This book from Richard Morgan sparked a great, if short-lived, Netflix series. Takeshi Kovacs is an ex–United Nations envoy long dead. Except in this galaxy, people back up their minds, and so Takeshi wakes up in a new body, on a different planet, and given a dangerous mission from even more dangerous people.
Kiini Ibura Salaam is an essayist and writer of brilliant science fiction and fantasy short stories. This book collects several of the latter, all of which use magic and science and sexuality to challenge gender, myth, and the very nature of magic.
Do you see that list of awards? Ann Leckie burst onto the scene with Ancillary Justice, sweeping up awards like a Dyson. Justice of Toren was once a colossal starship, now a single ancillary — an AI in a human body — is all that remains. She’s determined to find out how the rest of her was destroyed and might unravel a galactic empire in the process.
This novel concludes Naam’s explosive Nexus Arc trilogy in an award-winning fashion. After you read Nexus and Crux, dive into this post-humanist novel in which people are connected, linking up like hive minds, and the next apex species has finally arrived.
While Delany might be better known for his novel Dhalgren, don’t sleep on Babel-17. Rydra is a poet with near-telepathic powers. When a new weapon based on sound enters the fray in a giant galactic war, the military calls in Rydra. She soon recognizes a language in that sound, but that’s only the beginning of what she’ll uncover.
cover of Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
This rock-and-roll-cyberpunk novel hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention. In a near-future England, a rock star befriends a guitarist and a techno-wizard against a backdrop of corruption and music festivals. But as this book and series roll along, something like a science fiction Arthurian retelling comes to life.
Yuri Terisov is wasting away in the brig of a pirate ship that he used to command. After aliens destroyed his home colony when he was 4, he was living in a refugee camp until a pirate came and took him away. But now he’s in the brig, at least until a military black ops agent offers him a way out. There are strings attached, of course. Dangerous strings.
N.K. Jemisin is well-known for her Broken Earth trilogy, but that’s fantasy. These are the best award-winning sci-fi books. In The City We Became, New York City is a living life form with six children: the city and its five boroughs. In Brooklyn, a politician can hear the song this great city sings. In Manhattan, a student steps off a train and remembers nothing about himself, but he can feel the pulse of the city. Characters and city combine for a cool exploration.
Time travel and both of the major science fiction awards? This classic has it all. Kivrin is a 21st-century student studying a 14th-century plague. Oh, and she uses time travel to do it. But things go wrong, however, forcing Kivrin’s fellows to launch a rescue attempt. Now Kivrin’s vow to not change the past is conflicting with her ability to save it.
Sometimes award-winning sci-fi books can be based on classics like this. Canterbury Tales…in space. That’s the setup magnificently executed in this novel. Seven pilgrims are journeying to Hyperion on the eve of the end of everything. On Hyperion live the Shrike, creatures that are worshipped and feared. These pilgrims have their tales, their secrets, and one may change the course of human history.
Living on the moon is hard. Taking over a massive company and building it into an empire on the moon? Even harder. But Adriana Corta did it. Now, as her life nears its end, her five children must fight to keep that company going. They’ll have to fight outsiders and each other. Should be fun.
Looking for oppressive aliens and anti-utopian themes? Look no further. Charley wants to be the fastest runner in the world, just like his father. But Charley doesn’t run at track and field meets. He’s a mount for the Hoot, an alien invader. If he ever wants his freedom, he’ll need to find the other free humans and understand what that even means.