One of my favourite things to do every January is to take a look at all the awesome books and movies and video games heading our way in the new year. Of course, my TBRs, TBW, and TBPs are already massive, but it’s also interesting to see what sorts of things people are making and the trends that are starting to show.
2021 is looking to be a wild year for sci-fi and fantasy with some really unique and unusual stories and from many diverse voices, and I’m really excited to experience all of them!
Full disclosure, this list is coming out much later than I had planned, as it took me many hours of research, and many more to write and edit. Some of these books have come out since I started writing this post, so if they interest you, be sure to check them out!
First things first, this was so, so difficult to do. I didn’t want to copy and paste 66 different blurbs because that would have been a nightmare for anyone to read, but it was no easy task trying to condense all these books into a line or two. Hopefully, it’s enough to catch your interest all the same!
Second, I had a few parameters I wanted to keep in mind while making this list.
The first was that I wanted it to include only firsts in a series or standalone so that anyone who was looking for their next sci-fi or fantasy read could check out this list and find something they’ll enjoy.
The second, was that I wanted to include indie titles among them. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to figure out when an indie title is going to be released as they don’t follow the same long schedules that the traditional publishers do, but I hope to release future lists like this for indies later in the year.There are a few indie titles sprinkled sporadically below, and I wonder if you’ll be able to point them out!
66 Adult Fantasy and Sci Fi Releasing in 2021
They have been listed in order of publication date. Any titles marked with an asterisk (*) are my most anticipated titles!
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht (January 5): The owner of a bar and an ex-marine in charge of a band of honourable mercenaries go up against a mega-corporation after they target their backwater planet to exploit its resources.
The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth (January 12): A British aristocrat and inventor selling weapons on the black market is saved from assassins by an American spy and the pair must hunt down a scientist with an invisibility serum.
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (January 12): A petty down-on-her-luck thief takes a job as a bodyguard to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins.
Daughter of Blood and Fury by Levi Jacobs (January 18): A girl born with a man’s magic must survive among the city’s revered monks and solve the mystery of her father’s murder
*Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long (January 19): A warrior priestess is banished by her goddess for refusing to kill a traveller, and when she returns from the praying for forgiveness in the mountains, her home has been destroyed.
*Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor (January 19): A sci-fi story wherein a girl forgets her name and is adopted by the Angel of Death, and searches for something that has fallen from the sky with her fox companion.
The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson (January 19): An environmental epic fantasy about a sailor who follows her legendary grandmother’s footsteps to discover why she fell into the grass sea.
The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick (January 21): Amid dark magic and corrupt nobles, a con-artist, a vigilante and a crime lord must come together to save their city.
Brother Red by Adrian Selby (January 28): After the trade caravan she was meant to protect is attacked, a mercenary finds the body of an elusive people stuffed into a barrel.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (February 2): When the heir to an interplanetary empire is killed, his cousin must take his place in an arranged marriage but his new fiancé may be a suspect.
A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel (February 2): A time-travelling adventure about a woman luring a member of the Nazi party away to secure America’s future in the space race.
On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu (February 2): The story of two child refugees escaping a war-torn Afganistan and using fantasy worlds to escape as they journey to Australia in this magical realism about home and family.
Purgatory Mount by Adam Roberts (February 4): A dual timeline story about an interstellar craft discovering an empty planet with a singular megastructure and our near future, where a neurotoxin that affects memory has people relying on their phones as makeshift memory prostheses.
Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard (February 9): A queer romantic fantasy about a quiet princess who becomes a diplomat for a faraway country and is forced to face her first love.
The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec (February 9): A witch trying to protect her three children from Odin’s all-seeing eye slowly regains her prophetic powers and learns of a threat to all existence.
Amid the Crowd of Stars by Stephen Leigh (February 9): A grand sci-fi epic that explores the ethical implications of interstellar travel and what it means to be ‘human’.
The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck (February 16): Two friends set out on a journey between worlds to find someone who can set them free.
