If I lived a 25-hour day, I’d probably spend that extra hour reading sci-fi or fantasy books. (Sorry, dear family.) So many good books; so little time!
Of the science fiction and fantasy books published in October, these five are among our favorites. We loved a fantasy novel in which metal and animals can be bound to humans. A dark thriller set on an infected spacecraft. And a library set in Hell. But be sure to check out our full list of the best books of the month, so you don’t miss a thing.
Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
Rosalyn works as a janitor for a spaceship company, which unfortunately often means cleaning up dead bodies. After caught drinking on the job, she is given one last chance and one last task: Clean out the bodies from a research ship that’s been known to be lifeless for several weeks. But when she arrives, the bodies aren’t dead. They’re infected. And they’ve just gotten rid of her only way home. Madeleine Roux taps into fears of disease, zombies, space, and, most powerfully, the fear of being controlled without your consent, delivering a gripping and dark sci-fi thriller.
The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith
Everyone knows about libraries full of written books. But what happens to the unwritten books—the not-yet-started and the never-finished? They sit in Hell. When a character escapes from an unwritten book and goes to the surface to find his writer, Head Librarian Claire and her two sidekicks go up to retrieve him before he causes too much damage. But a case of mistaken identity, a disgraced angel determined to do anything to get back into Heaven again, and rumblings about whether God, in fact, is paying attention at all wrap together in this imaginative urban fantasy with a whimsical cutting edge.
Supernova Era by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen
How would you react if you learned that the radiation fallout from a supernova was going to wipe out the Earth’s population over the age of 13? If you’re over 13, you try to teach the kids how to do all the stuff that keeps civilization running. But kids aren’t always into learning. And once the older generations are gone, anything could happen. The Hugo Award-winning author of The Three-Body Problem tackles questions of civilization, choice, and humanity, giving readers much to think even as everything goes to hell.
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger
I greatly enjoyed Paul Krueger’s previous book, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, a comic urban fantasy with drink recipes (a combination I didn’t know I hankered for until I read it). His new epic fantasy takes his storytelling up several notches, to my delight. The successful rebellion of a vassal country should be the end of political and military fighting for a while, but the jostling for power—and the desire for another subjugated country to have its own sovereignty again as well—unleashes new tensions. People who can manipulate metal with their minds, and people who have bound animal spirits to them as monstrously sized warriors, along with a nuanced attention to national identity, add to the originality of Steel Crow Saga, but it’s the vivid characters that make it a page-turner.
The Burning White by Brent Weeks
Will the Lightbringer come? Readers have been hurtling toward the answer to this question throughout Brent Weeks’ five-book epic fantasy series. Book four, The Blood Mirror, delivered a number of revelations and gave former emperor’s son Kip Guile the space to develop his leadership skills. He’ll need them as he rallies his companions for the final conflict even as the fate of the world becomes perilous indeed.
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