In a brutal world falling to the tyrannical rule of a militarized state power, two furious girls risk everything to fight back. When their very different paths cross, they may find in each other the one thing they didn’t know they’ve been missing. Zoe Hana Mikuta infuses an intense sci-fi adventure with heart, hard choices, and found family in her debut novel Gearbreakers.
Joan He’s The Ones We’re Meant to Find is sci-fi dystopian at its best: sharp, devastating, and brimming with invigorating questions about what it means to be human on this earth we continue to ravage.
The novel follows two sisters, the Mizuharas, in alternating chapters that shift between timelines. We follow Cee through an intimate first-person present, where she’s been marooned on a deserted island for three years, colorblind and without memories, with only a friendly, rudimentary bot for company. We come to know Kasey at a more distant third-person past POV, as she navigates her sister’s recent disappearance at sea. Kay is a sixteen-year-old genius, brilliant but disconnected from her peers, the flux of emotions evading her. She, like all inhabitants of earth’s eco-cities, wears an Intraface, tech embedded in her brain that can record memories, provide conversational aid through Silvertongue, and display one’s rank. Admission to the eco-cities is dependent on a rank-based system, purportedly for the good of the remaining humans, in order to best allocate and preserve the planet’s waning resources. When Kasey disappears, Cee maneuvers her way into her sister’s abandoned Intraface to search for answers.
For everyone who is or was a queer kid dreaming of a destiny in the stars, a place more welcoming and wondrous than here—this book is for you.
In award-winning SFF writer Charlie Jane Anders’ YA debut, Tina Mains has always been destined for Victories Greater Than Death. Though she’s spent her seventeen years living like a fairly average white girl earthling, she’s actually a secret clone of the late Captain Argentian, a celebrated alien hero. She’s been living in wait for the sparkling beacon in her chest to call upon her to join the Royal Fleet and save the worlds.
It starts with a shadow.
The lightless counterpoint to a living thing, an echo, or perhaps a void. Wendy Darling’s story as we know it typically begins here: a boy, and his shadow. And it does again within Aiden Thomas’ Lost in the Never Woods—except it really begins several years earlier, with a very different sort of darkness.
Adrienne Tooley’s debut fantasy Sweet & Bitter Magic is a sapphic, quiet slowburn fairytale between two girls with complicated relationships to magic, themselves, and each other.
Tamsin had been the most powerful young witch in Within, the witches’ land—unlike her twin, Marlena, who only ever wanted to leave Within, to explore the world and its potential. But as different as they were, Tamsin would have done anything for her sister.
And when Marlena’s life is in danger, she does.
There are worlds within the cutthroat music of Isabel Yap’s debut short story collection Never Have I Ever, and they are wondrous and vicious and true. Yap’s work spans the speculative, weaving fantasy, horror, and sci-fi and wielding each with deft expertise. Here, Filipino folklore breathes through the cruelties and magic of the contemporary, infused with history and legend. Each story is a cleverly crafted gem, resonant and surprising and deeply profound. The collection as a whole establishes Yap firmly as one of the sharpest masters of the form.
As a Fil-Am reader, I found so much of myself in these stories. That specific cadence and tension of family, the rich folklore of my childhood that I so rarely see represented or imagined in contemporary American writing. Whether Yap’s writing about a diaspora experience or a story rooted in Manila, that sense of place and complex identity is drawn so vividly. She carves out details clever and true.
“This fight didn’t end with Aric and it certainly won’t end with Lir. Not if your goal isn’t the person but the system they’ve created.”
Caledonia Styx and her crew fought valiantly against the cruel Bullet warlord, Aric Athair. But his death did not put an end to the vicious system of addiction and power that governs the Bullet Seas. Fiveson Lir rises to further Aric’s reign of terror, and Caledonia holds a specific rage for him. This is the boy who once destroyed her family, who taught her to distrust all Bullets. This is the boy her own brother, Donnally, was given no choice but to follow, when his world was wrenched from him. This is the boy Donnally now calls his brother.
As the jaws of a colonizing power tighten around the throat of her homeland Bình Hải, Thanh must navigate the course of her nation’s future, and her own. She’s in a challenging position—the quiet, contemplative youngest child of the empress, not as much overt use to her family or Bình Hải as her powerful sisters. Her mother had sent her to the Ephterian court when she was a child. Thanh had been a guest, and her mother had expected her to return with insights into Ephteria’s customs and intentions, in order to prove herself worthy and protect Bình Hải from their encroaching claim.
