Saturday August 13, 2016

11 must-read sci-fi and fantasy books

Discover the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015 with these recommendations from our panel.

Discover the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015 with these recommendations from our panel.

Listen 16:39

As the future becomes harder to predict, it seems more readers are turning to science fiction and fantasy, not only for some ideas on what to expect, but also for a reflection on the current times we live in. 

For The Next Chapter's inaugural sci-fi and fantasy panel, authors Nalo Hopkinson and Daniel Heath Justice share their picks for the best new books in their genre. Scroll to the bottom to see the full list. This interview originally aired on December 28, 2015.

Daniel Heath Justice picks: Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown 

Octavia's Brood

Octavia's Brood, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, was published in March 2015. (AK Press)

I can't say enough awesome things about this book. It's a collection of mostly stories that cross borders between science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy and horror. Not all of the authors are professional writers, but they are all coming out of social justice movements and organizations. They're all looking at variations on what we call "visionary literature," and thinking about how our imaginations can change the future in a time when things are looking pretty scary. In all of the stories, they're projecting a future where the struggle is being realized through diversity of experience and perspective, and where there's a place for people of colour, queer folks, poor folks and rebellious folks. 

Daniel Heath Justice is a fantasy writer and a professor of First Nations Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Nalo Hopkinson picks: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in Trouble

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link was published in February 2015. (Random House Canada)

I'll say three words about this short story collection: Haunted nudist camp. Kelly Link is one of those writers who blows me away no matter what she does, and these stories are amazing. There's one that really got me going. It's about two men who are married to each other and are flying to the tropics to attend a friend's wedding. They're bickering, and you think their marriage is falling apart, but then they get the news from back in the U.S. that their first child is about to be born, and way too early. And they have to decide how they're going to get back. I don't know what it is about that story — I can't tell you whether it's fantasy or science fiction, but with Kelly it doesn't matter. It's a Kelly Link story. I just know that I was in tears as I finished reading it, and not because it's tragic, but because it made me feel the intense beauty and pain of everyday life.

​Nalo Hopkinson is a speculative fiction writer who teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

Daniel Heath Justice and Nalo Hopkinson's comments have been edited and condensed.

Full reading list from the sci-fi and fantasy panel: