Month: January 2016

Anticipated Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016

The explosion in publishing for science fiction, fantasy and horror makes me believe that 2016 will be an amazing years for these genres.  Orbit has stated they are expanding their publishing efforts, Houghton Mifflin has added a new SFF imprint, Marvelous SFF podcast/book club Sword and Laser seem to have started up a publishing endeavor, and of course there is the ongoing boom in self-publishing.  I have so many books I want to read, and I’m lucky enough that my gig as the science fiction and fantasy columnist for Library Journal means that I will probably not only get to read most of these, but I can share my joy (or occasional disappointment) with them in my reviews for librarians around the country.  But let’s face it. I’d read most of these even if I didn’t have to. Of course, print magazine publishing being what it is, my deadlines mean that I’ve actually read some of these, which I will note throughout. So without further ado, here are the titles I am most excited about for the first half of 2016. There’s a couple of titles scheduled later in the year (Crosstalk by Connie Willis, Cloudbound by Fran Wilde are just two examples) that I will undoubtedly devour, but that’s so far out that you never know if the pub dates will shift. I’m sure there are so many more great ones coming, so if I missed something you’re dying to read, feel free to tell me in the comments!


All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders  (Read, LOVED)
City of Blades (The Divine Cities, book 2) by Robert Jackson Bennett (Read, LOVED)
This Census-Taker by China Mieville
Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers (Read, LOVED)
Feverborn (Fever) by Karen Marie Moning



A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Read, LOVED)
A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly (Read, LOVED)
The Immortals (Olympus Bound) by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Read, LOVED)
Morning Star (Red Rising, book 3) by Pierce Brown 
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold



Marked In Flesh (Others, book 4) by Anne Bishop (Read, LOVED)
Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs (Read, LOVED)
Kingfisher by Patricia McKillip
Borderline (The Arcadia Project Book 1) by Mishell Baker
The Cold Between (Central Corps, book 1) by Elizabeth Bonesteel (Read, LOVED)


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Fellside by M. R. Carey
The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey (Read, LOVED)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Read, LOVED)
HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
Dead Letters  ed. by Conrad Williams (horror anthology with exciting list of contributors)
Join by Steve Toutonghi



Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Sixth Watch (Night Watch) by Sergei Lukyanenko
Voodoo Killings
by Kristi Charish (Canadian, but hopefully getting a US release)



Stiletto (The Rook Files) by  Daniel O’Malley
Dark Run by Mike Brooks
Necessity (Thessaly) by Jo Walton
The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London) by Ben Aaronovitch
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim) by Richard Kadrey
The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Series)by Genevieve Cogman
Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse) by James S.A. Corey


Supernova by C.A. Higgins
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Four Roads Cross (Craft Sequence) by Max Gladstone
Time Siege by Wesley Chu
Assassin’s Fate (Fitz and the Fool, book 3) by Robin Hobb



These titles have not been announced yet, but that doesn’t keep me from hoping, right?

Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin
Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss

Favorite Reads of 2015

As a librarian and a book reviewer, I read a lot of books.  This year I actually read fewer books than I have in a long time, due to a perfect storm of moving, changing jobs, and dealing with a serious illness. I got some help on the reviewing front, sharing my Library Journal column on science fiction, fantasy, and horror with a co-columnist which helped quite a bit. I still managed to read about 175 books in 2015, reviewing 146 for Library Journal.

Looking back at all that reading, some titles float right to the top as favorites. I participated in the twitter hashtag #libfaves15, which was fun but difficult to limit to only 10 titles.  I also ran down my favorites for Library Journal, but that was an even more torturous limit of 5 titles.  So here I thought I would run down my favorites in several SFF genres, NO LIMITS!  I’m not going to give full reviews here as i reviewed all of these in Library Journal, but I’ll just give a brief note about why I loved them.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot of my favorites were genre blends!

Urban Fantasy

Owl and the Japanese Circus (The Owl Series) by Kristi Charish

Why? This had a great Indiana Jones vibe with adventuress heroine Owl and plenty of exotic locales. Owl is prickly and difficult, giving the author plenty of room for character growth over this new series.

Killing Pretty: A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey

Why? Because Kadrey has managed to turn this series in a new direction, more of an old-skool urban fantasy with Stark as a supernatural P.I. Of course, he’s still Stark (aka Sandman Slim) so there’s all the seediness and profanity that series regulars love.

Vision in Silver: A Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop

Why? This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series (although it’s not really urban), with a fascinating world and a continuous storyline (don’t jump in here) with tension building slowly to a major showdown between humans and Others.

Menagerie (The Menagerie Series) by Rachel Vincent

Why? I like the angsty melodrama of this new series. Delilah’s struggles when she realizes she is not human and her imprisonment in the carnival is dark, dark dark. Not a bad readalike for Bishop’s Others series, actually.

Dragon Coast (Daniel Blackland) by Greg Van Eekhout

Why? After the amazing California Bones, the second book (Pacific Fire) was a bit of a disappointment. But Van Eekhout brings it back with this final volume. Another heist plot (yay!) and more of the character bonding that I loved so much makes this a great ending for the series.

