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13 science fiction and fantasy books you can’t afford to miss this December

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It’s December. I can hardly believe how fast the year flew by. December means the full rush of Christmas and holiday shopping, and it means a slightly lighter load of new books hitting bookstores. That’s fine by me: it means that I can try and tackle the accumulated piles of books on my own to-read list. (But who am I kidding? I’m starting to pick up the books coming out in January!) That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good pile coming out this month.

Interestingly, as 2016 comes to a close, there are a ton of books that are capping off trilogies and longer story arcs. Think of them as gifts here to help you get ready for a year’s worth of new reads. Check them out:

December 6th

Winter Halo, Keri Arthur

Earlier this year, Keri Arthur released City of Light, which introduced readers to a futuristic fantasy world in which otherworldly creatures intruded into our own. Now, Winter Halo concludes the arc, which follows a supersoldier named Tiger who discovers that children are being experimented on and resolves to save them. The key to their salvation is in a company called Winter Halo, which has come under an assault of its own.

Orbit Books

Babylon's Ashes, James S.A. Corey

We shared an excerpt from the next Expanse novel, Babylon’s Ashes, earlier this week, and it’s one that we’re particularly excited for. Set after radical belters bombard Earth, the balance of power in the solar system has shifted. The crew of the Rocinante are dispatched to the Free Navy’s stronghold at the end of the solar system, where they find that their problems might be dwarfed by more cosmic ones.

The Nature of a Pirate, A. M. Dellamonica

The final book in A.M. Dellmonica’s Stormwrack series features Sophie Hansa, a marine videographer and biologist who has spent time researching the alternate ocean island world of Stormwrack. After a fleet of ships is magically sabotaged, she’s called in to survey the wrecks, and finds herself in a race to discover who’s behind the plot before they strike again.

George Lucas: A Life, Brian Jay Jones

Star Wars has become a hugely popular global phenomenon since it was first released in 1977. Brian Jay Jones, who wrote the acclaimed biography of Jim Henson has turned his attention to the franchise’s creator. George Lucas: A Life takes an in-depth look at Lucas’s life and how he created classic films from Star Wars to Indiana Jones, as well as companies such as Industrial Light & Magic and THX Sound.

The Liberation, Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis wraps up his intriguing Alchemy Wars series with The Liberation. Jax is a Clakker, a mechanical being designed to serve humans. His fellow machines have begun to rise up against their bonds, and a new age is approaching: a robot uprising in a steampunk age.

Last Year, Robert Charles Wilson

In the near future, travel to alternate worlds is commonplace, and tourists embark on time travel adventures where tourists can visit the past. One such passageway, as envisioned in Wilson’s Last Year, is to 19th century Ohio, where the local residents make a good living from their futuristic visitors. As the world around him becomes more modern, losing its appeal as a travel destination, Jesse Cullum knows that his local passageway is closing off soon, and when it does, he’ll be cut off from a woman he loves in the future. He’ll do anything to make his way to the future.

December 13th

Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, Monica Valentinelli and Jaym Gates

Tropes are an important part of literature, but they can be overused. To have some fun with them, Monica Valentinelli and Jaym Gates have co-edited an anthology that upends some of the more annoying ones, such as the chainmail bikini, love at first sight, yellow peril, and a whole lot more, all through stories from authors such as Maurice Broaddus, Adam Troy-Castro, Nisi Shawl, Michael Underwood, Alyssa Wong, and many others.

(Disclaimer: Gates and I have collaborated on an anthology, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.)

After the Crown, K.B. Wagers

K.B. Wagers’ debut novel Behind the Throne arrived in bookstores earlier this fall, introducing us to gun-runner-turned-royalty Hail Bristol. Now the empress of the Indrana Empire, she helped save her empire from the threats that brought her to her current role. But peace talks have soured, and she’s been betrayed from within. To survive and hold her world together, she must turn to what she learned as a criminal to survive.

December 16th

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Alexander Freed

Rogue One is hitting theaters this month, and if you don’t want to see it in theaters for some reason, you can check out the official novelization, written by Alexander Freed. The ebook edition will be available on the day the movie hits theaters, and the hardcover edition will be available a couple of days later on December 20th.

December 20th

Take Back The Sky, Greg Bear

Greg Bear’s War Dogs military science fiction trilogy comes to a close with Take Back the Sky. Trapped on Titan, Skyrine Master Sergeant Michael Venn and his fellow soldiers face dual threats from Earth and the alien Antagonists who have invaded the solar system. They must team up with their former enemies and ignore their training as they journey to the homeworld of the Antagonists to learn what the fate of every intelligent being in the solar system will be.

The Dreamblood Duology, N.K. Jemisin

Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology originally came out as two works — The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun. Peacekeepers known as Gatherers keep law and order in the ancient city-state of Gujarreh. While priests of the dream-goddess harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal — or kill those judged corrupt. When someone begins murdering dreamers in the name of the goddess of the city’s largest temple, a Guardian named Ehiru is forced to protect a woman he was sent to kill, or allow the city to be torn apart.

December 27th

Nine of Stars: A Wildlands Novel, Laura Bickle

Petra Dee is the daughter of an alchemist who has come up against occult horrors over the course of Laura Bickle’s Dark Alchemy series. Set in Temperance, Wyoming, something unnatural is killing wolves, leaving only their skins behind. Complicating matters is a new sheriff with a vendetta, putting Petra’s partner Gabriel in his crosshairs.

December 31st

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi, John Scalzi

John Scalzi hasn’t released a novel this year, but he has been busy. He released The Dispatcher earlier this fall, and this month, he’s releasing a book of really short stories. The 18 stories contained in this volume are 2,300 words or shorter, and have everything from Pluto’s reaction to getting thrown out of the solar system, the various ways Hitler has died in alternate histories, and how AIs will refuse to destroy humanity.

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