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All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019

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It’s going to be a good year for readers

Graphic by Michele Doying / The Verge

With 2018 in the rear-view mirror, 2019 lies ahead, bringing with it a ton of new science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that will bring us to new worlds and introduce us to our next favorite characters.

2019 is shaping up to be a really exciting year for readers. There are books coming from authors that we’re huge fans of, and debuts from up-and-coming novelists that we can’t wait to delve into.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the upcoming books that we’re really excited to see on our bookshelves this year. And before you ask — yes, this could be the year that George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss get around to releasing their long awaited The Winds of Winter and The Doors of Stone, but they don’t have a release date just yet. We’ll let you know if and when that happens. But in the meantime, there are tons of other, excellent looking novels hitting stores this year. Here’s what we’re the most excited for.

Winter

Image: Penguin Random House

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden made out extremely well with her debut novel The Bear and the Nightingale and its followup, The Girl in the Tower, the first two installments in a fantasy trilogy loosely inspired by Russian folklore. Now, the final installment, The Winter of the Witch is about to come out, bringing the story to a close — Moscow has been hit by a disaster, with demons bringing ruin to the country. Vasya finds herself in the midst of the chaos, and discovers some new truths about herself as she fights to save herself and her country. (January 8th)

Image: Harper Collins

Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

S.A. Chakraborty’s novel The City of Brass was one of our top picks of 2017, an epic fantasy set in the Middle East, following a woman named Nahri who discovers she has fantastical powers. In its followup, she has to embrace her heritage as she faces a new battle. She marries the heir to the king, Prince Ali, and is exiled and pursued by assassins. Years later, she finds herself trapped by a ruthless king in the city of Daevabad, while Ali agitates a civil war that could bring destruction to their home. (January 22nd)

Image: Penguin Random House

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Novelist Marlon James is best known for winning the 2015 Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. His followup was unexpected: an epic fantasy inspired by African folklore — “I realized how sick and tired I was of arguing about whether there should be a black hobbit in Lord of the Rings. African folklore is just as rich, and just as perverse as that shit.” The result is Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first installment of a trilogy about a man named Tracker as he crosses the fantastical land looking for a missing boy, aided by a group of mysterious hunters, including a shape-shifter known as Leopard. (February 5th)

Image: Tor Books

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders earned considerable acclaim for her debut novel All The Birds in the Sky, a mashup of fantasy and science fiction. Her next novel is straight-up science fiction, set on a tidally-locked planet known as January, where humanity has established a pair of cities on the light side. A student named Sophie is exiled to the night side, and as she forms a bond with its inhabitants, her resulting journey will change the fate of the world. (February 12th)

Image: Tor Books

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation edited by Ken Liu

Chinese science fiction has long been out of reach for most English-speaking fans, but that’s begun to change in recent years. Books like Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem helped and efforts from publications like Clarkesworld Magazine have opened the door to new translations, and the latest anthology comes from Ken Liu, who brings together 16 stories from authors like Xia Jia, Han Song, Baoshu, Hao Jingfang, Chen Quifan, and others, as well as a trio of essays about the state of China’s science fiction. (February 19th)

Image: Orbit Books

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Ann Leckie burst onto the science fiction scene with her excellent debut novel Ancillary Justice a couple of years ago. She’s since finished out that trilogy, and is trying her hand at fantasy next with her upcoming novel, The Raven Tower. A land known as Iraden has been protected for centuries by a god known as Raven, who chooses a human ruler to carry out his will, known as the Raven’s Lease. But the throne has been overtaken, the borders of Iraden are under attack, and Raven’s rule is weakening. A warrior named Eolo, aide to the legitimate Raven’s Lease, works to help restore the throne to the rightful ruler, only to discover a deep-seated secret that could shake the kingdom to its core. (February 26th)

Image: Saga Books

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear kicks off a new space opera series set in the distant future with Ancestral Night. Halmey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz are salvagers barely making a living, pushed only by the possibility that they might strike it fantastically rich on their next job. When they make a surprise discovery that a long-extinct alien species might be very much alive, it’ll send ripples through human space that pushes everyone into outright warfare. (March 5th)

Image: Tin House Books

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K. Chess

Following the outbreak of a nuclear war, Hel is one of thousands of people who fled from New York City into an alternate timeline — our own. While her partner Vikram and others try to assimilate into their new home, Hel refuses, and works to establish a museum dedicated to their lost home. When a beloved artifact — a science fiction novel called The Pyronauts — goes missing, she has to come to terms with what she’s really lost. (March 5th)

