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16 science fiction and fantasy novels you don’t want to miss in January

16 science fiction and fantasy novels you don’t want to miss in January


Curl up this winter with a good book

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It’s a new year, and just in case you wanted more to read after all the great books that 2016 gave us, prepare yourself. 2017 is going to have a ton of new books to dive into.

I always like January for this reason: it’s a good time to take a look at the rest of the year, to see just what’s coming up that we should be getting excited for. We’ll have a broad 2017 book forecast in a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start off the new year by taking a look at what’s coming out this month. So clear out your bookshelves or your bedside table, because there’s a lot to make room for.

January 3rd

Defiant by Dave Bara

This is the third installment of Dave Bara’s Lightship Chronicles (Following Impulse and Starbound), and the novel picks up the story of Peter Cochrane and his new wife as they embark on a diplomatic mission. Predictably, things go south. This series has been a solid space opera in the vein of some of the genre’s classics, such as Clarke and Heinlein.

Boss Fight: Heartache; Thicker Than Blood; Magic to the Bone by Annie Bellet

This volume contains three of Annie Bellet’s novels — Heartache, Thicker than Blood, and Magic to the Bone — and is the second collection of books in her Twenty-Sided Sorceress series. In the last omnibus, Level Grind, a geeky sorceress named Jade Crow confronted her ex-boyfriend and was defeated. Now, she’s leveled up and is ready to take him on.

The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard by Tad Williams

Tad Williams has written some of fantasy’s best-known novels. He has a new short novel, The Heart of What Was Lost, set in his world of Osten Ard. At the end of previous book Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the Storm King Ineluki was defeated, and the Norn, his loyal followers, are pursued to the far north. Now, two soldiers must contend with their commitment to their duty, while one of the Norn discovers some disturbing secrets about his people. 

January 10th

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

In Russia, Vasilisa loves hearing fairy tales during the depths of the cold winters. When her mother dies, her father remarries, and forbids her new family from honoring the traditional spirits that Vasilisa loves. The prohibition might have larger consequences, and Vasilisa will need to draw on a gift that she possesses to protect her family, even if it means defying those she loves.

The Cold Eye (The Devil's West) by Laura Anne Gilman

In her followup to last year’s Silver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman brings us back to her weird Western world. Isobel and her mentor Gabriel are agents of the devil, working to help carry out his dealings in person. When a natural disaster strikes, she discovers that something is killing livestock and weakening magic in the Territory, and it’s up to them to stop the people behind it.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

In Seanan McGuire’s (she’s also known as Mira Grant) new novella, when protagonist Jenna dies prematurely, it turns out that she’s owed some additional time, and she helps by volunteering at a suicide prevention hotline. There, she discovers that something unknowable is binding her fellow ghosts to mirrors and forcing them to do terrible things, and it’s up to her to stop it.

January 17th

Galactic Empires by Neil Clarke

Space operas like Star Wars or Dune are always fun to pick up, and this new anthology will be loaded down with stories taking on the idea of Galactic Empires. Neil Clarke is the editor for Clarkesworld Magazine, one of the absolute best short-fiction magazines on the internet, which makes this particular volume a must buy. The other reason to pick this up? The heavy-hitters on the table of contents, which contains stories from the likes of Greg Egan, Neal Asher, Yoon Ha Lee, Ann Leckie, Ian McDonald, and a whole bunch of others.

The Fortress at the End of Time by Joe M. McDermott

A military officer who committed a terrible crime is now stationed in the furthest reaches of the galaxy: the Citadel, a remote listening station. One clone among many sent out to the colonies, he’s forced to come to terms with his past if he has any hope of escaping from his posting.

Empire Games by Charles Stross

A new entry in Charles Stross’ parallel universe Merchant Princes series, Empire Games is the start of a new trilogy. (Dark State and Invisible Sun are due out in 2018 and 2019, respectively.) It’s set in 2020 in an alternate world where the US has settled into a security state following the death of the president, while an alternate Commonwealth has advanced rapidly, and both worlds are quickly set on a collision course with one another.

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her urban fantasy thrillers, but with her next novel, she’s going full science fiction. Polly Newton wants nothing more than to be a starship pilot, only to have those dreams dashed when she’s herded off to school on Earth. While there, her fellow classmates begin to suffer from a series of dangerous coincidences, and along with her twin brother, she works to get to the bottom of it.

January 24th

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

Set in 1940 six women find their lives and fates intertwined in the magical cities within San Francisco. Ellen Klages earned Nebula Award for her 2005 story Basement Magic and a Hugo Award for her 2013 story Wakulla Springs (co-authored by Andy Duncan).

The Prometheus Man by Scott Reardon

CIA agent Tom Blake stumbles on a major case when a pile of bodies is discovered in Paris: tracking down the subject of a secret government program. There’s another complication: Tom Blake isn’t a member of the CIA. His real name is Tom Reese, and he’s bluffed his way into the agency to track down his brother’s killer. As the subject he’s tracking comes looking for him and the agency begins to wise up, time is running out for Reese, who has secrets of his own.

January 31st

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

In the fantasy city of Canopy, gods and goddesses rule in reincarnated bodies. A young woman named Unar escaped from her parents’ plans to sell her into slavery, and winds up serving Audblayin, the goddess ruler of growth and fertility. When Audblayin dies, she descends into the Understorey Realm to look for her, and discovers that there’s turmoil and discontent from the city’s lower realms.

(Disclaimer: I’ve published Dyer’s short fiction in my own anthology, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.)

Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery

Serial Box is a new publisher that’s been experimenting with serialized fiction, in a similar fashion to television shows. One of their breakout hits last year was Bookburners, created by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery. The series follows a team of agents who track down dangerous, magical books. While the first “season” of this story is now out on Serial Box, it’ll be collected into a single volume.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty’s latest adventure takes her far into space. The crew of a starship wakes up to discover that they’ve all been murdered. The newly resurrected clones of the crew must work to figure out who killed them, before their killers strike again.

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti had a good year in 2016, taking home the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella. Okorafor is releasing a sequel, Home. Following the events of the first novella, Binti and her friend Okwu have become unlikely friends. Humanity and Meduse have forged peace because of the pair, and now, they’re headed home to Earth. There, Binti will have to face her family and elders, while Okwu will be the first Meduse to land on Earth in over a century.

What do you see that you’re looking forward to the most?