This Fall's Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Illustration for article titled This Fall's Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

If you want to read your eyeballs out this fall, you are in luck. Here are some of the science fiction and fantasy books we're most excited about this season.


Top image: Beyond the Rift by Peter Watts

Remember, these are only a fraction of the books arriving this fall to fill your bookshelves with awesomeness. If we skipped one of your favorites that's coming out between September and December, please post about in comments (with a picture and link)!


Crux, by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)

Coming out in late August, this is the sequel to Nexus, Naam's pyrotechnic tale of brain tech, hive minds, and government oppression. Now that the next generation of the mind-connecting drug Nexus is out in the world, the war between the human and post-human has truly begun. Get ready for mind-controlled supersoldiers, and the incredible power of the Buddhist hivemind.

MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood (Doubleday)


This is the final installment in Atwood's apocalyptic trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake. It takes place a few months after the events of the first two novels, and explores how a new hominin species, the Crakers, will evolve a new culture and religion with help from mad scientists, eco-fundamentalists, and a world ruined (but perhaps also saved) by biotechnology.

Shaman, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)


Robinson, a master of far-future tales and alternate histories, has plunged deep into humanity's prehistory with this tale of the Cro-Magnons, some of the first Homo sapiens to settle in Europe.

Horse of a Different Color, by Howard Waldrop (Small Beer)


This is a terrific collection from a legendary science fiction writer. Here's a taste of what you'll find inside:

The title story, “The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode in On)” is a masterpiece that crashes together aged-vaudevillian Manny Marks (who changed his name from Marx so that his brothers couldn’t ride to success on his coattails), “the best goddammed horse-suit act there ever was,” and the story of two men and their hunt for the holy grail. It’s a uniquely American take on the Arthurian legend that Waldrop takes to places (theaters, diners, resthomes) that he could do.


How the World Became Quiet, by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean)


A collection of haunting, intense tales from award-winning short story writer Swirsky.

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster)


The long-awaited (?) sequel to The Shining, this is about what happens to little Danny when he's a middle-aged man and must rescue a young girl.

The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury Press)


This book is definitely your new crack, full of juicy worldbuilding and heroic weirdness. This is the tale of a dystopian London called Scion whose rigid government justifies its authoritarianism by scapegoating "voyants," or people with a connection to the spirit world in the aether. So the voyants have to go underground, forming organized crime gangs and hiding from the police. Our hero, a voyant who does work in the aether for a supernatural crime boss, is just trying to survive. Until she's arrested — and discovers a world far weirder and more dangerous than London.


Autumn Bones, by Jacqueline Carey (Roc)


The newest installment in Carey's Agent of Hel series finds our demonic detective heroine Daisy still hiding her tail and trying to rescue her boyfriend from the clutches of his family of obeah sorcerers.

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)


We are incredibly excited about the first novel from Leckie, which is about a soldier who was once a starship. Now she's been stripped of her colossal, nearly-indestructible body and her AI — and left on a remote icy world. Can she finish her quest and get revenge on the creature who once led her army? We want to find out.

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegan Books)


This is the final book in the insanely popular Divergent series (whose first installment comes out this fall as a movie). If you're like the millions of other people who gobbled up this series, you're going to mainline this tale of what happens to Tris and Tobias when they try to make a life beyond the wall. They find out, of course, that nothing is what it seems. At Comic-Con this year, Roth revealed that this novel will be told from both characters' points of view.

The Cusanus Game, by Wolfgang Jeschke (Tor)


Jeschke is one of Europe's most celebrated science fiction writers, and this novel is one of his most incredible. It's a tale of genetic engineering conspiracies at the Vatican, radioactive disasters, and widespread extinctions — plus time travel to the Middle Ages, where our hero will discovery a futuristic plot that goes back millennia.

Parasite, by Mira Grant (Orbit)


Grant is the author of the amazing zombie journalism series, Newsflesh — and now, she's back with a new series about a biotech dystopia. In the near future, everybody is free of disease thanks to genetically modified tapeworms that live in our guts. Unfortunately, it turns out that these little creatures have an agenda of their own.

