Last year marked the release of some of the most remarkable and trail-blazing novels in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. Some of these were penned by acclaimed writers and others by emerging talent or first-time authors. From magic to assassins, from secret worlds to dragons, these books give us the much-needed escape from the humdrum, everyday life and will satiate the imagination of the most avid fiction readers. Here is a list of our most favorite sci-fi and fantasy titles of 2019.
Wanderers is a novel that tells the haunting story of a plague that has swept across the world. The plague afflicts people with a mysterious sleep that they are unable to wake up from and everybody afflicted is sleep-walking towards a mystery destination. The harrowing story is a real page-turner that begins with a small farm in Pennsylvania and follows the story of Shana and her younger sister as they uncover the secret behind the plague.
Ivy Gamble is a private investigator with a slight drinking problem who harbors a deep resentment for magic. When Ivy is hired to investigate a gruesome murder at the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, she knows it is a big step up for her career which usually involves investigating insurance fraud or following unfaithful spouses around. Magic for Liars is a unique and intriguing blend of investigative noir and mainstream fantasy.
The Winter of the Witch is the culmination of the Winternight Trilogy that began with The Bear and the Nightingale and was followed by the second book in the series, The Girl in the Tower. The third book in the series follows the adventures of Vasya Petrovna, a Russian peasant girl who is endowed with a spiritual gift and is able to see supernatural creatures that inhabit her village. Vasya is an undaunted heroine who is determined to forge her own destiny and to save both Russias, the one visible to everybody and the one only she can see.
Recursion is a mind-bending sci-fi thriller that explores the intricacies of time, reality, identity, and memory. The novel is a gripping page-turner that follows New York City cop Barry Sutton and neuroscientist Helena Smith as they investigate the phenomenon called False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious illness that is driving people insane with memories of lives they have never lived.
Max Gladstone is the author of the successful Craft fantasy series. His novel Empress of Forever is his first attempt at a space opera. The ingenious novel is the story of inventor Vivian Liao who finds herself launched into the distant future where the world is ruled by a tyrannical and ancient empress who holds absolute power and can bless or destroy entire planets with a single thought. Rebellion is considered impossible until Vivian begins to assemble a ragtag group of allies to challenge the empress. The novel is outlandish, grand, and has elements that will remind you of Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars.
A science fiction novel that is set on a planet with an extreme climate where one side is permanently day and the other is permanently night. Charlie Jane Anders infuses her prose with imagination, emotion, and compassion in this novel as we accompany the protagonist Sophie who is exiled to the night side of the planet, forming a bond with its inhabitants that will change the fate of their world.
From the award-winning author of Alif the Unseen, comes a story of a sultan’s concubine named Fatima and her cartographer friend Hassan, who has the mysterious power to create maps that bend reality. Set in 15th century Europe, when the new Spanish monarchy begins to view Hassan’s abilities as a threat to their power, Fatima is prompted to help Hassan find safety.
In this debut novel by Cadwell Turnbull, mankind comes into first contact with an alien race as an alien ship descends over Water Island. The story unfolds as the islanders learn to live amicably among the Ynaa, a super-advance race of alien researchers. Although the aliens come in peace, their relations with the locals are soon strained and tensions arise when an islander is murdered. With his prose, Cadwell paints a picture of intense depth and profound meaning that explores the motifs of colonialism and the power of human ambition.
This political space opera begins when our protagonist Mahit Dzmare arrives in the capital city of the interstellar Teixcalaanli Empire as the new ambassador from a tiny mining station, only to find out that her predecessor has died under mysterious circumstances. The novel will take you on a journey of discovery and survival as Mahit attempts to find out who is responsible for the murder of the former ambassador, and as she desperately strives to save her own life and prevent her mining station from annexation by the empire.
Middlegame is a standalone fantasy novel that tells the story of a fanatical alchemist with a dream of god-like world-domination. The novel is an amazing work of fast-paced, epic, and otherworldly storytelling that will completely hold your attention as you flip through its pages.