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New Titles in Open Book

April 3, 2021

Fantasy novels are a great escape. These bewitching stories can take readers out of the stressful and mundane world and catapult them into adventures, mysteries, and even horrors. One drawback to today’s publishing industry is it tends to produce the same sorts of stories by the same sorts of authors. The world is a fascinating place, and fantasy stories can be just as varied. The first step to take is to look beyond what’s right in front of us.

The books selected for this collection by Jeremy Porter, an intern in the library’s ISIP program, are not meant to be a be-all and end-all for fictional stories. They were picked for their fantastical premises, the reception they’ve received, and the diverse perspectives that each author brings to bear.

 

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    by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

    This surreal science-fiction game of cloak and dagger is an epic queer romance against a fanciful sci-fi backdrop. It revolves around two spies from rival empires who battle throughout time. This is How You Lose the Time War won a number of fiction awards and praise including the Nebula Award and a Hugo Award for best novella.

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    by Arkady Martine

    A galaxy-spanning space opera, A Memory Called Empire received praise for its deep worldbuilding and political intrigue. This book tells the story of colonialism and the response people of different cultures can have to its influence. While it was nominated for a Nebula Award for this creative premise, it won a Hugo Award for best novel of 2020.

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    by N.K. Jemisin

    The City We Became is bit of a hidden game from 2020, an urban fantasy love letter to New York City and an original approach to the genre. It presents a world in which cities can have souls that take form in human avatars. N.K. Jemisin is an award-winning author and this new concept offers a lot of promise.

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    by April Daniels

    Dreadnought is a story of identity, though not superhero identities. April Daniels’ debut novel focuses on Danny, a normal teenage girl who inherits the abilities of the world’s greatest hero. Dreadnought is an origin story that wrestles against transphobia and sexism to deliver a heartwarming and triumphant message.

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    by Nnedi Okorafor

    An African-futurist sc-ifi horror, Binti follows the story of a girl who leaves her home planet of earth to become a first-generation student at the greatest university in the galaxy. However, her journey there takes an unexpectedly dark turn. Binti won over half a dozen awards for best novella, including a Hugo and Nebula award.

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    by Tamsyn Muir

    Gideon the Ninth is a spacefaring gothic horror starring the titular character. Set in a dark and fantastical world, the story explores this hierarchical setting of necromancers and witches, in space. Gideon the Ninth was acclaimed as the best novel of 2019 by NPR, Vox, Wired, and more.

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    by Helen Oyeyemi

    This collection of fantasy short stories has been hailed for its sweeping beauty and eye-opening insight.

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    by Matt Ruff

    Propelled to fame by the recent HBO adaptation, Lovecraft Country as a novel tells a story of racism in the United States as inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

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    by Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman

    This diverse array of short stories all hail from South and East Asia, retelling the folklore and mythology of the regions with a breath of fresh air.

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    by Ted Chiang

    Ted Chiang’s work has been adapted to the big screen, but here he collects his short stories into a contemplative and sometimes bizarre sci-fi anthology.

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    by Seanan McGuire

    Every Heart a Doorway is Seanan McGuire’s multiple award-winning 2017 novel. Sometimes children disappear around corners or down wells, never to be seen again. Every Heart a Doorway imagines a Home for these lost children, one full of magic as well as mysteries.

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    by Carmen Maria Machado

    This collection of short stories by Carmen Maria Machado touches on the horrifying, the comical, and the downright absurd.