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Chain-Gang All-Stars

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Pantheon)

Adjei-Brenyah lands a heavy punch in his full-length debut, a brutal and bracing critique of the prison industrial complex that imagines an alternate present in which inmates of private prisons can earn their freedom by competing in televised, gladiator-style cage matches. The fights themselves make for thrilling reading, and the dystopian world feels far too close for comfort.


The Circumference of the World

Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon)

This mind-bending metafictional tale from World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar imagines a lost pulp masterpiece that may or may not hold the secrets of the universe and sends an eclectic cast on a whirlwind quest to track the book down. It’s both a love letter to the genre and a wildly entertaining romp.


Like Smoke Like Light

Yukimi Ogawa (Mythic Delirium)

The sly, slippery fairy tales of Ogawa’s debut collection wend their way from fascinating speculative setups—a girl bleeds hallucinogens, an eyewear salesman’s own eyes change color—to startling and unexpected conclusions, along the way raising poignant questions about what humans owe to one another. The result is lovely, subtle, and deliciously uncanny.


Our Share of Night

Mariana Enriquez (Hogarth)

A father and son on the run across 1980s and ’90s Argentina form the beating heart of this ambitious gothic novel. Chasing them is a vast network of elite occultists bent on immortality. Enriquez is working at an epic scale, pulling from myth and historical horrors to create an equally chilling and intoxicating descent into darkness.


Some Desperate Glory

Emily Tesh (Tordotcom)

What does it take to deradicalize someone brought up in a fascist ideology? That’s the question at the core of this virtuosic space opera. Supersoldier Valkyrie has never before thought to question either her orders or her hatred of the mojada aliens. In World Fantasy Award winner Tesh’s steady hands, her path from certainty into doubt is powerfully and empathetically drawn.


Translation State

Ann Leckie (Orbit)

Nebula Award winner Leckie returns to her Imperial Radch universe in a mature standalone space opera centered on the Presger Translators, a bizarre alien race genetically engineered to translate for the even stranger Presgers. The scope is narrower than in prior installments, but Leckie’s humane probe into power, identity, and communication is muscular and thought-provoking. This is an author at the height of her powers.


The Water Outlaws

S.L. Huang (Tordotcom)

The 14th-century Chinese classic Water Margin gets an action adventure update in this delightfully queer and furiously feminist eat-the-rich historical fantasy about a band of marginalized thieves with magical powers who set out to protect the disenfranchised from imperial forces. It’s rollicking good fun with a blade-sharp edge.


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