Speculative Fiction

By Tansy E Hoskins

By Tansy E Hoskins

What to do if you are a big SFF geek but not interested in seeing the same old systems of oppression replicated in fictional worlds? My answer has been to dive headlong into Sci Fi, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction books that are primarily by women or non-binary authors, authors of colour, authors from outside the UK/US, LGBTQ* authors, and authors who think above and beyond capitalism. Here is a small selection some of recommended reads available on Bookshop.org.

The City We Became

N. K. Jemisin

£16.98 £15.79

I'm a massive NK Jemisin fan! I listened to this during the start of the Spring 2020 lockdown while walking around empty streets and found it just brilliantly, eerily relevant and political. Apparently a sequel is in the works... I also recommend the Inheritance Trilogy and the Broken Earth series.

Lagoon

Nnedi Okorafor

£9.99 £9.29

What would happen if aliens landed in Lagos?! This book is extraordinarily good, it gives you magical realism, folklore, beautifully observed scenarios, aliens and underdogs all in one surreal and creepy but much needed antidote to typical first contact stories.

Dreamsnake

Vonda McIntyre

£10.99 £10.22

Big fan of Vonda N. McIntyre, this is a gentle, slightly of old school adventure with a lovely lead character, deserts, snakes, healing, epic journeys, and romance. (If I could I would also link to Superluminal and Starfarers.)

Trail of Lightning

Rebecca Roanhorse

£8.99 £8.36

I loved this book for its portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world and its seriously cool but troubled main character - Navajo monster-slayer Maggie Hoskie. It also has scary monsters (human and otherwise), a tentative love story, and so many characters that you'll really root for.

Parable of the Sower: the New York Times bestseller

Octavia E. Butler

£9.99 £9.29

One of the greatest writers to ever walk the earth Octavia E. Butler's work is a must read. This book is terrifying and inspiring in equal parts... Lauren Olamina is an iconic lead character, oh and the Parable series predicted the Trump presidency.

Kindred: The ground-breaking masterpiece

Octavia E. Butler

£9.99 £9.29

Octavia E. Butler gets two books on this list because she is the greatest. This is another must read - a book that goes to the heart of oppression and resistance and is a searing exploration of race, gender, class and power. (Sadly I can't also link to Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series for some reason, but can recommend the first book Dawn with every bone in my body.

The Old Drift

Namwali Serpell

£9.99 £9.29

There is just something about this book...magical realism, anti-imperialism, historical drama, futuristic tech, a vast and fantastic cast of characters. It is so good.

Circe: The No. 1 Bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

£9.99 £9.29

This is great - I'd love to see all the ancient Greek myths and legends re-written from marginalised perspectives.

The Tiger's Daughter

K Arsenault Rivera

£11.99 £11.15

Seriously epic, romantic, gripping! Women warriors fighting demons and falling in love. Loved it.

A Memory Called Empire: Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Arkady Martine

£8.99 £8.36

Weird, mysterious, great world building, dramatic, and I really rooted for the main characters.

Ancillary Justice: THE HUGO, NEBULA AND ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD WINNER

Ann Leckie

£8.99 £8.36

This is such a cool book, messes with technology, pronouns, hierarchy, consciousness and attachment. It is also epic and has great world building throughout. Read this and then get the next two in the series.

Embassytown

China Mieville

£9.99 £9.29

China writes a damn good creepy mind-bending book. This one has some great intergalactic communication threads in it and also challenges ideas about family and identity.

All Systems Red

Martha Wells

£11.99 £11.15

Martha Wells is a wonderful writer who always challenges stereotypes and builds the most exquisite worlds, I cannot recommend her work enough. (Her books are pretty much the reason I wanted to do this list. I can't link to her Raksura or Il-Rien series - but do check them out as well.)

Woman on the Edge of Time: The classic feminist dystopian novel

Marge Piercy

£9.99 £9.29

Both a classic of utopian speculative fiction AND a feminist classic. This is hardcore in what it depicts as half of it is set in a horrible 1970's psychiatric institution but it is worth it for the half of the book that is a glorious and inspiring vision of a post-capitalism utopia.

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