Here are all the new SF/F (and other) books coming this October!

New stories about fantasy worlds, distant solar systems, and stories about the Marvel Universe.

Here are all the new SF/F (and other) books coming this October!
Image: Andrew Liptak

Happy October!

For the September book list, I released two versions: one that broke the entries up by genre, and another that listed them chronologically. Predominantly, most of you indicated that you really liked the genre breakdown, and moving forward, that'll be the primary way that I'll send this out. But I'll keep the chronological list around as well — some of you liked it that way, and while I won't email it to everyone, I'll make sure it's linked. You can check out prior lists here.

And, as noted in a roundup a while back: there's a bit of a supply chain crunch going on in the publishing industry this fall. If any of these catch your eye and you want them? You should probably order them sooner, rather than later.

Here are 20 new SF/F (and some other nonfiction books) that you should check out this month, broken up by genre. (Here's the chronological list).

As always, purchases made via links to might result in a small commission to Transfer Orbit.


Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker, October 12th

Last year, A. Deborah Baker (a pen name for Seanan McGuire, writing a novel that she mentioned in her novel Middlegame) kicked off a new series, The Up-and-Under, with Over the Woodward Wall, about two children: Avery, an exceptional, precise boy, and Zib, an unpredictable young girl, both of whom live in different worlds, and who meet one another when they climb over a wall and end up in a dangerous, fantasy world called Up-and-Under.

In this sequel, Avery and Zib spent the night in a Pirate Queen's cottage, and end up in her servitude aboard her ship, and they're forced to learn some valuable lessons about honor and obligation on their latest journey across the world into unknown lands.

Read an excerpt.

Child of Light by Terry Brooks, October 19th

Terry Brooks kicks off a new series with his latest novel, Child of Light, in which a nineteen year old named Auris Afton Greig has been locked up in a goblin prison. She doesn't know why or how she got there, or anything about her past. She's about to be transferred to the adult prison, but before that happens, she and some friends escape into the wastelands. They're rescued by a Fae, who claims that she's also a member of his race and brings her home. But in order to stay, she has to figure out her past and if she's a danger to her new home.

Kirkus Reviews says that "A fast-paced plot packed with secrets makes this an enjoyable read in a slightly old-fashioned high-fantasy style."

Read an excerpt.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, October 5th

Ever since I picked up the Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow has become one of those authors that I've been keeping a close eye out on, and her next release isn't a novel, but a novella from Tordotcom: A Spindle Splintered. In it, she puts a new spin on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, following Zinnia Gray, who learned years ago that she has a rare condition that means she won't live past her 21st year.

It's now her birthday, and her friend Charm is trying to make it special: a sleeping beauty-themed experience, and when Zinnia pricks her finger as in the story, she finds herself falling into a multiverse in which she visits other Sleeping Beauties from the other versions of the story in an attempt to try and escape her fate.

Read an excerpt.

Sistersong by Lucy Holland, October 5th

Lucy Holland's debut novel actually came out in the UK earlier this year, but it's now hitting the US market this month. Sistersong is a fantasy retelling of "The Twa Sisters" a traditional murder ballad from the UK, and is set in the kingdom of Dumnonia, where magic still lingers in the lands and rivers.

His three children have their own wishes and struggles: Riva is a healer, but has her own lingering scars from a long-ago accident, Keyne wants to be seen who he truly feels to be: the king's son, while the free-spirited Sinne wants to go off on adventures. When a magician arrives in the kingdom, his presence helps them understand their powers, and could also tear everything down.

Read an excerpt.


Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest is best known for her steampunk and Gothic horror stories, and with her latest marks a bit of a shift: a mystery about a psychic travel agent and a police detective in Seattle. Leda Foley isn't a great psychic or travel agent, and when she rebooks a trip for detective Grady Merritt, she finds herself in the midst of some trouble. After the original plane that he was supposed to be on blows up on the runway, he recruits her to help solve a cold case that he's struggled with for years.

Leda agrees, in part because her fiancé was murdered a year and a half ago, and his killer was never found, and she sees it as a way to maybe get back on track to bring them to justice. As it turns out, those two cases might have something in common.

Read an excerpt.

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner, October 12th

Star Trek actor Brent Spiner turns to his own life in his debut novel, in which he, an actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation begins receiving some strange packages and letters from someone obsessed with him, and he's pulled in on a strange and dangerous journey that ends up involving Paramount's security teams, the LAPD, and eventually, the FBI.

Publishers Weekly says that the book is an "homage to fans," and that "Trekkies and Hollywood history buffs will be delighted."

Read an excerpt.


Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, October 19th

October is spooky season, and I have to say, the cover to Cassandra Khaw's latest novella is probably the most horrifying thing I've seen recently. It's a haunted house story that's inspired by Japanese folklore, and is set in a Heian-era mansion that's been abandoned. The bones of a long dead bride reside in its walls, and when a group of friends visit the house to celebrate a wedding, things go south quickly — that bride has been lonely.

Grimdark Magazine says that it's a "riveting book, perfect for fans of creepy tales with a little extra bite."

Read an except here.

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn, October 19th

In this fantasy debut, a kingdom is flooded and Iraxi — a ostracized commoner who turned down a prince's advances — fights to survive along with her people as their resources dwindle and monsters circle their ark. She's pregnant with a child that might not be entirely human, and which might set her up for a dark fate.

Library Journal gave the book a starred review, saying that the story is "told in language that is both lyrical and spare, employing immersive but efficient worldbuilding, this story engages all five of the senses, allowing readers to physically experience the dread, claustrophobia, and fear but also the wonder, awe, and hope."

Science Fiction

Destroyer of Light  by Jennifer Marie Brissett, October 12th

Back in 2014, Jennifer Marie Brissett earned considerable acclaim for her noel Elysium. In her latest, Earth has been destroyed by an alien civilization called the krestge, and has relocated what's left of humanity to a planet called Eleusis. Along the way, they transformed them to adapt to their new home's environments, Day, Dusk (an agrarian sector), and Night.

Through three intertwining stories, Brissett follows the stories of a young girl named Cora who's kidnapped by a violent warlord, Dr. Aidoneus Okoni, in Dusk, a pair of twin brothers search for alien/human couple's missing child who appears to be trafficked from Day, while years later, Cora (now named Stefonie) rises through the ranks of Okoni's army.

Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review, saying that it's "richly developed and profound, able to serve both as a stand-alone and a surprising follow-up to the previous work."

Read an excerpt.

Star Wars Visions: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon, October 12th

One of the most interesting experiments that Lucasfilm has done with the Star Wars franchise in recent years is a series of short anime films called Star Wars Visions. The studio gave their animators free rein to retell and reimagine the franchise, and the results have been pretty good.

It wouldn't be a Star Wars project without a tie-in novel, and Emma Mieko Candon has written up an adaptation of the short film "The Duel." It's set in a version of the franchise where the Jedi were immeshed in endless wars, and a group defected, wanting to control their own destiny. They called themselves the Sith, and when their rebellion against the Jedi failed, the Jedi set up an Empire. Now, a lone Sith lord wanders the outer rim with his droid, and he'll soon be called out of exile to battle a rival bandit.

Read an excerpt.

Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis, October 19th

I'm a big fan of Lindsay Ellis's video essays, and last year, she released her debut novel, Axiom's End, about a woman named Cora whose father altered the world to the US's interactions with an alien civilization. The act of whistleblowing upended her family, and for years, she ignored him and the issue, until she learned the truth and became an envoy between humanity and the aliens.

In this sequel, the aliens remain on Earth, and humanity is grappling with the revelation and possibilities that that brings. Cora has adjusted to her role as envoy with Ampersand, her alien counterpart, has formed a strange bond with him. The aliens still have plenty of secrets, and when an investigative journalist sees more than she should have, it could upend the entire world.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that "Ellis draws skillful parallels between her science-fictional politics and real world issues, gracefully navigating the difficult topics of discrimination, violent extremism, mental health, and addiction."

Read an excerpt.

The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim, translated by Sean Lin Halbert, October 12th

Korean author Un-Sun Kim's acclaimed novel is being translated into English for the first time, and it's about a man named Mr. Kong, an office worker who's responsible for keeping an eye on an important filing cabinet filled with files of people with strange abilities. Over the course of the book, Kim plays out those bizarre and strange stories.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that the "stories straddle the lines between science fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, and acute reality, and all are told in an approachable style. Readers will be drawn in by the subtle yet effective oddities that grow increasingly more bizarre as the work wends on."

The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu, October 26th

A couple of years ago, I drove down to Boston to check out a newly-released movie: The Wandering Earth, based on a novella by Cixin Liu. Proclaimed as China's first big sci-fi blockbuster, it was a fun, entertaining film (you can now check it out on Netflix), and the story that it's based on is now coming to the US, in the form of a new collection from Cixin.

The collection is the latest from the Chinese SF author (Tor has also recently released To Hold Up The Sky), and it includes a handful of other entertaining stories that are well worth picking up.

Read an excerpt.

Trashlands by Alison Stine, October 26th

Alison Stine won this year's Philip K. Dick Award for her novel Road Out of Winter, and now brings out her next novel. Set decades from now, climate change has wrecked the world and flooded the coastlines. The governments of the world have agreed to stop producing plastic, and people pick through junk yards to unearth whatever plastic they can get their hands on.

