In this article, I will be highlighting some of the best sci-fi books in 2022 that I have read. The above image is only of highly anticipated sci-fi and fantasy novels in 2022
How it works is as follows: each month, I read a lot of the new books that come out that month. Be it from my favourite sci-fi authors, critically acclaimed work, or those books that pop out of nowhere and go viral and are just everywhere!
I will then highlight two of them to be the best books released that month. I will then update this article at the end of each month.
Here they are, listed alphabetically by author surname.
List last updated: end of October 2022
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire: This was the 7th book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. This is just an excellent series and honestly, this may be the best book I have read in the series.
I enjoyed this one so much. It followed the story of Cora, who is a character I really enjoyed. Eleanor attempts to convince Cora not to transfer to Whitethorn, but she is insistent as she feels it is the only way to save herself.
Cora suffers from a lot of fatphobia and you really sympathize with her. I really liked the setting of Whitethorn as well. This is one series not to sleep on!
Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan: This one was on my best upcoming books of January 2022 as I was eagerly anticipating this fantasy debut – and it did not disappoint!
This is the first book of two I believe and I can’t wait for the second one. It’s the story of Xingyin, who grew up on the moon unaware that she is actually being kept hidden from the Celestial Emperor. Then her existence is discovered, and this magic girl has to flee (via cloud!). She’s all alone and makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom in disguise to attempt to learn how her magic abilities work and save her mother.
This was just a superb book and it hooked me from the beginning.
Mission 51 by Fernando Crôtte: I took a chance on a debuting indie author and I’m glad that I did. Crôtte’s first book is a unique story that follows the immigrant experience and tells it through a first contact story. It was an easy read that also asks a lot of deep question about how we would react to meeting alien life.
The Torkiyans have undergone fifty missions, but they all failed. Now they are sending out their 51st mission with the destination set as planet Cerulea―also known as planet Earth. Zeemat is a peaceful Torkiyan who would rather paint than fight, but he is assigned this mission and heads towards the new planet. He crashes at a place known as Area 51 where he is taken captive by FBI agents.
The authorities are brutal and torture him, but he hopes to find freedom and happiness.
Mission 51 is a good story that doesn’t shy away from tough subjects and asking powerful questions. It has a good pace and characters that are easy to connect to, even alien ones.
Library of the Sapphire Wind by Jane Lindskold: This is your classic fantasy quest story, but it is a much-needed fresh take on the genre and a lot of fun.
The story begins when Xerak, Vereez, and Grunwold see three strange creatures appear at Hettua Shrine. Their first instinct is that they are monsters because they’ve never actually seen humans before. The three “monsters” are actually Meg, Peg, and Teg, three retired women from a book club who ended up being summoned to mentor the young trio.
Peg dubs the world “Over Where” and the three join forces with the younger three to find the Library of the Sapphire Wind where they hope to find some answers.
This book was a lot of fun with a unique group of fantasy protagonists, but I should warn that it is only the first half of a story. The second half will be out soon.
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi: The latest from John Scalzi sees a man named Jamie Gray, working a dead-end job delivery food for apps, meets an old acquaintance who offers him a job with an animal rights organization. He quickly accepts, but finds that the “animals” that he is referring to are actually massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju that live in an alternate dimension. They are tasked with keeping them safe, but they aren’t the only ones in this alternate world.
This isn’t an epic or even a particularly long book, but it is a lot of fun. There is great dialogue, a lot of humor, interesting characters, and the story doesn’t overwhelm you with science.
Scalzi himself referred to this book as a “pop song” in the afterword and I think that makes a lot of sense. It’s not the most complicated, it probably won’t win any end of the year awards, but it is a lot of fun. Sometimes that’s all I need.
The City of Dusk by Tara Sim: The first book in the Dark Gods series by Tara Sim starts off strong. The city of Nexus is home to four Houses who control the magic and wealth in the city, and each realm has someone competing to be the new leader. The gods have given each of them their own particular magic. However, there are forces who wish to take down the houses and unravel the world itself. The heir must figure out what is going on and what to do about it before they succeed.
The book follows theme of power, family, loyalty, morality, religion and more. Each House is unique and I liked the way they used their different powers to lead in different ways. There is also a lot of world building here as I am excited to learn more about the history of this world and how it has evolved over the years.
