Spring has sprung—technically, at least. (Your narrator stares moodily out the window at the gray looming fog over New Jersey.) With a new season comes a new crop of books whose arrival we await with impatient delight, tearing into mailers until we are all coated in a thin layer of that mysterious dust inside those very special mailers—you know the ones. Nothing will stop us in our quest to find the best things in the mail—or the bookshop. Between now and the summer solstice, we’re anticipating new series from beloved authors, alternate histories full of spies and zombies, the conclusion to a vivid SF trilogy, and, of course, Murderbot.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (April 3, Balzer + Bray)
Justina Ireland’s much-anticipated YA alternate history finds soldiers from both sides rising from the dead after the end of the Civil War. Jane McKeene, who was born just before the dead soldiers rose, has been trained to fight to the dead, but not by choice: the Native and Negro Reeducation Act forces black and native youths to be foot soldiers in the war, sparing the wealthy and white from combat. But Jane, fresh from her schooling at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, finds herself caught up in a murderous conspiracy that makes fighting zombies seem a safer option…
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente (April 10, Saga Press)
The elevator pitch is “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision.” We can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but we hardly needed to hear anything else before adding this shiny new Valente novel to our TBR stacks.
Head On by John Scalzi (April 17, Tor Books)
Lock In was such a fun-but-also-smart look at technology in society, with “threeps”—cyborg bodies piloted by consciousnesses locked-in by disease—and now the sequel promises even more of that fabulous world, with the added element of an entire threep-based sport, a sort of combo of American football and gladiatorial combat.
The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso (April 24, Orbit)
Fans of last fall’s The Tethered Mage hardly had to wait at all for this sequel, which follows magically bonded Lady Amalia and rogue warlock Zaira as they go behind enemy lines to stop a war. If you perchance would like one more reason to pick up Caruso’s books, how about her excellent Twitter thread on how to fight in a ballgown? (This thread is a stellar example of what gifs are for.)
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (May 1, Harper Voyager)
Kuang’s military epic fantasy debut begins with a nervous orphan taking a test that will change her life. When Rin is accepted into the most elite military school in her country, she’s free of her guardian’s expectations (arranged marriage, ugh), free of servitude—and suddenly facing entirely new challenges from her awful classmates and a deadly power that links Rin with a vengeful god. Just another day at boarding school, right?
King of Ashes by Raymond Feist (May 8, Harper Voyager)
If you grew up on Feist’s Riftwar books and are wondering if he’s still got it, you’re not alone. (We still think about Jimmy the Hand from time to time.) King of Ashes is the first book in an entirely new series, set in an entirely new world, and focusing on two orphaned boys whose fates are entwined. One is a secret heir, one a master swordsmith—and both must find out what happened to the long-since-destroyed Kingdom of Flames.
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (May 8, Tor.com Publishing)
Beloved Murderbot is back! If that sentence seems weird to you, we suggest you start with the first Murderbot novella, All Systems Red. It’ll explain everything … except the mystery explored in Artificial Condition. Murderbot gave itself that name, but doesn’t really remember the massacre that inspired it. So with the help of a research transport vessel, Murderbot heads off to investigate the place where it went rogue. We have a sneaking suspicion it may find more than it bargained for.
Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly (May 15, Tor Books)
“You can read Amberlough as a queer Le Carré novel, or as a fantastical Cabaret,” wrote our reviewer of Donnelly’s first Amberlough Dossier novel, “or you can read it as I read almost every book, regardless of intent: as a handbook for resistance.” Timely, smart, and lush, Amberlough left its three main characters in what might be delicately described as Very Precarious Positions, and we are anxious to see what the rise of a horrible fascist state holds for these spies and dancers and lovers.
The Outsider by Stephen King (May 22, Scribner)
Stephen King’s latest deals with an especially gruesome topic: the murder of a small child. However, rather than dwell on the crime itself, King looks at how the it echoes through a small town … especially as more clues point to the killer being a popular Little League coach. But of course, this is King, so nothing will be as simple as it appears.
Legendary by Stephanie Garber (May 29, Flatiron Books)
Donatella Dragna and her sister Scarlett have escaped their horrible father and made it through the tricksy magical competition Caraval—but they’re not safe yet. In order to complete a desperate bargain she made, Tella must dive back into Caraval, this time in search of secret treasure: Caraval Master Legend’s true name. The stakes, inevitably, are higher than expected. There was a point last year where we could not stop hearing about Caraval, and we expect that to happen again with Legen—waitforit—dary.
Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded by Jason Heller (June 5, Melville House)
The very premise of this book is like someone made a prize just for us and tied it up with a sparkling, multicolored bow. We can talk about David Bowie until the cows come home and we, y’know, we do talk about science fiction kind of a lot. Combine these topics into a Bowie-centric book looking at science fiction and pop music as parallel cultural forces, and you have a book that most of Tor.com can’t wait to dive into.
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee (June 12, Solaris)
Lee’s highly praised Machineries of Empire series has been suggested as just the thing you might want when you’re done with Ann Leckie’s books and need something smart and space-set to fill the void in your book-reading life. If you haven’t yet started the series, now is exactly the right time: with any luck you’ll finish book two just in time for Revenant Gun‘s release—no waiting to answer all the omg what will happen next??!? questions fans had at the end of Raven Stratagem!
Starless by Jacqueline Carey (June 12, Tor Books)
For her new epic fantasy, Jacqueline Carey puts new twists on the tropes that served her well in her Kushiel trilogies: A precocious young acolyte–but Khai is a warrior trained by a desert brotherhood! Courtly intrigues–in a royal family who can live forever! Gods walking the land with humans–but these are the actual stars, cast down from the sky! A world-altering prophecy–but not just one person can solve it! Best of all, Starless is a standalone.
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (June 12, Razorbill)
Tahir’s compulsively readable, Ancient-Rome-inspired series has a lot of questions to answer after the dramatic events that closed out A Torch Against the Night, including but not limited to: What the heck can Helene do now that her horrible boss/emperor has murdered [redacted] and married [redacted]? How can [such a spoiler] be dead? And what about that awful betrayal/reveal that happened to poor Laia?
Witchmark by C.L. Polk (June 19, Tor.com Publishing)
Witchmark is a swooningly romantic tale set in the aftermath of war, but not our war: Aeland’s troops are returning home from the battlefields of Laneer burdened with dark traumas that cause veterans to turn on their families. Psychologist Miles Singer wants nothing more than to help these men, but he must contend with his own heritage as the magical family he enlisted to escape wants to bind his talents for the good of Aeland and the loss of his own autonomy. Add to that a mysterious murder brought to Miles’ door by an even more mysterious—and alluring—man with his own agenda.
What else are you looking forward to reading this spring? Let us know in the comments!