As shown in Part 1, 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for science fiction and fantasy. But that's just the start. Here's another batch of enticing speculative fiction titles you should look for in the new year...
May's science fiction offers a wide spectrum of stories to soothe the appetites of the hungry reader. Erika Swyler's Light from Other Stars depicts the lifelong journey of one woman to reach the stars and what happens when she gets there. The protagonist of Steven Kotler's Last Tango in Cyberspace, which is described as "a near-future thriller about the evolution of empathy," has the ability to sense cultural shifts. In Claire North's The Gameshouse, three gamblers determine the fate of empires in a gambling house that has been around for a long, long time. Adrian Tchaikovsky tells the claustrophobic tale of an astronaut lost on an alien artifact in Walking to Aldebaran. Meanwhile, Snakeskins by Tim Major looks at the downside of rejuvenation and cloning.
Fantasy offers up some excellent stories, too. Lent by Jo Walton reimagines the life of Girolamo Savanarola, a real-life Italian Dominican friar, through a fantastical lens. Guy Gavriel Kay's A Brightness Long Ago evokes Renaissance Italy as one man recounts the events of his life and the people who helped shape it. The prolific Seanan McGuire offers up a standalone fantasy in Middlegame, in which an alchemist creates a pair of twins so they can become gods. If a fantasy heist adventure is your cup of tea, check out An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass, wherein a ragtag crew must rely on forbidden to stop a civil war. A young sword prodigy is enlisted to pretend she's a lost princess and interrupt the expected line of royal succession in Shadowblade by Anna Kashina. Westside by W.M. Akers is a flavorful historical fantasy set in a 1920s Manhattan tinged with magic, where a woman who solves "tiny mysteries" finds herself pulled into a conspiracy with much higher stakes. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, the latest in the popular Mercy Thompson series about a coyote shapeshifter, confronts danger once again threatening the fae. Finally, in the weirdly wonderful Stoker's Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde team up to battle a mysterious madman using supernatural powers to control the British Empire.
Juicy short fiction already scheduled to appear this month includes a multi-author anthology and a single-author collection: Paula Guran asks authors to spin their own version of classic myths and legends in her anthology Mythic Journeys: Myths and Legends Retold; and Ted Chiang's long-awaited collection, Exhalation, will finally be available.
Lots of SF to read this month! Clocking in at 880 pages is Neal Stephenson's new novel Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, an examination of posthumanism, in which human thoughts can be uploaded and saved, ringing in an era of eternal afterlife. Blake Crouch's Recursion introduces a horrifying concept: people around the world waking up to find that the lives they've led have been replaced overnight. Agnes Gomillion's near-future, post WWIII dystopia, The Record Keeper, looks at race relations past and present. Then there's Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone, a swashbuckling space opera about a rag-tag team of misfits and renegades in a war-torn future. Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder is a hacker heist set in a total surveillance society. Hard sf fans will rejoice at Stephen Baxter's latest entry in his ever-expanding series, Xeelee: Redemption. Finally, self-driving car technology runs amok in Three Laws Lethal by David Walton, where two tech moguls escalate corporate competition to the point where artificial intelligence decides which humans get to live and die.
There are more great fantasy reads heading your way as well. Michael Swanwick returns to the post-industrial faerie world he created in The Iron Dragon's Daughter with the long-awaited standalone fantasy The Iron Dragon's Mother. The Last Tsar's Dragons by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple, meanwhile, posits a brewing rebellion in a dying Russian monarchy that uses dragons to lay enemies to waste. Karen Lord's new standalone fantasy Unraveling features a compelling murder investigation that spans across the realms of spirits. The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey take place in a city where the celebration of a recently-ended war masks the horrors of everyday post-war life. Sherwood Smith begins a new fantasy trilogy set in the world of her Inda series with A Sword Named Truth, in which young leaders of unstable nations must band together to protect against magical threats. Spine of the Dragon by Kevin J. Anderson is an epic fantasy that features two continents divided by bloodshed joining forces against an outside threat. Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey features two twin sisters—one who possesses magic abilities and one who doesn't—as they try to solve a murder.
Short fiction readers will have their shelves full, too. This is the month we get a slew of "Best of" anthologies including Rich Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019 Edition, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: A Decade of Hugo & Nebula Award Winning Stories, 2005-2015 edited by Sheila Williams, and The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Vol. 5 edited by David Afsharirad. There's also the brand-new post-apocalyptic anthology Wastelands 3: The New Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams and the collection Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee.
July, no slouch, also offers up a bevy of awesome-sounding novels. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone depicts what happens when two rival time travelers work their way through the past, exchange letters and fall in love. A disgraced astronaut finds a chance at redemption when she is asked to make first contact with the aliens that have appeared above the Earth in The Last Astronaut by David Wellington. Claire O'Dell's gender-swapped, sf version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson continues in The Hound of Justice, wherein Holmes and Watson investigate a deadly extremist faction. In Pierce Brown's new Red Rising novel, Dark Age, the rebellion of the Have-Nots on Mars leads to a rogue war on Mercury. Wanderers by Chuck Wendig portrays the apocalypse as a massive epidemic of sleepwalkers drawn to the same location in America. The Redemption of Time by Baoshu (and translated by Ken Liu) is a standalone science fiction novel set in the world of Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem trilogy and it envisions the aftermath of the conflict between humanity and the extraterrestrial Trisolarans. A new military science fiction novel by Marko Kloos, Aftershocks, depicts a solar system of six planets fresh off an interplanetary war and on the verge of a new one. Meanwhile, Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan, about a hacker with narcolepsy who can enter and shape dreams, is being billed as high-concept sf. Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher & F. Paul Wilson is actually a mystery story surrounding the death of a writer, but it features characters who will no doubt be a treat for sf fans: Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. Finally, Fonda Lee's Godfather-inspired mafia & magic series begun with Jade City continues with Jade War, in which the battle for control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis escalates.
July's short fiction lineup currently includes three excellent anthologies (The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume Four and The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction, both edited by Neil Clarke, and Mission Criticaledited by Jonathan Strahan) and two single-author collections (Unforeseen by Molly Gloss and Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay).
Come back next week for the final look at 2019's excellent speculative fiction titles!