The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of October: Our Top 6 Picks

BestSFF-OctoberTwo very different debut fantasy novels, a brilliant overturning of social hierarchy, monsters galore, an insidious fungus, and Ann Leckie's return to the universe of the Imperial Radch are among our top picks of the month of October.

But there's a lot more as well; October is a rich month for reading indeed. Read on to the end to click through to the full list of the best science fiction and fantasy of the month.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman - Margaret Atwood calls this book "Electrifying!" and it's not just because in The Power young women have developed the ability to electrocute people, overturning the power hierarchy of the world. Girls and boys are sent to segregated schools, and public officials are required to go through testing to make sure they don't have the ability. Alderman weaves several threads into a thoughtful yet action-packed story, giving the readers lots to consider and lots to thrill to.
 

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What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong - Get yourself in a bonkers frame of mind with the third "John Dies in the End" novel from David Wong. John, David, and Amy are pulled into a child kidnapping case that is, of course, mixed up with monsters, mayhem, and mysterious federales. You'll know within the first ten pages if this book is your thing. Me, it's my catnip.
 

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Blackwing by Ed McDonald - McDonald's fantasy debut launches readers into the world of the Misery, where bounty hunter Ryhalt Galharrow and a powerful noblewoman Lady Ezabeth Tanza are suddenly the only thing standing between their world and the Dark Kings, who have been lurking on the edge of the Misery, waiting for their chance to destroy it all. Gritty and dark, Blackwing is a series-starter that will put you on the edge of your seat for book two.
 

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Provenance by Ann Leckie - Leckie pulls readers back into the world of the Imperial Radch, but focuses tighter on one world, and the Radch makes only a brief appearance. Leckie herself describes Provenance as "a fun book and lighter than the trilogy," and it is, at times, more a murder mystery than a political space opera. But politics is the drumbeat, still, and Leckie's protagonist, Ingray, learns to navigate tricky waters to save herself and her family and perhaps her world.
 

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 The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera - Fraught politics, mistreated peoples, and demons are the background for this rich, sprawling tale of a warrior and an empress who have to overcome centuries of their people's mistrust to battle the forces of evil. Those who prefer their fantasy novels to be packed with world-building, subtle maneuverings, and emotion and are open to a story beyond conventional should snatch up Rivera's debut.
 

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The Genius Plague by David Walton - Genius is a gift, right? Not always. When a fungal infection picked up in the Amazon leaves Paul Johns almost dead but with enhanced mental abilities, it seems like a blessing in disguise. But as more become infected and acquire the same abilities, Paul's brother notices that the new geniuses seem to be working together across governments and across the world to an unknown goal. Who is now in control, the fungus or the human? The Genius Plauge has the pacing of a thriller and the scientific edge of a good Crichton novel. Set a weekend aside and plunge in.
 

And don't forget to keep your eyes open for Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage; Carmen Maria Machado's short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, which has been winning a lot of literary acclaim; and The Fire Queen, the sequel to Emily R. King's excellent novel The Hundredth Queen.

 


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