You'd better invest in a pocket dimension if you want to keep up with all the great reads that are coming your way in 2015. Including Alastair Reynolds, Naomi Novik, Neal Stephenson, and tons more. Here are 60 essential science fiction and fantasy books coming out this year!
Note: This list doesn't include books that don't have a release date yet. That means no Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin, no Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss, no Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch, no Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher, no League of Dragons by Naomi Novik, no Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, etc.
Also, there are a fair number of sequels on this list, but I tried to keep the list from being all sequels. An early draft of this list was over 100 books, and I had to whittle it down.
This new novel, and its forthcoming sequel, take place in a weird version of Greek mythology, featuring an ideal city of young people, robots from the distant future... and Socrates, stirring up trouble as usual.
The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord (January)
The quasi-sequel to Lord's amazing The Best of All Possible Worlds follows Rafi, a youngster with incredible psychic powers and a love for a gravity-defying sport that could shape the future of the galaxy.
Glow by Ned Beauman (January)
The author of the acclaimed The Teleportation Accident is back with another trippy novel, about a party drug called Glow, a mysterious set of disappearances, and strange behavior on the part of foxes.
The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock (January)
The first new novel by Moorcock in years takes place during World War II, where the Blitz has uncovered a mysterious realm that was hidden for hundreds of years.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (February)
Kell has the rare ability to travel between parallel worlds, visiting Grey London, where magic doesn't exist and Mad King George is on the throne — but also Red London, where magic is used and revered, and White London, where humans fight magic, and magic fights back.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (February)
This steampunk novel takes place in late 19th century Seattle, where a girl in a bordello is forced to take a stand after an injured girl arrives fleeing a man who has a machine that can control people's minds.
Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley (February)
A long-awaited new novel from the author of the The Quiet War — the alien Jackaroo gave humanity the means to travel to 15 new worlds, and they're littered with marvels that can save us... but also with nightmares that could destroy us.
A new collection of Gaiman's short fiction — including Gaiman's takes on Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and social media... but also a brand new, never-published story set in the world of his novel American Gods.
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link (February)
And speaking of long-awaited story collections... this is Link's first book of stories in a decade. These nine stories include superheroes, a life-size animated doll, mysterious visitors living behind someone's house, and a ghost-hunting reality TV show.
Find Me by Laura van den Berg (February)
It's another literary apocalypse — but instead of insomnia or a deadly plague, this one involves a plague of dementia, in which most of the human race is stricken with memory loss. Joy is immune, which means she gets to go to a special hospital and be experimented on.
Touch by Claire North (February)
Our love for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was nearly boundless. Now its pseudonymous author is back with the story of someone who can jump from body to body just by touching someone. The only catch: when he/she leaves a body, it dies.
And here's another post-apocalyptic literary novel... for decades, a plague has meant that people die when they reach adulthood. Yes, just like the Star Trek episode "Miri." But when Ice Cream Star's older brother starts to show signs of the disease, she goes in search of a cure.
Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz (March)
Flex is the first drug to be laced with actual magic, allowing you to alter reality itself if you use it — but when you crash off a Flex trip, it's basically like magic biting you in the ass. Still, one magical "bureaucromancer" is willing to try this drug to save his daughter.
The Buried Life by Carrie Patel (March)
It's a murder mystery set in a subterranean city, where everybody has a secret. A historian is murdered, but the city's all-powerful Directorate of Preservation, the historians' guild, stands in the way of solving the crime.
Persona by Genevieve Valentine (March)
This political thriller by an io9 contributor is set in a near-future world where diplomacy and social-media stardom have become intertwined — so after Suyana, a young diplomat representing the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation, nearly gets shot, she has to team up with a young paparazzo to solve her own murder and spin the story.
The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (March)
The first book in the fascinating-sounding Alchemy Wars series — in the 17th century, the Dutch invented an army of mechanical people, the Clakkers. Now it's 300 years later, and the Netherlands are still the world's only superpower. But one Clakker wants his freedom, and that could change everything.
The first novel by Ishiguro since Never Let Me Go is getting described as "mystical," "fable-like," and "a fairytale for grownups." It takes place in a forlorn landscape where a couple are searching for the son they haven't seen in years.
The first new novel in ages from the author of the Quantum Gravity series — it takes place on a planet where science and magic are hard to tell apart. A stranger arrives in a remote town warning of political crisis, and a young woman is forced to rebel against her pre-ordained role.
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu (April)
The multi-award-winning short story writer finally releases his first novel, the start of the Dandelion Dynasty series. A bandit and a nobleman team up to depose an unjust Emperor, in a war involving airships and shapeshifting gods. But after the Emperor is unseated, they have some disagreements over what to do next.
This epic fantasy debut takes place in a brutal empire that's reminiscent of ancient Rome, where a young scholar must go undercover as a slave after her brother is charged with treason. She meets a reluctant soldier who's been forced to take part in a vicious tournament to choose the next Emperor.
The author of Spin turns his gaze to social media and the echo chamber in which we all live, in a near future novel about a world where people can join one of 22 Affinities that are based on brain-mapping and genetic tests — allowing people to associate entirely with people who think and feel exactly the same as they do.
