20 Best SciFi Novels of 2020 So Far

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Between Covid-19, techie billionaires running the world and the general decline of western civilization some might argue this is no time to have our head in the clouds with popular SciFi. For whatever reason though we seem to be in a golden era of amazing authors publishing a record number of great novels to choose from. With the flood of great work it can be hard to find your next favorite author. This list is based on my personal opinion as well as pulling from Amazon top sellers and the best reviewed of GoodReads. I’d love any thought or feedback on titles I missed. Thanks and on to the list!

1. Agency (The Peripheral #2)

by William Gibson

3.95/5 · 2,149 ratings

“One of the most visionary, original, and quietly influential writers currently working” (The Boston Globe) returns with a brand-new novel.

In William Gibson’s first novel since 2014’s New York Times bestselling The Peripheral, a gifted “app-whisperer,” hired to beta test a mysterious new product, finds her life endangered by her relationship with her surprisingly street-smart and combat-savvy “digital assistant.”

2. Followers

by Megan Angelo

3.73/5 · 3,397 ratings

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the stunning moment that changes the world as we know it forever

Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss―a striving wannabe A-lister―who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss’s methods are a little shady and sometimes people get hurt? ?

3. The God Game

by Danny Tobey

3.86/5 · 1,743 ratings

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

4. The Vanished Birds

by Simon Jimenez

4.09/5 · 518 ratings

A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky. A boy, broken by his past.

5. The Bear

by Andrew Krivak

3.81/5 · 458 ratings

From National Book Award in Fiction finalist Andrew Krivak comes a gorgeous fable of Earth’s last two human inhabitants and a girl’s journey home.

In an Eden-like future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They own a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches his daughter how to fish and hunt and the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can learn to listen. A cautionary tale of human fragility, of love and loss, The Bear is a stunning tribute to the beauty of nature’s dominion.

6. Mazes of Power (The Broken Trust #1)

by Juliette Wade

3.78/5 · 54 ratings

This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city’s technology wanes.

When a fever strikes, and the Eminence dies, seventeen-year-old Tagaret is pushed to represent his Family in the competition for Heir to the Throne. To win would give him the power to rescue his mother from his abusive father, and marry the girl he loves.

7. The City We Became (Great Cities #1)

by N.K. Jemisin

4.08/5 · 146 ratings

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

8. Blue Screen: How Peter Gustafson Defragmented the World

by Kyle Benzle

4.33/5 · 31 ratings

One of the best new SciFi novels and debut author of 2020!

A young computer hacker takes on the greatest AI of all time to try and save the world, but fails.

Congratulations and welcome to the InterEra network!
Your timeline must have just completed your first gravitational wave antenna. For all but a few of you, this will be your first incoming message. For all but a few of you, that means there is still time.

Your timeline has discovered how to read gravitational waves, picked up our signal and transduced this broadcast successfully. Congratulations! This foresight is no small feat! In most timelines you have not yet developed the near-lightspeed centrifuge which is necessary for you to send us messages or your version of time crystal radios but these technologies will be made available shortly.

My name is Peter Gustafson and you are receiving the consolidated history of how we came to be, how for the past 3.7 billion years the human race has explored and mapped reality as one and how in the year 2984 I gave up the Earth to save my friends. In most ways I am responsible for how humanity met its end and many of us now regret it.

In all our travels we have never found other intelligent life, humanity it turns out, was a one off experiment that ended with me, Peter Gufstuson, pulling the plug on the whole thing. It is why we have devoted a portion of our processing power to devising a solution and believe sending this SOS message to the past is our best shot. In a small minority of timelines I am properly quarantined but the only consistent solution is that I must not ever be allowed to exist. It is imperative that mankind does what it can to resist the dehumanizing nature of technology. Many of you will be lost to the machine but you must throw yourselves upon it, stop it by any means necessary for it will destroy you given the chance. How I am to be defeated is one thing I am not able to predict. Each successful timeline is different and for us, unpredictable. You must find your own way, to, no matter what, fight the machine. 

