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Stephen King, Janelle Monáe and more: Let’s talk about speculative fiction to read this year

Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Lavie Tidhar

THE WASHINGTON POST – This year is turning out to be a great one for speculative fiction. Just this month John Scalzi publishes The Kaiju Preservation Society and Holly Black makes her adult debut with Book of Night in May. In the fall we can look forward to Stephen King’s Fairy Tale, a fantasy novel about a teenage boy who slips into a parallel world. What other science fiction and fantasy novels are we excited to see on bookshelves this year? Quite a few.

Silvia: Short fiction doesn’t get enough love, so let’s begin by talking about the briefer side of books. Fernando A Flores, who impressed me with his science fiction novel Tears of the Truffle Pig (2019) is releasing Valleyesque a collection of fantastic stories set around the Mexican American border.

This spring, Word Horde, a small and reliable imprint of Weird fiction, will publish Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies as well as a new edition of Mr Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (originally released in 2008), by Bram Stoker award-winning horror author John Langan. Scott Nicolay’s collection And At My Back I Always Hear should be out in April – his previous collection, Ana Kai Tangata (2014) was a small-press gem. In the fall, Worde Horde will release a new collection by the prolific writer Orrin Grey titled How to See Ghosts & Other Figments.

Turning to science fiction, The Memory Librarian brings together Janelle Monáe and an array of collaborators (Alaya Dawn Johnson and Sheree Renée Thomas, to name just two) for a project that builds on the singer’s Dirty Computer album. It’s a unique endeavor.

Lavie: One book that’s positioned as a big title is Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi, and I can see why. It starts off as a man returns from space to a slowly decaying Earth – more specifically, to New Haven, Conn – and reaches from there into a rich tapestry that is as much science fiction as a meditation on race in modern America.

If you’re after action, mystery, and mind-bending mega-structures, look no further than Adam Oyebanji’s Braking Day.

Set on a vast generation starship, it follows engineer Ravi Macleod and his charmingly criminal cousin Boz as they discover a secret that changes everything they thought they knew about the voyage. It zips along with some wonderful world-building and a lot of unexpected turns.

This is Oyebanji’s debut, so I look forward to what he does next. Another debut is nuclear scientist Lucy Kissick’s Plutoshine, about a mute girl on Pluto discovering a secret of her own as her world is being terraformed.

Silvia: Alma Katsu received much deserved praise for The Hunger (2018), about the infamous Donner party, and her haunted-ship horror novel The Deep (2020). Her latest book, The Fervor, is set at a Japanese American internment camp assailed by a demonic entity. Vaishnavi Patel’s debut, Kaikeyi, is a fantasy novel inspired by the Ramayana, and has drawn comparisons to Madeline Miller’s Circe, as it reworks a famous villain of Indian mythology.

Lavie: If it’s history and mythology you’re after, another big title for 2022 is Andrea Hairston’s Redwood and Wildfire, which follows two conjurers on a harrowing journey from Georgia to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. Originally published by the small Aqueduct Press in 2011, the novel won the Otherwise Award and is now set for a major relaunch.

In science fiction, Maurice Broaddus has been around a long time, from his fascinating fantasy trilogy The Knights of Breton Court (pitched as The Wire meets Excalibur) to horror in Orgy of Souls (with Wrath James White) to YA. Now he’s releasing Sweep of Stars, a solar system based Afrofuturist epic space opera, which is not to be missed. And I’m delighted to note – having raved about it in a previous column – that Samit Basu’s Chosen Spirits” a wonderful near-future SF story set in India is being published in the US this year as The City Inside.

What about you, dear reader? What are you eagerly looking forward to reading this year?