Happy new year!
2019 was a year full of changes and surprises. We had a baby girl, I sold a book (which I’m in the midst of writing now), got into a major car crash, lost my job and went back to freelance writing, and attended a number of conventions. It was quite the trip. Now, 2020 is looking to be busy, although I can’t help but wonder where I’ll be in a year .
I’m going to try and do these a bit shorter this year, but maybe slightly more frequently? We’ll see how that works. This time around, I want to preview the year ahead.
My most anticipated novels of 2020
In years past, I’ve put together lists compiling the books that I’m most excited to read in the coming year. I’m generally happy with my forecasting skills, and writing up such a list helps me figure out what looks like I should keep my eyes out on. This year is no different, and there are a number of really excellent-looking novels coming out that I’m eager to get onto my to-read list. Here’s what I’ve got my eyes on:
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, January 28th
I’ve been a fan of Charles Yu’s since his wonderful, meta debut novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. He’s a unique writer who plays with form and style quite a bit, and his next is a take on Asian representation in Hollywood, which looks particularly interesting. (Especially because he’s one of the writers for HBO’s Westworld.)
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu, February 25th
Any book by Ken Liu is an instant buy for me, especially one with his short fiction. His debut collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories was a wonderful volume, and new collection contains a number of his newer short stories (many of which I haven’t read yet.)
Gravity of a Distant Sun by R.E. Stearns, February 18th
R.E. Stearns’ debut novel Barbary Station is one of my favorite recent space operas, and she’s bringing her Shieldrunners trilogy to a close with Gravity of a Distant Sun this year. This series is full of fantastic characters, concepts and action, and I’m hoping that it’ll be a good end for Adda and Iridian.
Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole, March 10th
I like Myke’s books quite a bit, and this is his first science fiction novel, about the future of the Coast Guard in space. He’s also a former Coast Guard officer, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he brings to the military SF field.
Otaku by Chris Kluwe, March 3rd
Chris Kluwe’s a former football player and gamer who’s written a lot about the genre over the years, and this is his debut. This one’s being called a classic cyberpunk adventure, but what’s really attracted my attention is the fantastic cover.
A Pale Light in the Black by K.B. Wagers, March 3rd
Another Coast Guard in space type of book — I’ve liked K.B. Wager’s debut space opera novel Behind the Throne, but just haven’t kept up with the series. This looks like a really fun space opera.
Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson, March 17th
I’m not entirely sure what this story is about, other than it’s about a strange city, but this is one of those books where I’m sucked in by the cover.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, March 24th
N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy has become one of my favorites, and she’s taking on some new issues with The City We Became, which is set in the same world as her fantastic short story The City Born Great (which you should go read right now.)
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, April 21st
I loved Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside — it’s what I’d call a fantasy cyberpunk novel. The sequel picks up the adventures of Sancia Grado and her friends as they spark a magical revolution in Tevanne. Foundryside was a smart novel, and this one looks like it’ll be just as good.
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu), April 14th
There has been a lot of great Chinese science fiction out there, and the one that I’m looking forward to the most is Hao Jingfan’s Vagabonds, about tensions between Earth and Martian colonies. Bonus: brilliantly executed cover.
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi, April 14th
Scalzi books are always a fun read. I was a little iffy on The Consuming Fire — I wanted less people talking in rooms and more interstellar stuff, which he really excels at. This caps off the trilogy, and I’m eager to see where how he closes it out.
Network Effect by Martha Wells, May 5th
I loved Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, and her next entry in this world is Network Effect, a full-length novel. I’m looking forward to seeing how she scales up into a longer story with Murderbot, and am excited to return to this particular world.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn, May 5th
Zahn is continuing his adventures of Grand Admiral Thrawn, and kicks off a new trilogy set in the Unknown Regions. I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll be tying in a bit of the revelation that came in Rise of Skywalker. Hopefully, we’ll get a bit more character development than in the prior installments.
Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed, June 23rd
I loved Freed’s Alphabet Squadron last year, and felt like it’s a good continuation of the X-Wing series tradition. Freed is continuing the adventures of Alphabet Squadron’s members as they take on the Imperial Remnant. I’m excited to see where this goes.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, June 30th
I really enjoyed Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novel Signal to Noise, and I’ve been meaning to read Gods of Jade and Shadow. This one looks like an interesting story about the high life in Mexico, along with some ancient dangers.
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal, July 14th
Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut novels The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky were both fantastic alternate history reads that tackled hard science, gender and racial equality in the space race, and I’ve been waiting for a while for this next installment.
- Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math. Aimee Picchi is a local friend and someone who’s written some fantastic short stories over the years. Her latest short story popped up on Daily Science Fiction, and it’s a wonderful read.
- Beyond Climate Change Fiction. New Statesman has a good interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, one that rolls back some of the optimism that I’ve associated with him.
- January Books. Over on Polygon, I’ve rounded up 15 new SF/F books that you should check out.
- Le Guin reread. Charlie Jane Anders has a look over Ursula K. Le Guin’s Library of America Hanish collection. It’s something I’ve been meaning to pick up and read, but in the meantime, she’s done that for us.
- State of Genre Magazines. [Missed the caption for this in the mailed version] Jason Sanford has a great writeup of the state of the genre magazine industry.
- What I read in 2019. I didn’t get around to reading as much as I wanted last year — only 28 or so short stories, and 42 books.
Now that it’s the end of the year, I’m working to take stock of what I’ve left unread, and what it’ll take to whittle that pile down. On my plate right now:
- Westside by W.M. Ackers. I started this … way back in May, and set it aside for some reason. I’m picking it back up now, because the premise seems to be really good.
- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I heard good buzz about this one throughout the year, and I’ve really liked what I’ve read thus far.
- The Peripheral by William Gibson. I’m not terribly far into this one, but I’m enjoying what I’ve read/listened to thus far. So many people have recommended it that it’s one that I feel like I really need to power through.
- The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger. CEO of Disney talks about his past. Seems like required reading for anyone interested in the field.
- Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. I’m really enjoying this, and have been listening to the audiobook in bits and pieces as I go about my day or while walking the dog. Almost done with this one.
- Delta-V by Daniel Suarez. I’ve read a couple of Suarez’s books before, and they’re fun, puffy technothrillers. This one isn’t far off from that, and it’s neat to see all of the concepts that have been talked about in the private space industry condensed into a fun novel.
- Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson. I’ve been working on a piece about this, and just haven’t had a chance to finish it off. Good so far.
Of course, there are a bunch of others from 2019 that I wanted to get to, but just haven’t. I’ll either pick them up or I won’t. It’ll depend on how this year’s picks look (and the above list is particularly captivating.) If I have any sort of goal this year, it’s to make a better use of my time to read, and to pick up books that I might not have otherwise thought to pick up. I’ve got copies of Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker and Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebushi, Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers, all of which look particularly good (and which aren’t all that long.)
That’s all for now. As always, thank you for reading — I always appreciate it. Let me know what you think, and what you’re reading.