SFF 2022 Preview | 89 Titles To Read, Know, and Share

A golden age of LGBTQ+ representation sets a new bar for inclusion in science fiction and fantasy.

In our annual survey of the state of science fiction and fantasy, LJ explores the landscape of possible worlds far into the future and lands born of endless imagination. Through interviews with publishers, librarians, and a best-selling author, as well as examination of forthcoming titles, we identified movements in the genre that mark its ongoing development. Among our findings, the genres are enjoying an upswell of works by LGBTQ+ authors of many racializations, and we offer a bevy of titles that confirm what authors, readers, and librarians have been celebrating for some time.

In addition, we have noted several trends to watch for when building collections and working with readers, including the growing popularity of retelling fairy tales and archetypal stories, and books about families—blood or otherwise—many of which center marginalized voices and experiences.

On top of these highlights there are debuts to order now, stand-alones to note, new series launches, and big titles on the way. All told, we have selected myriad works to represent the genres over the next six months. The works mentioned in this article are available in a downloadable spreadsheet.


Sff publishers are excited and enthusiastic about the increased visibility of authors’ intersectional identities, which is showcased in the characters and stories they create. Brit Hvide, senior editor at Orbit, opined that “while LGBTQ+ stories are not new to the genre at all, I feel like we’re in a true golden age of LGBTQ+ sff. Just get on Twitter or BookTok and you’ll see the ‘Sapphic Saffron Trifecta’ (The Unbroken by C.L. Clarke, The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan) being joyfully celebrated with fan art and memes. Books like those and Andrea Stewart’s The Bone Shard Emperor (Orbit, Nov.) are normalizing queer relationships and exploring them in a really nuanced, multifaceted way.”

Ruoxi Chen, editor at Tor Books, adds, “Adult science fiction and fantasy has seen an incredible wave of queer authors writing queer narratives in a whole range of subgenres. And it’s not that these stories are new—it’s that they’re being platformed in a mainstream context at a greater rate, and the foundation feels more solid than it has in the past.” Representation extends past the page, into the publishing industry itself. As Chen highlights, it is significant and groundbreaking that queer BIPOC authors and editors are publishing books that are seeing mainstream representation. For example, Chen says, “The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories (Tor, Mar. 2022) is an extraordinary collection of Chinese sff in translation that’s been written, edited, and translated by an entirely female and nonbinary team. In May 2022, Nghi Vo’s sophomore novel, Siren Queen (Tordotcom), will center a queer, Chinese American protagonist who is forced to play monsters on screen in a world where the monsters are very real—it reads like a fever dream in the best way, women desiring women and feeling out who it is they’re meant to be against a magical, historical backdrop.”

This welcome change builds upon the already-robust queer representation in sff. Chen continues, “To emphasize how center stage these narratives have become, I’d say one of the most commercial books I’m publishing all year is Freya Marske’s gorgeous debut novel, A Marvellous Light (Tordotcom, Nov.), a queer romantic fantasy centering two young men, one magical and one mundane, in an alternate Edwardian England.” Tordotcom is also publishing a gay fantasy romance that is sure to draw the attention of fanfic aficionados, A Taste of Gold and Iron (May 2022) by Alexandra Rowland.

Claire Eddy, Tor’s editorial director, chimed in as well. “As publishing expands its focus on bringing more stories to readers, I do think that we are seeing more titles featuring LGBTQ+ and gender nonbinary protagonists and I am so happy about this. And to that end, in the summer of 2022, I am beyond-the-moon excited to be bringing a new voice to the Tor list with Foz Meadows’s A Strange and Stubborn Endurance (July 2022). It’s an amazing fantasy with incredible characters and a male/male romance that is by turns sweet and sultry.”

Joe Monti, editorial director at Saga Press, observes that “Ken Liu’s continuation of his ‘Dandelion Dynasty’ series, The Veiled Throne (Nov.); G.R. Macallister’s Scorpica (Feb. 2022); and a debut by Sascha Stronach, The Dawnhounds (June 2022), all feature LGBTQ+ protagonists. It’s become almost commonplace, in the best way, to prominently feature characters who are diverse in terms of gender and sexuality.”

