I’m super excited to take part in this tag created by Naz @ Read Diverse Books!
I’m making this whole thing into a TBR pile enhancer. So none of these books are books I’ve read before (and yes, it’s extremely painful to not shout about some of my favs!).
My mission in this tag was to find an SFF book for every single challenge. And I wanted to see if I could do it without adding YA SFF (which is really doing amazing things now! Seriously I would find like 3 diverse YA books to every 1 adult book when I was hunting around). Adult SFF is my favorite genre. Doing this tag has really helped me diversify my TBR pile in ways I didn’t realize it was lacking before!
I decided to avoid short stories and novellas, and have as many #ownvoices authors as I could find.
I think I succeeded pretty well! I found a lot of books that sound amazing. Overall I’m glad I decided to only list books I haven’t read before–now my TBR is exploding!
If you’ve read one or more of the books on this list, let me know what you thought!
1. Find a book starring a lesbian character.
- Here I found 2 awesome scifi books that I just couldn’t pick between! The main characters of both just sound SO badass.
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.
There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.
But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.
2. Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.
- Okay, this sounds AMAZING. Super different than a lot of fantasy I’ve read before!
- I would have loved to find more Islamic Scifi, but I found it difficult to find books with good rep. Would love some suggestions!
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.
Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.
Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.
Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.
When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time—and struggle against their own misgivings—to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.
3. Find a book set in Latin America.
- This category was difficult for me … I wanted to stay away from magical realism, which is a rich and well-known genre, and see if I could find some pure SFF books. So I’ve got two books here, one a fantasy based on the Aztec Empire, and the second a collection of SFF short stories by Latin American writers!
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette De Bodard
Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Cosmos Latinos edited by Andrea L. Bell & Yolanda Molina-Gavilan
Opening a window onto a fascinating new world for English-speaking readers, this anthology offers popular and influential stories from over ten countries, chronologically ranging from 1862 to the present. Latin American and Spanish science fiction shares many thematic and stylistic elements with anglophone science fiction, but there are important differences: many downplay scientific plausibility, and others show the influence of the region’s celebrated literary fantastic. In the 27 stories included in this anthology, a 16th-century conquistador is re-envisioned as a cosmonaut, Mexican factory workers receive pleasure-giving bio-implants, and warring bands of terrorists travel through time attempting to reverse the outcome of historical events.The introduction examines the ways the genre has developed in Latin America and Spain since the 1700s and studies science fiction as a means of defamiliarizing, and then critiquing, regional culture, history and politics–especially in times of censorship and political repression. The volume also includes a brief introduction to each story and its author, and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary works. Cosmos Latinos is a critical contribution to Latin American, Spanish, popular culture and science fiction studies and will be stimulating reading for anyone who likes a good story.
4. Find a book about a person with a disability.
- I definitely didn’t want to have a book here which “fixes” the protagonist’s disability with magic/advanced tech/etc. And it’s painfully difficult to find one where the protagonist isn’t “fixed” in some way. I would love more recommendations for this category!
The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
This first title in a new trilogy, set in a world of legendary creatures, introduces the least of the lowly–a mute, scarred foundling, unaware of who she is or why she is wandering the dangerous landscape. Fortunately, an old female servant takes her in and protects her. As she grows, she finds friends in this strange land, and together, they set out to find her name, her past, and her future.
5. Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.
- Oh hell yes, my favorite genre plus PoC protags! I couldn’t pick (again), so here are two books I’ve been DYING to read!
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.
Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.
Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.
6. Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.
- Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite authors. Her novel Lagoon was my introduction to Afrofuturism and non-Euro scifi. Here’s one of her books I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I need to get my hands on Binti too!
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.
Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny–to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself.
7. Find a book written by an Indigenous or Native author.
- OK, this has to be one of the best gems I’ve found as part of this tag. What an original look at vampires!
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards (fiction and science fiction) The Gilda Stories is a very American odyssey. Escaping from slavery in the 1850s Gilda’s longing for kinship and community grows over two hundred years. Her induction into a family of benevolent vampires takes her on an adventurous and dangerous journey full of loud laughter and subtle terror.
8. Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).
- Again, I had quite a bit of difficulty here because I was determined to find an #ownvoices author and stay far away from non-#ownvoices books which use South Asian religions and culture as an exotic backdrop, and don’t really connect with the setting. This was infuriatingly difficult, though I did find a LOT of amazing short stories.
The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu
The Simoqin Prophecies marks the debut of an assured new voice. Written with consummate ease and brimming with wit and allusion, it is at once classic SFF and subtle spoof, featuring scantily clad centauresses, flying carpets, pink trolls, belly dancers and homicidal rabbits. Monty Python meets the Ramayana, Alice in Wonderland meets The Lord of the Rings and Robin Hood meets The Arabian Nights in this novel-a breathtaking ride through a world peopled by different races and cultures from mythology and history.
9. Find a book with a biracial protagonist.
- A book I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time since I saw it explode on twitter! The female main character is half-Indian. Can’t wait to read this!
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
10. Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.
- Again, significant difficulties! But here I’ve managed to find two fantasy books which feature trans* characters. The first one features an extremely diverse cast and sounds absolutely amazing. The second is a book I’ve seen around, but I didn’t know it touched on trans* issues until I read some reviews. An interesting take on a Chosen One tale!
Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver
The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire. And trapped inside is an entire population of people with bizarre, beautiful and terrifying abilities – people who really should not have them. When Regan, an anxiety-ridden hitman with the peeling skin of a lizard meets Evelyn, singer, revolutionary, and unofficial superhero, it’s up to them to get to the heart of the mystery of Parole and its quarantined inhabitants. Along with a diverse group of superpowered friends, they will evade a deadly totalitarian police force, discover the truth about their entwining pasts, and together find the strength to survive a cataclysmic disaster.
Chameleon Moon is the first in three books planned for the series. Book 1 sets up the explosive, sweeping story of Parole and the strange, wonderful people who call it home.
The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling
For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne.
Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line — and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace.
As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, the king’s nephew — his sister’s only child — grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, strange, haunted Tobin is the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny.
Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder….