In his intro to his book roundup for October over at Kirkus Reviews, John DeNardo says:
I’m constantly surprised at the wide range of stories offered within the science fiction and fantasy genres. Just take a look at this month’s top science fiction and fantasy picks and you’ll see what I mean.
He’s certainly got a point. SF and fantasy fans are constantly making up new sub-genres and sub-sub-genres to categorize just what the hell we read every month (Weird Western, Urban Fantasy, Sword-and-Planet, Space Opera, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Ghostpunk, Elfpunk…), and it still seems that half the new stuff is just flat-out uncategorizable.
October’s new SF & Fantasy is no different. Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers catalogs 29 October titles by Tade Thompson, Cixin Liu, Tim Pratt, Theodora Goss, and our very own Derek Künsken, but John takes a different tack, narrowing his focus to The 7 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read This October. Here’s a few highlights from his suggestions.
Half Way Home by Hugh Howey (John Joseph Adams, 240 pages, $26.99 hardcover/$16.99 paperback/$9.99 digital, Oct. 1) — cover by M.S. Corley
The premise behind Half Way Home begins with an audacious project: launch an automated, A.I.-controlled ship to colonize a faraway planet, and populate that ship with 500 people who are grown in vats and educated along the way. When they arrive as 30-somethings, the colonization can begin. There’s just one problem: Midway through the 30-year flight, an explosion kills most of the crew and destroys their resources. The 60 teenaged survivors are ill-prepared for the harsh environment in which they find themselves. Even with the Artificial Intelligence helping them, they soon find that the greatest threat to their survival is each other.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason (DAW, 416 pages, $26 hardcover, $13.99 digital, Oct. 8)
If you’re undecided between reading science fiction or fantasy, direct your attention to Eason’s whip smart SF/F mashup. How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, the first book of a duology, is a reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes as applied to a space opera setting. Rory Thorne is a princess who, after unexpectedly not inheriting the throne, becomes engaged to the prince of a distant world. There, she discovers a plot by a deceitful minister who names himself Regent to unseat her new prince and steal his throne. Rory, with a small team of allies, must stop the conniving politician.
Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey, 494 pages, $32 hardcover/$14.99 digital, Oct. 29)
This sweeping and inventive space opera is set in a comparative utopia two centuries in the future. Thanks to advanced technology, transportation to faraway galaxies is as simple as walking through a gate. That leads to some amazing discoveries — and also some dangerous ones. One of the latter is a seemingly benign alien race. The Olyix, however, are anything but peaceful. They are driven by a deep religious extremism to bring everyone to their version of God. The threat to human life unites the galaxy in the common goal of survival.
See John’s complete rundown for October here.
We last sampled John’s monthly rec column back in June. Our recent coverage of John’s Kirkus articles includes:
You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf: John DeNardo on the Best June Science Fiction & Fantasy (2019)
John DeNardo on Terrific Science Fiction & Fantasy for Every Kind of Reader in March (2019)
John DeNardo on 31 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books You Should Read in July (2018)
John DeNardo on the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror in May (2018)
John DeNardo on the Best SF and Fantasy in November (2017)
John DeNardo on August’s Must-Read Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books (2017)
John DeNardo on Your Best Bets for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in July (2017)
John DeNardo on The Science Fiction & Fantasy Books Everyone Will be Talking About in April (2017)
John DeNardo on the Definitive List of 2017’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy
See all our coverage of the best new book releases here.