Ace/Berkley/DAW assistant editor Miranda Hill adds, “We do feel like there’s been an increased representation of a wide array of sexualities and gender identities, and this is fantastically showcased in A.J. Hackwith’s The God of Lost Words (Ace, Nov.), the culmination of the ‘Library of the Unwritten’ series. As the queer main characters in Hackwith’s series explore multiple versions of the afterlife, not only do they find romantic fulfillment, but they also exemplify the pleasure of finding a family that truly accepts and understands you.”

Though Tor Senior Editor Miriam Weinberg says, “Honestly—maybe it isn’t so much an increase (yet!)—just a course correction to centuries of pretending that exploring gender and sexuality isn’t an integral aspect of human existence.”

More titles to note: A.K. Larkwood continues the epic fantasy story of lesbian lovers and total badasses Csorwe and Shuthmili in The Thousand Eyes (Tor, Feb. 2022). For more fans of sapphic fantasy, Francesca May enters the fray with Wild and Wicked Things (Redhook, Mar. 2022), a tale of magic, romance, and a dash of murder.


The reimagining of stories in fresh, inclusive, and exciting ways is a trend to note.

“Retellings never went away,” says Orbit Senior Editor Nivia Evans, “but there seems to be a renewed excitement for the subgenre as the stories become more diverse in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and religion.” She also sees many more retellings drawing on tales from around the globe.

That aligns with what Holly Rice, associate publicist, William Morrow & Harper Voyager, refers to as “a notable interest in Eastern fantasy and Afrofuturism…such as Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan (Harper Voyager, Jan. 2022), N.E. Davenport’s The Blood Trials (Harper Voyager, Apr. 2022), and The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (Harper Voyager, Apr. 2022). TikTok’s book community (BookTok) is a notable tastemaker in this current cycle, and we’re seeing a huge amount of support for backlist titles that have these elements, such as the ‘Poppy War’ series by R.F. Kuang.”

Hvide stresses this point too, referencing retellings through the lens of fan fiction, “Fairy-tale retellings are having a moment right now, as are books that have darker, more gothic undertones and worldbuilding. But what I think is cycling in in a more subtle way [are] books that have the same addictive voice as fan fiction. You see it in the runaway best sellers like [Hannah F. Whitten’s] For the Wolf and its sequel For the Throne (Orbit, June 2022).”

Other titles that illustrate this trend are abundant. Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fevered Star (Saga, Apr. 2022) is her follow-up to last year’s LJ “Best of 2020” Black Sun; it is rooted in pre-Columbian myths and legends. Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing (Morrow, June 2022) draws on trans elements present in classical Greek myths. While not strictly sf or fantasy as it is based on a religious text, Vaishnavi Patel’s debut novel, Kaikeyi (Redhook, Apr. 2022), reimagines the life of Kaikeyi, the maligned queen from the Indian epic Ramayana. Ava Reid returns to the universe of The Wolf and The Woodsman with Juniper and Thorn (HarperCollins, June 2022), a retelling of the classic German fairy tale The Juniper Tree. The Stardust Thief (Orbit, May 2022), the debut work from Kuwaiti American author Chelsea Abdullah, remixes 1,001 Nights. Gama Ray Martinez’s adult debut, God of Neverland (Harper Voyager, Apr. 2022), returns readers to the world of Peter Pan. A Mirror Mended (Tordotcom, June 2022) is superstar Alix E. Harrow’s retelling of Snow White, with an added layer of traveling through the multiverse. It is Harrow’s much-anticipated sequel to A Spindle Splintered


Another clear trend going into 2022 is a focus on family, perhaps born from lockdown, a desire to see loved ones, and the need to build community.

Leah Spann, associate editor at DAW, observes that “hopepunk and found family narratives really seem to be thriving in this moment, while it seems like the desire for grimdark and dystopian futures is waning.” Spann continues, “Likewise, both in science fiction and fantasy, we’re seeing a surge of cli-fi, or climate fiction, that examines our relationship with the environment.” She cites Kathleen O’Neal Gear, anthropologist and author, who imagines a future frozen by another Ice Age as re-created ancient hominids struggle to survive the harsh conditions in “The Rewilding Reports” series. The second book, The Ice Ghost, comes out in May 2022. The new stand-alone by Barbadian writer Karen Lord, The Blue, Beautiful World (Feb. 2022), she also notes, describes “a postapocalyptic Earth devastated by climate change and the young representatives who must decide the planet’s place in a new galactic order when aliens come to call.”

