A Savory Selection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Read in October

There are literally hundreds of speculative books released every month. I'm willing to bet that you don't have time to read them all, so you might like to know: where should you start?  The answer is right here, with this roundup of the must-read science fiction and fantasy books being released in October. Included in this month's selection are stories about technological information overload, genetically engineered defenders of Earth, body-swapping aliens, dark elves, and a presidential race set in the zombie apocalypse. No, really!

(Note: Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a nice selection of horror titles as well!)

 

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Crosstalk by Connie Willis

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In the near future, a simple medical procedure can increase empathy between romantic partners. Hopeful bride-to-be Briddey Flannigan gets more than she bargained for when her procedure, which she hopes will lead to a marriage proposal, instead allows her to hear anyone's thoughts.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The novels of Connie Willis are equal parts science fiction, wit and satire, adding up to 100% fun. Consider this sendup to be social commentary of social media and our culture of being always-connected.

 

Faller by Will McIntosh

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The people of the world find themselves on floating islands of rock, with no memory of who they are, how they got there, or what happened. A man calling himself Faller discovers in his pocket a photo of himself with a woman… thus prompting him to find the woman he can no longer remember.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This science fiction thriller starts with a mystery that will make you not want to put the book down.

 

SF_feedback Feedback by Mira Grant

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Bloggers cover a U.S presidential campaign that takes place during the zombie apocalypse.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This unpredictable novel follows Grant's popular zombie novel Feed, which kicked off the fast-paced Newsflesh series.

 

Hero by R. A. Salvatore

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In this epic fantasy, the heroic dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, who has forsaken the evil ways of his people, continues his tireless search for peace.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Salvatore's long-running saga of Drizzt Do'Urden is a fantasy staple, and with good reason: they are page-turning adventures that keep you wanting more.

 

Impersonations by Walter Jon Williams

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: After the fall of an evil empire that subjugated both humans and aliens, a hero emerged from the civil war that followed. But Caroline Sula offended her superiors by winning a battle without their permission, and now she is posted to old Earth to keep her quiet. But the powers that be aren't content; someone is manufacturing evidence that would lead to her false imprisonment.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is a sweeping space opera with an emphasis on adventure.

 

SF_Brom Lost Gods by Brom

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A young man, fresh out of prison and looking to start a new life with his pregnant girlfriend, is killed by an ancient evil. In order to save his wife and unborn child, he must descend into Purgatory to find a sacred key that will restore the natural balance between good and evil.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: In addition to the compelling storyline, Brom—an accomplished gothic fantasy artist—includes illustrations that add to the flavor of the already tasty story.

 

Savant by Nik Abnett

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Earth's best protection against alien invasion is the Shield, a force that surrounds the Earth and renders it invisible from space. The Shield is maintained by a group of genetically engineered humans called "Actives". Unfortunately, Earth becomes exposed to alien invasion when one of the Actives inadvertently comprises the integrity of the Shield. 

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: With its interesting premise, Savant is one of those books that remind you why reading is fun.

 

The Found and the Lost and The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Two must-have collections of short fiction totaling more than 1,500 pages by one the best writers working today – in any genre. The Unreal and the Real collects short stories; The Found and the Lost collects novella-length fiction.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Le Guin is one of America's literary treasures.

 

The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An inept alien inhabits the body of Ella Patel…a thief, con-artist, and smuggler who must now help complete the alien's mission and investigate a series of murders while avoiding the alien's also-alien enemies.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Chu's stories of body-swapping aliens is both fun and funny.

 

Wall of Storms The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An emperor, facing an attack from an invincible invading army, sends his grown children to face the invaders and save the kingdom.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This sequel to A Grace of Kings is an absorbing entry

Into Ken Liu's "silkpunk epic fantasy" Dandelion Dynasty series.

 

Yesternight by Cat Winters

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A young child psychologist arrives in a small town in Oregon in 1925 to administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. However, one of the children, a seven-year-old girl, is not only a mathematical genius, but also claims to have memories of a former life, including her own death by drowning at age nineteen.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Yesternight is a story that is unassumingly haunting.

 

OTHER SHORT FICTION FINDS 

Here are some additional short fiction "snacks" worth checking out between your longer novel reading: 

  • A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter
  • A Long December by Richard Chizmar
  • City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales edited by Gigi Little
  • Six Scary Stories by Stephen King
  • The Color of Evil edited by David G. Hartwell
  • The Mammoth Book of Kaiju edited by Sean Wallace
  • The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe
  • Year's Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3 edited by Simon Strantzas & Michael Kelly

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