SFF Genre Preview | Forthcoming Titles for 2024

From romantasy to retellings and from flying creatures to interstellar travel, the sweep of SFF continues to forge new reading pathways that expand the genres while reconfirming time-honored tales.

Be it a witch’s prophesy or an artificial intelligence, trying to discern the future is a constant theme in many speculative works. LJ takes up that call this season to trace the new trends in science fiction and fantasy. As has been true with recent romance novels, fantasy inflected by romance is big this season, building on the stratospheric success of Rebecca Yarros’s Fourth Wing, a title that changed the landscapes of two genres. Retellings continue to be on point, gaining even more ground since becoming a cross-genre trend in recent years. Dragons also make the scene this season, as do works that explore the near future. A downloadable list of all titles mentioned can be found here.

Romantic Intentions

Genre blends are common in science fiction and fantasy. Elements of horror, literary fiction, and mystery have been intertwined with these novels for decades. A developing trend is the combination of romance with science fiction or fantasy. “Deeply emotional stories across all romance subgenres are striking chords with readers, but fantasy romance is really continuing to come into its own, along with dark romance,” says Bramble’s VP and Editorial Director Monique Patterson. Bramble is Tor’s newest imprint, launched in February 2023, which brings romantasy and romantic SF to readers with an inaugural lineup of familiar and new authors, including Constance Fay’s debut Calamity, Carissa Broadbent’s The Serpent & the Wings of Night, and Melissa Marr’s Remedial Magic. Entangled Publishing also launched a new imprint, Red Tower, this year. Rebecca Yarros’s Iron Flame, a sequel to Fourth Wing, is out this fall, while Sanctuary of the Shadow by Aurora Ascher publishes this winter, followed by Bloodguard by Cecy Robson and Heavenbreaker by Sara Wolf in the spring.

Danielle L. Jensen’s new Norse-inspired novel, A Fate Inked in Blood (Del Rey), puts a shield maiden through a series of tests from the gods while she also fights her growing desire for a warrior. Changeling Fia is determined to rescue her kidnapped sister but finds herself torn between a prince and a fae lord in A Feather So Black (Orbit) by Lyra Selene. Nebula Award winner John Wiswell presents his debut novel, Someone You Can Build a Nest In (DAW), a delightful romantic fantasy in which a monster has fallen in love with a human. Mining the enemies-to-lovers trope, The Mars House (Bloomsbury) by Natasha Pulley features a queer marriage of convenience between an Earth refugee and an up-and-coming Mars politician.

Dark academia is a growing aesthetic that often appears in romantic fantasy. Secrets, obsessions, and mysteries abound as those who walk through the hallowed halls of schools find themselves in the midst of magic, mayhem, and star-crossed love. S.T. Gibson’s An Education in Malice (Redhook) features two students and a poetry teacher dealing with rituals, blood, and cravings at an isolated Massachusetts college. BookTok sensation RuNyx’s Gothikana (Bramble) tells the story of a macabre castle, a century-old mystery, a part-time visiting professor, and a student.

Enchanting romantic fantasy series continue with Hannah Whitten’s The Hemlock Queen (Orbit), as necromancer Lore seeks a way to protect her home and her love from a dangerous force; newlyweds Velasin and Caethari must again deal with political and personal strife in Foz Meadows’s All the Hidden Paths (Tor); and Piper CJ’s The Dawn and Its Light (Bloom) brings the conclusion of two kingdoms and their leaders’ fight for their joined future.

Kimberly Lemming, who has stepped from indie to traditional publishing with her “Mead Mishaps” series, sees Orbit gathering the trilogy under their imprint for monthly release: That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon, That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf, and That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human.


Building on a firmly established trend, this season highlights even more tales inspired by mythology, fairy tales, and legends, including Cait Corrain’s Crown of Starlight (Del Rey), a space-set story based upon the mythical Greek figures of Ariadne and Dionysus, and Zalika Reid-Benta’s River Mumma (Erewhon), in which a Jamaican river goddess issues a quest to a young woman who feels overwhelmed. Shona Kinsella’s Scottish folklore–inspired The Heart of Winter (Flame Tree) features a woman caught between the gods of Summer and Winter. The god of Autumn and his human guide are trapped in the mortal realm, causing panic on both sides of their worlds in Amy Avery’s The Longest Autumn (Flatiron), inspired by classical mythology. The Sanskrit epic poem The Mahabharata is reimagined as various conniving players take on forgotten gods in Gourav Mohanty’s Sons of Darkness (Head of Zeus). These Deathless Shores (Angry Robot) from P.H. Low is a unique spin on the origin story of Peter Pan’s Captain Hook. A.K. Mulford’s A River of Golden Bones (Harper Voyager) imagines a wolven royal court, with a Sleeping Beauty twist. Another take on classic tales comes from Elyse John’s Orphia and Eurydicius (HarperCollins), a gender-flipped story that challenges previous roles. Lucy Holland’s newest stand-alone novel, Song of the Huntress (Redhook), revisits the tale of Herla and the Wild Hunt. Tor/Forge Executive Director of Publicity Sarah Reidy is excited about Veronica Roth’s upcoming novella When Among Crows (Tor), in which creatures from Slavic lore haunt current-day Chicago.