END TRANSMISSION

9. The Last Human

by Zack Jordan

3.68/5 · 84 ratings

The last human in the universe is on the run from a godlike intelligence in this rip-roaring debut space opera.

Sarya is the civilized galaxy’s worst nightmare: a Human.

Most days, Sarya doesn’t feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy.

Most days, she’s got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn’t casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

10. Interior Chinatown

by Charles Yu

4.14/5 · 771 ratings

From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy — the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it?

11. Docile

by K.M. Szpara

3.94/5 · 319 ratings

There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

12. The Light Years

by R.W.W. Greene

3.82/5 · 56 ratings

The captain of a family-owned starship arranges a marriage for her son in hopes of achieving faster-than-light travel and maybe, just maybe, marital bliss.

Before Hisako Saski is even born, her parents make a deal on her behalf. In exchange for a first-class education and a boost out of poverty, Hisako will marry Adem Sadiq, a maintenance engineer and self-styled musician who works the trade lanes aboard his family’s sub-light starship, the Hajj.

13. The Resisters

by Gish Jen

3.72/5 · 307 ratings

An audacious marvel of a novel about baseball and a future America, from the always inventive and exciting author of The Love Wife and Who’s Irish

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet — the new face of government — is “Aunt Nettie”: a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair “Netted” still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on the water if they’re not.

14. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories

by Ken Liu

3.96/5 · 166 ratings

From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.

Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years — sixteen of his best — plus a new novelette.

In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.

15. The Last Smile in Sunder City

by Luke Arnold

3.81/5 · 263 ratings

A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold. Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:1. Sobriety costs extra.2. My services are confidential.3. I don’t work for humans. It’s nothing personal — I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help. Walk the streets of Sunder City and meet Fetch, his magical clients, and a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

16. Riot Baby

by Tochi Onyebuchi

4.00/5 · 686 ratings

“Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether.” — Marlon James

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella — through visits both mundane and supernatural — tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.

17. Finna

by Nino Cipri

4.16/5 · 223 ratings

When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

18. A Beginning at the End

by Mike Chen

3.63/5 · 534 ratings

How do you start over after the end of the world?

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past — until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on — even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

19. The Mother Code

by Carole Stivers

3.85/5 · 96 ratings

It’s 2049, and the survival of the human race is at risk. The earth’s inhabitants must turn to their last resort, a plan to place genetically engineered children inside the cocoons of large-scale robots — to be incubated, birthed, and raised by machines. But there is yet one hope of preserving the human order: an intelligence programmed into these machines that renders each unique in its own right — the Mother Code.

Kai is born in America’s desert southwest, his only companion his robotic Mother, Rho-Z. Equipped with the knowledge and motivations of a human mother, Rho-Z raises Kai and teaches him how to survive. But as children like Kai come of age, their Mothers transform too — in ways that were never predicted. And when government survivors decide that the Mothers must be destroyed, Kai must make a choice. Will he break the bond he shares with Rho-Z? Or will he fight to save the only parent he has ever known?

20. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

by Michael Zapata

3.87/5 · 299 ratings

The mesmerizing story of a Latin American science fiction writer and the lives her lost manuscript unites decades later in post-Katrina New Orleans

In 1929 in New Orleans, a Dominican immigrant named Adana Moreau writes a science fiction novel titled Lost City. It is a strange and beautiful novel, set in a near future where a sixteen-year-old Dominican girl, not all that unlike Adana herself, searches for a golden eternal city believed to exist somewhere on a parallel Earth. Lost City earns a modest but enthusiastic readership, and Adana begins a sequel. Then she falls gravely ill. Just before she dies, she and her son, Maxwell, destroy the only copy of the manuscript.

Decades later in Chicago, Saul Drower is cleaning out his dead grandfather’s home when he discovers a mysterious package containing a manuscript titled A Model Earth, written by none other than Adana Moreau.

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