Superposition by David Walton (April)
In this new novel by a defense tech worker, an alien "quantum intelligence" threatens everything, and it appears not to be limited by the normal constraints of reality or time itself. The only person who knows about this threat has just been framed for an impossible murder.
Now that his Riftwar Cycle is over, Feist is launching a whole new trilogy, the War of the Five Crowns, with elements of medieval history and Arthurian legend.
A brand new comic young-adult fantasy from the author of Ironskin — Cam's stepmom is a wicked witch who goes around doing annoying things like summoning a demon to possess the boy that Cam has a crush on. Cam swears she'll never be a witch like her stepmom, but maybe using magic is the only way to set things right.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (May)
We're still waiting for the final Temeraire book. But meanwhile, here's a brand new story, drawing from folk tales, about a cold wizard known as the Dragon. He protects the people of a small village from the evils in the wood, but in return he demands one girl come and serve him every 10 years.
The first book by Stephenson since 2011's Reamde... and it sounds like a strange one. The world is ending, and the human race makes a desperate effort to get some survivors off the planet. Five thousand years later, the descendants of humanity are divided into seven different races, all of which decide to pay a visit to the old homeworld.
A fabulist novel based on The Shahnameh, the Persian Book of Kings — the abnormally pale Zal is born in a small Iranian village and gets raised in a birdcage. And when he grows up, the "Bird Boy" has learned to dream in bird. He travels to New York, where he meets an illusionist who has the secret of flight, and also gets into a relationship with a woman who claims she can see the future.
Barker's back! And he's telling a story of two of his most famous creations: occult detective Harry D'Amour and Pinhead. Are they going to get along? (Spoiler alert: No.)
Bacigalupi's first adult novel since his award-sweeping The Wind-Up Girl, this book takes place in a terrible future where water is scarce and Phoenix and Las Vegas are battling for control over what's left of the Colorado River. Angel Velasquez is an elite "water knife," who's on the trail of a fantastic new water source... but the cost may be too high.
The author of House of Leaves is back with a massive new 880-page genre-defying novel about scientists on the run from an organization whose power is beyond your imagination, plus a computer programmer whose "game engine" could have world-shattering consequences. And a young girl who goes looking for a dog, but instead befriends a fragile creature that could change everything.
Where by Kit Reed (May)
David and Merrill are trying to keep their marriage together, but the cards are stacked against them. A handsome real estate developer named Steele is making advances on Merrill, and when their entire town (minus David) gets removed from time and space to another dimension entirely, Steele may have an unfair advantage in the battle for Merrill's affections.
A prequel to Okorafor's Who Fears Death, this book follows a genetic experiment named Phoenix, an "accelerated woman" who looks like an adult despite being only two years old. Until the boy that Phoenix has a crush on commits suicide, and she starts to glimpse the truth about her world.
Jeremy is just a regular construction worker, even though the tattoos on his arms turn into weapons and he used to be the most feared warrior in all of fae. Until his past comes back to haunt him — literally. A woman who looks exactly like his dead wife shows up, and then he learns that all the fae are dying.
Now that the Expanse series is becoming a TV show on Syfy, it's the perfect time to get caught up. This fifth novel in the series follows James Holden and his crew trying to survive a cataclysm that's causing ships to disappear mysteriously, in the wake of a land rush that's seen humans spreading out across the galaxy.
The author of House of Suns has written another weirdly personal cosmic adventure — Scur is a conscripted soldier, who's just survived the biggest war in the history of the galaxy. But just before the ceasefire, she's captured by a renegade enemy soldier and left for dead. She finds herself on a prison ship with fighters on both sides of the war, whose memories are trapped inside bullets.
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht (June)
The scholarly weakling Nels isn't taken too seriously by the rest of the royal family in Eledore — until he does the one thing that's forbidden for royalty: Pick up a sword and wield it in self-defense. After that, he's exiled and forced to team up with barbarians, who've been underestimated almost as much as he has.
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde (June)
We know almost nothing about this standalone book, except that it's the new book from the author of the Thursday Next novels, and it has a release date in June, according to Amazon.co.uk.
We were captivated by Cohen's bizarre novel Witz, and now he's back with a book about two men named Joshua Cohen: a literary writer whose career has fallen flat, and the CEO of a massive search-engine company. One Josh Cohen hires the other to ghostwrite his autobiography, but the stakes turn out to be much higher than anyone realizes.
In this young-adult novel, the murals in Brooklyn are crying real tears. This leads young Sierra to discover the magical practice of Shadowshaping, where people infuse the spirits of their ancestors into art, music and stories. Too bad someone is murdering all the shadowshapers.
If Interstellar left you wanting more, then this novel might just fill that longing. Robinson returns to the future after a sojourn in the distant past, and tells the story of the first ever arduous journey to another solar system.
Crooked by Austin Grossman (July)
You've seen a lot of versions of Nixon before, but you've never seen him like this. The author of Soon I Will Be Invincible and You (and an occasional io9 contributor) reveals the shocking truth about the Cold War: It was a struggle against eldtrich Lovecraftian monsters, and Nixon was its greatest hero.