But the only real connection Thanh forged during her years in Ephteria is one she cannot confess to her mother. Two years since her return, and she’s still haunted by the ghost of Princess Eldris’ touch. Something stranger, too, remains of her time in the capital Yosolis—the little fires Thanh seems to carry with her. In a deadly, mysterious calamity, the palace burned one night. Thanh made it out alive, no thanks to Eldris, only the company of an enigmatic serving girl at her side. Now it’s as if she can’t escape that night. The fires are small enough still to go unnoticed, burning only pinches of tea leaves, or the hairs of calligraphy brushes, but Thanh can’t control the flames, and she doesn’t know how long she can keep them secret.
Addie had only ever wanted to be free.
Born in 1691, in a small village in France, she was never meant to chart her own course. She was to be a wife and mother, all her curiosities hewn away until she was only a core, and even that wasn’t to be her own.
She hadn’t meant to pray to the old gods after dark.
But he is the only one who answered.
Here, as the world ends and dies and ends again, Mark Oshiro brings forth a daybreak of brilliant, hard-won hope.
In Each of Us a Desert, Oshiro moves away from the contemporary settings of their powerhouse debut, Anger Is a Gift. This is a propulsive fantasy novel, set in a vast desert and las aldeas that dot its expanse. Though they shift genres, Oshiro’s ability to blend beauty with brutality, to build love alongside grief, is as vividly drawn here as in their first book. They re-establish themselves as one of the most daring, purposeful, masterful authors writing today.
Which came first, the falcon or the egg?
It doesn’t matter in the end. They will keep creating each other until they go extinct—or they evolve into something new.
Gold Wings Rising wraps up Alex London’s intense, evocative Skybound Saga with a deeply satisfying conclusion that both builds on the established world and subverts its very foundations. Brutal, evocative, and brimming with heart and hope, Gold Wings Rising is a triumph of a final installment.
So many queer readers cleave to superhero stories because we know what it’s like to live a secret identity. We live within the dissonance between what the world wants from us and who we wish we could be. We know what it is to be caught between what is expected and what is inextricable from our deepest selves, and to have our most unique powers be the most isolating force in our lives–with the potential to cost us everything and everyone we love most.
In T.J. Klune’s The Extraordinaries, queer superpowers don’t have to be a metaphor anymore. Klune gives us an entirely queer central cast, with no homophobia save for a few awkward comments from a generally well-meaning father. Here, queer love and desire gets to breathe on the page. Klune not only explores teen queerness in its most awkward, nerdy, fanfic-inspired throes, but interrogates the queer celebrity infatuation, the crush on the hot popular kid—the dissonance between idolization and authentic, genuine attraction. And from it comes a queer romance that’s as tender as it is magic.
“It’s hard, keeping your heart open. It makes you vulnerable.
But it doesn’t make you weak.”
I’ve loved big, sweeping sci-fi/fantasy stories for as long as I can remember—watching the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is the first time I felt like one of them truly loved me back.
There beyond the edges of the battlefield, there across a landscape of ruin and history in the making, of high stakes and hard choices, there is a coffeehouse. There is a motley, tight-knit crew of bandits, and here they meet a waitress who was a nun once, and from there, nothing will be quite as it seems.
Zen Cho’s novella The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water is a small-scale story on the crest of an enormous wave of war. The fight bleeds in in unexpected places. Cho crafts a different sort of intimacy within the story: we as readers don’t get very close to any one character, and so we can’t necessarily trust any of their perspectives. In this way, it feels almost like we’re one of their crew along for the journey, unearthing the rules of the world and their relationships from each of them in turn.
Today’s Filipinx genre fiction writers are crafting some of the most groundbreaking, immersive, anti-colonialist fantasy novels out here. Their protagonists unleash demons, raise the dead, save the world, and figure out how to rebuild it. Filipinx voices belong in the speculative imagination, and these authors take us there. With middle-grade mythic adventure, young adult historical decadence, adult epic, and so much magic in between—if you haven’t already fallen in love with all of these titles, you’ll want to add these authors to your TBR immediately.
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