science fiction
science fiction

I am finding myself drawn to science fiction like never before, and the reason might surprise you.  Science fiction gives the reader the ability to think about possible futures for humanity.  Fantasy fiction allows the reader to imagine parallel universes that resonate with our reality – no matter how different those details might be.  In my experience, robots and alien creatures make us ponder what it means to be human.  It allows us to reflect on our own thoughts, and feelings in a way that is almost transcendent.  We connect with these characters in a way that we connect with those around us.  With that said, here are the most powerful among those stories – the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2018.

medusa uploaded

Medusa Uploaded – Emily Devenport

Oichi Angelis is a servant on the generation ship Olympia, most of whose sensory input is rerouted to the ruling Executives. As if that’s not enough of a signal that something is rotten on the Olympia, Oichi knows that their sister ship’s destruction, which killed both her parents, was secretly orchestrated by Executives. And so, she is seeking revenge. The Olympia is full of secrets, including some that stretch tantalizingly beyond its walls. This is a far-reaching and ambitious novel, not perfect but still an amazing ride.


Severance – Ling Ma

Zombies are often metaphors for diseases.  In this satire, it’s the disease of modern capitalism.  These aren’t the monsters that you are used to – rather than eating brains, the victims of Shen Fever fall into the repetitive routines of life.  Like setting the table, reading a book, or going through the motions until their bodies fall apart.  What’s great about this novel is that Ma managers to balance her post-apocalyptic vision with just enough dry humor that it’s neither grim nor heavy-handed in an allegorical kind of way.  Instead, it comes across both daring and restrained.  

rebecca f kuang

The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang

Rin’s path as a fantasy heroine begins as familiar fare – a war orphan who aces the national keju exam and is admitted to Sinegard, Nikan’s most prestigious military academy. There, she is ridiculed for her poor background and her dark skin.  But she soon discovers her innate powers and talent for shamanism.  This is much more than an Asian alt-history, with a Harry Potter spin.  It’s a real and devastating story about a war that is on the horizon.  As the story moves from the schoolyard to the battlefield, Kuang doesn’t shy away from the violence.  Instead, she uses it as a way to complicate Rin’s ascent.  This is the first book in this trilogy, but this first installment does cover a lot of ground.  It is complicated, challenging and an incredibly ambitious novel.  All of the things that I look for in a novel, myself!


Temper – Nicky Drayden

This novel takes place in alt-future southern Africa and is a study in dualities.  Society is torn between extremes of science and religion, and almost everyone is half of a set of twins — each pair sharing an array of virtues and vices. Auben is the unlucky twin, bearing six vices to his counterpart’s single one and thus guaranteed a dismal future. As if that weren’t bad enough, Auben starts hearing voices, and they’re telling him to do some very bad things. What follows is a story of demons, gods, family, and power that explodes epically. This is a thrilling and thrillingly weird book.