A great start to what is already an epic fantasy series.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher: The latest from T. Kingfisher is a traditional fairytale story about a princess who is assigned three tasks to get her heart’s desire. Of course, with Kingfisher that doesn’t mean it is a simple story. It is parts wise, sad, brutal, and compassionate, and a darkly funny feminist tale.
The book is original with an ordinary and relatable yet magical cast of characters. Kingfisher does a great job of worldbuilding in this book and leaves you wanting more.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel: The latest from Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven, is another excellent genre defying novel from the author. Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic after leaving polite society and his childhood home. He finds his home in the Canadian wilderness where he is shocked to hear the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal.
Two centuries later, an author named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour of Earth. Part of her book features a man playing violin in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal.
Later, a detective named Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness. What he’ll find is an exiled son of an earl, a writer trapped far from home, and a childhood friend of theirs.
This book is as much about time travel and mystery as it is about love and family. St. John Mandel’s writing is beautiful yet efficient which makes this book incredibly readable. This book isn’t hard sci-fi or filled with timey-wimey time travel, but it is definitely worth a read and it definitely belongs here on this list.
Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan: A family epic about the end of the world and the beginning of something brand new. You had me at hello. This book is similar to Station Eleven in that there are definitely features of post-apocalyptic survival and science fiction, but at its core it is literary fiction about a family.
From a Bison hunter in the Kansas plains to a mute, pregnant girl in a 1975 institution, to 2027 when an engineer builds a floating city above New Orleans, and finally to 2073 where a young woman must decide if she wants to repopulate humanity on Mars. The story explores legacy, motherhood, trauma, the power of connection, and the planet’s imminent collapse.
Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry: The start of a new epic dark fantasy series gets off to a great start with Kagen the Damned.
The title refers to Kagen Vale, captain of the palace guard, who protects the children of the Silver Empire. Disaster strikes one night when he is drugged and the family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. He finds himself damned and abandoned by his gods so he becomes a wanderer driven by taking down his enemies. His quest will take him to strange lands where he battles terrifying creatures on a suicide mission to bring down the usurper, the Witch-king of Hakkia.
Aurora by David Koepp: The title refers to the city of Aurora, Illinois where Aubrey Wheeler is doing her best to get by. Her ex-husband left her and left his teenage son behind. Their lives are changed when the lights go out in Aurora and all around the world. There are many problems and Aubrey must assume the mantle of protector for her neighborhood. Aubrey’s brother Thom lives across the country and is mega-rich. He’s prepared for this and plans to ride out the crisis in his bunker. There is a complicated history between the siblings and the end of the world is just the beginning for what is to come.
Koepp is a screenwriter and he really paints a beautiful picture of this world and how the many people deal with the problems they face. I found this book to not only be an easy read, but a fast-paced and well drawn one.
In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan: Demir Grappo left his life of money and power, and now lives his life as an outcast. He lives in exile, but when his mother is murdered he makes the decision to return to claim his place at the head of the family and find the truth that got his mother killed: that the magic in this world is running out. Now, Demir and his allies will confront that which threatens the empire as they may be the only thing that stands between this and the end of the world.
This book is an epic fantasy, but it is absolutely non-stop. McClellan is great at world-building and there is plenty of action and mystery to go around. In the Shadow of Lightning is the first book in the Glass Immortals series and this is an outstanding beginning to it.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch: Logan Ramsay is a member of a government agency that investigates gene hacking. He knows all too well about the subject thanks to his family’s horrible history. In the near future, gene hacking is illegal and for good reason. Logan has dedicated his life to stopping it, but now he finds that his own genes were hacked.
Now, he’s thinking faster than ever and everything is a little bit sharper. He’s changing in ways that make him something more than human. Ramsay realizes that he is just the first step of a much larger plan and he could be the only one that can stop it.
This book works as a fast-paced thriller as well as a cautionary tale of what our near future may hold as science develops. This is another great work from Crouch that leaves the reader with a lot to think about.
Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove: This alternate history book takes place in 1974 as a marine biology student named Jerry has his life upended by men from government agencies looking for him to join a top secret project in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And they aren’t taking no for an answer.
The project is to raise a Russian sub from the deep, but that is just a cover story. What they are really here to do is find what’s on the ocean floor next to it: an alien spaceship. Jerry is the odd man out here, but he’s the only one who has thought about how human-alien contact might go.
Three Miles Down is a brilliant take on First Contact with a great sense of the time period it is set in. Readers will enjoy the authentic feeling of the 70s as much as the sci-fi elements.
Eversion by Alastair Reynolds: The latest from a legend is a mind-bending adventure across space and time. Doctor Silas Coade is the one that keeps his crew safe. In the 1800s, he was the physician on a sailing ship that crashed off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, he was the physician on a Zepellin that explored Antarctica. In the far future, he was the physician on a spaceship looking for an artifact. Each trip went horribly wrong and Silas is the only one who is noticing that they keep repeating themselves. Now, he sets out to figure out why and stop it from happening again.
Reynolds is better than anyone at mixing the high tech of a space opera with literature and telling a great story. He does a great job of creating confusion at the beginning of the story and slowly revealing what is going on before wrapping things up in a satisfying and surprising way.
Into the Broken Lands by Tanya Huff: In order to save their people, the Heirs of Marsan will enter the Broken Lands. The trip will test the bonds of family and friendship, but they have no choice but to enter. They will trust their lives and the lives of those they protect to someone who shouldn’t exist and can’t be controlled. Someone who will challenge all that they believe about themselves.
This is a hard book to talk about without getting too far into spoiler territory, but I’ll just say that this is a unique adventure tale that takes place in a well-developed world. The characters are well drawn and there is really some excellent world-building here, as has come to be expected from Huff. This book is more intense and violent than a lot of her other works, but it is never gratuitous and serves the story well.
Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen: The story begins with an apartment building called The Dellawisp. The place is in the small town of Mallow Island, South Carolina and is located down a quiet alley.
Zoey Hennessey comes to The Dellawisp after the death of her mother to claim the apartment. She meets the unique neighbors which include a girl on the run, a grieving chef, two sisters, and three ghosts. They all have their own stories, their own longings, and the rest is still unwritten.
One of the neighbors dies mysteriously and Zoey ends up thrust into the mystery. The mystery somehow involves a legendary writer’s missing work and the unfinished stories of the tenants. To move forward they will all need to trust one another, confront their fears, and let go of that which haunts them.
Other Birds is magical realism at its finest as the author deftly balances the line between the real and the imaginary.
Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle: Dr. Sam Anderson wakes up one morning and learns that his lover has been killed. Worse, he and his daughter are the ones been accused and there is plenty of evidence against them. He ends up making a deal to keep his daughter safe and takes the punishment for himself.
In the future, murderers aren’t sent to prison. They are sent to the past, 200 million years ago and into the time of dinosaurs. Sam accepts this fate to keep his daughter Adeline safe, but she doesn’t. Adeline can’t bear to lose her father and sets out to prove him innocent so that he can come back. Everyone says its impossible, but she won’t give up.
The deeper she digs, the more questions she finds. Everyone has a secret and this mystery will stretch across the past, present, and future. Ultimately, it will change everything.
This book can be a lot to keep track of as the time travel elements are rather complex, but they are well worth doing so. The story has multiple layers that just build on one another and then come together in the end to create something beautiful. Another great book from A.G. Riddle.
The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler: The debut novel from Ray Nayler could end up being at the top of my end of the year list for science fiction. It is a wholly original story that I really had a hard time putting down. Nayler’s book gets into thoughts on consciousness and artificial intelligence. It has a big brain, but it never loses sight of its heart.
A dangerous species of hyper intelligent octupus have appeared and marine biologist Dr. Ha Nguyen will do whatever it takes to study them. The tech corporation DIANIMA has sealed off the islands and bring a team, including Dr. Nguyen to the island. The octopuses have their own way of communicating and they could hold the key to some major breakthroughs in extrahuman intelligence.
Everyone is keen to study the octopuses and use them for their own purposes, but nobody bothered to ask them if they wanted to be studied.
The Storyteller's Death by Ann Dávila Cardinal Isla Larsen Sanchez lost her father years ago and her mother began taking her to Puerto Rico where she could stay with her grandmother and great-aunt for the summer. When Isla turns eighteen her grandmother passes away. Her death leads Isla to realize that she has a gift passed down through the generations, the gift of the storyteller.
The tales that family storytellers are brought back to life then replay themselves over and over in front of her. The gift is enchanting at first, but then she gets a darker vision of an old murder that remains unsolved. She comes to the realization that she’ll need to solve it to make the loop end.
The latest from Dávila Cardinal is a book that has a little bit of everything. It’s a powerful story about families that manages to mix in a mystery and some genuine terror. The book is brilliantly written and really has a way of pulling you in.