Looking for your next sci-fi or fantasy read? Let the experts help you out! Science fiction and fantasy authors are also voracious SFF readers, and they know the genre inside and out. I always trust their recommendations, which is why I asked nine of them to share the one SFF novel they’re most excited to read in 2020. Check out their picks and share your 2020 SFF TBR in the comments!

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

“Three-time Hugo Award-winner N.K. Jemisin takes her world-building to epic levels in her new novel, The City We Became. In the book, some cities, including New York City and its five boroughs, come to life as human avatars tasked with the protection of their embodied location. This is a world where, according to Jemisin, ‘possessed toilet stalls attack, backyard pools turn into portals to monsterville, and traffic on the FDR becomes a literal, tentacled, killer.’ All while she tackles topics of gentrification, culture, and what it means to be a community. It sounds like the makings of another fantasy classic.” —L. Penelope, author of Cry of Metal & Bone

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

“I am looking forward to reading The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty, the third book in the Daevabad trilogy. Besides the stunning Middle Eastern setting and its vividly realized mythology, the characters have been an absolute joy to read. I have especially enjoyed following devout Alizayd and his struggle to balance his strong principles and moral compass with his duty to his family. Also, the way the last book ended left me very impatient to find out what happens next.” —C.T. Rwizi, author of Scarlet Odyssey

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

“Hao Jingfang wrote one of my favorite pieces of short fiction over the past decade: 2015’s ‘Folding Beijing’ translated by Ken Liu. When I first heard of Vagabonds, Hao Jingfang’s debut novel—a literary book about a delegation of young Martians sent back to Earth, a century after Mars’ independence from Earth, in an attempt at lasting peace—I knew immediately that this was something I needed in my life. And when Ken Liu, who translated this story as well, told me more, my suspicions were confirmed: Vagabonds is my most anticipated read of 2020.” —Tochi Onyebuchi, author of Riot Baby

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik

Chaos Reigning is the triumphant conclusion to Jessie Mihalik’s stunning debut trilogy about a trio of brilliant intergalactic space princesses navigating vicious politics, criminal syndicates, and the rot at the center of their family’s power. Cat, the baby of the family, has always been protected by her older siblings. But trapped on Earth in the midst of a rebellion, she’s forced to embrace her own secret power—and put her trust in a brooding bodyguard with secrets of his own. Together, they could prevent the downfall of Earth—or die trying.” —Bree Bridges (of Kit Rocha), author of Deal With the Devil

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

From the very first page, Beneath the Rising grips you and refuses to let go. I have been a fan of Mohamed’s writing since I first laid eyes on her beautifully lyrical ghost story: The Apple-Tree Throne, and her debut novel is no different with that same lush and lovely treatment of every word. If you’re looking for a tumultuous science fiction story about the cost of friendship and hope, this is the book for you.” —K.B. Wagers, author of A Pale Light in the Black

Red Noise by John P. Murphy

“My pick is John P. Murphy’s Red Noise. The plot here is similar to Akira Kurosawa’s classic film, Yojimbo, in which a rōnin cleans up a small town taken over by rival crime lords. Muphy’s space opera takes that premise and fills it with gravity-defying, bullet-lasering, mind-bending action, as well as more wisecracks than there are asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. The colorful characters and clever plot twists keep the pages turning, and it is without a doubt a most satisfying read for those craving a good adventure.” —Ken Liu, author of The Hidden Girl and Other Stories

Remembrance by Rita Woods

“A couple of years ago, I was chatting with my editor, Diana Gill, and she was bursting with excitement over a book she’d just acquired. ‘It’s about a voodoo priestess who protects a stop on the Underground Railroad,’ she told me. ‘It’s so good. I snatched it up!’ Now, as an author, I hear enthusiasm about books all the time—but that elevator pitch? It grabbed me by the throat. I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for this book ever since and now it’s out! My copy just came and I can’t wait to read it!” —S.L. Huang, author of Burning Roses and Critical Point

Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

“Bone Shard Daughter is definitely a TBR must-have. I was lucky enough to get an early read. The story revolves around Lin, the daughter of an emperor who is trying to get to the bottom of her father’s secrets. It’s got just about everything I could want in a story: beautiful prose, fast-paced action, smuggling, intrigue, and lush, Asian-inspired worldbuilding. Some of the secrets are jaw-dropping… and I don’t want to spoil you by talking too much about it. It’s science fantasy, which is an added bonus!” —K.S. Villoso, author of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden

“I have a confession: I don’t usually go for fantasy books. Please don’t be mad. I respect the worldbuilding hustle! But something in my brain short circuits as soon as I hit a word I can’t pronounce. It’s a character flaw, I know. Luckily Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden is here to make me a better person. Stealing Thunder is so gripping, such a knockout of a debut, that I found myself wondering how much else I was missing. The book’s themes of politics, family, and identity are fantastic—and also there are aerial dragon-bird fights. Thrills and chills and romance and a metric ton of heart and humanity; this is a must-read.” —Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows. She is a Gryffindor.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Dear Reader,

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for book recs, interviews, and favorites from our editor.