Looking for a good read that will expand your mind and entertain you? Look no further than the science-fiction and fantasy shelves of your nearest bookstore, and even more importantly, this roundup of speculative fiction books being released in March. Choose from a variety of stories, including ones about colonizing a faraway planet, a murder in space, a witch's attempts to protect a girl from a warlock's revenge, the true heroine of Oz, and an alternate history in which Japan won World War II.
The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A great war, led by Lord Regent Geder Palliako, has spread across the land with nation after nation falling before the mighty power of the ancient priesthood and their fearsome dragons. One final victory awaits him, but it may not be so easily obtained. Standing before his ultimate conquest is a band of rebels who use their brains to fight an army's might.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Abraham's The Dagger and the Coin series has been thrilling fantasy fans through five books. You don't want to miss the sixth book which brings the story to its epic conclusion.
The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A deep space murder mystery sits before a young officer and her lover. Commander Elena Shaw, Central Corps chief engineer, must defend her lover, Treiko Zajec, when he is accused of killing Elena's crewmate. Elena knows that Treiko is innocent; they were together at the time of the murder. But that doesn't stop the corps from wanting to frame Treiko, a conspiracy that appears to be tied to a past cover-up.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: It's being described as military science-fiction series "in the tradition of Lois McMaster Bujold," meaning if you like the Bujold's wildly popular Vorkosigan books, this is a must-read.
The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A witch pursues a warlock hell-bent on revenge. The warlock known as Gideon has just been gained his freedom after five years of captivity. He's out for revenge against the young witch named Tegan, who has since learned more about the ways of magic, but is still considered inexperienced. It's up to the witch named Elizabeth to defend the young witch Tegan from the evil designs of Gideon.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Love and magic collide in a story remarkable for its lyrical style and historical backdrop.
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This is a collection of 15 wonderful short fiction works by an undisputed master of the form. Each story teases out a central idea: how augmented reality affects human interaction; a world where people's souls are embodied by temporary objects; a cybernetically-enhanced investigator on the hunt for a serial killer in the near future; a couple who attempts to give voices to the hidden victims of World War II; and many more.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Multiple award winner Liu's stories are thought-provoking, beautifully written, powerful, and simply excellent reads. If you are not already a fan of short fiction, you will be after reading this collection.
Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Turning L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on its head, Paige's Dorothy Must Die series is about former good girl Dorothy, who turns into a power-hungry self-proclaimed dictator and princess over Oz. Now it's up to Amy Gumm, Kansas high school student, to help save the merry old land of Oz.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Paige's take on the magical land of Oz is inventive, nostalgic, and fun.
The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Four women are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion in the land of Olondria. When the ruling house of the empire begins to crumble, these four women—a soldier a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite—each learn the importance of their place in history and how events are remembered.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Samatar's fiction is both magical and engrossing thanks to well-imagined worldbuilding.
Arkwright by Allen Steele
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A science-fiction writer sets up a foundation to bring mankind into space. Nathan Arkwright—a famous science-fiction writer in the mold of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke—realizes that humanity will not survive on a single planet, so he uses his resources to establish a foundation with the long-term plan of sending mankind to colonize a faraway planet. The story follows several generations of Nathan's descendents as they carry out their decades-long plan of survival.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Mainstream readers will love the character centric focus; hard science-fiction readers will love the sound ideas behind the space exploration and colonization; hardcore fans will love Steele's love letter to fandom that is the first act of the novel.
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A pulp-fiction writer named Shomer, who lies in a concentration camp during World War II, imagines another world in which (1) communists take over Germany in the early 1930s, and (2) a down-on-his luck Hitler relocates to London and becomes a low-rent private detective named Wolf who is hired to search for a Jewish girl. The narrative of A Man Lies Dreaming deftly switches perspectives between Shomer's horrifying real-life situation and the fictional story of Wolf's investigative case.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This noir-ish Holocaust novel is at once compelling and poignant.
United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Decades after Japan won WWII, a group of subversives called the George Washingtons distribute an underground video game that asks players to imagine what the world would be like if the United States had won the war instead. The secret police investigate the heresy and discover that the case is way more complicated than it seems.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This interesting alternate history is being billed as the spiritual successor to Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle.
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A girl named September is accidentally crowned the Queen of Fairyland, but there are others who think that the honor rightfully belongs to them. Thus, the fate of the Queen is decided by a royal race. Whoever wins it gets to be queen.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is the final book in the New York Times-bestselling Fairyland series. You don't want to miss it.