The holidays are here, and if you’re unwrapping a new Kindle (or a non-Amazon-branded e-reader, or just a device with an e-book app on it), you might be looking for some new books to read.
If you need some recommendations, here’s a list of some of the best science fiction books released in 2019, which should be the perfect choices for a long plane ride home or a quiet vacation morning.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs and Macs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for gaming PCs, the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and VR. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney+, Hulu, ESPN and Netflix, some great sci-fi books, and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing, but may change.)
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Gideon the Ninth is probably the best thing I’ve read this year, a wildly fun blend of sci-fi and fantasy set in a mysterious, ancient castle. There’s necromancers, locked room mysteries, dueling cavaliers, warring political factions, and more that it would be a shame to spoil. If the blurb from Charles Stross describing it as “lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” can’t sell you, nothing will.
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Mahit Dzmare is the newest ambassador to the massive, interstellar Teixcalaanli Empire. Her job goes south quickly when she discovers the previous ambassador is dead, leaving her to solve the mystery of his death and prevent her small station from being crushed by the massive political forces at work. It’s technically the first in a series, but it should hold up on its own, too.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
A mind-bending time travel story that’s also a love story, as warring time travelers duel across constantly shifting timelines to protect their future’s existence. Told in a series of alternating letters, it’s a short and beautifully written piece of science fiction.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang is best known for his short story Story of Your Life, which the movie Arrival was based on. His latest collection of stories, Exhalation, features nine original, thought-provoking pieces of fiction that deal with time, space, and humanity’s place in the universe.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
The sophomore novel from Charlie Jane Anders is set on a far planet — half of it frozen, and half of it burned under the glare of the sun, with human settlers living in two cities in the (sort of) temperate zone in between. A new discovery of creatures that lived there first, though, changes everything.
Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
Annalee Newitz’s novel pictures a world where time travel is real, and a group of women use that technology to expand and protect female autonomy and rights, while fighting against a group of far-future misogynists determined to do the opposite. Also, plenty of punk rock.
Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
Vivian Liao is a genius inventor and entrepreneur — the next Steve Jobs, basically — until she’s flung to the far future where the entire galaxy is under the iron-fisted rule of the titular Empress of Forever. Needless to say, Vivian does not take to imperial rule well, in this fast-paced, galaxy-spanning adventure.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Where Blake Crouch’s last book, Dark Matter, offered an action-packed take on alternate universes, Recursion (as the name might suggest) is a similarly action-packed time travel romp. The science here is a little fantastical, but if you’re looking for a lighter read, it’s certainly an entertaining adventure.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig’s sprawling epic, Wanderers, is set in a near-future where wandering sleepwalkers start roaming the country due to an unknown pandemic. Mixing science fiction with political, environmental, and social commentary as the situation with the “wanderers” continues to escalate, Wendig’s book isn’t the easiest read of the year, but it’s perfect for anyone looking for a more serious sci-fi book.
Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear
If you’re the kind of person who likes their science fiction with a bit more science in it, Ancestral Night is the book for you. With a far more realistic take on space travel than most books, Ancestral Night sees a pair of salvage operators uncover the haul of a lifetime — but that could also start a universe-spanning war.
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane
Science fact, rather than science fiction, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You is an incredibly informative dive into how today’s artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms work, and how they’ll shape the future of computers, technology, and our day-to-day lives.
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