A gift guide for fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror books

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

THE WASHINGTON POST – It’s that time of the year when the nights grow long, the air grows cold, the festive lights go up and the year’s best books lists are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain.

But will any of them help you find that perfect book-gift for your friends who love science fiction, fantasy and horror? If not, we’re here to help.

SILVIA: For me, the problem of buying books for others can be solved by offering the equivalent of the literary box of chocolates: the anthology. For horror fans, I recommend Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, edited by Ellen Datlow, Evil in Technicolor, edited by Joe M McDermott, and The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories.

Interestingly enough, this year we had not one, but two books looking at women writers of the early 20th Century: Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird, edited by Mike Ashley, and Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction By Groundbreaking Female Writers: 1852-1923, edited by Leslie S Klinger and Lisa Morton. For fantasy fans, there’s the impressively comprehensive The Big Book of Modern Fantasy by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer, and for Californians, or people who just like the West Coast, there’s Speculative Los Angeles, edited by Denise Hamilton.

LAVIE: I’ve been casting my eye on anything with a little something special. You can’t go wrong this holiday season with Aliette de Bodard’s new Xuya universe collection, Seven of Infinities, which comes in a typically gorgeous limited-edition hardcover – though don’t worry, a cheaper e-book edition is also available. For any science fiction fan, De Bodard’s Xuya stories are a treat. The Four Profound Weaves by RB Lemberg – a haunting literary fantasy about the fluidity of gender and much else – comes in a handy paperback. Rian Hughes’ XX is one of the surprises of the year, a giant (just short of 1,000 pages) art-driven novel from a brilliant designer. This hybrid approach makes the book an object d’art all by itself. And a bit more pricey, Daniele Serra by Daniele Serra celebrates the work of this Italian artist of the fantastic in a collectors’ hardcover edition.

SILVIA: Art books and mythology books always make good gifts. The Art of Pulp Horror: An Illustrated History, edited by Stephen Jones, and Horror: The Art of Fernando Carcupino are perfect for vintage fiction lovers or horror lovers in general. If you liked Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, you might want to look at Piranesi Unbound by Carolyn Yerkes and Heather Hyde Minor. It’s an academic book, but it contains plenty of visual material exploring the Italian artist’s work, and it dives into the world of bookmaking. I also recommend Popol Vuh: A Retelling, which draws on the mythological tales of the K’iche’ people. It’s beautifully illustrated by Salvadoran folk artist Gabriela Larios with text by Mexican poet Homero Aridjis.

A Pre-Columbian Bestiary: Fantastic Creatures of Indigenous Latin America by Mexican American author Ilan Stavans is another interesting title, with lovely etchings by Mexican
engraver Eko.

LAVIE: I’ve fallen in love with the work of surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg recently – if only someone would publish a retrospective! For an ingenious combination of art and fiction, I recommend the new e-book originals from NeoText. Author Maurice Broaddus and artist Jim Mahfood produced urban fantasy Sorcerers, while science fiction veteran Adam Roberts teamed up with legendary French artist François Schuiten for The Compelled, where people around the world begin to assemble strange monoliths out of everyday objects. Both are visually gorgeous and highly recommended.

Elsewhere, I like Flyaway, by Australian artist and writer Kathleen Jennings. She’s one of my favourite artists and naturally provided her own cover and internal art for the book. It’s beautifully written, a sort of Australian Gothic. If you like your fantasy experimental, you’ll find Daniel Polansky’s The Seventh Perfection either charming, confounding or both. And for the science fiction fans, here’s a trio of debuts worth checking out: Micaiah Johnson’s tale of parallel universes, The Space Between Worlds; Essa Hansen’s space opera Nophek Gloss; and Kimberly Unger’s First Contact novel Nucleation, all showing that new voices continue to expand the genre. As for big fantasy, Polish superstar Andrzej Sapkowski is back with the first of a new epic series, The Tower of Fools, translated by David French, so if you liked The Witcher you might want to take a look. And if you’re a fan of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London novels like I am, you’ll be happy to know there’s a new short story collection set in that world, Tales From the Folly.

All in all, I think, something for everyone.