14 Canadian sci-fi and fantasy books to check out in summer 2021

If you're looking to escape to another world this summer, check out one of these great Canadian tales of science fiction and fantasy.

If you're looking to escape to another world this summer, check out one of these great Canadian tales of science fiction and fantasy.

A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

A History of What Comes Next is a novel by Sylvain Neuvel. (Tor)

A History of What Comes Next  is both science fiction and satire. It is the story of Mia, a young woman whose family has worked for 99 generations to send humans into space. And now it's up to her to get German aerospace engineer Wernher Von Braun to reject the Nazi Party and come to America to join its space exploration program. But Mia is not the only person trying to change the course of history — and it's a race to see who gets it done.

Sylvain Neuvel is a writer, linguist and translator from Montreal. He is also the author of the novels Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods, Only Human and The Test.

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain is a book by C.L. Polk. (Erewhon Books, Mike Tan)

As Beatrice makes her debut at "bargaining season" — an annual event where wealthy young men and women gather from all over the world to make advantageous marriages — she harbours secret plans that will upend society in this fantasy novel. Rather than get married, Beatrice plans to bind a greater spirit and become a full magician. 

Olympian and broadcaster Rosey Edeh championed The Midnight Bargain on Canada Reads 2021. 

C.L. Polk is a fantasy writer from Calgary. They are also the author of the novels WitchmarkStormsong and SoulstarWitchmarktheir first book, won the 2019 World Fantasy Award for best novel. 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A composite photo of a book cover featuring the silhouette of a woman in an off the shoulder marron dress and the book's author, a young woman with long hair and glasses looking at the camera.
Mexican Gothic is a novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (Del Ray, Martin Dee)

Mexican Gothic is a gothic horror novel set in 1950s Mexico. It tells the story of a young woman named Noemi who is called by her cousin to save her from doom in her countryside home, the mysterious and alluring High Place. Noemi doesn't know much about the house, the region or her cousin's mysterious new husband, but she's determined to solve this mystery and save her cousin — whatever it takes.

Mexican Gothic is in development to become a TV series for Hulu.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Canadian author, who was born and raised in Mexico. She is also the author of the novels Signal to Noise, which won the 2016 Copper Cylinder Award, Gods of Jade and Shadow and The Beautiful Ones. She is also a critic and has edited science fiction anthologies. 

Fauna by Christiane Vadnais, translated by Pablo Strauss

Fauna is a book written by Christiane Vadnais, pictured, and translated by Pablo Strauss. (Coach House Books, Radio-Canada)

Fauna is a linked collection of speculative fiction stories about a biologist named Laura who is trying to understand the changing world around her, and her changing body, while facing a climate apocalypse and possibly the end of the human race.

The French version of Fauna won the City of Quebec book award and was named one of 2018's best books by Radio-Canada.

Christiane Vadnais is a writer from Quebec City. Radio-Canada named her a writer to watch in 2020. Fauna is her first work of fiction.

Pablo Strauss is an editor and translator from Quebec. He was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translations for his work on Synapses by Simon Brousseau and The Longest Year by Daniel Grenier.

Love after the End edited by Joshua Whitehead

Love after the End is an anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Joshua Whitehead)

Love after the End is an anthology of speculative fiction that imagines a utopian future for LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, curated and edited by poet and novelist Joshua Whitehead.

Contributors include Nathan Adler, Darcie Little Badger, Gabriel Castilloux Calderon, Adam Garnet Jones, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, jaye simpson and Nazbah Tom.

Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit writer, poet and Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. His book, full-metal indigiqueer, is a collection of experimental poems that aim to provoke discussion and debate. Jonny Appleseed, his debut novel, is about a Two-Spirit person trying to put his life back together following the death of his stepfather.

The Bladebone by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Bladebone is a novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Harper Voyager, Alan Klehr)

The Bladebone is the latest book in the The Khorasan Archives fantasy series by Ausma Zehanat Khan, which includes The Bloodprint and The Black Khan. In The Bladebone, the female warriors of the Companions of Hira must uncover the secrets of the ancient weapon the Bladebone in order to defeat the One-Eyed Preacher and his authoritarian rule once and for all. But the journey, and the final battle, will not be easy.

Khan is a fantasy and mystery writer originally from Toronto. She's a former adjunct law professor and former editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl magazine. Her mysteries include The Unquiet Dead, The Language of SecretsAmong the Ruins and A Dangerous Crossing

Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow

Attack Surface is a novel by Cory Doctorow (Paula Mariel Salischiker, Tor Books)

Attack Surface is the latest novel from sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow, set in the same world as his books Little Brother and Homeland. Attack Surface is about counterterrorism expert Masha Maximow whose day job is working on technology that helps regimes track down dissidents. On the side, she sometimes helps out the same bad guys she is chasing down — only if they are fighting for a good cause. But when her double-agent duty hits too close to home, she realizes she has to pick a side, before it's too late.