Readers searching for a story that combines a hopeful exploration of a beautiful world with the companionship of an unusual found family—and also extols the healing power of a perfectly brewed cup of tea—can look forward to Becky Chambers’s continuation of the “Monk & Robot” series, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Tordotcom, July 2022). Those looking for humor in their stories of found families, along with more robots, will be delighted to continue the adventures of the shipboard family on La Sirena Negra in Fault Tolerance by Valerie Valdes (Harper Voyager, May 2022).

Caroline Lambe, lead publicist for Angry Robot, sees this connection, pointing out what she calls “a strong trend” of books focused on “found family and family relationships.”

Relationships between fathers and daughters form the centerpiece of three books coming from Angry Robot, Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks (Nov.), Spidertouch by Alex Thomson (Dec.), and Ron Walters’s Deep Dive (Jan. 2022). In all three, dads save their kids and their worlds from a range of traumas, including dictators, evil pirate ghosts, and VR gaming tech gone horribly wrong.

Other found family narratives from Angry Robot also include Bluebird (Feb. 2022) by Ciel Pierlot, in which a female gunslinging rebel journeys across the galaxy to save her twin; The Circus Infinite (Mar. 2022), written by former circus performer Khan Wong, a space opera featuring a found circus family on an adventure to take down a notorious crime boss; and The Splendid City by Karen Heuler (July 2022), which centers on a newbie witch, the coven she makes into a family, and the lengths she has to go to get that family back.

Corinda Carfora, marketing director at Baen Books, sees this trend as well and points out that “found families are a recurring theme in epic fantasy. Jane Lindskold…explores families and found families in her portal fantasy duology, ‘OtherWhere,’ (Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge, Feb. and Apr. 2022) where the leaders of the quest are three women over 50—a group underrepresented in the halls of quest fantasy.”

Martin Cahill, publicity and marketing director of Erewhon, notes two titles touching on the theme of found family. “The Beholden (Jan. 2022) by Cassandra Rose Clarke explores this, as two sisters make a little found family of their own on their search for the god of death and Olivia Chadha’s sequel to her YA [crossover] debut novel, Rise of the Red Hand, Fall of the Iron Gods (May 2022) continues to explore the tension and relationships as a ragtag group of rebels become a found family.”


Both epic fantasy and space opera use big books—and often big series—to tell big stories. And there are plenty of titles coming out in the next few months that will generate big holds lists.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor (DAW, Nov. 2021) uses an Africanfuturist setting to explore biotechnology, destiny, and humanity in a world of cybernetic augmentations. Maurice Broaddus’s series opener, Sweep of Stars (Tor, Mar. 2022), is described as Black Panther meets The Expanse, a description guaranteed to draw readers in droves. Guy Gavriel Kay returns with another holds-builder, All the Seas of the World (Berkley, May 2022).

Richard Swan is back with a new epic fantasy trilogy, “Empire of the Wolf,” the first of which is titled The Justice of Kings (Orbit, Feb. 2022). For more epic fantasy, Age of Ash (Orbit, Feb. 2022) by Daniel Abraham starts off the “The Kithamar Trilogy.” Also from Orbit, R.S. Ford’s Engines of Empires (Jan. 2022) is the start of a new series following a magical and mechanical kingdom with dark secrets surrounding their technology. For space opera aficionados, Jen Finelli brings readers on a wild romp through the universe in the Neodymium Betrayal (WordFire, May 2022).

Continuations of all kinds are key in 2022. In Brothers of the Wind (DAW, Nov.), Tad Williams takes readers back to the world of his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” trilogy over a thousand years before The Dragonbone Chair. Meanwhile, Harper Voyager is making readers’ hearts beat a bit faster with continuations of epic fantasy series that have just a touch of romance added to their mix, such as The Seventh Queen by Greta Kelly (Nov.), the second book in her “Warrior Witch” series; Jennifer Estep’s continuation of her “Gargoyle Queen” series, Tear Down the Throne (May 2022); and the third book in W.M. Akers’s “Gilda Carr Tiny Mystery” series, Westside Lights (Mar. 2022), which is set in an alternate Jazz Age New York City that walks a tightrope between alt-history, steampunk, and urban fantasy.