*The Black Coast by Mike Brooks (February 18): For generations, the Black Keep has been raided by the clans people of Iwernia, but now the raiders become refugees as they flee their homeland and the despot who prophesized the end of the world.
Play of Shadows by Sebastien de Castell (February 18): After escaping a duel and worming his way into a company of actor’s, a man hears a ghostly voice that causes him to reveal a dreadful truth on the stage.
Glow by Tim Jordan (February 23): After the fall of civilization, a junkie, a paranoid corporate leader and a robotic assassin are linked by an all-controlling nano-tech drug that can jump to different hosts and carry memories and personalities with it.
Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden (February 23): A sci-fi reimagining of the Little Mermaid with genetically modified humans, the story follows a daughter of a sea-clan who turned away from the sea to be with her land-dwelling lover.
*The Councillor by E.J. Beaton (March 2): The titular councillor and friend to the late queen must choose the next monarch to ascend to the throne while also trying to uncover the truth behind the queen’s death.
In the Quick by Kate Hope Day (March 2): A brilliant and ambitious astronaut lands a coveted position on a space station but is haunted by a missing spacecraft to which she alone has evidence that the crew may still be alive.
Machinehood by S.B. Divya (March 2): In a future where mankind is dependent on pills to keep their abilities on par with artificial intelligence, a bodyguard set to retire early has their life pulled out from under them when their client is killed by the part human, part machine terrorists of Machinehood.
*The Conductors by Nicole Glover (March 2): A magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad now solves crimes the white authorities won’t touch in post-Civil War Philadelphia.
Seeker by Samuel Griffin (March 2): A young trader becomes the ward of Lady Blackwater against her will and she must learn the skills to become a seeker and protect her kingdom.
One Day as a Lion by Jonathan E. Hernandez (March 2): Two alien civilizations clash in this space opera about a burnt-out United Earth Armed Forces commando sent to investigate a request for aid from a distant colony and a super-soldier from a matriarchal empire whose honour and loyalty are tested.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2): The story of Klara, and artificial friend who waits behind a store window, carefully watching people pass by and waiting for the customer that will choose her.
The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst (March 9): A standalone epic fantasy about washed-up warriors who once defeated a corrupt magician who must come together to avenge a tragic loss.
We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart (March 9): One of the chosen few rescued from the surface world lives with an order of monks who control the Leviathan, an old nuclear submarine, and await the day they unleash its terrible weapon.
Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley (March 16): An inn far removed from modern technology and politics is the home of a war veteran and her alien partner.
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (March 23): Sapphic political fantasy about a soldier and a princess trying to overthrow a corrupt ruler.
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer (April 6): A sci-fi thriller about a security consultant who receives an envelope from a dead ecoterrorist that leads her to a storage unit with a taxidermized hummingbird. Yes, it does sound like a weird one.
Unity by Elly Bangs (April 13): A tech servant whose sense of self is fractured must escape the post-apocalyptic Southwest with her lover and the ex-mercenary they hired to guide them.
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner (April 13): Three sisters are the descendants of King Solomon, and each have their own special powers, but when an outsider accuses them of witchcraft, their village burns and the sisters are forced to flee.
The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes (April 20): The Sentinels are a group of soldiers that no one wanted and they’ve been sent the edge of the universe to stop it from collapsing and save humanity.
*Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur (April 27): A particle physicist is followed by a spectral woman who has come to claim her, the result of a curse on the women of her family which forces them to repeat the lives of their ancestors from Korean myth and legend.
Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace (May 4): An orphan struggling to make ends meet is also a VR streamer, and makes a horrifying discovery about the celebrities of a popular war game which threatens to bring down the wrath of the megacorporation that controls them.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (May 4): The sole survivor of a last-chance mission to save humanity wakes up and can’t remember his name, let alone his mission.
*The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne (May 6): A Norse-inspired fantasy about a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who wants to be a renown warrior and a thrall who seeks vengeance in a world where the gods have destroyed each other.
*Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (May 11): When a medium returns home, broke and closeted, she begins to hear the voice of her grandmother, avatar of the Black Water Sister, who’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss.
