February is upon us, and it's an excellent month for science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes, it's difficult to figure out what to feature in this column; it involves hunting for titles I think look good. It can be challenging, but in some ways, having too many good titles to feature is just as cumbersome. That's how February's list ended up.
This month, I balanced between hard sci-fi and lush fantasy worlds. There are some literary-leaning picks on here, as well as some fascinating adventure titles. Hopefully there are a few titles on here (Star Trek: Discovery! Space pirates! What to read next if you loved The Martian!) that will pique your interest.
Semiosis - Sue Burke (February 6)
The tagline of this book, “Sentience takes many forms,” is enough to freak me out, but also make me very interested. I love near-future sci-fi story, and this is an epic novel set on a human colony in space, and deals with first contact. That’s all I know, but this seems to be the type of book where the less you know, the more exciting it is to read it.
The Gone World - Tom Sweterlitsch (February 6)
I’ve been hearing so much about The Gone World, so I’m excited that the release date for this sci-fi thriller is finally here. It features Shannon Moss, who works for a secret division of the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service. She discovers that what at first appears to be a pretty simple murder case — that of a Navy SEAL’s family — becomes much more complicated when she realizes whose family it was: an astronaut who had experienced time travel and then disappeared. And his family’s murder may be related to these experiences.
Star Trek: Discovery: Drastic Measures - Dayton Ward (February 6)
If you haven’t been watching Star Trek: Discovery, I don’t know what to say because it’s currently my favorite show. (Please, spare me the complaining about the subscription — I know, I agree it’s frustrating, but that’s not the point here.) This novel takes readers back to a meeting between Captain Georgiou and then-Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca 10 years before the Battle of the Binary Stars, when they must rescue a colony from mass starvation.
Gunpowder Moon - David Pedreira (February 13)
If you’ve been searching for a book to scratch that The Martian itch, then you should definitely pick up this novel. “The Moon’s first murder is just the beginning,” is such a great hook, and the near-future story combines science and tech in a fascinating way. I have to say that the female character (the lone female character) in this book is not the best written — she’s capable, but there’s a lot of description involving her smooth skin and biting her lip — but if you can get past that, this is a fun, interesting read.
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton (February 20)
The Belles is going to be one of the biggest books of the year, in my opinion, not the least of which because it has a stunning cover. It’s set in a fantasy world called Orleans in which a young woman named Camilla Beauregard is one of the most beautiful people in a world where beauty is power. It’s a mix of royal intrigue, biting social commentary, and lush prose that draws you in. I adored the world that Clayton built in this book, and it definitely left me wanting more.
Fire and Bone - Rachel A. Marks (February 20)
A fantasy novel set in Los Angeles about the daughter of a Celtic goddess? SIGN ME UP. This creative book features Sage, who discovers her divine origins at the age of 18 and must contend with the attentions of five different deities who want her allegiance. I always enjoy books where the main character is thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, and I’m curious to see what kind of mythology Marks dreams up for her setting.
Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories - Vandana Singh (February 20)
This short story collection is intriguing, especially considering there’s a blurb from the late great Ursula K. Le Guin right on the cover. This is Singh’s first collection to be released in North America, and her stories combine her science background with the humanism necessary for compelling fiction. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she handles the strangeness and wonder of the best sci-fi in a story collection.
The Tangled Lands - Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell (February 27)
Paolo Bacigalupi is such a talented author, and his newest book, written with bestselling author Tobias Buckell, looks fascinating. It’s set in the last city of an almost forgotten empire that fell because of its overuse of magic. It’s controlled by a tyrant king whose minions try to collect all the magic that’s left in an effort to control the populace — until the citizens rise up against him. Stories of resistance are especially resonant right now, so I’m definitely looking forward to diving into this story.
Heart of Iron - Ashley Poston (February 27)
A fantasy novel inspired by the Romanovs and the story of Anastasia? I can get behind that, which is why I find the premise of Heart of Iron so intriguing. Seventeen-year-old Ana is a space pirate who doesn’t know the identity of her birth parents. She was found as a child in the wreckage of a spaceship, and has lived in the company of her fellow pirates. But when she needs to find tech to help one of her crewmates, Ana finds herself on the run. When secrets from her past begin to surface, she knows nothing will ever be the same.