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10 new sci-fi and fantasy books to check out for the rest of October

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In 2016, I came across an engrossing webcomic called On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. It’s a beautiful story about the relationship between two girls at a boarding school in space. I loved what I read, but I never got around to finishing it while it was coming out online. Fortunately, First Second just published the entire comic as a thick graphic novel, and I happened to snag a copy at New York Comic Con.

I tore through the entire story in a couple of days and was blown away by Walden’s rich characters and world. It’s a beautiful, emotional, heart-wrenching story, and I’m kicking myself for not finishing it earlier.

Here are 10 science fiction and fantasy (and related nonfiction) books that are coming out later this month.

October 16th

The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan

In the first installment of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s epic fantasy Khorasan Archives quartet, a group called the Companions of Hira fought — and failed — to acquire an artifact called the Bloodprint, which might have helped them overthrow the Talisman, a brutal, patriarchal ruling body. In the next installment, their leaders, Arian and Sinnia, escape after being captured and tortured. They still have a shot at acquiring the Bloodprint, held at the capital city Ashfall, but danger and court intrigue could doom their next attempt.

Read an excerpt.

Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-earth by Ian Nathan

Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was a watershed moment in the film industry, and a new book by Ian Nathan chronicles the director’s journey of bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary world to life. The book features interviews with the director as well as the cast and crew who helped make it happen. It’ll be a good book to pick up before Amazon’s series kicks off.

Image: Saga Press

Mutiny at Vesta by R.E. Stearns

Barbary Station was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I’ve been really excited for its sequel Mutiny at Vesta. Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir escaped from the clutches of Barbary Station and its murderous AI protector, only to find themselves in new troubles when they arrive on the asteroid Vesta with their new pirate crew, led by Captain Sloane. They’re forced into a contract with a megacorporation, Oxia Corp, and are tasked with raiding civilian targets that they never would have hit on their own. Meanwhile, the AI that followed them off of Barbary Station has plans of its own. Publishers Weekly says that it’s “heavy on rousing action scenes, political intrigue, and high AI weirdness.”

Read an excerpt.

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

In this alternate history, a pulp author named Lior Tirosh returns home after suffering a personal loss. That home is Palestina, on the border of Uganda, that was offered up as a Jewish homeland in 1904. Once he arrives, he finds himself in the midst of a complicated plot to destroy the boundary between realities. As he’s pursued by two government agents, he takes on the persona of his pulp character to try and understand the situation and survive. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that Tidhar “will leave readers’ heads spinning with this disorienting and gripping alternate history.”

Image: Sparth / Tor Books

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

The sequel to John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire brings us back to the world of the Interdependency, an interstellar empire that’s on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional path that connects the distant planets, is drying up, and Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency is forced to take measures to save her subjects. Scalzi told The Verge earlier this spring that the book looks at how people confront looming, drastic change. Publishers Weekly says the book leaves “the reader deeply invested in the developing story, with plenty left to tell.”

Read an excerpt here, here, here, and here.

October 23rd

Friday Black by Nana Adjei-Brenyah

Acclaimed author Nana Adjei-Brenyah releases his first collection, Friday Black, featuring a number of speculative and satirical works of short fiction that look at the absurdity of racism in the US. In one story, a VR theme park hires minority actors to act as terrorists. In another, self-esteem is only obtainable via injection in a post-apocalyptic school district, while in the collection’s title story, a salesman learns to translate the peculiar dialect of zombie-like Black Friday shoppers. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, and says that “Adjei-Brenyah has put readers on notice: his remarkable range, ingenious premises, and unflagging, momentous voice make this a first-rate collection.”

Image: Arsenal Pulp

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

In the distant, cyberpunk future of Larissa Lai’s new novel The Tiger Flu, a resident of the patriarchal and corporate Salt Water City arrives in a nearby community, infected with a new flu strain that kills Kirilow’s lover Peristrophe. Peristrophe was an engineered woman who could regenerate her limbs and organs, something she did to help her cloned sisters who were experiencing organ failure. Kirilow has to set out into a hostile world to find someone who can take Peristrophe’s place in their community. But evading groups that want to experiment on them, and convincing someone to leave their family proves to be more difficult than anticipated.

Read an excerpt.

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee

In its heyday, Astounding Science Fiction and its editor John W. Campbell Jr. were the center of the science fiction universe, defining the genre’s biggest tropes, and were instrumental in boosting the careers of authors like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. A new book looks at Campbell and authors Asimov, Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard for how they helped create the modern genre. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, calling it a “major work of popular culture scholarship that science fiction fans will devour.”

Read an excerpt.

Image: Penguin Random House

Thin Air by Richard K. Morgan

Richard K. Morgan is having a good year. An adaptation of his novel Altered Carbon premiered on Netflix earlier this year, and he has a new hard science fiction novel out called Thin Air. The novel is set on Mars where corporations clash with independence movements fighting against interests on Earth trying to extract as much profit from the planet as it can. In the midst of this is Hakan Veil, a cybernetically enhanced former soldier who just wants to get home to Earth. There’s a catch: he has to work as a bodyguard for an investigator from an organization called Earth Oversight. The investigator, Madison Madekwe, is on the trail of a missing lottery winner, and the two find themselves in more trouble than they bargained.

Read an excerpt.

Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson is known for books like his Mars trilogy, New York 2140, and Aurora, all of which take a deeply researched world and rich characters to tell a phenomenal story about the future. In his latest, Robinson takes a look at the Moon 30 years from now. American astronaut Fred Fredericks travels to a Chinese station to deliver some vital communications equipment, only to be accused of murdering the station’s chief administrator. The incident kicks off a major power struggle on the lunar surface and back home on Earth.

Read an excerpt here.