Must-read sci-fi and fantasy of fall 2020

Adrian Liang on September 01, 2020

Must-read sci-fi and fantasy of fall 2020

Looking ahead at the science fiction and fantasy books coming out this fall, I suggest that we all take off the two months of October and November for reading.

Not only do seasoned writers return their readers to beloved worlds, but authors are launching new series as well.

Start accumulating that vacation time, readers. You’re going to want to use it with these books.

Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

In Battle Ground, the Last Titan is bringing an unstoppable army to Chicago with the goal of enslaving humanity. Dresden has faced a lot of Big Bads in his time, but this one could be the biggest and baddest of them all. If you’re looking for breakneck-paced urban fantasy, Jim Butcher’s novels can’t be beat. (September 29)

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Those who wonder why parents continued to send their magical kids to Hogwarts will really wonder about the parents in A Deadly Education. Every single day at the magical high school called the Scholomance, El has to fight for her life, whether she’s walking to class, getting lunch in the cafeteria, or browsing the library. (Though no one really “browses.” That’s a fast way to get yourself dead.) But being tough is how she’s going to stand out when it comes to making alliances during the final years of school, so having her life saved multiple times by Orion doesn’t make El grateful—it makes her mad. Novik is clearly having a great deal of fun with El (named for Galadriel), this horrible school, and the far scarier world outside, even as she thoughtfully tackles trauma, privilege, loneliness, and true friendship. (September 29)

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January was among of my favorite fantasy adventure reads of 2019. With The Once and Future Witches, three very different sisters come to the same conclusion: the only way for women to gain respect and safety—and to gain the right to vote—is by reviving the lost skills of witchcraft. You’ll cheer on these sisters as they draw together despite past differences to help women fight for and hold on to power. (October 13)

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Inspired by pre-Columbian Americas, Roanhorse (Trail of Lightning) sets three protagonists on a collision course—a spiritual leader struggling to connect with the disillusioned people, a blind man with otherworldly powers and who is destined for greatness, and a ship captain whose skill upon the waves will make or break the future. Roanhorse’s fantasy gives a new mythology an intimate and familiar feel, even as she propels the reader to flip madly through the pages to find out what happens next. (October 13)

The Last Druid by Terry Brooks

Brooks brings his masterwork Shannara series to a stunning close in The Last Druid, the chronological finale to an epic that began in 1977 with The Sword of Shannara. If you've been a longtime fan, you might want to have a hanky handy. (October 20)

The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

Winter’s hard-hitting fantasy novel The Rage of Dragons introduced readers to Tau, a young man whose dedication to revenge destabilized a country already teetering between fear and cruelty. Now Tau and the ousted queen must walk an even more dangerous path to save their people from annihilation. (November 10)

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Some authors create worlds. Sanderson creates an entire universe, known as the Cosmere, and epic fantasy readers can’t wait to return to. In November, Sanderson follows 2017’s Oathbreaker with the high-stakes battles in Rhythm of War, in which the Knights Radiant must wrestle with a future that may involve the end of the Radiants. (November 17)

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

“I'm trying to write a sequel to the book and not to the movie,” Ernest Cline told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2018. And, folks, that’s all we know about this highly anticipated sequel. Cline’s Ready Player One was the rare sci-fi adventure that has captured readers who aren’t normally sci-fi fans, and readers now have their fingers crossed that he delivers that storytelling magic again. (November 24)

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