Highly anticipated sci-fi & fantasy of early 2021

Adrian Liang on January 05, 2021

Highly anticipated sci-fi & fantasy of early 2021

We waited what seemed like a very long time for 2021 to get here, and, well, it’s so far not too different than 2020. But take heart: There are a lot of excellent science fiction and fantasy reads coming in the first three months of 2021 that offer imaginative new stories and a way to step out of everyday reality.

Below are the most preordered sci-fi and fantasy books from January through March, highly anticipated series additions, and bright-star debuts that promise to shake things up.

Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Soule kicks off a new Star Wars series centered on the High Republic, which takes place centuries before The Phantom Menace. The Jedi Order is an esteemed and important part of the galaxy in the High Republic, and they are sent to deal with a space disaster that threatens billions, only to wonder if the disaster might not have been an accident after all. Disney+ announced a future live-action show, The Acolyte, set during the High Republic period, but luckily fans don’t have to wait to start reading about this new part of the Star Wars universe. (January 5)

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews brings readers back to the enormously popular world of Kate Daniels with a new novel centered on Kate and Curran’s ward, Julie Lennart-Olsen, who returns to Atlanta under a new identity as she searches for a way to stop an ancient power from targeting Kate. (January 12)

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Stories about demigods are among my favorites, so I can’t wait to read Elle’s debut fantasy novel about a teen who straddles the worlds of gods and humans, and who must battle an evil that threatens both. The publisher says this book is “perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games,” which is three more great reasons to start reading this book as soon as it’s available. (January 26)

Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Space adventure, murder, and romance collide in Maxwell’s debut sci-fi novel. An arranged marriage between a prince of the Empire and a count who leads a vassal planet is designed to bring peace, but a suspected homicide undermines the arrangement. This book is being billed as “Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue." (In other words: sheer awesomeness.) And said Ann Leckie herself about this book, “Delightful! Winter's Orbit is a chilling account of a dark past wrapped in the warm blanket of a promising future. It was such a pleasure to read.” (February 2)

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

One of the most preordered books of the season is Maas’ fourth novel in her A Court of Thorns and Roses series. While the earlier books were geared toward teens, this newest addition is unabashedly adult as readers follow the adventures of Feyre’s sister Nesta, who is struggling with both grief and her new High Fae identity. (February 16)

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

It’s one thing for your husband to cheat on you—but what does it mean when he does it with your clone? Entertainment Weekly describes The Echo Wife as “A trippy domestic thriller which takes the extramarital affair trope in some intriguingly weird new directions.” Those who like how Neil Gaiman doesn’t restrict himself to a single genre will appreciate Gailey’s range of stories, too. Debuting with an alternate history set in the West with feral hippos and most recently exploring magical murder noir, Gailey delivers page-turning novels. (February 16)

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

Martine wowed us in 2019 with A Memory Called Empire, a space opera wrapped in a mystery and skewered with a sharp interrogation of empire building. It also won the Hugo Award for best novel, which is a pretty big deal. Now the sequel arrives, as a new power lurks on the edge of the empire’s space, causing the balance of power to shift as the empire has to guard itself from threats both inside and out. (March 2)

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

While Briggs is perhaps better known for her Mercy Thompson series, her Alpha and Omega novels are no less propulsive and are set in the same world in which werewolves are real, and so are magic and the fae. Werewolves Anna and Charles are tasked with solving some of the pack’s toughest problems, but even they might have met their match when they investigate the vanishing of a town full of people in the wild mountains of Northern California. (March 16)

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

Divided loyalties, high-stakes political games, and a desert empire on the brink of civil war form the backdrop of this fascinating new fantasy novel. A battered army soldier and the niece of the emperor don’t have a lot in common on the surface, but Touraine and Luca find themselves unlikely allies and sometime enemies in this series-starter. (March 23)

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

At the end of March, master storyteller Leigh Bardugo concludes her fantasy duology that began with King of Scars. Bardugo excels at creating high-octane action and deeply flawed but magnetic characters, and this addition to her Grishaverse will give readers a new story to plunge into as they await the April release of the Netflix series, Shadow and Bone, set in the same world. (March 30)

Looking for more? Also arriving between January and March are Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control, Charlie N. Holmberg’s Spellmaker, Luanne G. Smith’s The Conjurer, Karen Marie Moning’s Kingdom of Shadow and Light, and Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Iron.

And the rest of the year promises to be mind-blowing too, with Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary, Martha Wells’ Fugitive Telemetry, Naomi Novik’s The Last Graduate, Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good, and P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn, among many, many others.

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