Andrew Liptak on 24 Sci-fi and Fantasy Books to Check Out in October

Andrew Liptak on 24 Sci-fi and Fantasy Books to Check Out in October

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Covers by: Kathryn Galloway English, DoFresh, and uncredited (click to embiggen)

Andrew Liptak’s monthly SF and fantasy book roundup in his email newsletter is both exhilarating and frustrating. You probably know what I’m talking about. It’s like being rushed through a tantalizing buffet — it looks fantastic, but no way you’ll have time to try it all.

His October book list is especially appetizing, with new releases from Linda Nagata, Kim Stanley Robinson, V.E. Schwab, Elizabeth Bear, P. Djèlí Clark, Cory Doctorow, Alix E. Harrow, Rebecca Roanhorse, Patrick Tomlinson, Neil Gaiman, Yoon Ha Lee, Cixin Liu, Lou Diamond Phillips, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Charles Stross, and more. But time’s a-wasting. Let’s check out the highlights.

Trinity Sight by Jennifer Givhan (Blackstone Publishing, 304 pages, $15.99 paperback/$7.99 digital, October 13, 2020) – cover design by Kathryn Galloway English

An anthropologist named Calliope Santiago is driving home from work and experiences a bright flash of light, and crashes. When she awakens, she discovers that almost everyone has vanished, and that New Mexico has turned into an unforgiving landscape of volcanoes, monsters, and magic. Along with her son and unborn twins, she and a neighbor’s child navigate this new wilderness, meeting survivors along the way as they try and find safety.

Kirkus Reviews notes that Givhan “employs Southwestern Puebloan mythology to inform the plot,” as well as more contemporary tensions between the US Government, atomic bombs, and more.

Jennifer Givhan is also the author of Jubilee and the collection Girl with Death Mask.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris, 416 pages, $24.99 hardcover/$8.99 digital, October 20, 2020) — cover by DoFresh

Set in a fantasy world that draws inspiration from the Japanese invasion of Korea, Phoenix Extravagant, follows Gyen Jebi, who doesn’t want to fight against their oppressive government: they just want to be an artist. They’re recruited to paint the Ministry of Armor’s automated soldiers with magical sigils, and when they discover that the Razanei government is responsible for some atrocities, they have to figure out how to steal a massive robotic dragon and join the fight.

Liz Bourke, writing for Locus Magazine, writer that “this is an elegant, eloquent novel, tense and full of incident,” and that it’s “deeply concerned with art: art as art, art as useful object, art as history and heritage.”

You can read an excerpt at

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (, 192 pages, $19.99 hardcover/$9.99 digital, October 13, 2020)

In P. Djèlí Clark’s debut novel, otherworldly monsters use white supremacy as a tool to take over the world, and in 1922, the Ku Klux Klan is in its ascendancy, helped by a spell in the form of the film Birth of a Nation. Three Black woman stand in the way of the Klu Kluxes as they’re gathering for a final assault to take over the world.

P. Djèlí Clark is also the author of The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

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Cover by Andrian Luchian

In the Black by Patrick Tomlinson (Tor, 352 pages, $19.99 paperback/$9.99 digital, October 13, 2020) — cover by Andrian Luchian

In the distant future, the captain of a military starship is dispatched to a demilitarized zone at the edge of human space, where satellites are quietly going out. When they arrive, they discover an advanced alien ship, and have to figure out how to navigate a tangled diplomatic web without accidentally kicking off a disastrous war.

Read an excerpt here. Patrick Tomlinson is also the author of Gate Crashers.

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Cover art uncredited

Machine by Elizabeth Bear (Saga Press, 496 pages, $25.99 hardcover/$9.99 digital, October 6, 2020) — cover uncredited

enjoyed Elizabeth Bear’s novel Ancestral Night when I read it last year, — it follows a couple of salvage operators who end up discovering a massive alien ship with a terrible secret onboard, leading to further problems.

In this followup, Bear introduces us to Jens, a doctor who’s dispatched to ailing alien ships to help engineer cures for unknown illnesses. When she’s hailed by a distress signal, she discovers a ship docked to a lost generation ship from Earth. The crew of the newer ship is suffering from some sort of illness, and the older ship’s AI is trapped in an android body. It’s up to Jens to figure out the history between the two ships to save them.

Publishers Weekly gave the novel a starred review, and says that “Bear’s vivid tale, narrated by the wry, almost painfully self-aware Jens, bristles with inventive science and riveting action scenes.”

Read an excerpt from Machine at The Book Smugglers.

Read Andrew’s complete list in his Newsletter — and sign up while you’re there. You’ll be glad you did.

See our discussions of his previous lists here, and all our recent New Treasures here.

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