Other highly anticipated revisits include Katherine Addison’s return to the world of The Goblin Emperor with Grief of Stones (Tor, June 2022). Seanan McGuire rejoins the world of Middlegame in Seasonal Fears (Tordotcom, May 2022), and with Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments (Tor, Mar. 2022), T.L. Huchu will take readers back to the slightly alternate, somewhat near-future-ish Edinburgh of The Library of the Dead to follow ghost talker Ropa Moyu. Fans of Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” can look forward to the eighth installment of the series, The Untold Story (Ace, Dec.), while Louisa Morgan takes readers back to the world of A Secret History of Witches with The Great Witch of Brittany (Redhook, Feb. 2022). Tim Pratt follows up Doors of Sleep with Prison of Sleep (Angry Robot, Apr. 2022). Also from Angry Robot is Afterglow (May 2022), Tim Jordan’s sequel to Glow. Following the success of Sarah J. Maas’s Crescent City comes House of Sky and Breath (Bloomsbury, Feb. 2022). Fans of The Quantum Magician can look forward to House of Styx (Solaris, May 2022) by Derek Künsken. Lastly, readers who were enchanted by Black Leopard, Red Wolf, first in the “Dark Star Trilogy,” will want to check out Marlon James’s follow-up, Moon Witch, Spider King (Riverhead, Feb. 2022).

Several epic series are coming to fitting conclusions. The phenomenal (in more ways than one) “Expanse” books by James S.A. Corey end with Leviathan Falls (Orbit, Nov.). Fonda Lee’s East Asia–inspired urban fantasy, “The Green Bone Saga,” finishes with rival clans battling for honor and control of their city and their jade in Jade Legacy (Orbit, Nov.; see our interview with Lee on p. 46). Jenn Lyons’s absorbing epic fantasy series, “A Chorus of Dragons,” will play its closing notes with The Discord of Gods (Tor, Apr. 2022). Stephen Aryan’s epic fantasy duology, which began with The Coward, concludes with The Warrior (Angry Robot, June 2022). Also ending a popular series is The Nova Incident (Angry Robot, July 2022) by Dan Moren, which completes the “Firemane Saga.” Tom Holt, writing under the name K.J. Parker, similarly ties up the “Siege” series with A Practical Guide to Conquering the World (Orbit, Jan. 2022). Following the success of Seven Devils, Laura Lam and Elizabeth May conclude their space opera duology with Seven Mercies (DAW, Jan. 2022), a feminist adventure through the galaxy to shut down a rogue AI with the power to control people’s minds.


While series and returns to previously explored worlds are a big part of sff, they are not the only highly anticipated books on the horizon. Here is a selection of one-and-done reads.

For readers who prefer space operas, R.W.W. Greene presents Mercury Rising (Angry Robot, Apr. 2022). Those who enjoy space opera starring a protagonist who knows a little too much about bug sex can seek out Stringers (Angry Robot, Apr. 2022) by Chris Panatier. In the same vein, though without the bonus information about insect reproduction, Kundo Wakes Up (Tordotcom, Mar. 2022) by Saad Z. Hossain offers a thought-provoking journey through cyberspace. Meanwhile, Mira Grant, a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, writes Square3 (Subterranean, Dec.), a novella that manipulates the laws of physics in fascinating ways.

Fans of epic fantasy with an occult twist can look forward to The Last Blade Priest (Angry Robot, June 2022) by W.P. Wiles. Similarly, Jason Heller blends magic, punk, and one man’s struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder in Repeater (Saga, Dec. 2022). For fantasy readers who like a few laughs mixed in, The Splendid City (Angry Robot, July 2022) by Karen Heuler is a top pick. Readers who prefer their fantasy to border on magical realism can look forward to Ogres (Solaris, Mar. 2022) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Lastly, Rebecca Ross’s first adult book, A River Enchanted (Harper Voyager, Feb. 2022), is a much-anticipated combination of Sarah J. Maas’s House of Earth and Blood with Genevieve Gornichec’s The Witch’s Heart.