Image: Grove Atlantic

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson recently stepped down from her role as writer on the comic Ms. Marvel, and her next project is her novel The Bird King. The story is about a concubine of Grenada’s royal court, Fatima, and her friend Hassan, the court’s cartographer. He has a secret ability: he can create maps that bend reality. When the new Spanish monarchy sends an emissary, it soon becomes clear that their new rules will see Hassan’s abilities as a threat to their order, prompting Fatima to help him find safety. (March 12th)

Image: Saga Books

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley has impressed us before with books like The Stars Are Legion, gritty, raw science fiction that is excitingly original. Her next is being compared to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, The Light Brigade (which seems to be based off of a short story published in Lightspeed Magazine in 2015.) During a war against Mars, soldiers are transformed into light to get to the front lines quickly, and everyone comes back from the battlefields changed. Dietz is one new recruit who begins to experience the war differently from his fellow soldiers. (March 19th)

Image: Tor Books

Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald

This one was actually on our most anticipated list of 2018, but the book ended up getting delayed to this year. The final installment of Ian McDonald’s Luna trilogy follows Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon, which saw the dramatic fall of the Cortas family, which was edged out by its rivals for control of the Moon, and their subsequent plot to seek revenge. In Moon Rising, Lucas has seized control, and the only person who can stop him is his sister, Ariel. (March 19th)

Image: Orbit Books

Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey

James S.A. Corey’s next installment of The Expanse series was another book that we were really looking forward to last year, but it was bumped back March. Picking up after the events of Persepolis Rising, the militant colony Laconia has retaken the solar system and established the first human interstellar empire. Against this backdrop, a scientist works to uncover why the gate-builders vanished, while the crew of the Rocinante take up the fight against Emperor Duarte’s rule. (March 26th)

Image: Tor Books

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Arkady Martine’s debut novel is one that I’ve already been hearing quite a bit about. The start to a new space opera follows ambassador Mahit Dzmare as she’s summoned to the Teixcalaanli Empire after the death of her home’s previous ambassador. She has to navigate imperial politics as she works to find out who was behind the murder, and to protect her tiny, independent mining station from annexation. (March 26th)

Spring

Image: Mulholland Books

Motherland by Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes next book is set in a near-future America that has dealt with an epidemic that wiped out most of the male population. A woman named Cole flees across the country with her teenage son, Miles — she’s guilty of harboring and murdering a healthy man. As she works to keep her son’s identity a secret, they have to contend with the powerful man pursuing them, as well as the transformed landscape of the US to escape to a new life. (April 1st)

Image: Berkley Books

Agency by William Gibson

We revealed the cover for this back in 2017, and it’s a book that’s set in the same world as his 2014 novel, The Peripheral. This novel is set in an alternate timeline construct used in that prior book which Gibson says was “created by 22nd century intervention,” and features a world where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election. With that as the background, the book follows a talented developer is brought on to test a new product, only to be endangered by her versatile (and apparently combat-ready) digital assistant. (April 2nd)

Image: Saga Books

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel Trail of Lightning introduced readers to the incredible world of Dinétah, the traditional Navajo homeland, cut off by a chaotic world by magical walls. In its sequel, monster hunter Maggie Hoskie’s latest bounty has gone bad, she’s lost her friend Kai, and she’s now minding a young girl with strange clan powers. When she learns that Kai and a friend have fallen into a cult, she works to track him down, venturing outside of Dinétah’s walls to save him. (April 23rd)

Image: Tor Books

The Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu)

While Cixin Liu has captured considerable attention when Tor translated his Three-Body trilogy into English, he’s far from the only Chinese sci-fi writer out there. Chen Qiufan’s novel The Waste Tide is on its way, following a girl named Mimi who lives on Silicon Isle, home of the world’s largest electronic waste recycling center. She’s caught in the middle of competing interests the wealthy exploit the workers who toil in the center, trying to make a living. (April 30th)

Image: Knopf

Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang is one of the best science fiction writers in the field today, having written the story behind 2016’s Arrival. He released his first collection of short stories in 2002, Stories of Your Life and Others, and now, his second collection, Exhalation, is due out this year, containing brilliant stories such as “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and “Exhalation.” (May 7th)

Image: Orbit Books

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I recently picked up Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2015 novel Children of Time, and it’s a fantastic tale that follows humanity in the distant future. The final survivors escape from a destroyed Earth, and stumble on a terraformed planet that could be an ideal home — only that it’s home to a civilization of uplifted spiders. In this sequel, humanity and their new friends detect faint radio signals from a distant planet that was also terraformed, overwriting the planet’s original inhabitants, who might be awake once more. (May 14th)

