There’s so much to look forward to in our speculative fiction future. Here are some of the science fiction books we’re most excited about and/or are currently consuming…
Top New Science Fiction in April 2020
Eden by Tim Lebbon
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: April 7
Den of Geek says: Pitched as an Amazing Race through Annihilation’s Area X, this frontrunner in the wave of New Weird-derived eco-thrillers looks inventive and tense.
Publisher’s summary: Earth’s rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction. Humanity’s last hope to save the planet lies with The Virgin Zones, thirteen vast areas of land off-limits to people and given back to nature.
Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventure racers, including his daughter Jenn, into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Jenn carries a secret–Kat, Dylan’s wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way. And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
Type: Third novel in the “Interdependency” series
Publisher: Tor Books
Release date: April 14
Den of Geek says: A science fiction list just isn’t complete without hard SF master John Scalzi. The final book in the popular series shows Emperox Grayland II struggling to keep her star-spanning culture together.
Publisher’s summary: The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems―and billions of people―are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction . . . and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.
Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.
Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?
Jack by Connie Willis
Type: Novella (New Edition)
Release date: April 30
Den of Geek says: Connie Willis is a classic science fiction writer full of wit and inventiveness. Subterranean Press turns their artistic eyes to a new hardcover edition of the historical SF novel Jack.
Publisher’s summary: During the height of the Blitz in London, the air raid rescue squad operating out of Mrs. Lucys house is close-knit and ever-watchful. When a new volunteer named Jack shows up, his odd behavior not eating, disappearing during the day for a mysterious jobisnt concerning at first. The sleepless stress of the job is hard on everyone. Soon, Jack is in high demand, due to an almost uncanny talent for finding buried people still alive under the rubble But how does he do it? As the narrator, another member of the squad also named Jack, begins to investigate, the truth turns out to have a dark, tragic twist. New York Times bestselling, multiple-award-winning author Connie Willis surprising and deftly rendered classic 1991 novella Jack, a finalist for the Nebula and the Hugo awards, is a must-have for readers of her beloved works set in World War II, including Fire Watch, Blackout, and All Clear.
Top New Science Fiction for March 2020
A Pale Light in the Black by K.B. Wagers
Release date: March 3
Den of Geek says: When you hear the term military science fiction, the image that comes to mind is usually marines with guns. In Coast Guard-inspired starship story, the key word isn’t attack, it’s rescue. This slight twist on the classic story sounds like it will open up new opportunities to explore the main character and her team, without sacrificing any action along the way.
Publisher’s Summary: For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback—until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.
Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right.
But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.
Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: March 5
Den of Geek says: A new edition of the humorous classic comes with some new commentary for the 42nd anniversary. It’s a classic for a reason, wildly inventive (essentially predicting the invention of the e-reader) and full of laughs both zany and dry. Arthur Dent’s disbelieving, tired jaunt through a weird universe is a road trip for the ages.
Publisher’s summary: An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film. Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world . . .
It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed, in large friendly letters, with the words: DON’T PANIC.
The weekend has only just begun . . .
With exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies.
The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition by Rae Carson
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 17
Den of Geek says: Whether you loved or hated the new Star Wars movie, there’s something to wonder about in the novelization. Rey’s story and its surprising twist must be a challenge for an author to reconcile. It’s a big responsibility to end the current crop of Star Wars movies, even if just in book form.
Publisher’s Summary: Witness the epic final chapter of the Skywalker saga with the official novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, including expanded scenes and additional content not seen in theaters!
The Resistance has been reborn. But although Rey and her fellow heroes are back in the fight, the war against the First Order, now led by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, is far from over. Just as the spark of rebellion is rekindling, a mysterious signal broadcasts throughout the galaxy, with a chilling message: Emperor Palpatine, long thought defeated and destroyed, is back from the dead.
Has the ancient Lord of the Sith truly returned? Kylo Ren cuts a swath of destruction across the stars, determined to discover any challenge to his control over the First Order and his destiny to rule over the galaxy—and crush it completely. Meanwhile, to discover the truth, Rey, Finn, Poe, and the Resistance must embark on the most perilous adventure they have ever faced.
Featuring all-new scenes adapted from never-before-seen material, deleted scenes, and input from the filmmakers, the story that began in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and continued in Star Wars: The Last Jedi reaches an astounding conclusion.
Buy The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition
Top New Science Fiction in February 2020
The Hidden Girl and Oher Stories by Ken Liu
Type: Short Story Collection
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 2/25/20
Den of Geek says: Ken Liu is one of today’s hottest science fiction writers, and his second short story collection could be either a good place to start or a treat for a fan.
Publisher’s summary: From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.
Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years—sixteen of his best—plus a new novelette.
In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.
Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 2/11/20
Den of Geek says: This is the first tie-in novel for the lauded Star Trek series Picard. What more can I say? Get inside the venerable captain’s head as his new adventure begins.
Publisher’s summary: A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.
Highcastle: A Remembrance by Stanisław Lem
Publisher: MIT Press
Release date: 2/18/20
Den of Geek says: Reading classic SF can put current conversations in the book world in an interesting new perspective, and MIT Press’ commitment to publishing the works of Stanisław Lem brings the classics back in a neatly packaged format. Highcastle in particular may be interesting to newcomers or classic fans who want to learn about the famous author’s influences.
Publisher’s summary: A playful, witty, reflective memoir of childhood by the science fiction master Stanisław Lem.
With Highcastle, Stanisław Lem offers a memoir of his childhood and youth in prewar Lvov. Reflective, artful, witty, playful—“I was a monster,” he observes ruefully—this lively and charming book describes a youth spent reading voraciously (he was especially interested in medical texts and French novels), smashing toys, eating pastries, and being terrorized by insects. Often lonely, the young Lem believed that he could communicate with household objects—perhaps anticipating the sentient machines in the adult Lem’s novels. Lem reveals his younger self to be a dreamer, driven by an unbridled imagination and boundless curiosity.
In the course of his reminiscing, Lem also ponders the nature of memory, innocence, and the imagination. Highcastle (the title refers to a nearby ruin) offers the portrait of a writer in his formative years.
What new speculative fiction books are on your radar? Let us know in the comments below or over at the Den of Geek Book Club!