17 science fiction and fantasy books to check out this February
Some new adventures to help you through winter
January was a fun month, wasn’t it? With all of that behind us, it’s time to look ahead at the next month, which means that there’s a whole bunch of new titles hitting stores.
There is a book that I meant to include in the January book list that I forgot: The Route of Ice and Salt by José Luis Zárate, and translated by David Bowles (along with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who’s been promoting the book on Twitter.) It’s a slightly different take on Dracula’s voyage to England. Another book I’m excited for is Annalee Newitz’s Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age, which looks like a phenomenal history.
Here are 17 other SF/F titles to check out to get you through February.
As always: links to Bookshop.org are affiliates, and any purchases made through them might result in a commission. And, if you find this list useful, please consider signing up as a paid subscriber — I’m holding the January discount for another day.
Star Wars: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray
The latest release from Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The High Republic project: this is a YA novel about Jedi Padawan Reath Silas, who’s unhappily dispatched to the Outer Rim. While enroute, his ship is forced out of hyperspace by a massive disaster, and he finds himself in the midst of the action when they come across an abandoned space station, which turns out to be more than it appears.
Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan by Usman T. Malik
I met and befriended Usman Malik at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed his horror fiction since then. He’s bringing his stories together into a new collection, and it’ll be a must-get for horror fans.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Everina Maxwell kicks off a trilogy with this debut novel, which follows Prince Kiem, the ill-favored grandchild of the Emperor, as he’s forced into an arranged marriage with Thean Count Jainan, after his husband, Iskan V’s Prince Taam dies.
The marriage helped hold together a treaty with the planet Thea, and as it become clear that Taam’s death wasn’t an accident, that bond has begun to fray, potentially throwing the entire empire into chaos. Together, Janian and Kiem have to unravel the larger conspiracy, even as their own bond grows closer.
Read an excerpt.
On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu
Two Afghan refugees, Firuzeh and Nour flee the country with their parents because of the conflict, bound for Australia. To cope with the journey across the world through detention camps and refuges, Firuzeh and her brother create their own fantastical stories that help them survive in their new surroundings.
A History of What Comes Next Sylvain Neuvel
Sylvain Neuvel’s best known for his Themis Files trilogy, and turns his attention to an alternate space race with his latest, A History of What Comes Next. It follows Mia, a woman who’s part of a family that has been working for generations to guide humanity into space. She’s tasked with trying to pull Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi Party and to the United States, which is standing up its own rocket program. But Mia’s not alone in her mission: there are others, working behind the scenes with their own dark motives.
Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “the balance of wry narration, wired action, and delicate worldbuilding make for deeply gratifying reading.”
Read an excerpt.
Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard’s next novella follows a princess named Thanh from Bình Hải, who’s dispatched to the country of Ephteria as a hostage. When she returns home as an adult, now with fire powers from an elemental, Giang, and a longing for a lover she left behind, Princess Eldris. Now a diplomat, she is reunited with Eldris, but court intrigue forces her to make some devastating choices.
Publishers Weekly says that “this is an ideal pick for fantasy fans longing for non-European settings.”
The Future is Yours by Dan Frey
In this technothriller, Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, develop a new technology that allows its user to connect to the internet a year in the future, allowing them to figure out what their lives will be like. Their startup is wildly successful, but they’ve unlocked a horrifying new technology that will wreck havoc on humanity.
Read an excerpt.
The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now, ever since Dan Kois wrote about it for Slate a year ago. Then, it was published by an obscure academic press in New Zealand, and now, it’s getting a wider release.
Taryn Cornick is trying to get past her sister’s murder years ago, and was a suspect in the death of the murderer. But she’s started to move on, writing a book about libraries, which attracts attention from another world. Along with a police officer who still suspects that she committed some past crime, and a stranger from another world, they’re brought together in a strange adventure.
Engines of Oblivion by Karen Osborne
In Karen Osborne’s Architects of Memory, a terminally-ill pilot named Ash Jackson lost everything in a war against an alien civilization, and talks her way into a salvage crew, harvesting genocidal weapons from the wreckage.
In this sequel, Jackson’s friend Natalie Chan has become a corporate citizen, the only person with the knowledge that Jackson survived the events of the prior adventure. But those corporate overlords know of her secret, and the salvation it promises for the alien Vai, and plan to go to extreme lengths to get it out of her head.
