A private detective chases flying saucers. A sorcerer explores the frontier of theoretical physics. Magic-wielding warriors face off against heavily armed, motorcycle-riding thugs. These are just some of the ways that genre authors may mix and match familiar category tropes.
“I’ve definitely seen more boundary-defying books in recent years,” says Sarah Guan, associate editor at Orbit. “This reflects the genre’s growing stature in the cultural mainstream. Science fiction and fantasy that borrows from, sidles into, or unapologetically gate-crashes other genres is now embraced as interesting and innovative on all sides.”
Guan edited Jade City by Fonda Lee (Nov.), which launches a series that crosses epic, urban, and historical fantasy—along with a healthy dose of kung fu. It’s one of several forthcoming titles that sample liberally from different corners of the literary universe.
Loren W. Cooper (Red Hen, Nov.)
Calling himself a “spiritual thug for hire,” Zethus has the decidedly science-fictional ability to travel through alternate realities. Thanks to the mind-bending physics theory—made real in Cooper’s novel—that every decision we make creates a new universe, Zethus is able to conduct an investigation into his mentor’s murder that leads him from the Irish folkloric land of Faerie to the horror-novel NightTown, which is populated by vampires, to the science fictional TechTown, suffused with futuristic technology.
Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial, Oct.)
Fink and Cranor’s paranormal podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, imagines a community radio show set in a small desert town in the wake of an unexplained supernatural catastrophe. Presented as a series of narrative dispatches, the plot pinballs among genres—postapocalyptic, horror, magical realism, disaster lit—delivered in the measured tones of an episode of A Prairie Home Companion. The new book is the pair’s second spin-off novel; the first, 2015’s Welcome to Night Vale, has sold 106,000 copies in hardcover, per NPD BookScan.
Fonda Lee (Orbit, Nov.)
YA science fiction author Lee makes her adult debut with the first book in the Green Bone fantasy series set on the island of Kekon, an imaginary metropolis inspired by postcolonial East Asia. Jade is the most valuable commodity because of its magic-magnifying properties, and only select warriors can wield the stone. When a drug hits the market that allows anyone to tap the power of jade, a gang war straight out of a Hong Kong action movie breaks out between rival families.
Rati Mehrotra (Harper Voyager, Jan. 2018)
Epic fantasy and postapocalyptic SF collide in Mehrotra’s debut, first in a duology. Kyra is the youngest member of a mystical order of female assassins dedicated to the goddess Kali, who wield daggers crafted from an alien metal that bestows telepathic powers.
Christopher Moore (Morrow, Apr. 2018)
Moore (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, and other works of comic fantasy), begins his latest novel in San Francisco in 1947, where a bartender named Sammy falls in love with a beautiful customer. When the woman disappears, Sammy pursues her with all the crusading determination—and swaggering patter—of a pulp fiction detective. Along the way, he gets tangled up with a flying saucer crash in Roswell, N.Mex.