Even though it’s only October and there are still two more months left for publishing and reading in 2019 we are already assembling our “best lists”.
Here are some of our favorite speculative fiction works this year (so far):
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Sophie and Bianca, and the itinerant Mouth narrate the novel. Sophie is spellbound by Bianca, a beautiful girl from the ruling class with bold ideas about how to change the society they are in, intoxicating with out-sized personality and revolutionary dreams. This is a story of ecological consequences, humanity’s push and pull for control and freedom, our need to have someone to believe in, how our idea of the person we love may be quite different from the person they truly are, and how it is so hard to admit when we have been betrayed by a person we thought worthy of our trust.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang. Ted Chiang is considered one of the best science fiction short story writers of our time. Over twenty-eight years, Chiang’s entire output has been comprised of fifteen stories. His stories have won twenty-seven science fiction awards and his slow and steady pace as well as the intellectual and emotional acumen of his work has garnered him a dedicated fanbase. This contains two of my favorite novellas of all time and they get me on an intellectual and emotional level every time I read them—these stories are just that special.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. Seanan McGuire is a prolific writer and her work is also varied and getting better all of the time. Her latest is a character-driven fantasy involving twins, math, and a nefarious plan hundreds of years in the making. Roger and Dodger are twins separated at birth, raised across the country, who start telepathically communicating at a young age. But how can they do this, and why do they seem to be two halves of a whole? Creepy, beautifully written and layered, such a treat. For fans of Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. The fall is the perfect time for big, immersive books and even books that might just scare the hell out of you and Wendig’s Wanderers delivers! The book starts with sleepwalkers— Shana Stewart to finds her sister Nessie sleepwalking in their driveway in a zombie-like trance and can’t wake her up. Shana follows her sister to protect her and becomes a part of the shepherds, a group of people following their loved ones as they join this mysterious group of sleepwalkers. Conspiracy theories abound in the media as this phenomenon unfolds. While society argues, a sinister virus goes to work and a scientist and sentient AI called Black Swan try to solve the deadly puzzle before it’s too late. Wanderers is being compared to Stephen King’s The Stand and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and for good reason—it’s just as gripping and just as terrifying.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. Ivy Gamble is a P.I. to whom people don’t “stick.” She drinks too much and spends most of her professional time chasing after unfaithful husbands and wives (or those their spouse suspects might be) and petty criminals. Then a headmaster at the magic school where Ivy’s twin sister Tabitha works makes a visit to the office asking Ivy to investigate the murder of a teacher there. Only Ivy and Tabitha haven’t talked for years, because Tabitha is magic and Ivy is not. This character-driven fantasy mystery with a slippery narrator examines family dynamics, sibling rivalry, calcified misunderstandings, some strange and conniving teens, a library with whispering books, and a magic school that doesn’t sound any more alluring than any other high school where popularity politics reign supreme.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
~posted by Misha S.