Say Hello to 25 Science Fiction & Fantasy Debuts That Will Transform Your 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

A book that will beloved by you hasn’t been born. Yet. You may not have learned your favorite author’s name. Yet.

A new year means a whole new slate of books from your favorite writers, and long-awaited next installments in favorite series. But some of the books we’re most looking forward to over the next 12 months are from new voices, or from established ones who are nevertheless debuting their first novels after winning acclaim for their shorter work. There’s nothing more exciting than finding the next writer who speaks to us. Here are 25 science fiction and fantasy debuts coming this year that can’t wait to read.

Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen (January 29)
Kin Stewart is just a normal guy with a wife and daughter working IT in the bay. Sort of. Before he got stranded in our time 18 years ago, he was a time-traveling secret agent from the future. Now his rescue team is here, ready to return him to the life and family he left behind. What a great, genre-bending premise—hardly a surprise from Chen, a mainstay in the SFF community and a contributor to sites like The Mary Sue and Tor.com.

We Cast a Shadow: A Novel, by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (January 29)
In a southern American city of the near future, ghettos and police violence are rampant. But people of color have a way out: Dr. Nzinga offers a complete “demelanization,” providing skin-deep whiteness to clients with the means to pay for it. It’s a semi-satirical premise, and promises the kind of cutting commentary that can make for a great novel.

The Ruin of Kings, by Jenn Lyons (February 5)
This is the beginning of a new epic fantasy series, and we’re excited to get in on the first floor. Which, in this case, is a dungeon holding Kihrin, a slumdog thief who is recognized as a missing prince—which does not improve his life in the way you might think. The buzz for this one has been building for months—advance copies were a hot item at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con—and everything we’ve heard indicates the hype is totally warranted.

Infinite Detail, by Tim Maughan (March 5)
Tim Maughan imagines the unthinkable: a techno-apocalypse in the form of end of the internet, triggered after an act of cyberterrorism shuts everything down. Lost, unplugged souls make their way to the Croft, an area of Bristol that had already cut itself off. There, a young woman claims that she has found other ways of connecting with others. It sounds like we’re in for a story offering a unique take on all that we sacrifice for digital convenience.

Famous Men Who Never Lived, by K. Chess (March 5)
Hel is a refugee in New York, but he didn’t cross into America over international borders, but from an alternate timeline facing with nuclear annihilation. She struggles to preserve what’s left of her culture in a world that’s increasingly hostile. Should be a timely science-fictional meditation on cultural displacement.

Today I Am Carey, by Martin L. Shoemaker (March 5)
A robot caregiver to a woman with Alzheimer’s must make its way in the world through the progression of her illness and beyond. Shoemaker’s short work is acclaimed—indeed, this novel began as the short story “Today I Am Paul,” published in Clarkesworld—and we’re looking forward to a very human book (even though it’s about a robot).

The Women’s War, by Jenna Glass (March 5)
We’re going to have to clear our calendars come March, if only to make way for what’s been billed as a fantasy epic for the #MeToo era. Women are nothing more than bargaining chips in the book’s world, until a spell gives them control over their own fertility. The result is a feminist epic fantasy, offering strong characters and inventive worldbuilding to match the provocative premise.

The Near Witch, by V.E. Schwab (March 12)
Perhaps it is cheating to tout a book by a beloved (and bestselling) talent like V.E. Schwab on a list of debuts. But when she published The Near Witch in 2011, the world wasn’t ready for her, and the book slipped quietly out of print. Now, we’re reading for it to come roaring back. It’s the story of a town plagued by missing children and haunted by a witch straight out of a bedtime story, and the woman who must divine the truth of the legend to set things right.

Titanshade, by Dan Stout (March 12)
Rumors of the death of urban fantasy have been greatly exaggerated—there’s still a lot of life (and a ton of fun) in the genre. This fantasy noir is set in Titanshade, an oil boomtown going bust in a world where magic is real and humans live alongside creatures who are decidedly not. The town’s only hope is the investment of from the amphibian Squibs—until one of them is murdered. Carter is the cop pressured to make an arrest, but there’s no doubt that’ll be entertainingly tough to do.