Stross' latest book in his Laundry Files series takes another huge left turn and becomes about superheroes in a Lovecraftian universe. Because he already tackled vampires.
The third book in Gladstone's Craft Sequence, Full Fathom Five, was one of our favorite books of 2014. This is the earliest book in the series chronologically, and Gladstone's description of it as a book about ordinary people grappling with change in a post-industrial magic world ought to get you excited.
We adored Gilman's postcolonial fantasy duology Isles of the Foresaken/Ison of the Isles. And this time around, she's writing a space adventure about a journey to an alien planet where the inhabitants are all blind.
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (July)
In a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has all but abandoned the polluted, wrecked Earth, colonizing the rest of the solar system. But occasionally, we use time travel to send people back to the past to harvest resouces that aren't available in the future — without changing the past. But when James Griffin-Mars succumbs to the temptation to save the life of a woman in the past, they both become fugitives on the toxic Earth.
A brand new standalone novel, featuring Swanwick's traveling conmen Darger & Surplus. This time, they're traveling through a "post-utopian" China, which has broken down into warring states. And the journey has changed one of them profoundly.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (August)
The cover blurb describes this book as the story of a woman searching for her missing daughter in a post-apocalyptic world. But Jemisin's earlier description of it as taking place in a world that has suffered repeated extinction-level events, over millions of years, causing life (and magic) to adapt to the frequent upheavals, made us desperate to know more.
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (August)
It's Valente's first book for grownups in a few years! And it's described as a "a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own." This is set in an alternate universe where talking pictures are rare because of Edison's patent-hoarding... but we travel to other worlds, and they look just like classic science fiction.
The End of All Things by John Scalzi (August)
Scalzi continues his Old Man's War series, picking up where The Human Division left off. Scalzi wrote on his blog that "the book will continue (and complete) the story that was begun in The Human Division, and that things will come to an interesting place for everyone involved."
Here's the long-awaited new story collection from the author of The City and the City. Presumably this weird-as-fuck short short will be included. Stories include "sentient oil rigs, flying icebergs and a ladder into space."
The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham (August)
Here's the conclusion to the Dagger and the Coin series, in which war has covered the world and dragons are destroying everything in sight. It's up to Abraham's three heroes to try and bring peace to Carse, which is surrounded by armies — and their plan involves a traitor, a survivor of the dragon empire, and a cunning financial scheme.
Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb (August)
The second book in Hobb's Fitz & the Fool trilogy, in which FitzChivalry Farseer is out for revenge — and given that he's a trained royal assassin, that's going to get pretty bloody in a hurry.
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (August)
The beloved SF author — who also has a brand new "best of" collection coming out next month — turns her hand to young-adult fiction. Jessamy feels trapped by her life of privilege as one of the Patrons. But at night, she sneaks out and trains for the Fives, an athletic competition to pick the realm's best fighters. This turns out to come in handy when a scheming nobleman tries to destroy Jes' family.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (August)
It's sort of like Cinderella, if Cinderella was a tinkerer who built beautiful machines. Nicolette's stepsisters call her "Mechanica" as a cruel nickname, because she's always building stuff. But then she finds a secret workshop and befriends a tiny magical metal horse. There's a ball and stuff, but Mechanica isn't just trying to win the hand of the handsome Prince — she's also trying to get investment from entrepreneurs.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (September)
The first book in a new trilogy, this takes place in an alternate England where magic coexists with the British empire. Our hero is Zacharias Wythe, freed slave and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, who is sent on a mission to fairyland to discover why Britain's supply of magic is drying up.
Updraft by Fran Wilde (September)
This fantasy debut takes place in a "city of living bone," whose past has been lost to legend. Wilde described the book thusly: "When Kirit Densira breaks a law and endangers her tower by attracting a terrible predator, she is punished by city rulers who have their own terrible secrets to hide. Kirit uncovers those secrets, and faces the consequences."
Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer (September)
This epic fantasy debut takes place in a world where poems and songs were once magic — until their power was lost, and they became just words and melodies. But now a dark force is threatening the world, and a group of poets have to figure out how to bring the magic back.
The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (October)
Here's the first book in a brand new series by the creator of Percy Jackson. And this time, instead of tackling Greek gods, he's going Norse. Magnus is a homeless kid, living by his wits on the streets of Boston, until he meets his crazy uncle and learns the truth: he's the son of a Norse god. And now, Magnus has to prevent Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse.
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin (October)
The third book in Cronin's trilogy that began with The Passage, picking up after the huge cliffhanger and massive revelations at the end of The Twelve. How will Cronin end his massive literary vampire saga? We'll find out soon!
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (October)
It's a heist novel, set in Bardugo's magical realm from the Grisha trilogy. We meet Kaz, a "criminal prodigy" who has to pull off the biggest job ever — and to do that, he has to recruit a dream team, including a spy, a "Heartrender," a sharpshooter with a gambling addiction, and a master thief. And it turns out they're the only thing standing between the world and destruction.
Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (November)
This has a release date according to Amazon.co.uk, so fingers crossed. It's the second novel in the Wax and Wayne trilogy, which takes place in the same world as Mistborn 300 years later.