Coral makes a living as a plucker in a small town called Trashland, hoping to save up enough to save her child from a factory where he's been pressed into service. When a reporter comes along, she has an opportunity to escape.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, noting that "Stine draws on her personal experience of today’s Appalachia to craft a harrowing vision of the future, and at its center is the tug-of-war between what is right and what is necessary to survive."

Read an excerpt.

Invisible Sun by Charles Stross, September 28th

Charles Stross returns to the world of his Merchant Prince novels with a third installment of Empire Games trilogy: Invisible Sun. This one requires a little unpacking: back in 2001, after Stross sold a pair of science fiction novels to Ace, he branched out into fantasy with The Family Trade, in which a tech journalist ends up in a parallel fantasy world where her family is in charge of things. Over the course of a handful of other books — The Hidden Family, The Clan Corporate, The Merchant's War, The Revolution Business, and The Trade of Queens (Stross re-written into a trio of omnibuses a couple of years ago— Stross explored the relationship between a handful of alternate timelines, ultimately leading up to a new trilogy, which kicked off in 2017 with Empire Games.

That trilogy takes place 17 years after the events of The Trade of Queens, and follows a handful of new characters as they deal with the geopolitics between worlds and a growing threat to the multiverse. Stross has a lengthy explanation for the series, which you can read here.

Read an excerpt.

Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson, October 26th

In the distant future, humanity has spread to the stars, and as an interstellar mission arrives in the Lagos system, its first mate Michelle Campion awakens to find that not all of her passengers survived the journey. An investigator, Rasheed Fin, responds to her distress call, and discovers a mystery onboard, one that could have huge ramifications for not only the Lagos system, but back home at Earth as well.

Kirkus Reviews says that Thompson has some "sharp and relevant things to say about technocrats with less than savory sources for their wealth who engage in messy personal relationships, enjoy showy toys, and try to buy themselves out of trouble."

Read an except.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao, September 21st

This book's been described as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale, which sounds like an interesting combination. In this world, men and women pilot giant mechs called Chrysalises, and often times, the women are the ones who die from the mental strain. Zetian lost her sister to a mech, and when she volunteers, it's out of a mission of revenge: she wants to kill the pilot who was responsible for her sister's death.

She gets her wish: she ends up killing the pilot, but she ends up surviving, and is nicknamed the Iron Widow, and is feared by the rest of the Chrysalises corps. When she's paired up with another pilot, Li Shimin, she's ready to take on the entire corps to stop its women from being sacrificed.

Read an excerpt.


The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry, October 19th

The MCU has become a major force in the box office in the last decade. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, and stretching all the way to today, the franchise has become one of those wild success stories that will undoubtably influence the future of cinema — for better or worse. ABRAMS is releasing a big, two-volume authorized behind-the-scenes book that will look at the entire franchise from beginning all the way up to Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

I can't imagine that it'll carry much in the way of a critical eye towards the franchise, but this looks like it'll be a really great resource for seeing how the entire thing came together, with lots of behind-the-scenes details about all of those films.

You've Got Red on You: How Shaun of the Dead Was Brought to Life by Clark Collis, October 19th

Shaun of the Dead is is one of the best comedies out there (Every Frame a Painting has a phenomenal look at Edgar Wright's approach to comedy), and a new book looks at the story behind its creation, and how Wright really had to fight to make the film. It'll feature interviews with all of the film's main actors, as well as a ton of pictures and concept art, and commentary from other filmmakers and writers like Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and Max Brooks.

Read an except here and here.

All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told by Douglas Wolk, October 12th

The history of Marvel Comics stretches back decades, and to try and get a better sense of how the larger, collective story plays out, journalist Douglas Wolk went and read all of it — more than 27,000 issues in all. He collects his findings in a new book, looking at what Marvel means as a fixture of American culture, and how it reflects our fears and ethics back at us.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that Wolk's "infectious zeal for the Marvel universe shines in his insightful analysis of everything from the genre’s cultural impact and symbolism—examining, for instance, how the X-Men have served as proxies for those ostracized by society—to the saga of the Black Panther’s creation, which spanned years and writers."

As always, thanks for reading. If you found this list useful, please consider sharing it on social media, or signing up as a subscriber. Transfer Orbit publishes a weekly roundup of genre news (almost) every Friday, while paying subscribers get some additional posts, commentary, and a dedicated Slack channel. I'm also sending out a weekly recap of Apple's Foundation — the next installment for Episode 3 will go out tomorrow.

Have a good weekend,