Books·Gift Guide

21 books for the sci-fi and fantasy lover on your holiday shopping list

Here are 21 books for the science fiction and fantasy lover on your holiday list.

These 21 science fiction and fantasy books would make great gifts for the readers on your holiday shopping list. 

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. 

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

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn is a fantasy novel by P. Djèlí Clark. (Tordotcom Publishing, Le Image Photography)

A Master of Djinn takes place in an alternate-history Cairo and follows Fatma el-Sha'arawi, the youngest female agent at the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. When the members of a secret brotherhood are murdered, Agent Fatma and her colleagues have to unravel the mystery behind the magical murderer and bring peace to the city.

P. Djèlí Clark is a speculative fiction writer and historian from Queens, N.Y. His other books include Ring Shout, which won the British Fantasy Award, a Locus Award and a Nebula Award.

American short story writer H.P. Lovecraft died in 1937. Now he's more popular than he was in his lifetime. IDEAS examines why his brand of “cosmic horror” resonates in the 21st century, and how new writers are dealing with his racist legacy. *This episode originally aired on January 22, 2021. 53:59

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in English. (Knopf Canada)

Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel, Klara and the Sun, has already been described as a masterpiece. Set in a not-too-distant future — a world of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering — it's a touching, imaginative exploration of what it means to be human.

Ishiguro is a British novelist, and one of the most honoured contemporary writers. His books The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have been made into acclaimed films. In 2017 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and in 2018 he was knighted.

Trouble the Saints Alaya Dawn Johnson

Trouble the Saints is a fantasy novel by Alaya Dawn Johnson. (alayadawnjohnson.com, Tor Books)

Trouble the Saints is a fantasy novel set in New York City at the beginning of the Second World War. Phyllis LeBlanc is an assassin from Harlem, caught up in the city's underworld. After giving up the life and the man she loved, her past lands on her doorstep and she must confront it. Trouble the Saints won the 2021 World Fantasy Award.

Alaya Dawn Johnson is a fantasy writer from Washington, D.C. Her other books include Racing the Dark, The Summer Prince and Love Is the Drug.

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.

E.K. Johnston is a YA novelist and forensic archaeologist from Statford, Ont. She is also 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.

Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Walking in Two Worlds is a YA novel by Wab Kinew. (Penguin Teen, Rachael King)

In Walking in Two Worlds , a shy Indigenous teen girl named Bugz finds comfort and belonging through multiplayer video games and virtual worlds. When a teen boy named Feng moves to the rez where Bugz lives, the two discover they have a lot in common, both in real life and online. Their virtual adventures draw them closer — but events in the real world, including family challenges and community trauma, threaten to harm the friendship the two have built. 

Wab Kinew is the leader of Manitoba's New Democratic Party. Prior to his career in politics, he was a hip-hop musician, broadcaster and host of the 2015 Canada Reads. He is also the author of  the memoir The Reason You Walk and the picture book Go Show the WorldGo Show the World was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books. Kinew lives in Winnipeg.

The Centaur's Wife by Amanda Leduc

The Centaur’s Wife is a novel by Amanda Leduc. (Random House Canada, Trevor Cole)

The Centaur's Wife is a novel that weaves together fairy tales with a story of an apocalypse. The world has nearly ended: meteors have destroyed the city Heather and her family live in, and humanity is facing extinction. There are only a handful of survivors, including Heather, her husband and their twin daughters. The mountain that looms over the city becomes the survivors' focus, as it remains lush and green and full of life. Heather is one of the few people who knows how to get there — and what creatures they will encounter.

Amanda Leduc is the communications and development coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) in Brampton, Ont. She is also the author of the novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men and the nonfiction book DisfiguredShe was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

Jade Legacy is a fantasy novel by Fonda Lee. (Feiwel & Friends, fondalee.com)

Jade Legacy is the third instalment in the Green Bone Saga, which also includes Jade War and Jade City. The novel is set in a magical world where clans of warriors called Green Bones battle over control of the source of their supernatural abilities — jade. A clan of Green Bones named the Kauls have to fight off their enemies in a deadly struggle to preserve their ancient ways. 

Fonda Lee is a Canadian American science fiction and fantasy writer. Lee is a three-time Aurora Award winner, including best novel for Jade City and best YA novel for Exo. Jade CIty  also won the World Fantasy Award in 2018.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace is a sci-fi novel by Arkady Martine. (Karen Osborne, arkadymartine.net, Tor Books)

A Desolation Called Peace is a space opera about an alien armada that threatens Teixcalaanli space, leaving Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus desperate for answers. In an attempt at diplomacy with the invaders, Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass are tasked with trying to communicate with the hostile aliens and save millions of lives.

