Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of September: 6 Top Picks

Adrian Liang on September 10, 2018

September delivers a few new twists on the science fiction and fantasy genre plus an epic conclusion to a fan-favorite urban fantasy series. Mecha battles, Arthurian legends, an apocalypse with a bright side, a mysterious biodome that heals humans, and more are among our favorites for the best science fiction and fantasy books of September. 

Below are six of our top picks. To read our full list for the month, click here.

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

Those who enjoy SF with a strong dose of the absurd will gravitate to The Spaceship Next Door. Sixteen-year-old Annie is a lifelong resident of Sorrow Falls, the current home of the only spaceship to have landed on Earth. Three years after settling outside a small Massachusetts town, the ship still inspires excitement in a handful of kooks who watch it nonstop from their RVs…and weariness from the soldiers who guard the area. But when journalist Ed comes to town and is given unheard-of access to the ship, Annie knows that something is afoot. And with her wide-ranging friendships among the townspeople and the soldiers, she's the perfect person to figure it out. A fun, bubbly read with an epic showdown.

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Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas

Ready Player One do-si-dos with The Man in the High Castle in Tieryas's tale of a modern America run by Japan after the Axis's win in World War II. Orphan Makoto Fujimoto wants only to be a mecha pilot and defeat the rebels who killed his parents, but his academic scores and a commander with a grudge put him out of contention—at least until a chance opportunity sends him down another path toward his goal. Readers of alternate history will enjoy the details of the Japanese culture enfolded into the US and the ongoing tensions with the Nazis, while the plot itself packs a punch.

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater isn't for everyone. An unlikable protagonist, an alien entity whose impact on the world is only slowly revealed, and a number of sex scenes put this outside the comfortable landscape of most science fiction novels. But readers who like their fiction with a surprising, abrasive edge will appreciate the risks Thompson takes with Rosewater. Kaaro is one of a number of people with psychic powers, but unlike most, he works for Nigeria's secret government agency. His main job is to keep tabs on the alien biodome that, once a year, heals the people in its vicinity. But Kaaro has always been a wildcard, and when he learns that his fellow psychics are being killed, he decides to go outside government channels to learn the truth. The first in a new trilogy, Rosewater opens the door to a new style of storytelling.

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Set in the time of King Arthur, Pike's historical novel with a strong dose of fantasy follows the life of Languoreth and her brother Lailoken, both of whom have been taught not only their responsibility to their people but also how to control aspects of magic that most have forgotten. Nobles, kings, sorcerers, and evil omens are tearing Languoreth's world apart, and only she can step up and change her people's path toward destruction. The Lost Queen is also the first in a trilogy, and the comparisons it has won to Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon are apt.

Happy Doomsday by David Sosnowski

What happens when everyone around you drops dead, leaving you—and perhaps a handful of others—alive in the world? Many authors have tackled this question, but few with the sharp humor and strangely zany practicality of Sosnowski. Three high-schoolers—Dev, Lucy, and Marcus—had vastly different lives before the big death: Dev had no friends, Lucy was pregnant after a one night stand with her gay best friend, and Marcus was being radicalized by extremists online. Really, the apocalypse solved some big problems for them. Sosnowski highlights the upsides to everyone dying off even as the kids grow up and face other, less pleasant realities. There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor here, and while some might decide that it wears thin awfully fast, others will enjoy seeing the apocalypse subgenre given a subversive twist.

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

In the gripping conclusion of the bestselling Kate Daniels series, Kate and Curran are now parents of a toddler with pretty hefty paranormal abilities, while Kate's evil, all-powerful father Roland is still determined to bend Kate to his will. Some parts of the story will be better understood if readers have consumed Iron and Magic, but overall, this brings Kate's story line to a satisfying conclusion even as some threads are left dangling for more tales in this world.

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