Best SF & Fantasy of 2020

Supervillains, an ancient storyteller, gods and monsters. The best science fiction & fantasy novels published in 2020.

See all of our 2020 Best Books lists


Brennan, Marie. Driftwood. Tachyon. ISBN 9781616963460.

The epicenter of destruction aptly named The Crush eventually consumes all, but first, when they die, worlds become part of Driftwood, a place where the fragments of lost civilizations accrete into a patchwork of planets. One being has survived there for millennia, long after the rest of his people have been crushed. He has been guide, shaman, storyteller, mystic, and saint. At his wake, those he helped gather to tell his story—and their own.


Jemisin, N.K. The City We Became. Orbit. ISBN 9780316509848.

Cities are not just places, they are living entities represented by avatars once they awaken to their destinies. Newly born New York City is wounded and recovering, leaving the avatars of its boroughs to keep it together until it recovers. Those avatars resemble the places they represent in all their squabbling, contentious glory. But Staten Island stands alone, and lets the darkness of another world seep in.


Johnson, Micaiah. The Space Between Worlds. Del Rey. ISBN 9780593135051.

Cara is on the verge of earning citizenship and being able to leave most of her wastelands past behind. Able to collect data through the multiverse on planets where she has already died, Cara discovers one of her doppelgängers has perished mysteriously. Her travel to where it happened starts her journey into a labyrinth of secrets and set-ups that threaten not only her world, but the multiverse. A twisty, action-filled tale that will keep readers guessing.


Kuang, R.F. The Burning God. Harper Voyager. ISBN 9780062662620.

Fang Runin has been betrayed by those she was closest to, but she still believes in her country and her people. She will fight for their freedom, their beliefs, and their lives—or burn it all down. The action and emotions pull no punches in the conclusion to the “Poppy Wars” trilogy.


Lam, Laura. Goldilocks. Orbit. ISBN 9780316462860.

Valerie Black launches an all-female crew on a mission to the Goldilocks Zone, hoping to ensure the survival of the human race on a new planet. Botanist Naomi is one of the lucky few, ready to make a name for herself outside of her surrogate mother Valerie’s accomplishments. Yet immediately issues arise, and Naomi must uncover how much Valerie is willing to sacrifice in the name of discovery—including the rest of Earth’s population. Smart action and distinct character voices contribute to this exciting science fiction thriller.


Lyons, Jenn. The Memory of Souls. Tor. ISBN 9781250175571.         

In Lyons’s third “Chorus of Dragons” book, Kihrin and company are still trying to determine whether Kihrin is intended to save their world or destroy it. Or possibly both, as gods and monsters alternately assist and impede them, and the relationships they remember from all of their past lives complicate their relationships in the present. The twisted agendas of the world and its political shenanigans speed them toward a Ragnorak that they can’t win but can’t afford to lose.


Nghi, Vo. The Empress of Salt and Fortune. ISBN 9781250750303.

Empress In-Yo is a northern princess, now exiled in a forever-summer palace. Handmaiden Rabbit was sold by her parents to the empire, and now finds herself serving, and befriending, the lonely empress. Two women take on the monarchy in this lush, feminist tale of rebellion and power.


Roanhorse, Rebecca. Black Sun. Saga: S. & S. ISBN 9781534437678.

The winter solstice coinciding with a solar eclipse prophesizes an unbalancing of the world. As the holy city of Tova prepares for its celebration, a young blind man and a disgraced captain set sail to arrive on the solstice. Destiny is foretold, and cannot be denied, no matter the political and personal machinations afoot. A stunning pre-Columbian backdrop, along with vivid characters and action, set up a story that is immersive and filled with intrigue.


Wagers, K.B. A Pale Light in the Black. Harper Voyager. ISBN 9780062887788.

Lt. Maxine Carmichael has won a place in the Space Coast Guard against the wishes of her influential family. She has to prove herself to her new teammates, figure out who is targeting her ship and crew, overcome her nearly crippling lack of confidence, win the annual war games exercise, and learn to be part of a team and a found family. All while saving her birth family from its own corruption and hubris. No pressure!


Walschots, Natalie Zina. Hench. Morrow. ISBN 9780062978578.

As a Hench, a temporary grunt-worker for a supervillain, Anna is just a cog in the machine until a close and destructive encounter with a superhero leaves her body broken and her mind on fire to learn just how much collateral damage supers cause—and how she can stop it. She joins forces with a supervillain who gives her a team, a purpose, and the tools she needs to take on the biggest of the superheroes. Her plan—bring him to ruin with her own powers of extreme competence and relentless spreadsheets.


See all of our 2020 Best Books lists

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