Arkady Martine is a science fiction, fantasy and horror author and historian. Her other books include A Memory Called Empire, which won the 2020 Hugo Award for best novel. 

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

The Animals in That Country is a sci-fi novel by Laura Jean McKay. (Scribe US, Kyra Clarke)

Jean is a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandma who has never been too fond of humans. A flu begins to spread whose chief symptom is that those infected begin to understand the language of animals and slowly go mad because of it. When her infected son takes off with her granddaughter, Kimberly Jean sets out after them with a young dingo companion named Sue. The Animals in That Country won the 2021 Victorian Prize for Literature, the Victorian Premiere's Literary Prize for fiction and the 2021 Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Laura Jean McKay is an Australian author and lecturer. The Animals in That Country is her debut novel.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers is a sci-fi YA novel by Zoe Hana Mikuta. (zoehanamikuta.com, Macmillan Publishers)

In the science fiction novel Gearbreakers, the tyrannical rule of Godolia is aided by thier giant mech called Windups. Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a rebel trained to take down Windups and Sona Steelcrest is a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. When the two meet and realize they are fighting for the same things they team up to try and bring Godolia down and their partnership slowly grows into more. 

Zoe Hana Mikuta is a Korean American YA, science fiction and fantasy author. Gearbreakers is her debut novel.

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. 

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.

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.

This Eden by Ed O'Loughlin

This Eden is a novel by Ed O'Loughlin. (House of Anansi Press)

This Eden is a techno thriller about a man named Michael. He gets caught up with a spy named Aoife and a wargamer named Towse when his girlfriend, a coder who was headhunted by a dangerous tech mogul, dies. The unlikely threesome end up on a chase around the world for the truth — and for their lives.

Ed O'Loughlin is a Canadian author and journalist who currently lives in Dublin. His other books include the novels Not Untrue and Not Unkind and Minds of WinterMinds of Winter was a finalist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

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

In The Midnight Bargain, 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. 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. 

The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley

The Bones of Ruin is a YA novel by Sarah Raughley. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

The Bones of Ruin is the latest fantasy YA novel by Sarah Raughley. It's a tale set in 1880s London, featuring an immortal African tightrope walker named Iris who's caught up in a secret society's deadly gladiatorial tournament. Iris must learn more about her past, her identity and her power in order to survive her circumstances. But when she learns of a potentially world-ending threat, Iris needs to decide if learning her identity is worth the cost involved.

Raughley is a fantasy novelist from southern Ontario. Her YA Effigies series, which includes Fate of FlamesSiege of Shadows and Legacy of Light, drops readers into a world where four young women are imbued with the powers of the four elements — fire, water, air and earth — and tasked with protecting the world from the evil phantoms. 

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Gutter Child is a novel by Jael Richardson. (HarperAvenue, Simon Remark)

Gutter Child is about a young girl growing up in a world divided: the Mainland, where people of privilege live, and the Gutter, a police state where the most vulnerable reside. A social experiment results in 100 babies born in the Gutter being raised in the Mainland. One of those babies is Elimina Dubois. But when Elimina's Mainland mother dies, she is sent to an academy with rules and a way of life Elimina doesn't understand.

Jael Richardson is the founder and the artistic director of the Festival for Literary Diversity (FOLD) and the books columnist for Q on CBC Radio. She is also the author of the nonfiction book The Stone Thrower, which was adapted into a picture book of the same name. Gutter Child is her first work of fiction.

Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson

Return of the Trickster is a novel by Eden Robinson. (Knopf Canada, Red Works Photography)

Return of the Trickster is the third book in celebrated writer Eden Robinson's Trickster trilogy, after Son of a Trickster and Trickster DriftIn Return of the Trickster, Jared is coming to terms with his trickster powers — and with the havoc they create for him and everyone he loves. His mom, Maggie, is coming to terms with them as well. But when his power-hungry Aunt Georgina comes to town, it's the beginning of a magical war — with Jared in the middle of it all.

Robinson is an award-winning writer from Kitamaat, B.C. She is also the author of the novels Monkey Beach, Son of a Trickster and Trickster DriftReturn of the Trickster completes the Trickster trilogy. Son of a Trickster was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was championed on Canada Reads 2020 by actor Kaniehtiio Horn.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

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

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.

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.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary is a science fiction novel by Andy Weir. (Ballantine Books, Aubrie Pick)

On a last-ditch mission to save humanity, Ryland Grace is the sole survivor. Struggling to remember even his own name he has no idea how to complete his mission. With his crewmates dead and his memories slowly returning, Ryland must solve the mystery that will save the human race. Project Hail Mary is in development as a motion picture starring Ryan Gosling.

Andy Weir is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of The Martian, which was adapted into a feature film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. His other books include Artemis and Randomize.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now