Kabu Kabu, by Nnedi Okorafor (Prime Books)


This is the first short story collection from award-winning author Okorafor. Kabu Kabu is the name for a taxi in Nigeria, and in these tales the rides always veer into the world of magic and spirits.

The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch (Del Rey)


It's the latest adventure of slightly-less-than-epic fantasy hero Locke Lamora, a con artist whose latest heist has gone sour. And by sour, we mean Locke is going to succumb to a deadly poison unless he agrees to help the Mages with dirty tricks during the next political election. What could go wrong? Um, everything — especially when Locke's lost love (and skilled rival) Sabetha gets involved.


Beyond the Rift, by Peter Watts (Tachyon Publications)


A new book from crazy genius Watts is always cause for celebration — and this collection of short stories brings together some of his greatest work, including his mind-altering retelling of The Thing called "The Things." Known for his pitch-black views on human nature, and a breathtaking ability to explore the weird side of evolution and animal behavior, Watts is one of those writers who gets into your brain and remains lodged there like an angry, sentient tumor.

Fiddlehead, by Cherie Priest (Tor)


Priest is back with another installment in her Clockwork Century series that began with Boneshaker, and this one looks seriously intriguing. A young inventor and ex-slave has invented a proto-computer that could change the course of the Civil War. He enlists the aid of President Lincoln, and the two are destined to cross paths with a Pinkerton detective whose loyalties may be divided by her Southern past.

Burning Paradise, by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)


Wilson is known for his incredible alternate histories of North America, often tangled up with mind-bending political conspiracies and alien interventions. His latest is set in an alternative present day, where the major wars of the twentieth century never happened. Without the ravages of World War II and other calamities, humanity has grown peaceful, prosperous — and, for a group of mysterious aliens, rather nicely docile. It's up to our hero to figure out what's going on, before more people are killed just like her parents were.

The Land Across, by Gene Wolfe (Tor)


Here's the blurb for this intriguing new political thriller from celebrated author Wolfe:

An American writer of travel guides in need of a new location chooses to travel to a small and obscure Eastern European country. The moment Grafton crosses the border he is in trouble, much more than he could have imagined. His passport is taken by guards, and then he is detained for not having it. He is released into the custody of a family, but is again detained. It becomes evident that there are supernatural agencies at work, but they are not in some ways as threatening as the brute forces of bureaucracy and corruption in that country. Is our hero in fact a spy for the CIA? Or is he an innocent citizen caught in a Kafkaesque trap?



The Severed Streets, by Paul Cornell (Tor)


In this sequel to London Falling, we return to the world of London's occult underground. A bizarre new murderer is on a rampage, who recreates the messages and MO of Jack the Ripper, except in one key respect: He's only killing rich, white men.

The Language of Dying, by Sarah Pinborough (Jo Fletcher Books)

This one sounds like the perfect gothic tale for those long winter nights. Here's the blurb:

There has never been anything normal about the lives raised in this house. It seems to her that sometimes her family is so colourful that the brightness hurts, and as they all join together in this time of impending loss she examines how they came to be the way they are and how it came to just be her, the drifter, that her father came home to die with.

But, the middle of five children, the woman has her own secrets . . . particularly the draw that pulled her back to the house when her own life looked set to crumble. And sitting through her lonely vigil, she remembers the thing she saw out in the fields all those years ago . . . the thing that they found her screaming for outside in the mud. As she peers through the familiar glass, she can't help but hope and wonder if it will come again.


When It's a Jar, by Tom Holt (Orbit)


It's another bizarro novel from Holt, featuring a young man who killed a dragon with a butter knife — and another who is trapped in a jar, trying to answer a riddle: When is a door not a door? You know you want to come along for the ride.


Perhaps Not

My two cents: (or $30, as the case may be):

Say what you will about his politics, the guy knows how to write.