I'd like to take a moment to talk a little bit about some books I'm looking forward to maybe reading in 2019. This is a much higher level look at the year than what we do in the New Books Spotlight each month. It's an opportunity to begin the year with our excited faces firmly on and in place about so much of the goodness that is coming our way.
As with any list, this is incomplete. Any number of stellar novels and collections have not been announced yet and will slot into place at some point this year. Some books on this list scheduled for later in the year may be pushed back into 2020 for any number of reasons. Some books are left off this list because they are the third or fourth book in a series I've never read. Some books are left off because they are not to my taste and thus, I'm not actually looking forward to them. Some books are left off this list because I haven't heard of them yet, even though they've been announced. Some books are left off this list because, sadly, I completely forgot about it even though I've tried to do as much research as possible. Finally, some books are left off this list because I had to draw the line somewhere and 24 seemed like it might be enough for one man's survey.
After all, we do still have the New Books Spotlight to look forward to each month. I'm sure in many cases there will be some overlap, but discussing and arguing is half the fun, isn't it?
1. Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher (Jan, DAW): Cherryh returns to her Alliance / Union Universe and that by itself is enough to have me reaching for this book. Alliance Rising appears to be part of the Company Wars sub series, following 1997's Finity's End. While I may be waiting (in vain?) for a follow up to Regenesis, I will take absolutely anything from Cherryh set in the Alliance / Union.
2. In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire (Jan, Tor.com Publishing): I absolutely adore Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series of novellas. In an Absent Dream is the fourth and promises to be just as good as the first three. Every Heart a Doorway (my review) was an instant classic.
3. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James (Feb, Riverhead): It is notable when an author known for literary fiction jumps full hearted into fantasy fiction (see, David Anthony Durham), but Marlon James is a Man Booker Prize winner for The Brief History of Seven Killings. This is sure to be one of the biggest and most important releases of the year.
4. The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie (Feb, Orbit): Leckie is best known for her science fiction (Ancillary Justice won nearly all the awards, each of the novels were finalists for most of them). The Raven Tower is Leckie's foray into fantasy. More Ann Leckie is always a good thing.
5. The Ruin of Kings, by Jenn Lyons (Feb, Tor): Perhaps every era is an era of major fantasy debuts, but The Ruin of Kings has the pre-release hype and buzz to be a major epic fantasy debut. I'm down for this epic of an orphan finding that he is a long list prince only to turn that convention on its head when he learns everything is awful and maybe he should help destroy the empire.
6. Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, by Sarah Pinsker (Mar, Small Beer): One of the biggest breakout voices in short fiction in recent years has been Sarah Pinsker. In any given year you'll often see Pinsker's stories on one awards ballot or another, including a Nebula Award win for "Our Lady of the Open Road". We're here for this collection.
7. Ancestral Night, by Elizabeth Bear (Mar, Saga): Bear returns to hard science fiction and space opera with Ancestral Night. There are alien devices, space pirates, and most importantly, it's written by Elizabeth Bear.
8. The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley (Mar, Saga): Expanded from Hurley's excellent short story of the same title, The Light Brigade is a military science fiction novel that looks at the future of warfare where soldiers are beamed into battle on faraway planets. Hurley can be counted on to consistently tell a kick ass, brutal story that will just stab you in the gut again and again and again. I can't wait.
9. Tiamat’s Wrath, by James S.A. Corey (Mar, Orbit): Originally scheduled for December 2018 (the traditional publication month for The Expanse), Orbit bumped Tiamat's Wrath back to March 2019 in order to benefit from the publicity push for Season 4 of the tv show. While I'm disappointed to not have already read Tiamat's Wrath, I remain excited to get this book in my hands. The previous book, Persepolis Rising marked a notable shift in the series and it was excellent.
10. Storm of Locusts, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apr, Saga): Trail of Lightning was a debut novel that made a statement that if you somehow missed her debut story "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience" which propelled her to a Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, you seriously need to pay attention to her work. Trail of Lightning kicked your ass and left you coming back asking for more of Maggie, monster hunter and member of the Dine people. Am I ready for Storm of Locusts? You're damn right I am.
11. Motherland, by Lauren Beukes (Apr, Mulholland): The male population of the United States has been nearly destroyed by a virus and a mother is on the run, trying to hide and protect her young son. I'm down for the concept of the novel, and I'm down for anything written by Lauren Beukes.
12. The Red-Stained Wings, by Elizabeth Bear (May, Tor): The Stone in the Skull was one of the finest novels of 2017 and the beginning of a new trilogy. Bear continues the story of Gage and the Dead Man in The Red Stained Wings and I could not be more excited for it. One of these years Bear will be a Hugo finalist for Best Novel and it will be both richly deserved and long overdue. Bear is one of our best writers and any new novel is an absolute treat.
13. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang (May, Knopf): New. Ted. Chiang. Collection.
14. The Dragon Republic, by R. F. Kuang (May, Harper Voyager): The Poppy War was one of the best fantasy novels published in 2018 and did so much work in one book that many other writers would have taken two, if not three volumes to cover the same ground. It was one hell of a debut and I was ready for The Dragon Republic the moment I finished it.