Summer

Image: Tor Books

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

We’ve been huge fans of Max Gladstone’s Craft novels — urban fantasy with a unique take on magic. Now, he’s trying his hand at space opera, following inventor Vivian Liao who is catapulted into the distant future, where the world is ruled under the iron fist of an ancient and powerful Empress. Revolution is impossible, until Vivian arrives and begins gathering a motley group of allies. (June 18th)

Image: Blackstone Publishing

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

In Cadwell Turnbull’s debut novel, Earth experiences first contact when an alien ship comes down to hover over the US Virgin Islands. It’s crewed by alien researchers known as the Ynaa, and the novel follows Mera, a Ynaa ambassador, and her human assistant, Derrick. While the Ynaa come in peace, tensions arise as an islander is murdered, and as his brother responds in kind. (June 18th)

Image: Del Rey

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

In the near future, a strange plague sweeps over the world. It’s victims can’t be woken up, and they begin to walk. Wendig follows several characters — a rock star, a religious talk radio host, a scientist, and a teenager girl as the US falls into chaos. One girl, Shana, follows her younger sister as they begin to walk across America, contending with militias, while scientists work to figure out what’s behind the malady. (July 2nd)

Image: Penguin Random House

Dark Age by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown returns to his Red Rising saga for his fifth installment, Dark Age. After a decade of leading a revolution, he’s been banished by the Republic that he founded, and turns to a conflict against Mercury as a possible salvation. Meanwhile, heir-in-exile Lysander au Lune, has returned, determined to bring peace back to humanity by wresting control from the Gold families and facing down Darrow over Mercury. (July 9th)

Image: Tor Books / Stephan Martiniere

The Redemption of Time by Baoshu (Translated by Ken Liu)

Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body trilogy has gained a considerable fanbase around the world, enough so that they’ve inspired numerous writers to write their own fan fiction. One of those fan-written works comes from author Baoshu, who penned The Redemption of Time, which eventually became an authorized tie-in to the main trilogy. This story picks up the story of several side characters from the trilogy, and helps to explain how he became such a crucial part of the final installment of the trilogy, Death’s End. (July 16th)

Image: Harper Voyager

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War was one of our favorite books of 2018, and this sequel will pick up after that book’s devastating final act, in which Rin has watched a devastating invasion of her homeland — and committed horrific atrocities to try and save her people. Now, addicted to opium and at the mercy of a brutal god, she promises take down the Empress who betrayed her home, and joins forces with a warlord who seeks to overthrow the empire. (August 6th)

Hierophant by Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett’s novel Foundryside was one of my favorite reads of 2018. Its finale unleashed a powerful ancient force into the world, while augmented thief Sancia now has more control over her abilities to sense magical objects. In this novel, the firm she and her allies are now part of, Foundryside, are making incredible advances in magical scriving, and has attracted the interest of the reawakened presence. (August 22nd)

Fall and Beyond

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Interest in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has surged in recent years, thanks to the Hulu adaptation and the election of President Donald Trump. It’s not a huge surprise then that she’s returning to the world of Gilead with a new book, The Testaments. This story will be set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, and will follow three female characters. (September 10th)

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

One of my favorite books of 2017 was io9 founder Annalee Newitz’s debut novel, Autonomous, about pharmaceutical pirates named Jack and the robot and government agent pair who pursue her. Her next looks to be just as exciting: The Future of Another Timeline about a world in which time travel exists, and it’s impossible to change the future. But one geology professor named Eliza thinks that it is possible to effect change through collective action. She jumps back in time to the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, hoping to change an injustice to change the future. (September 24th)

American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s edited by Gary K. Wolfe.

In 2012, prominent science fiction scholar Gary K. Wolfe put together a magnificent pair of novel collections for Library of America: American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s. The two-volume set contained some of the best works of the decade, and this year, he’s releasing the long-awaited followup: American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s, which will contain Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade, Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, Roger Zelazny’s . . . And Call Me Conrad [This Immortal], R. A. Lafferty’ Past Master, Joanna Russ’ Picnic on Paradise, Samuel R. Delany’s Nova, and Jack Vance’s Emphyrio, which should provide a great survey of a critical year in the genre’s history. (September 2019)

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

There isn’t a firm date for this just yet (Amazon lists September 5th, but that’s not entirely reliable), but N.K. Jemisin’s next novel is set for this fall. In a profile last fall, GQ noted that the book is “of a kind with ‘The City Born Great’” a short story that she published on Tor.com back in 2016. The story is fantastic — about a young man who becomes the living manifestation of New York City, fighting against an otherworldly horror. If that short story and her Broken Earth trilogy is anything to go by, this is going to be a book to look out for (Fall 2019)