Epic Fantasy


Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Why? This gorgeous fairy tale has a terrific heroine who fights for her friends and family but is no simple storybook cutout.  I love that it has an Eastern European flavor and the romance was lovely but didn’t overpower the story.  Great teen appeal too.

Updraft by Fran Wilde

Why? Wow, this world.  Another book I would hand to adults and teens with equal glee, the biggest appeal for me was the worldbuilding where people live in towers grown of bone and fly on man-made glider wings.  There’s family drama, teen angst, and lovely writing in this debut.

Black Wolves (The Black Wolves Trilogy) by Kate Elliott

Why? Although this was based in an established world of Elliott’s, it stands alone well and starts a fascinating new series.  I loved the world, with complicated politics and divided loyalties. Lots of Asian influences, but swirled in new ways.

City of Blades (The Divine Cities) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Why? City of Stairs was one of my favorite books of 2014, and this follow-up is just as good, while being completely different.  The action moves to a new, broken city and brings back Mulagesh and Sigrud and more of the fascinating toppled gods.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Why? I love unreliable narrators, and Baru is fascinating in her ability to be what other people want her to be while holding on to her dream of revenge against the powers that conquered her country.

Historical Fantasy, Alt History, and Steampunk


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Why?  Four Londons, each with their own level of magic, including Grey London (our London under George III) with no magic but one intrepid thief named Lila. I loved Kell, his changeable coat, and his ability to travel between the worlds but man did I love Lila!

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Why? This amazing alternate Napoleonic England is so diverse that it might destroy SFF (kidding). Zacharias is a great embattled hero, a former slave holding the highest magical post in the land. The story really takes off when he meets Prunella, a young woman with a brash spirit and a natural magical talent.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Why? Victorian Civil Servant Thaniel is so delightfully confused about what he wants. When he gets an anonymous gift of a watch and tracks down maker Keito Mori, his life changes foever. I adored Keito and his unusual abilities and his mechanical animals.  I want a clockwork octopus like Katsu.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Why? Bear sets her story in an unnamed Old West city that is delightfully rough, violent and FULL of prostitutes. I loved Madame Damnable’s brothel and the ladies who plied their trade there. This has an amazing cast of characters (including a really brutal villain) and a touch of steampunk gadgetry.

The House of Shattered Wings  by Aliette de Bodard

Why? The vivid setting in a ravaged Paris filled with warring houses of fallen angels and witches has stuck in my mind since reading this beautifully written fantasy.  There are a bunch of little mysteries, that will keep you turning pages, not the least of which is the nature of hero Phillippe and fate of most famous fallen angel Lucifer.

The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars) by Ian Tregillis

Why? What if the Dutch developed robots 250 years ago, using alchemy to bind the “Clakkers” to their will? How cool is that?!?  The Dutch rule the world, France is almost destroyed, and one Clakker has found a way to throw off his yoke and experience free will. There is plenty of action and spies making this more than just a cool idea.

Science Fiction


Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch) by Ann Leckie

Why? Even though this didn’t flatten me with awe the way the first book did, this is still easily one of the best SF books of the year. Breq’s arc has been pretty weird, but so, so satisfying. This series tackles huge ideas like what is identity, how to do the right thing (and know what the right thing is), imperialism, etc. – and makes them FUN.

The Fold by Peter Clines

Why? This works well as a smart techno thriller, with the tantalizing possibility that a government funded group has developed teleportation technology. But it takes a great step sideways into the weird midway through, and that’s what made it a winner for me. I also loved hero Mike, a genius with an eidetic memory who gets sent to check on the progress of the research group.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Why? Ripped from the headlines! The drought in the western states of America makes this SF/Thriller about the fight for water rights completely believable. Angel Velaquez (the eponymous water knife) should be too much of a violent thug to be a hero as he swindles and schemes and kills to make sure Las Vegas gets its water, but somehow he remains engaging.

Luna: New Moon

Why? Ian McDonald is such an amazing writer, but his books are sometimes challenging reads, dense with ideas. This one is interesting, but still a LOT of fun, especially the last half. I loved the feuding families on the moon (very Game of Thrones) as well as the touches of mystery. Can’t wait for the next book!

Golden Son: Book II of The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

Why? While Red Rising was fantastic, the scale was small, focused on the competition on Mars and it had a YA vibe. Now the scope has busted wide open, giving the talented author room to strut his stuff while still keeping the story of Darrow and his goal to overthrow the government from within.

Horror & Dark Fantasy


The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

Why? The character of antiques dealer Sax was so wonderful – cranky, gay, vain, clever, cowardly – all that and more! And he steals from vampires? That’s a risky career move. Plus it has a heist plot (my catnip) and vampires that are truly scary again.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Why? The idea of children being taken from their homes and raised by a psychotic godlike father figure who makes (most) of them into psychotics as well was irresistible, especially as the now grown Carolyn tries to interact with the regular humans as she looks for her missing father. Surprisingly funny while still chilling at time.

Positive by David Wellington

Why? Zombies are over, right? But this thriller of humanity after the devastation of a zombie apocalypse is gripping and scary, especially as the real monsters are (of course!) altogether human.