The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of December: Our Top 5 Picks

Best SF and fantasy of DecemberWhen the days are short and the nights are long, one's thoughts turn to larger questions about the future, the possibility of destiny, and our place in the universe.

In other words, it's the perfect time to start a new science fiction or fantasy book. (Of course, it's ALWAYS a good time to start a new book. But I'm giving you an excuse in case you need one.)

Click here to see all eight books we picked for best SF and fantasy books of December, including series finales from Ian Tregillis (Alchemy Wars) and Erika Johansen (Queen of the Tearling). Below are five titles that we especially enjoyed.

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Normal by Warren Ellis -Not only our #1 pick for the month in SF, this is our #2 pick for all the books published in December and it won itself a spot on the Best Books of 2016. Unpredictable and daringly written, Ellis's compact novel is a mind-blowing morsel of paranoia…or prescience. Institutionalized in the wilds of Oregon for a mental breakdown, foresight strategist Adam Dearden finds his therapy disrupted before it even begins by the bizarre and impossible disappearance of a new inmate. Adam is galvanized to exorcise his demons and solve the mystery before the future pounces on him and the other patients and destroys their last refuge of sanity. Chilling, bold, challenging, and dark, Normal is will hit the sweet spot for fans of David Mitchell, Jeff VanderMeer, or anyone who fears that the future is already here.

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Unfettered II: New Tales by Masters of Fantasy edited by Shawn Speakman - Speakman's third anthology of short stories by top-notch fantasy authors pays it forward in a big way as Speakman donates the book's proceeds to help reduce authors' medical debts and fund cancer research. Whether or not the altruistic angle appeals to you, the stories definitely will. Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, Jim Butcher, Sarah Beth Durst, Anthony Ryan, and Seanan McGuire are among the 20 talented writers whose tales grace this anthology, and you'll soon be sucked deep into your favorite fantasy worlds.

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Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. Corey - Book six of this riveting space drama keeps the tension high as former allies are driven farther apart. James Holden and his ship's crew plunge again into danger to try to stop the civil-war-torn solar system from unraveling into bloodthirsty chaos. The political action is hot, as are the gun battles. But for goodness' sake, start with book one, Leviathan Wakes, so that you can truly appreciate the complexity of Corey's galaxy (and have a clue to what's going on).

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Take Back the Sky by Greg Bear - The conflict between the humans, the Antagonists, and the mysterious alien Gurus comes to a head in Bear's conclusion to his War Dogs trilogy. In the previous installments of the series, Venn has traveled to Mars and the moons of Jupiter, but this time he's traveling beyond Pluto to salvage humanity. Gifted SF storyteller Greg Bear combines science and action to hone your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. Start this series with War Dogs if you haven't picked it up yet.

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Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson - Wilson neatly dodges the time travel paradox by sending his modern-day characters back in time to a parallel world instead of their own—but that's not what I loved about this book. Jesse Cullum, a local in the late 1800s in Ohio, is hired as security by the people from the future, and he's the heart and soul and brains of the book. After he stops an attempt on President Grant's life, Jesse investigates how the wannabe local assassin managed to get his hands on future technology. Cullum's laid-back attitude masks a sharp mind that starts peering a little too closely at the people from the future and their reasons for being in his world. Historical details add just enough flavor, Wilson's humor is sly, and this is an excellent read that will thrill fans of alternate history.

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The Unholy by JMCole

Posted by: Lee | Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 5:03 AM

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