Near Future

Science fiction often examines the near future through a “what if?” lens. Tor/Forge Editor Robert Davis has recently seen “a lot of near-future thrillers with speculative twists,” novels that highlight the delights and horrors that may be on the horizon.

Readers are reminded once again that science should not mess with nature in two titles from Tor.com. Aimee Pokwatka focuses on a group hiding in a small-town library as murder owls—yes, literally murderous owls—surround the building in The Parliament. Ray Nayler’s Tusks of Extinction stars the digital consciousness of a deceased animal behaviorist trying to help resurrected mammoths survive in the modern world. The balance of nature in Sequoia National Park is divided between two mysterious factions in Veronica G. Henry’s The Canopy Keepers (47North).

The future also holds apocalyptic tales. Daniel Polansky exhibits a future Manhattan cut off from the rest of the world and inhabited by a mutated population in Tomorrow’s Children (Angry Robot). An intriguing new technology in Mumbai, India, allows everyone to worship their own idea of god in Aditya Sudarshan’s Idolatry (Flame Tree). In Canada, an Indigenous group searches for a new home more than a dozen years after a world-collapsing blackout in Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Turning Leaves (Morrow). The War of the Givens (Blue Rider) from Daniel Price ends his “Silvers” series about extraordinary survivors of Earth who must save their new planet.

The effects of radicalization provide fodder for what the future on Earth could resemble as shadow governmental agencies create hidden centers to manipulate and reeducate dissidents in The Glass Box (Blackstone) by J. Michael Straczynski. A futuristic Botswana is home to governmental baby labs, angry ghosts, and a microchipped wife in Tlotlo Tsamaase’s debut, Womb City (Erewhon). Micaiah Johnson’s Those Beyond the Wall (Del Rey) highlights the disparities between a desert town and its walled, wealthy neighbor as an enforcer investigates a series of strange murders. Jack Campbell’s new series, “The Doomed Earth,” begins with In Our Stars (Ace), in which a genetically modified human is given a chance to save Earth when its destruction sends her 40 years into the past.

The rise of artificial intelligence is also on trend. Edward Ashton’s Mal Goes to War (St. Martin’s) has a free AI trapped in a mercenary’s cyborg body, protecting a modded human girl. An AI tasked with recording the life of the last human on Earth falls in love with its subject in Debbie Urbanski’s debut, After World (S. & S.), while Sierra Greer explores questions about control and autonomy as a robot becomes more human in Annie Bot (Mariner).

Here There Be Dragons

Mythical creatures continue to entrance readers and will be a leading trend through the next few seasons. Dragons in particular are flying high. Bloom Books Assistant Marketing Manager Madison Nankervis thinks that dragons “have made a resurgence and are a huge trend since the phenomenon of [Rebecca Yarros’s] Fourth Wing.” A few examples to note include Taran Matharu’s Dragon Rider (Harper Voyager), in which a royal orphan hostage looks for his destiny—and his revenge—with a stolen dragon hatchling and a handmaiden. An inquisitor uncovers a plot that forces her to flee with a fake dragon singer in Bradley P. Beaulieu’s The Dragons of Deepwood Fen (DAW). L.R. Lam continues their trilogy of dragons banished from the mortal realm with Emberclaw (DAW).

Different Directions

With so many worlds, themes, and tropes to choose from, it is not surprising to find authors who are well-known for one type of story or genre switching gears to another. Seth Dickinson (“The Masquerade” series) moves from geopolitical fantasy to space opera/alien technothriller with Exordia (Tor.com). It features a genocide refugee who, along with others, is charged with the investigation of a mysterious broadcast. Kim Harrison takes a break from “The Hallows” series to release a new novel about magical waste handling, academic research, and unusual magic in Three Kinds of Lucky (Ace). Critically acclaimed thriller writer Rachel Howzell Hall turns to fantasy with a story about a woman who cannot remember who she is—but she might cause the end of the world—in The Last One (Entangled: Red Tower). Erewhon Books Marketing and Publicity Manager Martin Cahill notes that Victor Manibo (The Sleepless) “takes a more expansive approach to his forthcoming Escape Velocity, which travels into low-Earth orbit with a large cast of elite guests aboard an orbital space station–cum–luxury hotel.”

