A new stack of books to add to your TBR

13 new SF/F books to check out in November

A new stack of books to add to your TBR
Image: Andrew Liptak

November is a packed month for new books, and starting this month, I'm going to start listing books in order by author, rather than by genre or release date. Couple of reasons for that: I've been feeling a little more blah toward strict genre lines, and shifting a book into one or the other doesn't really do each title justice.

So: here are 13 new books that you should check out this month. . If you missed the lists for October, you can take a look at them here and here, and as always, you take a look at prior lists here. And of course, my own book is now out in stores: Cosplay: A History!

Usual disclaimers: this newsletter is a Bookshop.org affiliate, and if you make a purchase through a link there, I might get a small commission.

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Your support helps keep this newsletter going in many ways, and we've got a good stack of in-depth posts coming up in the coming month.

A couple of recent posts include an interview with a stunt actor and 501st member who played a role in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, an in-depth feature about how the US military utilizes science fiction to imagine the future of warfare, some musings about the utility of book lights, and a look back on the last decade of Disney's Star Wars.  

In the meantime, a brief housekeeping note: Ghost recently added native comments, and I've turned those on. If you're a subscriber, you can comment!

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022 edited by John Joseph Adams and Rebecca Roanhorse (November 1st)

I've long been a fan of John Joseph Adams's anthologies, and he's been doing some excellent work in recent years under the "Best American" banner to highlight some of the best science fiction and fantasy writing that comes out every year. This year's volume is edited by another favorite, Rebecca Roanhorse, who notes in her introduction "perhaps in this time of COVID and isolation, it is no surprise to find so many stories about human connection. If there is a trend to be found within these stories, this was certainly the dominant one."

This year brings a new anthology, featuring an excellent slate of names: Elizabeth Bear, P. Djèlí Clark, Stephen Graham Jones, Rich Larson, and a whole bunch of others.

The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic by Kristin Baver (November 8th)

I'm a big fan of the various Star Wars art books that are floating around out there: they provide a good bit of insight into how the film come together, from conception to final product. Abrams is releasing a new one this month, one that isn't tied to a film or TV show, but rather one that collects the art created for the High Republic series that's playing out in books for adults and children, and comics. It should be an interesting read for fans of the series.

Desert Creatures by Kay Chronister (November 8th)

In this western set in the distant future, a nine-year-old named Magdala and her father have been exiled from their home, and they decide to set out on a pilgrimage to a holy city in the desert: Las Vegas, where they hope that they can find a saint to cure heal her clubfoot. The road is arduous, and Magdala is forced to fend for herself in the wilderness, and as we follow her journey, we watch as the world changes her.

Publishers Weekly says "The result is challenging reading made all the more difficult by how plausible it feels as a model of the disastrous effects of climate change and scarcity. Readers who can stomach the unrelenting bleakness and depression will find plenty to hold their interest in Chronister’s strange and frightening vision."

Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps and Clarence A. Haynes (November 8th)

I've been a fan of Omar Epps' work since his role on House, MD, so I was intrigued to hear that he was turning his attention to writing. Along with Clarence A. Haynes, he's written a YA fantasy called Nubia: The Awakening.  

In this world, we follow a trio of teenagers, Zuberi, Uzochi, and Lencho, who've left their ruined home, Nubia, and try to reach New York City. Upon arriving, they discover that the city is challenging for refugees, and split between the wealthy who live in Up High, and the poor who struggle to survive in the flooded lower parts of Manhattan. The three have a secret: they're imbued with powers, and will have to use their talents to either raise up those around them, or try to find a new haven.

It's Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO by Felix Gillette and John Koblin (November 1st)

Longtime Transfer Orbit readers will know that I'm fascinated by the streaming TV landscape and how it's been changing entertainment in recent years. To that end, I'm really interested in reading this new book, which looks at the story of HBO and how it changed the face of TV with shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and The Wire, and where it's headed.

The Washington Post notes that "in an account as polished, risk-averse and page-turning as the prestige format that HBO gave rise to, Gillette and Koblin flip between the character arcs of writers and programmers who have been slyly guiding our national conversation, and the suits they work for."

The World We Make by N. K. Jemisin (November 1st)

One of my favorite horror novels of recent years was N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became, itself the outgrowth of a short story called "The City Born Great". In this world, cities have avatars who represent the city, and in this novel, Jemisin follows five people (Manny/Manhattan; Bronca/Bronx; Brooklyn, Padmini/Queens, Aislyn/Staten Island, and Veneza/Jersey City) who have to come together to help New York City become sentient — and protect it from an otherworldly enemy.

In this sequel, they've managed to fend off The Woman in White from an invasion, but that hasn't stopped their enemy. As a new mayoral candidate rises in power — espousing populist rhetoric — they realize that the city can succumb from inside-out, and they'll have to seek out help from the other Great Cities of the world to protect their home from destruction.

Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review, saying that it's a "A ray of hope in a dark time," while USA Today says "If “The City We Became” is a love letter to New York City, then “The World We Make” is a love song, reminding you in its rhythm of what you had, what you could be. At once hopeful, possibly unrequited, maybe bashful but still brash, however you hear it – feel its frequencies – depends on the you you are in that moment. It’s up to you (New York, New York)."

Nostalgic Adventures and Racism as Cosmic Horror
Hello! I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a lull the last week. I’ve had plenty to do,and plenty to read (and I have been busy), but it feels like it’s one of thoseweeks (or months) where the results of that work isn’

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (November 1st)

In Freya Marske' novel A Marvellous Light, Robin Blyth is named to a post as a liaison to a hidden magical society, and discovers something wonderful and dangerous that's been underpinning reality. When his predecessor vanished, he discovers some unpleasant truths about the nature of magic and the world he knows, and that people have killed to keep the secrets hidden.

In this sequel, Robin's sister Maud signs up to assist an older woman on an ocean liner, in part to help her brother unravel more of the conspiracy theory. But when said woman dies on the first day of the voyage, she's stuck on the ship, and has to figure out who's behind the killing in order to survive.

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell (November 1st)

Nick Martell brings his fantasy Legacy of the Mercenary King series (Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queen) to a close with The Voyage of the Forgotten. Michael Kingman had grown up under the shadow of his father's crimes, he worked to try and discover the truth behind his father's supposed crimes to try and clear his family's name. He's figured everything out, and now has to race to save the life that he's made for himself along with Serena, the Hollow Queen, all the while his nemesis, Angelo is trying to keep him in line for his own purposes.

Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell (November 1st)

Everina Maxwell returns to the same world as her novel Winter's Orbit for a new standalone adventure, Ocean's Echo. Tennalhin Halkana is a mindreader who was conscripted into the military, and is placed under the command of Lieutenant Surit Yeni. The military brass have plans for them: Surit has the ability to influence minds by imposing his will on others, and he's under orders to keep Tennal under control by merging their minds.

Neither are thrilled with these orders, so they escape, hopping aboard a salvage mission into chaotic space, where a hidden treasure lies that could change the balance of power in the world.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that "Maxwell incisively challenges military and alien artifact SF and digs into the uncomfortable core of these tropes. The queernorm world and heart-tugging slow-burn romance between the leads only enhances the experience."

Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk (November 8th)

C.L. Polk returns with a new fantasy novella about a magical detective in a 1940s magical version of Chicago. A decade ago, she sold her soul to save her brother's life, and now has a shot at redemption before ending up in hell in three days. A demon offers up a tantalizing job: help track down a serial killer, and she can get her soul back.

Publishers Weekly says "though readers will wish they had more time to explore this shadowy world, Polk’s focus on character development makes every interaction matter as they craft a layered exploration of love and power with genuine emotional stakes and a soaring, perfectly bittersweet payoff."

The Stars Undying by Emery Robin (November 8th)

A devastating civil war tear apart the planet of Szayet, Princess Altagracia is  exiled when her twin sister claims the throne, and control of a computer containing the soul of the planet's resident god. But when the Empire of Ceiao turns its attention to Szayet, Altagracia see an opportunity to retake what is rightfully hers, allying herself with the empire's commander, Matheus Ceirran. As she fights to maintain her planet's freedom, she finds herself torn between loyalties, and will have to figure out how to best navigate the competing demand from all sides.

Publishers Weekly says "for fans of plot-heavy space opera—and particularly classicists who enjoy SFF—there’s much that will appeal in this galaxy of clever, casually queer characters scheming and double-dealing through the stars."

The Best of World SF Vol. 2 edited by Lavie Tidhar (November 1st)

Lavie Tidhar has steadily anthologized the wide world of science fiction beyond the borders of the United States for a number of years now with books like the Apex Book of World SF and more recently, The Best of World SF: Volume 1. He's now followed that up with a second volume that brings together some of the best stories of the last decade from around the world. As he notes in his introduction: "this is not a retrospective of what science fiction around the world used to look like. This is a snapshot of what some of it looks like now. Stories in this volume from from Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Jamaica, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, and many others.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying "This sweeping survey rewards the time it demands of its readers with a bold and powerful argument for non-Anglophone SF’s potential to push the genre’s boundaries."

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria (November 1st)

After a devastating attack on her homeland Aris that left her father dead and her spymaster mother withdrawn eight years ago, Devlin becomes a spy herself, and begins taking on assignments: it's the only time she gets to see her mother, the leader of the spy corps. A magical force known as the Mists have begun to eat away at Aris's borders, and the country is on edge, anticipating another attack as their magical casters begin burning out from the stress of the job. When Dev gets an assignment that sends her undercover deep into enemy territory, she discovers secrets about her enemy that could change everything.

Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review, saying that "this work contains a hopeful message about pushing through self-doubt to make changes to your world."

As always, thanks for reading. I'll be back later this week with a regular roundup, and I'll have a second half of this book list later in the month. Let me know what catches your eye (you can leave a comment now!) and what's on your TBR list.