From hugely anticipated series finales, to continuing adventures in science fiction's most popular universes and anniversary celebrations for a cult classic, read on for some of the most exciting new science fiction books published this year, plus a look at what's to come in 2020. No matter what kind of sci-fi fan you are, we're sure you'll find something to add to your reading list.
If you're looking for your next fantasy novel, read our edit of the very best new fantasy books here.
The best sci-fi books of 2019
Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton
Out in hardback in 2019, and coming to pareback in 2020, Salvation Lost is the second book in Peter F. Hamilton’s bestselling science fiction series, The Salvation Sequence. The comparatively utopian world of 23rd century Earth is about to change forever, as the alien race the Olyix, previously thought to be benign, plan to harvest humanity as an offering to their god at the end of the universe. With almost no time to fight back, some want to flee, while others want to stand strong in the face of a new enemy.
Buy Salvation Lost
Buy Salvation, the first book in The Salvation Sequence
Here, Peter F. Hamilton introduces The Salvation Sequence
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Named in Barack Obama's 2019 summer reading list, this groundbreaking collection of science fiction short stories is the second from acclaimed author Ted Chiang. In these nine stunningly original and poignant stories, we encounter a portal through time in ancient Baghdad, a scientist who makes a shocking discovery that will affect all of humanity and a woman who cares for an AI ‘pet’ for over twenty years. Addressing, among others, essential questions around the nature of the universe and what it means to be human, this is science fiction writing at its most thoughtful.
Will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
This high concept sci-fi thriller asks the question: what if someone could rewrite your entire life? When Detective Barry Sutton is called to help a woman threatening to jump from a building, he’s unaware of the series of events the incident will trigger. Unable to stop the woman taking her own life, the last words she says to him are ‘My son has been erased.’ As Barry begins to investigate her case, he finds she’s not the only one making such claims. All over the country, people are waking up to different lives, an epidemic the media have dubbed ‘False Memory Syndrome’. But what if the cause is more sinister than a disease?
Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Following on from Tchaikovsky’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Children of Time, Children of Ruin finds modern humanity dealing with the consequences of Earth’s ancient empire building. A terraforming program transforms the world of Nod, with unplanned and ominous side effects. Aeons later, an exploration mission finally discovers this part of space. They are hoping to find cousins from old Earth, but realise that something else entirely awaits.
Magnificent. This is the big stuff – the really big stuff. Rich in wisdom and Humanity (note the 'H'), with a Stapledonian sweep and grandeur . . . Books like this are why we read science fiction.
Buy Children of Ruin
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy was lyrical, imaginative military science fiction. So Dragon Pearl, a YA space opera based on Korean folklore, is a change of pace. The novel tells the tale of Min, a human from a family imbued with fox-magic and able to shape-shift (although this is forbidden, in order to avoid raising suspicion). Tired of her daily routine and unexciting planet, she yearns to follow her brother into the Space Forces, and to see the Thousand Worlds. Highly recommended for younger readers, but frankly enjoyable whatever your age.
Buy Dragon Pearl
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Arkady Martine's debut sci-fi novel is an immersive political space opera for fans of Ann Leckie and Iain M. Banks. A Memory Called Empire introduces the idea of a technology by which a select few can carry their predecessors in their minds and take advantage of their wisdom and memories - a fascinating theme for the reader to wrap their head around. The first book in the Texicalaan duology, fans will be eagerly awaiting news of the second novel from this exciting new science-fiction writer.
A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All-round brilliant space opera, I absolutely loved it
Buy A Memory Called Empire
The Warship by Neal Asher
The Warship, the second book in Asher's 2018 Rise of the Jain trilogy, sees protagonist Orlandine facing a new threat, [SPOILERS] following her defeat of the Jain super-soldier. Rebel forces on her home world plan her assassination; tensions between Earth Central and the crab-like Prador intensify, and the alien accretion disk contains yet more mystery. The Warship, with its interstellar politics and exotic, military-alien warfare is Neal Asher at his very best.
Buy The Warship
The best new science fiction books to come in 2020
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
September 2020 will see the publication of a highly-anticipated brand new epic science fiction novel from New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author, Christopher Paolini.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, follows xenobiologist Kira Navárez as she discovers an alien relic that thrusts her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact. Epic space battles for the fate of humanity ensue, taking her to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and, in the process, transform not only her – but the entire course of history.
Pre-order To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
The Human by Neal Asher
The epic finale to the Polity-set Rise of the Jain trilogy, The Human opens with the fate of an entire galaxy hanging in the balance. Orlandine must once again fight the seemingly unstoppable Jain and their ancient yet lethal technology, to save humanity, and herself. Discover the fate of Orlandine, humanity and the Prador when The Human is published in April 2020. Not familiar with the Polity Universe? Read our guide to the world here.
Neal Asher’s books are like an adrenaline shot targeted directly for the brain.
Pre-order The Human
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
A new novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky to get excited about in 2020, The Doors of Eden is a standalone sci-fi adventure set in the world of MI5 investigations and in the depths of Bodmin Moor. Following an attack on a government physicist and rumours of monsters and missing people, the British security forces are sent to investigate. When they discover that there are cracks between our world and countless others it shatters everything they previously thought about the universe.
Pre-order The Doors of Eden
The Original Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (42nd Anniversary)
Towels at the ready and DON'T PANIC, but yes, Douglas Adams' science-fiction classic really is celebrating its 42nd anniversary in 2020. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began life as a Radio 4 show in 1978 and has since spawned adaptations across almost every format and voted 'best science-fiction book' on numerous occasions. Following the galactic adventures of Arthur Dent after his house's untimely demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route, this new edition of 'the Guide' features exclusive bonus archive material and a new introduction from Russell T. Davies.
Buy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
For even more science fiction book recommendations, discover some of the best sci fi classics in this episode of Book Break:
Ready for your next read?
Sign up to the Best of Pan Macmillan newsletter to discover the best of our books, events and special offers.