Taking on the SFF TBR is like climbing a mountain that keeps growing and expanding as you dig in and inch upward. It’s a little like the problem Sisyphus had with his boulder, but instead of doing the same thing over and over, the path before you keeps changing. It’s full of interesting byways, occasional open meadows, new vistas of the surrounding world, and, of course, you can take as many companions with you as you like. But the thing is, the path up Mount SFF TBR never ends.
So here I am again, adding new books all the time, whether from the library, bought new or used, or just pulled off the shelf or summoned from my Kindle. Here’s a new resolve at taking on the SFF TBR, even as I know how impossible it is to read even a fraction of everything I want to get into. And these ten books comprise just a fraction.
Embertide by Liz Williams
I first heard about Liz Williams just as her Fallows Sisters series was getting underway. Embertide is the third novel, following Blackthorn Winter and Comet Weather, both of which I loved. These are wild fantasies involving four extraordinary sisters, their star avatars, ghost lovers, their mysterious mother, highly suspect neighbors and travels through parallel dimensions as they try to live happily in contemporary England. It’s a great series, and this is one of the books I most look forward to reading this summer.
New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction, edited by Neil Clarke, Xia Jia, Regina Kanyu Wang
While most Chinese science fiction that English-speaking readers have been introduced to in the last few years is the work of just a few great writers, like Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang, this anthology presents eight writers well established in China but new to the English-speaking world. Xia Jia explains in the introduction a bit about why these particular authors have been chosen and the nature of the contributions they are making to the SFF field. I hope we’ll see a lot more of their work being published in translation in the near future.
The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri
Following The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri continues the Burning Kingdoms series with this novel that brings new depth to the story of Malini and Priya, their entwined destinies and the fight to rid the world of the blooming sickness that is spreading through all living things. The push-pull relationship between these two women made The Jasmine Throne an especially involving story for me, and this new novel seems to bring that central tension and love to the center of an even greater struggle for survival.
The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
Thanks partly to last May’s readalong by imyril and many others, I’m finally getting into the work of Guy Gavriel Kay, starting with the first book of the Fionvar Tapestry series, The Summer Tree. I’ve always been more of a science fiction than fantasy reader, but every time I read a new fantasy work, I understand why this seems to be so widely popular a form among great writers. And Kay is one of the best, whom I should have read ages ago, but better later knowledge than forever ignorance.
In the Orbit of Sirens by T. A. Bruno
Thanks to the ongoing Self Published Science Fiction Competition, I finally have a way to sort through the bazillion indie titles that come out each year by following the review process that winnows hundreds of novels. Among the seven finalists for the 2021 contest is In the Orbit of Sirens. This promises to be an exciting space opera about survivors of a cyborg invasion, and the simple fact that the book has made it through so many rounds of reviews by so many judges tells me I have to give it a try.
Pradyutita by Geetha Krishnan
In my search for more South Asian SFF, I came across this title, which is one of many imaginative retellings of the Mahabharata. Pradyutita has won praise for its ingenuity and transformation of character roles, and I’m hoping it will lead me into learning more about the great Indian epic story.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
The Library at Mount Char is a first novel that has gathered spectacular reviews since its publication in 2015. Described as a fantasy/horror story (again a stretch out of my usual reading comfort zone), I am drawn hopelessly toward the idea of a library holding the secrets of the universe and a battle to control creation.
The Employees by Olga Ravn
Here’s a novel that promises to get me back to outer space on board a resource-extraction ship. The crew picks up strange objects that seem to raise questions about the very purposes of their work and economic system. Plus, the story unfolds in an innovative way through reports and multiple perspectives, so bring it on!
Monkey Around by Jadie Jang
Here’s an urban fantasy about a were-monkey and other were-creatures going amok in San Francisco with lots of supernatural twists and turns. It sounds wild and definitely a story to break up routines and mental ruts of a heavy reading schedule.
Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair
Now for an ambitious space opera, this opening novel of the Wind Tide series features oppressed peoples fighting for independence, trouble on multiple plants, a complex plot and interesting relationships. I’m all in on this one, hopefully for the full series.