15. Jade War, by Fonda Lee (Orbit, May): The follow up to
one of the best novels of 2017, which I unfortunately read in late 2018
and could not nominate it for all of the awards. Jade City was an
incredibly strong novel of warring crime families. The continual
comparison is to The Godfather, but saying "The Godfather, but with
magic" is a really strong selling point.
16. The Deep, by Rivers Solomon (Jun, Saga): Following the incredibly powerful An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon is adapting Clipping's Hugo nominated song "The Deep" into a novel. The song, and thus the novel, will feature the underwater dwelling descendants of the pregnant African slave women who were thrown overboard by slavers. I may need to listen to the song a few more times and I'm not sure I'm truly ready for this novel, but The Deep has the potential to be one of the most important novels of 2019.
17. Sleight of Shadows, by Kat Howard (Jun, Saga): At this point I don't know a single thing about this novel, except that it is a new novel by Kat Howard and that is honestly enough for me. The title makes me wonder if it is a sequel to An Unkindness of Magicians, but it really doesn't matter much to me.
18. Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey (Jun, Tor): Were you a fan of the American Hippo novellas and want to see what Gailey can do at novel length? Me, too. Described as "The Magicians meets Tana French", I'm down for Gailey's debut novel.
19. Down Among the Dead, by K.B. Wagers (Aug, Orbit): More Hail Bristol! We're one book behind and still have 2018's There Before the Chaos on the bedside table, but we absolutely loved her Indranan War trilogy and 2019 is the year we catch up on both of the Farian War novels so far published).
20. The Survival of Molly Southbourne, by Tade Thompson (Aug, Tor.com Publishing): I don't know how Thompson is planning to follow up The Murders of Molly Southbourne, a short novel of a girl who is at war with clones of herself that are created every time she bleeds, but Murders was such a fantastic novel and I don't think it received quite enough attention. Here's hoping that the republication of Rosewater helps to raise the profile of the Molly Southbourne books.
21. The Iron Season, by Helene Wecker (Sep, Harper): The Golem and the Jinni was a finalist for the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. It was pretty spectacular. The Iron Season is Helene Wecker's long awaited sequel and though Wecker has set herself a fairly high bar, I feel confident that she will be able to meet it.
22. A Little Hatred, by Joe Abercrombie (Sep, Orbit): I took a bit of a break from reading Abercrombie following Red Country, which is to say that I never quite got around to picking up his Shattered Seas trilogy (not set in the First Law universe). Well, he's back with a new First Law trilogy and so am I. A Little Hatred is set some 15 years after Red Country and that's all that I really know about it - but all that I really need to know is that it's a new Joe Abercrombie novel and I want to read it.
23. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (Sep, Nan A Talese): The Handmaid's tale was a singular, influential, landmark, and legendary novel. It's been thirty four years since it was published. Margaret Atwood has announced a sequel. This might be the "event" novel of the year. It is certainly now one of the most anticipated.
24. Song for the New Day, by Sarah Pinsker (Oct, Ace): This is the debut novel from Sarah Pinsker. As a general rule, I wouldn't have one author make two appearances on this list, let alone three authors with two appearances, but Sarah Pinsker's short fiction is so exceptional that there is no question that I'm going to follow wherever she leads and the announcement of her first novel was a cause for celebration and anticipation.
So, that's it. 24 books I'm looking forward to in 2019. Except, of course, I'm really looking forward to all the books. I've had to fight myself to not make this the "36 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2019" and if you're reading this as is, it means that I didn't make a last hour dash to expand the list in despair at leaving anything off. There are so many exciting books coming out this year. I didn't mention The True Queen, Zen Cho's follow up to 2015's Sorcerer to the Crown (has it really been four years now?). I didn't include the third novel in Aliette de Bodard's Dominion of the Fallen series, The House of Sundering Flames. As excited as I am for Gods of Jade Shadow (Silvia Moreno-Garcia) or Amnesty (Lara Elena Donnelly), I also left them off the list. There are new novels from Wesley Chu, Charlie Jane Anders, R.F. Kuang, Guy Gavriel Kay, Ken Liu, and Karen Lord. There are debut novels from Arkady Martine (A Memory Called Empire) and Hao Jingfang (Vagabound).
And all of that doesn't even take into consideration the question marks of whether we will see The Winds of Winter from George R.R. Martin this year. I am perpetually looking forward to The Thorn of Emberlain, the fourth volume of Scott Lynch's excellent Gentleman Bastards sequence. Since Kameron Hurley is publishing The Light Brigade in March, I can only imagine that means The Broken Heavens will either publish in very late 2019 or will push into 2020. Oh! And don't forget about Unconquerable Sun, by Kate Elliott (genderbent Alexander the Great in spaaaaaace), which may well be called something else when it comes out.
So many books. So little time.
I know I say this pretty much all the time, but this should be another awesome year for science fiction and fantasy. What are you looking forward to?
POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.