Short Stories

Short stories in science fiction and fantasy are a place for new authors to test the waters. They also give established writers a space to expand their universes in ways not possible through their novels, or to branch out beyond their usual characters and worlds. Larry Correia edits a collection with Kacey Ezell, Down These Mean Streets (Baen), focused on science fiction and fantasy with a hardboiled noir twist. Individual authors who are releasing their own collections of previously published and new stories include Anne Bishop with The Lady in Glass and Other Stories (Ace), which compiles shorts from all of her series, along with a stand-alone space exploration story and a murder mystery. Sue Lynn Tan’s Tales of the Celestial Kingdom (Harper Voyager) includes an epilogue to the “Celestial Kingdom” duology. A View from the Stars by Cixin Liu (Tor) has both short stories and nonfiction essays from the last 30 years. Some of Christi Nogle’s best works about the liminal places in space and time are featured in One Eye Opened in That Other Place (Flame Tree). Wole Talabi’s Convergence Problems (DAW) contains 16 short stories and one novella, all set in or related to Africa. In Lake of Souls: The Collected Short Fiction (Orbit), Ann Leckie’s short fiction is gathered for the first time, offering a new novelette, stories from the “Imperial Radch” universe, and several stand-alones.

Firsts, Solos, and Series

Debut authors continue to shine in speculative fiction, leading readers to new worlds and voices. A chaotic space crew finds themselves in over their heads while responding to a distress signal in L.M. Sagas’s Cascade Failure (Tor). Molly X. Chang’s To Gaze upon Wicked Gods (Del Rey) centers a young woman with the power of death who must choose between saving her family and saving her country. The Day Tripper by James Goodhand (Mira) focuses on a young man’s traumatic experience, which precipitates jumping through time into the future, then back, leaving him to wonder what went wrong. A family curse forces the last of the Everly line to search for answers—and her mother—while facing off against forgotten gods and monsters in The City of Stardust (Redhook) by Georgia Summers.

Series continuations are arriving in the next few months, building on the pull of last year’s hot titles. Professor Emily and exiled faerie king Bambleby return in Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands (Del Rey). Beth Cato’s A Feast for Starving Stone (47North) follows rogue Chef Ada and her daughter, Princess Solenn, as they try to stop the coming war—and the gods’ interference—in their countries. Suzanne Palmer’s Ghostdrift (DAW) is the final outing for galactic repo man Fergus, who is forced to team up with a dangerous space pirate. Melissa Blair’s “Halfling Saga” shakes up Keera’s allies and enemies with A Vicious Game (Union Square). In Aftermarket Afterlife (DAW), crossroads ghost and family babysitter Mary Dunlavy takes the lead; it’s the latest work in Seanan McGuire’s “InCryptid” series. Justin Lee Anderson’s The Bitter Crown (Orbit) finds a fragile alliance forced to bring its country’s captivity to light.

Individual novels are strong draws for readers who don’t want to wait for another piece of the story. Two people stuck in a four-day time loop must decide if leaving is worth losing their growing relationship in Mike Chen’s A Quantum Love Story (Mira). Debut author Meredith Mooring’s Redsight (Solaris) places a blind priestess in the hands of a space pirate on the run from two major powers in the galaxy. A woman wakes on a colony ship to find that she must decide how their new Eden will grow in Oliver K. Langmead’s Calypso (Titan). P. Djèlí Clark gives readers John Wick vibes with his undead assassin Eveen “the Eviscerator” in The Dead Cat Tail Assassins (Tor.com).

Final Thoughts

Whether climbing aboard a colony ship or navigating tests set by the gods, this season’s key SFF titles define the outer reaches of imagined galaxies and the inner hearts of characters. The titles ahead invite readers to open the door to a new or alien land, for the first or the 500th time.

Kristi Chadwick is LJ’s Science Fiction and Fantasy co-columnist. She is a Consultant with the Massachusetts Library System, providing advisory and continuing education services for over 1,500 libraries in the Commonwealth. She is also adjunct faculty with the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University, teaching Collections Development and Management.

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