Some of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015 still haven’t come out yet. There’s a whole month of galaxy-shattering tales ahead of us. Including Star Wars! Dean Koontz! And thrilling tales from A.M. Dellamonica, Adam Roberts and Brian Staveley! Here are this month’s most essential science fiction and fantasy reads!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (Random House)

Let’s just get this one out of the way first of all. Alan Dean Foster novelized the very first Star Wars movie, and also wrote the first Star Wars tie-in novel. So it’s super cool that he’s novelizing the first Star Wars film in a decade. Want to know what actually happens in this book? So do we.

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A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica (Tor)

Sophie travels back to the magical realm she came from, leaving her adoptive parents behind. Sophie aims to get her mother out on bail until a tricky court case is resolved—but soon she and her siblings get caught up in a crazy conspiracy. And Sophie is determined to use science to solve the problems of this magical world she’s caught up in. Kirkus calls this “a fantasy adventure set in a seafaring world full of tall ships and political intrigue,” and says “Sophie is an engaging heroine, and Stormwrack is a rich world that’s well worth exploring.”

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The Rising (The Alchemy Wars) by Ian Tregillis (Orbit)

Here’s the second book in Tregillis’ alternate history series where the Dutch have conquered the world using alchemy and clockwork soldiers. We were totally blown away by the first book, which was as much about the nature of free will as the geopolitics of a world ruled by crazy alchemist clockmakers. Kirkus gives the second volume a coveted starred review, and says, “Middle volumes are always tricky; they can often read as an obstacle to overcome on the way to the forgone conclusion of the third installment. Tregillis commendably avoids this trap, deepening his story and keeping it moving along toward an unknown horizon.”

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Warrior Women by Paula Guran (Editor) (Prime Books)

We’ve seen a few anthologies of stories about badass women—but this one includes stories by Elizabeth Bear, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, George R.R. Martin, Robert Reed, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jane Yolen, Carrie Vaughn, Elizabeth Moon, Tanith Lee and Nancy Kress—among others. It’s a pretty unbeatable lineup.

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The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)

Adam Roberts has won praise and awards for his clever, strange fiction. And this latest novel is a tribute to John Carpenter’s The Thing, about two men at an Antarctic research station—that attempts to answer the Fermi Paradox. With Immanuel Kant! That is basically the best combination ever.

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The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger (St. Martin’s Press)

This debut novel is getting rave reviews all over the place. Jacob Tracy nearly died in the Civil War, and ever since then he has the ability to see ghosts—and other supernatural creatures—that nobody else can see. He tries not to use his abilities, but then he gets drawn into helping his friend Sabine. Geeks of Doom raves, “Holly Messinger’s freshman novel is exciting from the start. It is historical fiction with a supernaturally scary twist.”

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Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)

In a future world of uplifted super-smart elephants, the Fant are forced to defend their world against an alliance of hundreds of other planets and races, which want to gain access to the drug that the Fant use to speak to the dead. Publishers Weekly writes, “Schoen’s vivid writing makes the Fant and the other species intensely relatable, elevating familiar themes of predetermination, prophecy, and the power of memory.”

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The Untold Tale by JM Frey (REUTS)

This subversive fantasy story is getting lots of early buzz for its clever take on the genre’s tropes. Forsyth is the weak, stuttering younger brother to the legendary hero Kintyre, and he’s out of his depth dealing with massive, world-shattering dangers—until he meets a woman named Pip, who’s journeyed to his magical realm from a world where Kintyre is a well-known fictional character. So it’s like Redshirts for fantasy, sort of. Beauty in Ruins calls it “an altogether lovely deconstruction of epic fantasy, portal fantasy, and traditional romantic fantasy - and one that is delightfully entirely self-aware.”

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Ashley Bell: A Novel by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

Bibi is dying of a rare and incurable brain cancer—until a seizure miraculously cures her. But there’s a price to her cure: She has to save the life of someone named Ashley Bell. And then she starts getting on the radar of some seriously scary people, while she’s also communicating telepathically with her boyfriend, a SEAL team leader on the other side of the world. Kirkus says, “Albeit slightly drawn out as it rolls to its conclusion, Koontz’s novel cuts between the fantastical and the believable to dissect evil, explore the power of imagination, and probe the parameters of consciousness.”

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Meeting Infinity by Jonathan Strahan (Editor) (Solaris)

Jonathan Strahan consistently edits the most fascinating unthemed anthologies out there, and this one features stories by Madeline Ashby, Gregory Benford, James S.A. Corey, Aliette de Bodard, Kameron Hurley, Nancy Kress, Bruce Sterling, Gwyneth Jones, Yoon Ha Lee, Ramez Naam, An Owomoyela, and many others. The loose theme in this fourth volume in the “Infinity” series is technological and biological changes that could help humans adapt to the future.

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Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt (Ace)

It’s a Stargate novel! Okay, not actually Stargate Stargate—but it’s about humanity discovering a mysterious gateway that leads to an unspoiled garden world. And soon, everybody on Earth is competing for control over this portal, while also trying to figure out what this miracle means for the future of humanity. Read an excerpt here.

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Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock (47North)

Antonia, daughter of the Renaissance master painter Paolo Uccello, wants to follow in her father’s footsteps—but options are limited for women painters in the fifteenth century. In the present day, a daughter mourning her mother’s death tries to help her copyist father decide which classical painting to make a copy of next. And in the 22nd century, a young woman discovers a never-before-found painting by Antonia Uccello that changes everything. Speculiction calls this book “one of 2015’s tip-top releases in science fiction.”

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Sources: SFSignal, Locus, Nerd Much, Amazon, publishers’ catalogs


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.