There are many queuing for John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society (Tor, Mar. 2022), his first book after the conclusion of his “Interdependency” series and one of his few books that seems to be a stand-alone—at least so far. T. Kingfisher’s Nettle & Bone (Tor, Apr. 2022) follows a shy 30-year-old woman who learns that anyone can be a hero, while thriller master James Rollins is bringing his talent for adrenaline-fueled stories to sf with The Starless Crown (Tor, Jan. 2022). Harper Voyager will also be inducing an adrenaline rush with Michael Mammay’s The Misfit Soldier (Harper Voyager, Feb. 2022), a funny, action-packed mix of Ocean’s Eleven with snarky space opera.


New voices forge new worlds in 2022, starting with Adam Oyebanji’s sf debut Braking Day (DAW, Apr. 2022), a generation ship story wrapped around family bonds, family secrets, and questions about the role of technology in daily life that are just as relevant in the present as that far-flung future. Also look for The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings (Redhook; June 2022), a vibrant contemporary fantasy set in a magical version of New Orleans where jazz songs walk, talk, and keep the spirit of the city alive.

The interest in witches seen in other genres is present in sff, too. Sarah J. Daley’s Obsidian (Angry Robot, Jan. 2022) details the sacrifices a witch must make to save her kingdom and all she holds dear. The Bone Orchard (Tor, Mar. 2022) by Sara A. Mueller follows a concubine who is a powerful witch as she tries to solve her emperor’s murder.

In dark fantasy, Rachel Gillig’s One Dark Window (Orbit, Oct. 2022) unfolds a story in which a spirit that has long lived inside the protagonist’s mind will take over, if not reined in through a magical cure. For more dark fantasy, direct patrons to YA-superstar Holly Black’s adult debut, Book of Night (Tor Forge, May 2022). Zin E. Rocklyn made their debut with Flowers for the Sea (Tordotcom) in October. It is a dark fantasy that follows a refugee of a flooded land as she gives birth to a child that might not be quite human.


Earlier in the pandemic, we predicted that sff writers would write about it. That did not happen, and we asked editors to speculate as to why.

“I think editors and publishers aren’t necessarily looking to be working on plague content while still figuring out how to exist in one,” says Chen. “What’s been fascinating to me is how many authors were writing toward our current situation even before the pandemic unfolded…. Many of our writers are in the business of being prescient, so this was not a complete surprise, but then I work on something like Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath (Tordotcom, Jan. 2022)—where in the 2050s the privileged have fled not just the cities of Earth but Earth itself—while watching billionaires compete in a new space race on the news and am astonished all over.”

Eleanor Teasdale, associate publisher at Angry Robot, agrees, noting that, “The only (very un-COVID-like) plague we’ve seen on our list thus far is in Stephen Deas’s The House of Cats and Gulls (Feb. 2022), but he had already written it before the pandemic hit!’’

Marie Whittaker, associate publisher at WordFire Press, added “we haven’t seen too many pandemic-themed pitches, although we are publishing Jonathan Maberry’s Empty Graves collection in September. His zombies aren’t supernatural but the result of a pandemic.” Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock (Morrow, Nov.) includes virulent, deadly pandemics, but they are the result of the greenhouse effect and every nasty consequence that follows in its wake.

Gemma Creffield, managing editor at Angry Robot, summed up the general feeling most succinctly: “I haven’t seen much pandemic fiction come through at all, and I think even if I did, I wouldn’t want to publish it. It’s a bit too close to the bone, and we’re all exhausted with the pandemic. We don’t really want to read something that reflects it back to us.”


Hope seems to be the order of the day—and the upcoming season. From spaceships to seagoing ships, witches to dads, stories readers have explored for decades to those that are brand-new, science fiction and fantasy continue to support exploration and imagination, prompting readers to believe in worlds that can come to be and to examine, with a sharp eye, the world that is.

Marlene Harris is the founder of and primary reviewer for the book review blog Reading Reality. She has been an LJ reviewer since 2011.

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