With Star Trek: Discovery not arriving until the fall-ish and Star Wars: Episode VIII (is The Last Jedi singular or plural? Why is the title font in red? IS LUKE GOING TO DIE??) still many months away, it's going to be a very long wait before we see new installments of the franchises we love. Luckily, science fiction in print is going through an awesome renaissance right now, with wonderful female leads (and written by women) everywhere you look.
With that in mind, I'm excited to tell you about nine awesome sci-fi novels that will delight the space-craving part of your brain and will make that wait seem a little less interminable.
After the Throne - K.B. Wagers
This first in a trilogy features a gunrunner named Hail who's been running from her past for most of her adult life. But now it's all catching up with her: she's actually a princess, the heir to the Indranan Empire, and her mother needs her back home. Hail's sisters have been murdered and her people are about to go to war. Reluctantly returning to the home she so badly wanted to forget, Hail is caught in a web of intrigue and lies and must figure out how best to help her people. This matriarchal society based on Indian culture is fascinating and Hail is a main character who you won't soon forget.
Lightless - C.A. Higgins
Althea is an engineer working in deep space and she's formed a deep bond with the ship she serves on, the Ananke. The Ananke is an extremely sophisticated military vessel, and Althea feels a connection to the ship that she can't seem to muster with any of her human crewmates. When terrorists board the Ananke and begin to sabotage the ship's systems, Althea must use all her resources to save her ship and figure out why the terrorists are on board. The relationship between human and computer is fascinating, and Higgins uses science in a great way to bolster her story.
Empress of a Thousand Skies - Rhoda Belleza
Rhiannon Ta'an is the last of her family and has been in hiding until she was of age to ascend the throne. But on the way to her celebrated homecoming, she's attacked and presumed dead. Aly, a war refugee, is convicted of Rhee's assassination. As Rhee and Aly make their separate ways through space, trying to stay alive, they much each discover the truth behind their situations. This novel is a fun romp, with a sympathetic main character who's forced to grow up very quickly. The lack of emphasis on romance makes for a refreshing change.
Afar - Leila del Duca and Kit Seaton
This graphic novel isn't out until April (which means you have plenty of time to read the rest of the books on this list!), but it's well worth waiting for. Boetema lives on a desert world with her parents and brother as her family tries to eke out a living, but Boetema has a secret: she can astrally project her consciousness to different planets as she sleeps. This is a great narrative: Boetema's family story is just as intriguing as the science fiction elements and the art and color are just gorgeous.
These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Another first in a trilogy (I know, there are so many of them), These Broken Stars features Tarver Menderson, a soldier serving aboard a spaceship called the Icarus. Lilac is a passenger on board, who just happens to be the daughter of the man who owns the ship (and much more — basically he's the richest man in the known universe). When their ship crashes on a mysterious planet. taking care of Lilac is the last thing Tarver wants to worry about — but he quickly learns she's not what he expected. Even though this is part of a series, this first volume reads like a stand-alone novel, and Kaufman and Spooner develop their main characters very well.
Star's End - Cassandra Rose Clarke
Another book you'll have to wait on (but only until late March!), Star's End is a space opera featuring a family that owns a small planetary system. Phillip Coromina is set on his daughter Esme as his heir, a role she is ready and willing to take on. But as she learns more about her father's business, Esme is shocked by what she discovers. Will Esme follow her father's wishes, or will she forge a new path? Clarke uses a back-and-forth narrative to build suspense, and it's hard not to root for Esme as she begins to unravel these mysteries.
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
It's the beautiful covers that will attract you to this sci-fi trilogy, but you'll stay for the rich world-building and earth-shattering (no pun intended) reveals that Revis is so talented at. The spaceship Godspeed holds 100 cryogenically frozen settlers, pioneers to settle a new Earth. Over the 250 years they've been in stasis, a generational crew has piloted the Godspeed to their destination. But when Amy, a teen settler, is awakened 50 years too early, she's disturbed by what she discovers aboard the Godspeed, and even more so when she finds out that she's awake because someone tried to kill her.
Persona - Genevieve Valentine
This science fiction political thriller takes place on a future Earth in which a sort of United Nations controls the politics of the world. Suyana Sapaki represents the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation, and in a world where natural resources are becoming more and more scarce, she's attracted some unwanted attention. After an unsuccessful attempt on her life, Suyana must uncover the truth behind the facade of the world she lives in — who would want to kill her and why? The politics of this thriller are fascinating, and Valentine doesn't hesitate to drop the reader into a foreign world and make them find their way.
Glow - Amy Kathleen Ryan
It's another space pioneers novel, but Glow (the first in a trilogy) tackles smart, prescient issues that we face today such as the separation of religion and state, women's bodies as a political issue and more. A dying Earth has sent two colony ships, the Empyrean and the New Horizon, on a desperate quest to establish a new civilization on another world. But when the New Horizon turns on the Empyrean, attacking them and kidnapping their women and girls, 15-year-old Waverly must decide what she's fighting for and what's worth sacrificing for what she believes in.