Publishers Weekly says that the book is a “clever, intricately constructed second space opera,” and that “series fans and lovers of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse novels will be thrilled.”
Read an excerpt.
The Black Coast by Mike Brooks
I really enjoyed Mike Brooks’ Keiko trilogy, and he’s now turning his attention to epic fantasy with his latest, The Black Coast.
In it, the citizens of the coastal city Black Keep see some ships on the horizon and believe that an invasion is imminent. As they work to prepare to defend their homes, they learn that the incoming fleet are refugees that have been driven from their home by a demon.
Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying “the many point of view characters create a tapestry of blood, honor, and survival.”
The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
A new Becky Chambers novel is always something to celebrate. Her novels The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few are some of my favorite novels released in recent years, and this looks to be the final installment of her Wayfarers series.
It follows the goings-on at a galactic truck stop on a planet called Gora called the Five-Hop One-Stop, and when an accident stops traffic in and out of the system, three strangers find themselves stuck with one another — and are forced to confront their past and where it might take them.
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
I loved Sarah Gailey’s fantasy novel Magic for Liars, a murder mystery set at a school for magic in California. Their next book is a thriller that follows Dr. Evelyn Caldwell, a scientist who learns that her husband Nathan has been having an affair — with a clone of herself. When they get into a violent fight that leaves Nathan dead, the two have to work together to stay out of prison, and uncover some more dark secrets about the man they love.
Publishers Weekly says that “Gailey’s story unspools as a series of dark reveals that leave both the characters and the audience reeling.”
Read an excerpt.
True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman
Stan Lee was renowned for his work at Marvel Comics, and sadly, passed away a couple of years ago. Abraham Riesman has written up a new biography of the comics legend, looking at his life and career. He’s an individual with so much mythology behind him, so it’ll be interesting to see what revelations come out of it.
The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck
I first came across Karin Tidbeck’s fiction when I picked up their collection Jagannath back in 2012. It’s a phenomenal book, full of really intriguing short, horrific and surreal stories. Since then, they’ve moved on to novels.
In this new book, there’s a magical world parallel to ours, known as the Gardens. It’s ruled by a select group known as Masters, who deal out harsh punishments for anyone who upends the social order. The book folllows Dora and Thistle, who have to figure out how to escape into the outside world.
Publishers Weekly says that it’s “expansive and wildly imaginative, the narrative mixes fantasy elements with enough violence to satisfy horror fiction lovers.”
Read an excerpt.
Transgression of Power by Juliette Wade
Juliette Wade made her debut last year with Mazes of Power, a novel about a subterranean city called Pelismara, which is ruled by 12 families in a rigid class system. The city is falling apart, and amidst an epidemic, 17-year-old Tagaret is forced to represent his family to compete to become the heir to the throne.
In this sequel (the second in a longer series), Della supported Tagaret, and the two are planning on escaping, and take advantage of an offer by Tagaret’s sociopathic brother Nekantor to go to Selimna, where they can carry out their plans for a caste-less future. But it seems that they’re part of a much greater plot concocted by Nekantor, one that threatens them all.
Out Past the Stars by K.B. Wagers
In 2016, K.B. Wagers began following the story of Hail Bristol, a gunrunner who became the Empress of the Indranan Empire after her mother is assassinated. Wagers followed up the Indranan War trilogy with The Farian War trilogy, continuing the story of Hail as her empire contends with an all-out war between alien civilizations.
In this final installment of the trilogy, Hail has escaped capture from the alien Shen, and has learned the true nature of an alien race that’s called themselves gods, further complicating the war between the Shen and Farians, which Hail is trying to bring to an end.
Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review saying that it’s a “fantastic send-off for one of science fiction’s most remarkable recent protagonists.”
Never Have I Ever: Stories by Isabel Yap
Isabel Yap has published a number of short stories in outlets like Tor.com, Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Uncanny, and others, and now collects a number of them into her debut collection. Usman Malik noted on Twitter that he “absolutely loved it” and that we’re in for a treat.
As always, thank you for reading! I’m always excited to hear what y’all are reading, so let me know in the comments (or via email) what you’ve got on your TBR pile, and what titles on this list catch your eye.
Subscribers, I’ve got a post coming later this week for you, and there’ll be another regular roundup on Friday.
Have a good week!
I'm super keen on The High Republic stuff. Have you read any of it yet?