The Perfect Assassin: Book One in the Chronicles of Ghadid, by K. A. Doore (March 19)
Amastan is a troubled novice assassin in a powerful family, but the time for questioning his vocation comes to an end when some of the best in the business start showing up dead. It’s assassin versus assassin, as Amastan does what he can to stop the murders and protect the reputation of his family.

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine (March 29)
Nothing beats a grand new space opera, and no less than Ann Leckie has assured us we’re gonna love this one. An ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire has to navigate an increasingly unstable political situation that threatens her home. And figure out who murdered her predecessor. Complex politics, sweeping universe-building, and lofty, controlled prose are the hallmarks of this series-starter.

The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling (April 2)
Gyre Price, from a poor mining world, lies her way into a solo caving expedition on an alien planet, but finds herself in a battle of wills with her handler, Em. Oh, and they’re not alone deep underground. We’re suckers for this kind of creepy, claustrophobic, sci-fi-meets-horror thriller.

Descendant of the Crane, by Joan He (April 2)
Princess Hesina of Yan isn’t interested in her responsibilities at court—until her father is murdered and she suddenly finds herself made queen of an unstable realm. The lush, Chinese-inspired fantasy world sounds fabulous.

Finder, by Suzanne Palmer (April 2)
Palmer’s short work has already earned her a Hugo Award, so her debut novel comes pre-recommended. It’s a fun space opera concept: the story of Fergus Ferguson, an interstellar repo man–rogue, thief, and con artist who gets a little too invested in the lives of those he encounters on his latest job.

We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal (May 14)
Inspired by ancient Arabian history and legend, this is another fantasy world that we can’t wait to dive into. It’s where we’ll experience the story of Zafira, who disguises herself as a man to help feed her people, and Nasir, the conflicted son of an autocratic ruler. Each seeks an ancient magic for very different ends.

An Illusion of Thieves, by Cate Glass (May 21)
In a land where the practice of sorcery comes with a death sentence, the courtesan to a revolutionary noble falls from favor and is forced to use her secret magic to stop a civil war. Via an elaborate heist. Nothing about that doesn’t sound amazing.

The Lesson, by Cadwell Turnbull (June 18)
The alien occupiers of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands are generally benevolent, but meet any dissension with violent wrath. Three families wind up in a horrific cycle of violence in a book about family in turbulent times in a debut that has been spoken of in the same breath as last year’s standout Rosewater.

Across the Void, by S.K. Vaughan (July 2)
Commander May Knox wakes up from a medically induced coma with no memory of why she’s onboard a ship that’s falling apart. They’re calling this one a Gravity-esque thriller from a unnamed movie director working under the “S.K. Vaughan” pseudonym, so mysteries abound.

David Mogo, Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (July 9)
Orisha (Yoruba spirits) are rampant in Lagos, and pursued by the titular David Mogo, a freelance Godhunter. When one of his prizes is put to work by a wizard looking to seize control of the city, David knows he has to fix his mistake. Nigeria has been the setting for some of the best and most original SFF novels of the last few years, and this one sounds like it’ll keep up the trend.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, by H. G. Parry (July 23)
It’s got a great title, for one thing, but the premise is even better: it follows two brothers, one with the uncontrollable power to call characters from books into the real world; one who’d love to lead a normal life, but has to guard the world from his brother’s abilities. The balance is upset when they learn that someone else has similar powers. An adventure for book lovers.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, by Temi Oh (August 13)
There’s another world out there: an earth-like world to which we might escape, and build a utopia. After a century of dreaming, 10 astronauts set out to find it, and see what living their dream is really like. Getting there will only take 23 years trapped in the confines of a tiny spaceship, during which plenty can go wrong. And does. Intense—and Temi Oh’s background in neuroscience promises it will unfold with horrifying plausibility.

Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsym Muir (September 10)
Tamsyn Muir has a plethora of awards for her short work, which alone would make her debut novel appealing. But it also promises “swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers” in a story about an swordswoman with magic that can bring bones to life who is called to fight for a powerful family seeking galactic power. Sounds great. [Editor’s note: I’ve read this one, and it really, really is. Skeletons!]