*A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark (May 11): An agent for a magical ministry in 1910s Cairo must investigate a murder seemingly committed by one of the most famous men in history.
Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (May 11): A disillusioned scholar is swept up into a conspiracy after a warrior wielding impossible magic turns up on his doorstep.
We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker (May 11): When brain implants become the new norm, one family fights the pervasive nature of technology and the corporation behind it.
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis (May 18): A historical fantasy about the lamplighters, a secret group of monster hunters who protect the streets of Prague from evil.
Screams from the Void by Anne Tibbets (May 18): A mechanic onboard a ship collecting botanical samples from other planets is desperate to get away from her abusive ex and irritating boss when a creature sneaks aboard and wreaks havoc.
The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman (May 25): When a thief attempts to steal from a knight and a patron of the Goddess of Death, their fates become intertwined, and the two must journey together to find the missing queen.
Reset by Sarina Dahlan (May 25): After the end of the world, the survivors have their memories wiped every four years to remove learned prejudices. A scientist and a writer are haunted by their previous lives and seek out the Dreamers, a secret organization that might be able to restore their lost memories.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley (May 25): A time-travelling, alternate history story about an amnesiac arriving in the nineteenth-century French colony of England where the only clue to his identity is a postcard of a Scottish Lighthouse written in illegal English.
*Erebus Dawning by A.J. Super (May): When a space pirate comes up empty-handed, her crew mutiny, and she and a loyal skeleton crew escape and find an ancient artificial intelligence.
The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu (June 1): When a child goes missing in Edinborough, a ghostalker who carries messages of the dead to the living must call on Zimbabwean magic to find the culprit.
The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid (June 8): In a story inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology, a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen must team up to overthrow a tyrant.
The Jasmin Throne by Tasha Suri (June 10): A captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.
For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten (June 15): A Red Riding Hood retelling where the second daughter must be sacrificed to the wolf so that he might return their captured gods, but this time the second daughter has some magic of her own.
Star Eater by Kerstin Hall (June 22): A woman desperate to escape a gruesome sisterhood is approached by a shadowy cabal to be their spy.
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw (June 22): A team of former criminals, half-clone and half-machine, must solve the mystery of their last mission and rescue their comrade.
*Questland by Carrie Vaughn (June 22): A literature professor leading a sheltered life is hired by a rich tech genius to guide a mercenary strike team to his island retreat full of fantasy and gaming tropes made real.
We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen (July 6): A sci-fi thriller about a psychologist on a ship with 13 other scientists who are grounded by a radiation storm on a possible colony, only for all the members of the crew to slowly descend into madness.
*A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (July 13): Hundreds of years in earth’s future, the machines have long since gained self-awareness, and instead of fighting against the humans they wandered into the wilderness and were never seen again. Until one encounters a tea monk and asks him a single question: “What do people need?”
Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel (July 20): A spy, a private investigator, and a police chief are forced to work together after the assassination of a government minister threatens to spark an interplanetary war.
The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente (July 20): A girl makes a terrible mistake in a dystopian future where Earth is flooded and humans live on whatever small patches of land remain, including a place called Garbagetown.
Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan (August 3): When the heir to the empire thwarts an assassination attempt deep inside enemy territory, he is forced to fight through an unforgiving jungle.
Light Chaser by Peter F. Hamilton (August 24): A light chaser is someone who explores the universe alone and collects stories, but when she hears the same voice talking directly to her from different times and different worlds, she realizes something terrible is happening, and she is the only one who can stop it.
No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull (September 7): One October morning a case of what appears to be police brutality reveals that monsters are real, and as creatures from myth and legend reveal themselves they set off a chain of seemingly unrelated events.
The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky (September 22): A fantasy thriller about a woman who has mastered all the perfections, and uses her perfect memory to solve the riddle of the God-King’s ascent.
The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Release Date TBD): The Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers must defeat her lover after they usurped her position and stole the jewel that was the source of her magic.
What are you looking forward to in 2021? Are there any books on this list that you’re really excited to read? Are there any I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!