Cory Doctorow is a bestselling sci-fi novelist whose past books include Little Brother and Walkaway. His novella collection Radicalized was defended on Canada Reads 2020 by Akil Augustine. He is also the editor of the blog Boing Boing.

Salvation by Caryn Lix

A composit image of a book cover with the with the words Salvation by Caryn Lix and a portrait of a red-haired woman with glasses smiling as she looks up at the camera.
Caryn Lix is a fantasy writer based in Alberta. (Simon Pulse, Tanya Plonka)

In Salvation, the third and final book in the Sanctuary trilogy, protagonist Kenzie and her friends fear their luck may have run out when they are trapped on a strange new planet. After encountering alien attacks and bounty hunters, Kenzie must use her newly acquired superpowers to solve a dark mystery and save Earth from destruction.

Salvation is for ages 14 and up.

Caryn Lix is a YA fantasy writer based in Alberta. She is the author of the Sanctuary sci-fi YA series, which includes the books Sanctuary and Containment.

Breakdown by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson

The Reckoner Rises: Breakdown is a book by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. (Portage & Main Press, Submitted by David A. Robertson)

The Reckoner Rises is a graphic novel series that will continue David A. Robertson's popular YA Reckoner trilogy about Indigenous teen Cole who recently learned he has powers. In the first instalment of this series, BreakdownCole and Eva have arrived in Winnipeg, intent on destroying Mihko Laboratories. But when Cole starts getting terrifying visions, Eva must continue their mission alone. Are Cole's visions just dreams? Or are they telling Cole and Eva something they need to know?

Robertson is an author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. The multi-talented writer of Swampy Cree heritage has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Aloneillustrated by Julie Flett, and the YA book StrangersHe hosts the CBC Edmonton podcast Kiwew.

Aetherbound by E.K. Johnston

Aetherbound is a YA novel by E.K. Johnston. (Dutton Books)

Aetherbound is a story of space survival. While on a long-haul space cruiser, Pendt Harland discovers that she is destined for something more when it is revealed that her DNA has mutated. During a layover at a space station, Pendt manages to escape and hatches a plan to take over the facility and realize her true destiny.

Aetherbound is for ages 14 and up.

E.K. Johnston is a YA novelist and forensic archaeologist from Statford, Ont. She is the author of The Story of Owen, A Thousand Nights, Spindle and Exit, Pursued by a Bear, which won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award in 2017.

Rising Like a Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

Rising Like a Storm is a YA novel by Tanaz Bhathena. (Penguin Teen)

Rising Like a Storm is the follow-up to the YA fantasy novel Hunted by the Sky. After the death of a king and queen, a new queen emerges. But protagonist Shayla and her Sky Warriors are on the hunt — and an adventure unfolds involving magic, bounty hunters and an enchanted city.

Rising Like a Storm is for ages 14 and up.

Tanaz Bhathena is a YA author who was born in India, raised in Saudi Arabia and currently based in Ontario. She is the author of YA books such as A Girl Like That and The Beauty of the Moment.

Sisters of the Snake by Sasha & Sarena Nanua

Sisters of the Snake is a YA novel by sisters Sasha and Sarena Nanua. (HarperTeen)

Sisters of the Snake is a YA novel about a lost princess, a street urchin and dark prophecies. When Princess Rani and Ria encounter each other and discover they look identical, the princess and the thief switch places but soon find themselves involved in a dangerous mystery involving magic and a hidden temple. 

Sisters of the Snake is for ages 13 and up.

Sarena and Sasha Nanua are YA authors and twin sisters based in Ontario. Born minutes apart from each other, they grew up loving stories about twins and magic, and began writing books together at a young age.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Liselle Sambury is an Ontario writer and YA author. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Stuart W.)

The YA novel Blood Like Magic, is a dark fantasy story about Voya Thomas, a Black Canadian teen witch from Toronto who is tasked with sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. But when Voya does eventually fall in love with her soulmate, she is forced to make the choice between her morality and her duty to her bloodline.

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian Canadian YA author and vlogger from Toronto currently residing in northern Ontario. Blood Like Magic is her debut YA novel.

The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

The Fires of Vengeance is a fantasy novel by Evan Winter. (Orbit, @evanwinter/

The Fires of Vengeance is the latest book in The Burning series. Tau and his Queen have to protect the capital and the Indigenous people of Xidda. They plan to launch a full-blooded assault on their own capital city, where the Queen's sister is being propped up as the real leader of Omehi. If the city can be taken, the people united, then the Omehi people may have a chance. 

Evan Winter is also the author of The Rage of Dragonswhich was on the Canada Reads 2020 longlistCBC Books named him a writer to watch in 2020.

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