11 new sci-fi and fantasy novels to read this February

A new pile for your TBR

11 new sci-fi and fantasy novels to read this February
Image: Andrew Liptak

I neglected to get the second January list together in time, but I did get that posted yesterday: it's got 11 SF/F books that came out in the second half-ish of last month, and I hope you find something interesting there. You can find the first January list here.

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Okay, with that out of the way, here are 10 new SF/F books hitting stores in February for you to check out. (Stay tuned – I'll have a second list hitting your inbox in a couple of weeks.)

Star Wars Legends: Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston (February 6th)

The X-Wing novels have long been one of my favorites arcs in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and I've always been delighted by Aaron Allston's Wraith Squadron stories. While Michael A. Stackpole wrote the first four novels (Rogue Squadron, Wedge's Gamble, The Krypto Trap, and The Bacta War), Allston picked up the series with another set of characters – an eclectic group of pilots who're tasked with the strange and dangerous missions that require a slightly different skillset.

This unlikely band of rejects and castoffs are given another chance to complete their training, and their first mission is to go after a former Imperial Admiral to try and uncover a secret weapon. To do that, they'll have to take over an imperial warship and infiltrate his fleet.

If you haven't read these books, they're a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to giving this one a re-read.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden (February 13th)

I'll say up front that Katherine is a friend who lives in the area, and I've been waiting for this book for a while. It's something that I've watched her struggle with, going through draft after draft (I read parts of an early version), and I'm very excited to see her finish it and get it into stores.

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I really enjoyed her novel The Bear and the Nightingale, and this new book is a little different from that style of fantasy: it's set during the First World War, and it's about a nurse who learns that her brother had been killed in battle. But that's not quite what happened and we learn more about her brother and his fate. There's some supernatural and spiritual elements here as well, and it's a novel that gets to the heart of the horror that is warfare.

Arden earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which said "Arden titles her chapters with quotations from Paradise Lost and the biblical Book of Revelation, and appropriately so: The landscape, both physical and spiritual, that the characters navigate is hellish, and for better or worse, their old world is being transformed into a new one."

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (February 6th)

I literally finished Robert Jackson Bennett's last novel Locklands (the final installment of his Founders trilogy – stay tuned for more on that soon), and I'm eager to see what he has in store in his next novel, The Tainted Cup.

In this book, an imperial officer is seemingly murdered at the edge of the Empire's boundaries, where strange things are known to happen. A brilliant, eccentric detective named Ana Dolabra is tasked with investigating the murder, and her new assistant, Dinios Kol has to figure out how to work with her. He's been magically augmented to assist her, and as the two set about working to solve the case, he's amazed and shocked at how his new superior operates.

Publishers Weekly awarded the book a starred review, saying "The worldbuilding is immediately involving, Bennett’s take on a classic detective duo dynamic feels fresh and exciting, and the mystery itself twists and turns delightfully."

The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown (February 13th)

I really enjoy multiverse stories, and this debut novel from Gareth Brown is giving me the same vibes as Alix E. Harrow's The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Peng Shepherd's The Cartographers. In this novel, a bookseller named Cassie Andrews is distraught when one of her favorite customers dies in the store. She soon discovers that he was reading a book called The Book of Doors, which is filled with mysterious drawings and shows her that doors can be portals to anywhere else.

It's a powerful, much-sought-after tome, and her possession of it means that she's now the target of a number of people who would like to get their hands on it for their own purposes. She's approached by a mysterious librarian named Drummond Fox, who looks over such books, and she has to decide whether or not to trust him to keep the book safe and free with those with darker motives.

Kirkus Reviews says "A whirlwind journey that opens doors into other worlds but also into the heart of the human experience."

The Killing Ground: A Biography of Thermopylae by Myke Cole and Michael Livingston (February 6th)

I've long been a fan of Myke Cole's novels and his nonfiction books about the Spartans (The Bronze Lie) and Greek/Roman infantry tactics (Legion vs. Phalanx), and I'm interested in seeing what he and fellow historian Michael Livingston have in their new book, The Killing Ground: A Biography of Thermopylae.

Thermopylae is an infamous location in the annals of military history, and while we primarily know about it for a battle in 480 BC, there's quite a bit more to the area: a total of 27 battles have been fought there over the centuries, and Cole & Livingston take a look at all of them.

This seems to be the book that everyone is excited for this spring. Three high school students disappeared from their school in Lovesend MA. Everyone was correct in presuming that they'd died, but a year later, they reappear. Their music teacher seems to know something about their disappearance and was responsible for bringing them back, and as they work to return to their lives, they strike up a bargain: they have to undertake a series of magical tasks, and if they complete them, they can return, but can't tell anyone what happened to them.

Their return hasn't gone unnoticed from the supernatural realm, and as they work to figure out how to return to the world of the living, mysterious figures have begun to arrive in their town, bringing danger and chaos with them.

The novel earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which says "in less capable hands, the amount of uncertainty both characters and readers must endure before answers are revealed might grow frustrating, but Link makes the slow trickle of information both tense and tantalizing."

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by Malka Older (February 13th)

Malka Older follows up last year's The Mimicking of Known Successes with The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles. In the first book, an investigator named Mossa hunts for clues into the disappearance of a man on a colony on Jupiter, one that brings her back in contact with an ex, Pleiti, who's studying Earth's former ecosystems.

In this new story, Mossa returns to Valdegeld, and has to once again get Pleiti's help after 17 members of Valdegeld University's population have gone missing. Their investigation will take them to Io and this new case will threaten everything Pleiti has worked for – as well as humanity's future.

Library Journal says that "readers of their first outing, The Mimicking of Known Successes, will be thrilled to have Mossa and Pleiti back on the case as it takes its surprisingly cozy mystery into this sci-fi setting and grounds it in an on-the-nose portrayal of academic politics in all of its delicious viciousness."

Jubilee by Stephen K. Stanford (February 13th)

An artificial world called Jubilee exists in its own parallel universe, ruled over by a strange AI system. A pair of detectives, Col and Danee are dispatched to the world to try and recover the body of a politician who was engaged in some nefarious affairs. But the recovery mission runs into some snags: the body has been switched, and Col and Danee find that they're coming closer and closer, something that might imperil their mission.

Publishers Weekly says "replete with botched plans, daring escapes, and amusingly flawed conspiracies, Col’s adventure is a series of old-fashioned hijinks with a new AI twist....The result is an amusing and fast-paced saga sure to please fans of classic space opera."

Convergence Problems by Wole Talabi (February 13th)

Wole Talabi has earned a considerable amount of acclaim for his short fiction in recent years: his novelette "A Dream of Electric Mothers" picked up Hugo, Nebula, and Locus nominations for the category, while he's also picked up a number of nominations and wins for the Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction.

Now, he's releasing a new collection of his short fiction: Convergence Problems, which brings together 16 stories, including "Debut," "An Arc of Electric Skin," "A Dream of Electric Mothers," "Blowout," and "Ganger" (a brand new novella).

Publishers Weekly awarded the book with a starred review, saying "beautiful, vibrant, and electrifying, this has the makings of a modern classic."

Republic Commando: Order 66 by Karen Traviss (February 6th)

The fourth installment in Karen Traviss's run of Republic Commando novels gets the Essential Legends treatment (after Hard Contact, Triple Zero, and True Colors – the final installment is 501st), which follows the members of Delta and Omega Squads as the Clone Wars comes to a bloody end, and they're forced to take a side: the Jedi that they've served alongside for years, or the new order that's coming.

Beyond Enemies by Marisa Wolf (February 6th)

A soldier named Talinn Reaze and the AI tank that she serves with, Bee, are part of the United Colonial Force's Artificial Intelligence Troops. They've worked together since before Talinn was born, and the pair are some of the most talented forces that the UCF has been able to field against their enemies, the Interstellar Defense Corps.

The pair are assigned to a distant base where they find they don't have much to do, only to have their world upended from under them, forcing them to question everything they've ever known. This looks like a fun Military SF read.

That's all for today: thanks as always for reading. Let me know what you have on your TBR pile, and what catches your eye here.