What New (& Diverse!) Science Fiction Do You Recommend?

I’ve been trying to find time to read and watch things more actively again, and have been working through a backlog. And, well, if I’m honest, a lot of that backlog is either 1) by white folks, or 2) anime, because those are the things I often get exposed to when I’m otherwise busy and can only pay cursory attention to the genres I like.

I was trying to figure out a solution to that, and realised this might also be a cool way to get a list other people would be interested in… so, yeah.

Drop your recommendations (or your own work!) below?

The Metropolarity collective has done a lot of exciting, exploratory work in Philly over the last several years, and many of their stories, zines, polemics, and anthologies (including my favorite, the 2016 collection Style of Attack Report) are available for free on their website: http://metropolarity.net/

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In fiction, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series is the first trilogy where each of the three books won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. They’re challenging books in a harsh setting but they have amazing worldbuilding and are a great representation of how authors are pushing the boundaries of SF/F in fiction. Jemisin is black and the books definitely emerge from an African-American cultural context.

In Post-Apocalyptic fiction, Rebecca Roanhorse has a cool series focusing on Native American heroes in a world with a bit of a Mad Max Fury Road vibe. Roanhorse is Native-American and black.

Mishell Baker’s Arcadia series are contemporary fantasy with a great sense of place (LA) and a physically and mentally disabled protagonist (multiple amputee and has Borderline Personality Disorder. Baker also has BPD.

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I’ll second Jemisin and Roanhorse. Jemisin in particular is a damn fine author, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Broken Earth ends up joining things like The Dispossessed in the literary SF canon.

This only sort of fits SF and Diverse, but Alex White’s A Big Ship at the End of the Universe is probably the best “pew pew space opera” I’ve read in forever. The gunfights are great, the space battles are great, and it seethes with anger at the privilege and powerful. The sequel is pretty good as well.

Becky Chambers has blown up recently, so you’ve maybe heard of her works, but if soft and kind SF is your sort of thing you’ll absolutely love her. the long way to an angry planet is an almost required intro book, but the real gut punch winner was record of a spaceborn few. Next to nothing happens, but damn was it incredible.

If you’re looking for some old school transhumanist hard SF, Linda Nagata has you covered. Check out Edges.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for some pure fantasy featuring some of the best writing in the genre I’ve ever seen, check out Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria, probably the most beautiful novel I’ve ever read. It hit me hard, and I really don’t know why, and all I can say is that it’s absolutely amazing.

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So, I read the a good portion of first book in the “Sixth World” series in a class, and I would like to add a little bit to this. First of all, the series is Young Adult fiction, so if that’s not your style, you might not wanna go for it.

Secondly, Rebecca Roanhorse is Ohkay Owingeh according to her Wikipedia bio. While the book received a lot of praise, the book did receive some criticism from Dine writers who took umbrage at it. Because the book deals specifically with Dine beliefs, and Roanhorse is not Dine, some of these writer’s felt it did not accurately represent Dine beliefs and that the book portrayed the Indigenous cultures of North America as somewhat monolithic.

You can read more about it here.

Either way, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t get the book. Just wanted to offer up some more information and context since the book was not without controversy.

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I don’t dispute any of the cultural critiques, but I don’t believe The Sixth World series is published as or intended to be YA. Saga Press, the publisher, was for a number of years a part of the S&S Young Readers division while publishing adult SFF (it was a whole weird thing). Roanhorse has a separate series (starts with Race to the Sun) which is for ages 8-12 (aka Middle Grade), which may cause some confusion.

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You seem to be right, as I cant find anything saying it’s YA. Must have gotten confused.

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I went through the Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor this fall and can warmly recommend it. It’s imaginative and natural, magical but warm, and its themes of tradition versus modernity richly explored in all their complexity.

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I can throw out Broken Reality, a vaporwave exploration game. It’s very much sci-fi, as you explore an online world, a mix of cyberpunk and meme trash culture that ends up touching up on a lot of really interesting subjects and ideas alongside the weird gags and aesthetic worlds and music.

As for the diverse part, the game was actually made in Mexico, so there’s a few moments that may be a bit outside a US understanding of the subject matter.

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I can wholeheartedly recommend Infomocracy by Malka Older. She is a Latina science fiction author and humanitarian worker with a lot of experience in the field. The book is a political techno-thriller set in a near/alternate future and explores the ideas of micro-democracy and information centralization. There are two other books in the series but I have not read them yet.

Plus, I freaking love her pinned tweet: «I write for the people whose names get underlined in red by Microsoft Word».

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I really enjoyed This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Top agents in the time war write letters to each other. Very cool. Beautiful and sad. Also a quick read. Depending on your reading speed and attention span (I have trouble reading for more than an hour or so at a time) you should be able to finish somewhere between and evening and a weekend.

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I’ve struggled to get back into the habit of reading regularly but finished This is How You Lose the Time War in a couple of days recently, would definitely second that recommendation!

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