The Resurrectionist of Caligo, by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (September 10)
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of a lucrative career in Victorian-era bodysnatching? Risky, but it pays well. In the case of Roger Weathersby, living the dream goes wrong in a very unexpected way after he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers. Luckily, a little blood magic and a rebellious princess might help him find the real killer. (You had us at “blood magic.”)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow (September 10)
Some of the very best stories (ever) begin with a magical portal to another world. That’s enough to get us interested, but there’s a lot more on offer in this buzzy debut. January Scaller finds such a portal in 1901, before forgetting all about it. Years later, a book stained with magic leads her back to that childhood discovery, but mysteries abound—and they’re not all nice. We’re expecting a literary fantasy full of secrets and shattering revelations.

Chilling Effect: A Novel, by Valerie Valdes (September 17)
The mercenary space captain of the La Sirena Negra battles to save her sister from a secret galactic organization. We’re hearing that this one is way fun, which is understandable since one of the plot descriptors included the phrase “space cats.” SPACE CATS.

What SFF debut are you most looking forward to reading in 2019?

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The New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

We’re done looking back at the best sci-fi and fantasy, horrorcomics, and manga of 2018. Now we turn our gaze to the year ahead: here are the new sci-fi and fantasy books coming in 2019 that our team of bloggers and reviewers can’t wait to read.

Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (September 10)
Hello, I am cheating, because I read Tamsyn Muir’s buzzy debut back in September, but I can’t think of another recent (or forthcoming!) book I’d rather experience again for the first time. It’s the story of snarky, smart-mouthed young necromancer Gideon, drafted against her will into a game of galactic intrigue that quickly turns into a meme-filled Agatha Christie murder mystery in a sealed off, decrepit space castle. With skeletons! I loved it so much I blurbed it (“Gonzo fantasy. If Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, and Ray Harryhausen collaborated on a novel on Reddit, the results might be half as mad and a quarter as entertaining as Tamsyn Muir’s necro-maniacal debut.”), and you will too. Love it, I mean. – Joel Cunningham

The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling (April 2)
I’m cheating here too, since I’ve read this one, but you don’t want to miss it: Starling’s tense and exciting debut follows a cave-diver astronaut on an alien who discovers horrors underground. I read it all the way through, barely taking any time to breathe. A must read for thriller fans. – Elsa Sjunneson-Henry

Empress of Forever, by Max Gladstone (June 18)
The Craft Sequence established Max Gladstone as one of the most innovative voices in fantasy. Now he is turning his considerable talents toward a universe-spanning space opera featuring time travel, space empires, and a swashbuckling team of far-future renegades. I have only the faintest idea of what to expect from a book billed as “a feminist Guardians of the Galaxy crossed with Star Wars,” but I know that anything from Gladstone’s word processor will be wildly imaginative, devastatingly smart, and like no space opera I’ve read before. – Kelly Quinn-Chiu

The Hod King, by Josiah Bancroft (January 22)
Erstwhile headmaster Thomas Senlin has been climbing the Tower of Babel, on the hunt for his lost wife Marya, for two books. Inching ever upward through grotesque Ringdoms, he’s amassed a motley and charming supporting cast. So, I can’t wait for The Hod King, which promises to give some of those characters (fearsome Iren, mischievous Voleta, and capable captain Edith) far more of our attention. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll hear from Marya, too. – Nicole Hill

Dark Shores, by Danielle L. Jensen (May 7)
Two continents divided by impassable-but-by-magic seas, a badass pirate princess of color, a monstrous scion of nearly forgotten gods, and a legion commander with a dark past from an Empire set on world domination? Sign me up. I’ve been longing for a sweeping epic that takes me out of the traditional psuedo-European model and into more exotic territory, and Dark Shores looks like it fits the bill, with the added bonus of what I hope will be a critical eye on colonialism and a complex emotional sub-plot to keep me engaged in this global saga. Yes, it’s billed as YA, but it has all the signs of being just as nuanced and adventurous as Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy, which I couldn’t get enough of. – Ardi Alspach

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James (February 5)
I’m so excited about Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which has been blurbed as an “African Game of Thrones”: a fantasy national epic more based on African history and folklore. The brutal, bloody politics, roster of disparate characters, and sheer freaking scope of A Brief History of Seven Killings (for which he won the Booker prize) suggests James will crush epic fantasy. – Ceridwen Christensen

