, you will forget that their gene-splicing origins mean they're not human. And Atwood's astute, satirical delivery means readers will have food for thought long after the book ends.



On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The beginnings of mankind's travel through the universe, focused on a generation ship built into an asteroid hurtling through space and faced with a problem of how to stop.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This continuing story of Poseidon's Children promises mind-expanding imagination and adventure. 


Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A young man's journey to adulthood as a shaman’s apprentice set in the Ice Age.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Robinson is a diverse writer that you should be familiar with; he writes all sorts of stories spread all over the genre map, but this one is more accessible than most.


Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A story of revenge and retribution set 10 years after a mysterious event divided humans into those that were granted extraordinary powers (called "Epics") and those that were subject to their subsequent quest for power.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Everyone loves a good revenge story, and this book will have you rooting for David, an ordinary young man, who seeks revenge on the Epic known as Steelheart, who killed his father. David seeks help from a group of ordinary humans known as the Reckoners who are bent on studying and destroying the Epics.

Woken Gods

The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A ragtag team of scouts, immune to the plague that ended civilization as we know it, attempt to uncover the secret behind the artifacts left behind by mysterious aliens. 

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Because if you love popcorn books, you've already read the first two books in Dire Earth Cycle (The Darwin Elevator and The Exodus Towers) and don't want to miss the exciting conclusion to a fun, fast-moving action trilogy.


The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In a world where the gods of ancient mythology are real, a teenage girl finds herself caught in a conspiracy surrounding a mysterious relic that could mean the end of the world

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: It transforms mythology from a boring school subject into a tangible, engaging story.


Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Baseball-playing kids investigate the zombie apocalypse.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Despite the traditionally horrific context of zombies, this a fantastic way to introduce your kids to the more serious issues that exist in the world—like food safety to racism to immigration—without beating them about the head and shoulders with it. 


Not Novels, But Worth Noting

The above list talks only about novels...but there are plenty of others things to watch for. For example:

  • Genre superstar Neil Gaiman plies his trade to a children's book with Fortunately, The Milk.

  • Excellent anthologies like: the "Best Of" annual The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five, edited by Ellen Datlow; Super Stories of Heroes & Villains, edited by Claude Lalumiere, a collection of superhero short fiction; The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF, edited by Mike Ashley; and War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, a set of stories inspired by H.G. Wells' classic tale of Martian invasion.

  • Also, excellent collections from Rachel Swirsky (How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future) and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (This Strange Way of Dying: Stories of Magic, Desire & the Fantastic).

  • A collection of Newbury & Hobbes stories from George Mann titled The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes.


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