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The Institute

Stephen King (Scribner)

Horror master King delivers a gut-wrenching tale of children in peril to rival his own It, tapping into the psyches of a young cast of characters to create a spellbinding sense of steadily building menace. No word is out of place in this meticulously crafted story of preternatural suspense.

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The Lesson

Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone)

In Turnbull's extraordinary debut, a richly drawn cast of black characters weather the consequences of the extraterrestrial occupation of the Virgin Islands as the secretive research mission of the Ynaa aliens takes a violent turn. Turnbull's powerful prose probes the trope of alien invasion as metaphor for colonialism with nuance, skill, and subtlety.

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The Light Brigade

Kameron Hurley (Saga)

Hurley's tale of endless war on Mars is as insightful as it is brutal. Employing a structurally sophisticated time loop, Hurley captures her heroine's growing disillusionment and drives home the horrors of war. This ambitious work of military science fiction is smart, grisly, and gripping.

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The Luminous Dead

Caitlin Starling (Harper Voyager)

The deeply flawed astronaut heroines of Starling's atmospheric debut enter into a twisted game of psychological cat and mouse in the claustrophobic expanse of space. Starling's setting is strikingly described and eerie, but it is her cruel, selfish, fully realized female characters that distinguish this space opera.

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Middlegame

Seanan McGuire (Tor.com)

McGuire mesmerizes with this knockout near-future horror story of supernaturally gifted children telepathically communicating from separate U.S. coasts, unaware they are pawns in a game set into motion by a scheming alchemist. Shifting timelines, rigorous plotting, and hints at a fast-approaching apocalypse will keep readers rapt.

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A People's Future of the United States

Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams (One World)

In this stunning anthology, 25 speculative fiction superstars draw from the present moment to create often chilling, always plausible visions of the future. Readers will take inspiration and comfort from the themes of hope, compassion, and courage running through these postapocalyptic stories.

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Wanderers

Chuck Wendig (Del Rey)

Wendig's take-no-prisoners approach to crafting an apocalypse from contemporary American crises sets apart this blockbuster epic. His disease-and-climate-change-ravaged universe populated by neo-Nazis and religious zealots is unabashedly political, tackling complex moral questions without falling back on easy answers. This urgent survival story is Wendig at the top of his game.

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