The best sci-fi and fantasy books new for fall 2021

It’s been a tough summer. COVID hasn’t gone away, and it often feels like we’re stuck not only inside, but in the wrong timeline. With fall approaching, there’s a whole bunch of new books coming to stores, and it’s a good time to escape into the pages of a new world and a new adventure.

The next couple of months bring both to shelves: there’s the opportunity to jump into some familiar — but maybe not so familiar — worlds with some new Alien and Star Wars books, the rise and fall of empires with some new fantasy adventures, and some tales about the coming futures that might be in front of us before we know it.

Here are 16 new science-fiction and fantasy novels coming out this fall to add to your to-read list.


The Nature of Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien  book cover

Image: Mariner Books

The Nature of Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Carl F. Hostetter

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A Science Fiction And Fantasy Reader’s Guide : Life Kit : NPR

Photograph of a person reading a book in a dark room. The book is emitting light.
Photograph of a person reading a book in a dark room. The book is emitting light.

If reading fiction is an exercise in empathy, a way for you to see the world through someone else’s eyes, then reading science fiction and fantasy ups the ante. You still see through someone else’s eyes, but the world you’re seeing could be a distant planet, an alternate timeline, a land of magic and mystery, or maybe, our own familiar world, just … tweaked a bit. Also, that someone else might have four eyes, or eight, or none at all. I’m Glen Weldon, one of the hosts of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, and we’re teaming up with Life Kit for a beginner’s guide to science fiction and fantasy, so I’m joined by NPR Books editor Petra Mayer, who’s just a little bit of a sci-fi and fantasy fan.

People have a lot of preconceived ideas about sci-fi and fantasy — that it’s for nerds, that it’s just about spaceships

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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Releases: September 2021

On a pink and purple background, an illustration of a woman in black with large black wings looks over her shoulder.

Steelstriker by Marie Lu
Image: Roaring Brook Press

This month we’ve got stories galore to keep you entertained as the seasons change. Read on for kingdoms in rebellion, magical murder mysteries, space shenanigans, parallel dimensions, vampires, a new Dune novel, haunted houses (and forests and lakes), short-story collections, and so much more.


Image for article titled September Is Here, and So Are 63 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

Image: Thomas & Mercer

Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons

In a world where human cloning exists, albeit only for the wealthy, a young woman who’s gifted her own clone experiences an anomaly during a routine consciousness upload…and then wakes up as her clone after her original self is murdered. Can she figure out who’s responsible before she’s murdered again? (September 1)

Image for article titled September Is Here, and So Are 63 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

Image: Mariner Books

The Nature of Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien and Carl F. Hostetter

This new collection edited by Tolkien expert Carl F. Hostetter

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Let’s talk about science fiction and fantasy books that would make for great TV

Lavie: No science fiction writer was ever as weird, as brilliant and as unjustly neglected, perhaps, as Cordwainer Smith. It was the pen name of Paul Linebarger, a godson of Sun Yat-sen, an expert on psychological warfare and a self-described “visitor to small wars” — come to think of it, his life would make a good show! When Smith turned to science fiction, he created the most vivid, strange and fascinating far-future world — a world where the planet Norstrilia grows the immortality drug stroon from giant, diseased sheep. Where the underpeople — animals given human shape and intelligence and living as servants — are fomenting revolution against the Lords of the Instrumentality. It’s a world where cats pilot spaceships, ancient computers tell fortunes and a dog called D’joan can become the messiah. There was nothing like it in the 1960s. There is nothing like it now. You can

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