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SYFY WIRE Fangrrls book club

Eight SFF books to pick up this January

By Swapna Krishna

It’s a new year, and the start of a new decade! (If you want to argue with me about how 2021 is the start of the new decade and not 2020, you’re technically right but are clearly no fun.) One thing I love about a fresh new year is that it’s a time for goal setting and planning. I don’t do New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take stock of the year before and think about what I want out of the year in both my career and personal life. 

I also like to take a long look at the books coming out for the year and what I want to prioritize. Publishing ramps back up in January after a quiet holiday season, and there are quite a few amazing books coming out that should be on your radar.


Lady Hotspur - Tessa Gratton (January 7)

If you’re interested in reading about kickass warrior knight ladies, then this is the book for you. When a king-killer rises and takes the throne, Mora is faced with a terrible decision: Honor the new king, which goes against everything she’s been taught, or fight against their line. The problem? The new heir to the throne happens to be Mora’s lifelong best friend to the head of her order of knights. This promises to be an incredible story and I can’t wait to see these amazing women in action.


The Vanished Birds - Simon Jimenez (January 14)

Time works differently for Nia Imani than it does for other people. She ages incredibly slowly; decades pass as if they’re just months for her. She’s outlived all her friends, and all she has left is her work, as she travels through the stars. But then, she finds a boy who doesn’t speak and communicates by playing the flute, and through him finds a new sense of family. But it turns out there are others after the boy, and Nia must do everything she can to protect him.


The Beginning at the End - Mike Chen (January 14)

Mike Chen writes stellar literary science fiction, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating his second book. This post-apocalyptic novel, set after a deadly global pandemic, brings together four very different people as one father announces a massive and global search for his missing (presumed dead) pop star daughter. But just as the search is beginning, a new outbreak of disease looms and the four new friends must confront their pasts in order to stay together.


Night Theater - Vikram Paralkar (January 14)

This novel is set in rural India, where a surgeon must flee the city he lives in after scandal surrounds him. He settles in a small village and continues to practice medicine, chafing at the corruption and lack of resources that surround him. When three dead people, victims of a violent robbery, come to him one night and tell him they will be allowed to live if he can fix their wounds by sunrise, the surgeon will use the darkest tricks, and knowledge he can’t unlearn, in order to save them.


Zed - Joanna Kavenna (January 14)

What happens when people get in the way of corporate perfection? That’s the question this satirical novel asks, set in a future in which a company has designed a perfect world based on its algorithm. When a robot murders the CEO of Beetle, the corporation that designed the algorithm, his successor is forced to ask whether the algorithm malfunctioned, it was hacked, or whether, chillingly, it’s working exactly as it’s supposed to.


Riot Baby - Tochi Onyebuchi (January 21)

This novella (just 176 pages) is a thought-provoking story that confronts issues of race, with two siblings Ella and Kev who hold the future of the world in their hands. Both have incredible powers, but when Kev is incarcerated, it throws everything off. The story promises to tackle issues of structural racism in a shocking and brutal way, and I’m definitely interested.


A Queen in Hiding - Sarah Kozloff (January 21)

This gorgeous new novel has been compared to both Uprooted by Naomi Novik and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, which is enough to make me sit up and take notice. It’s an epic fantasy about the orphaned princess of Weirandale who must take back her throne. That’s going to be hard to do, as the corrupt aristocracy who captured it has no interest in relinquishing it, and so she must become a guerrilla fighter to get back what is rightfully hers.


Highfire - Eoin Colfer (January 28)

A generation of readers grew up on Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl novels, so it’s incredibly exciting that he is writing an adult novel. Highfire is the amazing story of a firebreathing dragon who has seen better days. He used to take to the skies now he drinks vodka and sits in his La-Z-Boy recliner and calls himself Vern. But when a young boy witnesses a corrupt cop murdering someone, he makes a deal with the dragon for protection. What Vern doesn’t realize is that this pact may change his life forever and bring back some of the glory he’s been missing.