March’s Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books ‹ Literary Center

Walk in like a lion in March with new SFF anthologies, speculative literary collections and more

March is a good month for releasing short fiction collections: you’re just months away from reading #goals in the new year, and if you’re paralyzed deciding what to do next pulling from the old TBR stack, an anthology can be a welcome refreshment. We have already highlighted The way spring comesfeaturing Chinese SFF in translation, in Book Marks 2022 preview; this column will also set you up with related stories from the Scope universe, as well as a first literary collection to scratch black mirror itch.

But it’s not all in the shorts this month: Peng Shepherd’s Cartographers also received a nod already earlier this year and is in good company this month alongside a comic book-centric noir mystery and sensational-turned-fantasy BookTok reissue.

*

The Atlas Six Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
(Tor Books, March 1)

Over the past year or so, I’ve heard of the growing subgenre of dark academia: think weathered brick institutions, tweed blazers to shake and classic literature to translate, and a bunch of tight-knit friends who would kill each other but may also have to kill each other in order to protect their dark secrets. Blake’s self-published novel, which has gone viral on TikTok, picks up the plot from Donna Tartt The secret story and Tana French The resemblance, and adds a layer of fantasy: Six young magicians-in-training are hand-picked by a secret society to hone their respective dark magics, from telepathy to empathic illusions to the ability to see beyond the fabric of reality herself. But while Libby, Nico, Reina, Parisa, Callum and Tristan are elated by the promise of prestige offered by the Alexandrian Society, they must wrestle with the prize: this cohort of six is ​​competing for five places.

Catriona area of ​​the Sundail

Sundial by Catriona Ward
(Tor Nightfire, March 1)

You know when you find an author who seamlessly inhabits their particular literary niche to the point where each of their books sounds better than the last? It’s British-American horror novelist Catriona Ward, who turns nervous psychological tension into wonderfully uncomfortable tension. Last years The house on Rue Inutile, his first outing with Tor Books’ horror imprint Nightfire, made the genre trope of unreliable narrators even more unsettling than usual. On the other hand, his follow-up Sundial has clear and chilling stakes: Protagonist Rob has seemingly escaped the eponymous family ranch that defined her childhood, trading it in for the bright comforts of the suburbs. But when his eldest daughter Callie begins piling up tiny bones and whispering to imaginary friends, Rob knows she must return to the depths of the Mojave Desert and face whatever hereditary horror she tried to keep from infecting his family.

memory legion

memory legion by James S. A. Corey
(Orbit Books, March 15)

Editorial team James SA Corey’s space opera book series and Amazon Studios’ fan-favorite TV adaptation have simultaneously ended their epic sagas in recent months. While various news set in the Scope mythos have since been released Leviathan awakens, the first of nine novels, was published in 2011, this is the first time that all related fiction has been collected. Sweetening the deal is a brand new short story that follows the events of the last episode, Leviathan awakensplus author’s notes from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck to give readers and viewers a final farewell.

Secret identity of Alex Segura

Secret identity by Alex Segura
(Flatiron Books, March 15)

If you wanted a sequel to Michael Chabon The Incredible Adventures of Kavalier and Clay from the last panel featured in this 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner, it would seem Segura’s dark mystery set in the world of 1970s comics is a worthy spiritual successor. Segura brings his comic book experience (writing for The black ghost, as well as working at Oni Press) to wear in the story of Carmen Valdez, an underpaid assistant at the fictional outsider publisher Triumph Comics. Given the opportunity to bring her superhero creation, the Lethal Lynx, to life, Carmen agrees to write the series. Even if she doesn’t get the credit, she will have had a hand in creating the company’s first female superhero. But when the editor who took credit for its creation is murdered, Carmen must investigate what was important enough to kill, while ensuring the Lynx remains dedicated to its original ideals and never not turn into a soulless business creation.

The Sara A. Mueller Bone Orchard

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
(Tor Books, March 22)

While many of SFF’s gothic releases come out in the fall, it’s only fitting that Mueller’s debut is unearthed this month, at a time when the seasons are changing and new life is crossing frozen ground. After all, it follows Charm, a royal madam who was once a fearsome necromantic witch, now using those powers to resurrect her concubines from the eponymous Bone Orchard. When her lover, the Emperor, is assassinated, he grants her a boon from beyond: find out which of his sons poisoned her, and she can finally regain her freedom. It feels like the type of lush atmospheric fantasy that has both a unique, established world, but also a powerful story driven more by the character than anything else. I’m already under the spell and can’t wait to dive into this orchard.

The reimagined heart stories of futuristic relationships

The heart reinvented edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek
(CAEZIK SF & Fantasy, March 29)

Former Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) President Rambo and prolific anthology co-editor Brozek have compiled a collection that ponders how interpersonal relationships might change in various SF futures: add social and speculative levers like cloning, community life, artificial intelligence, and paywalls, and see how it affects falling in love and building lives together. Divided into three sections – Hearts, Hands and Minds – each opening with a poem by Jane Yolen, the impressive list of female and non-binary authors includes Seanan McGuire (“Retrospect”), Naomi Kritzer (“The Shape of the Particle “), Fran Wilde (“The Star Cross Horoscope for Interstellar Travelers”), and many rising stars in the SFF sphere.

There Kate Folk

The low by Kate Folk
(Random House, March 29)

The eponymous story in this speculative literary collection was published in the New Yorker just days after the first covid lockdown, march 2020: an under the skin story about modern dating through ‘spots’, too perfect to be real androids who fuck women but could be better friends than their counterparts In the flesh. Two years later, it was part of Folk’s first collection containing black mirror-esque meditations on intimacy and connection in a crazy world. There seems to be a metaphor for every experience: a bone-melting disorder, an Earth-engulfing void, a codependent home. Plus, another installment in the “Out There” universe promises to explore the first story’s audacious ending proposal: Perhaps artificial, algorithmic love. East the real way to make yourself known.

*

Nathalie Zutter is a Brooklyn-based playwright and pop culture critic whose work has appeared on Tor.com, NPR Books, Geek’s Lair, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @nataliezutter.

Comments are closed.