The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2016 So Far

Best of the year so farIt's been a darn good year so far for science fiction and fantasy, and selecting the best titles was tough. The last cuts I made to cull the list to only 20 titles were especially brutal.

Whether you like space opera, epic fantasy, speculative fiction, or gritty urban fantasy, you'll find something on this list that will make you want to leave this earth for a few days--at least mentally.

 

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders - In our #1 pick, Anders’ voice is irreverent without being flippant in this poignant fantasy/sci-fi hybrid that gives friendship, technology, the environment, artificial intelligence, and magic equal attention. It published in January, but I still think about it often. It is also #11 on our overall list for Best of the Year So Far.
 

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Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown - Howlers, tighten up your gravBoots and dive into the finale of Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. Death, destruction, rage, redemption, and the fraying bonds of loyalty make this an unstoppable read. That, paired with Brown’s Art of War-esque philosophical observations, elevate this whole series to a level most sci-fi aspires to but rarely achieves.
 

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The City of Mirrors (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy) by Justin Cronin - Cronin's epic series ender delivers the tension and action that readers loved about The Passage, bringing the story full circle with the ultimate battle against Zero, the genesis of the Twelve who seeks vengeance on Amy for destroying everything he fought for.
 

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City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett - Bennett's ruthlessly enjoyable sequel to City of Stairs is a military fantasy wrapped around a mystery, with the unforgettable General Turyin Mulaghesh playing grumpy detective. But when the gods are involved—even when they’re dead—there’s no predicting what will happen, only that destruction will be wrought.
 

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The Summer Dragon: First Book of the Evertide by Todd Lockwood - Dragons. ‘Nuff said, really. This fantasy debut harkens back to the best of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels but has a bracing modern voice perfect for today’s readers looking for a new and thoughtful epic fantasy adventure.
 

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Stiletto (The Rook Files) by Daniel O'Malley - O'Malley is back with a new challenge for Rook Mafawney and her supernatural soldiers of the Checquy. Laugh-out-loud humor singes every page of this zany urban fantasy set in London. Read The Rook before Stiletto—but do read both.
 

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire - McGuire's twisted, off-kilter, and pitch-perfect exploration of the people who did not want to return to the “real world” from beyond the Looking Glass blows off the lid of the modern-day fantasy genre. A quick but potent read.
 

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Skinner Luce by Patricia Ward - This grim urban fantasy with a splash of horror stars a young Boston-based woman who is a Serv—a humanlike being who is in service to the pathologically murderous Nafikh that appear whenever they want to savor earthly pleasures. Lucy is a character whom you root for even as she makes awful choices in terrible situations—and when she finally has a chance to redeem herself, you’ll cheer her on.
 

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Company Town by Madeline Ashby - Ashby meshes tech-heavy sci-fi with a completely organic bodyguard who switches jobs from protecting sex workers on a Canadian oil rig to guarding the school-aged heir to a massive corporation. But between the perplexing deaths of sex workers and the “accidents” befalling her new client, Hwa senses a larger game is in play. Tight in scope but big in ideas, Company Town is a near-future SF winner.
 

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Star Nomad: Fallen Empire, Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker - Think Star Wars and Firefly, and strap yourself in for a bumpy ride with a starship captain and a cyborg who were only recently on opposite sides of a galactic war but now have to fend off space pirates, cave bears, and their own bad history in order to survive. Sheer fun.
 

Above are only ten of the top twenty titles. Click here to see the full list.

 

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