18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – June

This past week I’ve been poring over publisher catalogs, getting hyped about upcoming book releases. There’s a lot to look forward to, especially in sci-fi and fantasy. Here are 18 of the most promising titles coming out in the first half of the year. Look for most of them in February and March—in fact, there are five coming out all on March 6. You might want to take that day off work right now. Just my advice.

January Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneIron Gold by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising Saga #4
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Available on: January 16
Goodreads | Amazon

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

I read the first three books of the Red Rising Saga all in a bunch during the past couple months. They’re very solid, character-driven sci-fi novels and the premise of the world is awesome (humans, having colonized the solar system, live in a starkly stratified, dystopian society modeled after the Roman empire). This is the fourth book, and it takes place about twenty years after the events of the first three. It follows Darrow, the original hero, but also a number of other characters whose stories intertwine with his. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, definitely start with Red Rising. If you have, you can look forward to reading book four in a couple weeks!

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Winter Station by Jody Shields
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Available on: January 30
Goodreads | Amazon

An aristocratic Russian doctor races to contain a deadly plague in an outpost city in Manchuria – before it spreads to the rest of the world. 1910: people are mysteriously dying at an alarming rate in the Russian-ruled city of Kharbin, a major railway outpost in Northern China. Strangely, some of the dead bodies vanish before they can be identified. [...] Based on a true story that has been lost to history, set during the last days of imperial Russia, The Winter Station is a richly textured and brilliant novel about mortality, fear and love.

This would be a great plot all on its own. The fact that it’s based on a true story makes it all the better.

February Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneMoonshine by Jasmine Gower
Genres: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Available on: February 1
Goodreads | Amazon

In the flourishing metropolis of Soot City (a fantastical version of 1920s Chicago), progressive ideals reign and the old ways of magic and liquid mana are forbidden. Daisy Dell is a Modern Girl--stylish, educated and independent--keen to establish herself in the city but reluctant to give up the taboo magic inherited from her grandmother.

I get a supernatural Great Gatsby vibe from this book. Remains to be seen whether that’s at all accurate (it might just be a result of the 1920s-inspired setting and the name Daisy), but the premise of magical flappers is too good to pass up either way.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Available on: February 6
Goodreads | Amazon

Shannon Moss is part of a clandestine division within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In Western Pennsylvania, 1997, she is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family--and to locate his teenage daughter, who has disappeared. [...] Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels ahead in time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence or insight that will crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it’s not only the fate of a family that hinges on her work, for what she witnesses rising over time’s horizon [is] the terrifying and cataclysmic end of humanity itself.

Part time travel adventure, part murder mystery, part psychological thriller. Everything you could want in a nice tidy package.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Genres: Fantasy
Publisher: Freeform
Available on: February 6
Goodreads | Amazon

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. [But] behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie--that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined.

The author’s inspiration for this book was her irritation with how the media portray and commodify women’s bodies and beauty. You wouldn’t necessarily expect that starting point to lead to the most engaging novel, but this premise—a world in which Beauty is created in some magical way by people with special powers, powers that could be used for things much more significant than making others beautiful—sounds both engaging and approachable. I’m really looking forward to giving this one a read.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneGunpowder Moon by David Pedreira
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Available on: February 13
Goodreads | Amazon

A realistic and chilling vision of life on the Moon, where dust kills as easily as the vacuum of space…but murder is even quicker--a fast-paced, cinematic science fiction thriller, this debut novel combines the inventiveness of The Martian, the intrigue of The Expanse, and the thrills of Red Rising.

This book concerns the investigation of the first murder on the moon. I was already intrigued by that premise, but then I noticed that the publisher compares it to Red Rising, which I’ve already discussed my enthusiasm for. (It’s also compared to The Martian and The Expanse, which I really enjoyed, but I’m not sure that counts because I haven’t read the actual books—I’ve only seen the film/TV adaptations.)

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneSong of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Historical
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Available on: February 13
Goodreads | Amazon

A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who defied Iranian society to find her voice and her destiny. [...] Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews--and including original translations of her poems--this haunting novel uses the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran--and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

This is a novel, but it chronicles the life of an actual Iranian poet who lived from 1934 to 1967. She defied tradition (which in that time and place would have taken considerable nerve) to write and live her life on her own terms. She sounds fascinating!

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneOutpost by W. Michael Gear
Series: Donovan Trilogy #1
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: DAW
Available on: February 20
Goodreads | Amazon

Donovan is a world of remarkable wealth, a habitable paradise of a planet. It sounds like a dream come true. But Donovan’s wealth comes at a price. [...] Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that deters any ship from attempting a return journey. And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game.

This books follows four main characters (the “all of them” referred to in the synopsis): Supervisor Kalico Aguila, who arrives at the Donovan colony to find it failing and descending into chaos; Talina Perez, one of the few remaining government officials on Donovan; Dan Wirth, a psychopath sentenced to death; and Captain Max Taggart, an enforcer who has to try to control the situation on Donovan as it deteriorates. I like the character-driven aspect, and it sounds like the setting and plot are dystopia and psychological thriller at their best.

March Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneQuietus by Tristan Palmgren
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Angry Robot
Available on: March 1
Goodreads | Amazon

Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her observer neutrality, she saves Niccolucio from the brink of death. Habidah discovers that neither her home's plague nor her assignment on Niccolucio's world are as she's been led to believe.

The time travel/alternate history aspect would’ve been enough to get me to read this book. The intrigue and conspiracy aspect, which concerns the time traveler’s assignment and its connection to her own universe’s plague, is just icing on the cake. Very tasty icing.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneDaughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
Series: Blood and Gold #1
Genres: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Available on: March 6
Goodreads | Amazon

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. [...] When their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, these five sisters must embark on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.

The publisher’s blurb likens this author to Naomi Novik, a favorite of mine (if you haven’t read Uprooted yet, get on that immediately). It also refers to the book as a “Norse-flavored fantasy epic.” Sold.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Available on: March 6
Goodreads | Amazon

Three generations of Irish nobles face their family secrets in this spellbinding novel from the award-winning author of the Boleyn King trilogy.

This book is a gothic ghost story mystery that takes place in an Irish castle. A scholar is hired to take inventory of the castle’s historic library, and she ends up embroiled in the investigation of a cold case concerning the violent death of the viscount’s parents some decades earlier. This is linked to another mysterious violent death in the previous century, and to legends of “the darkling bride,” a malevolent being that haunts the castle. As she gets closer to the viscount (so actually, it’s a gothic ghost story mystery romance), she ends up becoming a target herself.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Thriller
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Available on: March 6
Goodreads | Amazon

The Hunger is a tense and gripping reimagining of one of America’s most fascinating historical moments: the Donner Party, with a supernatural twist. Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

Supernatural Donner party. Supernatural. Donner. Party. How uniquely creepy is that?

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneThe Warrior Within by Angus McIntyre
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Available on: March 6
Goodreads | Amazon

Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. [...] Surrounded by artifacts of a long dead civilization, the population [of his planet] survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town. [...] Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.

It’s not entirely clear from the synopsis whether Karsman’s personas are self-generated (i.e., a multiple personality disorder situation), or whether there’s some mechanism on his planet that allows multiple separate entities to inhabit a single body. Either way, I’m all in to read this book.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneBlood of the Four by Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon
Genres: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Available on: March 6
Goodreads | Amazon

In the great kingdom of Quandis, everyone is a slave. Some are slaves to the gods. Most are slaves to everyone else. Blessed by the gods with lives of comfort and splendor, the royal elite routinely perform their duties, yet some chafe at their role. [...] Far below the royals are the Bajuman. Poor and oppressed, members of this wretched caste have but two paths out of servitude: the priesthood . . . or death. Because magic has been kept at bay in Quandis, royals and Bajuman have lived together in an uneasy peace for centuries. But Princess Phela’s desire for power will disrupt the realm’s order, setting into motion a series of events that will end with her becoming a goddess in her own right . . . or ultimately destroying Quandis and all its inhabitants.

I was initially ambivalent about the premise of this book, but I was swayed when I saw the writing compared to that of Brandon Sanderson and N. K. Jemisin, two authors that have consistently impressed me. That’s enough to justify giving it a read.

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneGods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Available on: March 13
Goodreads | Amazon

Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past. In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity's ancestral habitat. [...] When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

The publisher calls this book a “mind-bending science fiction adventure that uses time travel to merge climate fiction with historical fantasy.” That’s both interesting and topically relevant, the situation with climate change being what it is.

April Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneTime Was by Ian McDonald
Genres: Science Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Tor
Available on: April 24
Goodreads | Amazon

A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it. In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found. Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.

This is a novella (only 176 pages), so it’ll be a nice quick read that combines a lot of great elements: historical fiction (WWII era), characters separated in time and communicating through books (the best way to communicate, if you ask me), and a queer love story.

May Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneArtificial Condition by Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Available on: May 8
Goodreads | Amazon

It has a dark past--one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself "Murderbot." But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the "A" stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

What I loved about the first Murderbot book, All Systems Red, was the voice of the narrator, which was somehow both completely inhuman and completely relatable. I’d worried after reading the synopsis that the character/plot might be a little contrived, but they weren’t at all; Martha Wells has never disappointed me before, and I should’ve had more faith in her. All this is to say that I’m eagerly awaiting the second book in the series, and you should too.

June Releases

18 Books to Look Forward to in 2018: January – JuneA Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White
Series: The Salvagers #1
Genres: Science Fiction
Publisher: Orbit
Available on: June 26
Goodreads | Amazon

Furious and fun, the first book in this bold, new science fiction adventure series follows a ragtag group of adventurers as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to clearing their name and saving the universe.

The blurb is a little at odds with the full synopsis of this book, so here’s the deal: there are two main characters, a washed-up treasure hunter and a disgraced pro racer who has been framed for murder. They get on a smuggler’s ship to go hunting a legendary lost warship, the treasure hunter to re-establish her reputation and the racer to prove her innocence (and presumably to protect the treasure hunter, who is the actual killer’s next target). Sounds fun!

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