The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of March

Best science fiction and fantasy of March - Amazon Book Review
A new series-starter from John Scalzi, a fantastic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and the story of New York City ravaged by floods are among our picks for the best science fiction and fantasy books of March.

If you don't find anything here that catches your eye, check out our list of the big spring books that we have great hopes for.


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The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - Despite the cover's affinity to the look of Scalzi's Old Man War series, this is in fact a new series, and one that starts off with a rip-snorter of a spaceship mutiny that doesn't quite go as planned. But that's the fate of just about everyone who goes to or leaves End, the farthest-out human colony that can be reached through the Flow, this universe's method of faster-than-light travel. The ascension of a new and untried ruler to the Interdependency, the potential collapse of the Flow, and sloppy math that sparks a civil war all fuse together into a situation that makes End--the last place most people want to live but the only colony that is able to be self-sufficient--suddenly the biggest prize in the universe. While I'm a big fan of the Old Man's War series, this new book seems to have a freshness and more buoyant humor than the last few OMW books have shown--or perhaps my own enthusiasm for OMW is starting to grow stale. In any case, whether you're a longtime Scalzi fan or a newcomer, this space opera mixes technical details, governmental intricacies, and foul-mouthed space travelers with a tense story line that is sure to keep you flipping the pages. Top science fiction pick of the month.

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner - Fans of Naomi Novik's Uprooted or Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale will find much to love in Hunted, set in the wild forests of medieval Russia. When Yeva's father loses all his wealth and must return their family to the cabin in the woods where Yeva spent some of the happiest moments of her childhood, Yeva is torn between her relief at leaving the town where everyone (including her father) expects her to act like a proper young woman and her dismay that her two sisters will now have little chance to marry well. But her father's growing obsession with a Beast in the forest soon puts the family in peril. When her father goes missing, Yeva puts her own keen hunting skills to work and tracks the Beast to his lair...only to become his prisoner. So begins a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that gives Beauty/Yeva a whole lot more to do, and builds a complex relationship between the creature who is half man, half beast and the young woman who believes he murdered her father. Imaginative, bold, and full of wonders, this is my top fantasy pick of the month.

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Black City Demon by richard a. Knaak - The thrilling follow up to last year’s Black City Saint, Demon continues the adventures of guardian of worlds Nick Medea and his memorable compatriots as they encounter a new and even more dangerous foe. Early 20th-century Chicago comes alive through Knaak’s expert weaving of historical figures and locales into the plot in an authentic way that makes you give “real” history another look. While there is some recap of the first book, readers should definitely start there before diving into the newest entry in the series. (Review by Matt Fyffe, Amazon Bookstore curator)

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New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - New York City has flooded as the oceans have risen, forcing people to live in only the upper floors of the city's buildings; but for all that, not much about the city has changed. An apartment building's superintendent is the one with all the power...and all the worry. Street children become water rats. Financial bigwigs race around in boats faster than anyone else has. But two hackers determined to bring the system down set in motion a domino chain that touches everyone, from high to low. Robinson shows the events unfold through the eyes of several dwellers in a single apartment building, painting a detailed portrait of a city and a people struggling to hold on to civilization. Most post-flood stories reach for apocalyptic heights. This one seems most likely to get it right without losing any of the drama.

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The Beachhead by Christopher Mari - One of the comforting aspects of reading genre fiction is that you often have a decent sense of how the book is going to end. Not in The Beachhead. But in Mari's hands, this unpredictability is a refreshing experience, not a hot mess. At the heart of the book is the question of why humanity has been brought to the beach by the Orangemen, flying human-like creatures that are similar to angels. The 144,000 humans who were taken from Earth and deposited on the beach three generations ago consider themselves part of the unfolding of the Bible's Revelation, but there are enough details that don't add up to make some citizens question what really happened. When a scouting party leaves the city of New Philadelphia to explore, they uncover surprising facts that only deepen the mystery. I expect that some readers won't be pleased with the book's conclusion--you have to fill in a fair number of blanks with your own imagination--but those who embrace the unknown will find it stimulating.

 To see all our picks for best science fiction and fantasy of the month, please go here.

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