Collision: Stories, by J.S. Breukelaar (February 19)
I read Breukelaar’s novel Aletheia earlier this year, and she blew me away with a story that took unexpected turns and seduced me with its vivid prose and flawed, compelling characters. It’s a book I still think about a lot. Since I love short fiction, I really can’t wait to read this collection and see what dark and magical dreams she’ll bring to life there. – Maria Haskins

Empire of Grass, by Tad Williams (May 7)
Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a classic for a reason. Twenty-five years later, Williams has returned to the land of Osten Ard with The Last King of Osten Ard trilogy, a direct sequel to his famous series, picking up with many of the same characters, themes, and locations fans know and love. The first volume, The Witchwood Crown was a brilliant reintroduction to the series, and Empire of Grass looks to continue Williams’ run as one of our generation’s greatest fantasists. It’s got everything you love—from plucky heroes to mysterious magic, a beautiful world, rich and full of life, but also ancient and barreling toward a new, unforeseeable future. – Adian Moher

The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (March 19)
I’m an unabashed mark for military science fiction that has an ethical core rather than a Physics degree. Hurley’s work is never less than impressive and this story of soldiers discovering just how they’re being deployed, and the temporal price they’re paying for it, looks fantastic. – Alasdair Stuart

This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (July 16)
I’ll read pretty much anything with the words “time war” in the title, description, or randomly on page 42, but with these two authors involved, it’s doubtless going to be pretty awesome. Especially since it all kicks off with someone finding a letter on a desolate battlefield marked “burn before reading.” Both Gladstone and El-Mohtar have earned more or less my blind allegiance, but honestly, they had me at the title. – Jeff Somers

Ancestral Night, by Elizabeth Bear (March 5)
A return to space opera after a number of years for Bear. An engineer, a pilot, an AI and a booby trapped derelict ship that leads the pair into a chase with interstellar governments, pirates, and oh yes, the black hole at the center of the galaxy. In an era where space opera is big again, I’ll be very glad to hear Bear’s voice resounding once again in one of my favorite subgenres of SFF. – Paul Weimer

Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig (July 2)
I’ve adored Chuck Wendig’s gritty, creepy writing style since his first Miriam Black novel dropped. He’s written about a zillion works since, but I’m dying to get my hands on this post-apocalyptic jewel. Perhaps because this book, teased as Station 11 meets The Stand, gives off literary-level vibes that imply Wendig is really upping his game on this one—without losing his signature penchant for the darker side of the genre. – Emily Wenstrom

Children of Ruin, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (May 14)
I’m being slightly lazy with this pick, in that Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time was my favorite book of 2018. That self-contained book didn’t demand a sequel, which makes it all the more exciting that we’re getting one—though I might be a hair disappointed if it’s not just the further adventures of hyper-evolved spiders. I expect I’ll love it regardless. – Ross Johnson

Permafront, by Alastair Reynolds (March 19)
Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, and this novella sounds poised to deliver on a great premise —what if you could travel back in time and make a slight adjustment that meant humanity avoided global catastrophe, but would leave all of recorded history intact? A no-brainer, huh? What could possibly go wrong? – Tim O’Brien

Stormsong, by C.L. Polk (February 11)
Witchmark was one of the best books I read in 2018—a beautiful, romantic, and immersive story and a breath of fresh air in a year that was pretty freaking awful. I nearly cried with joy when I heard there was going to be a sequel; I need to know what happens to everyone. Stormsong will focus on Miles’ sister, Grace, who must deal with the horrible consequences on what they put in motion in Witchmark. Storms threaten to tear their city apart and the book will probably tear my heart apart. I have a few months to get mentally ready and it still probably won’t be enough. I can not wait. – Meghan Ball

Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch (???)
Just because it doesn’t have a release date, or might not be technically finished, doesn’t mean I can’t anticipate it. It’s been almost six years since The Republic of Thieves was released, and I’m raring to get back to the world of Gentlemen Bastards—a place where the mages are ruthless, the humans are devious, and even priests and children swear like sailors. While Scott Lynch takes his time with books, his “when it’s done” approach never fails to deliver, and I’m looking forward to seeing him follow on from the devastating conclusion of book three. – Sam Reader

What’s your most-anticipated SFF book of 2019?

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