clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A collage images of books previewed in this piece Graphic: Pete Volk/Polygon | Image sources: Tor; Harper Collins; Bloomsbury Publishing; Orbit; Macmillan; Simon and Schuster

Filed under:

17 upcoming sci-fi and fantasy books to look forward to in 2022

New books from Tolkien, King, and many more

Have you ever wondered why so many highly anticipated books come out in the fall every year? It turns out, readers buy the most books between Labor Day and Christmas — and science fiction and fantasy are no exception. This fall is packed with new releases from N.K. Jemisin, Stephen King, S.A. Chakraborty, Brandon Sanderson, Neon Yang, Alan Moore, C.L. Polk, Mary Robinette Kowal, and even… J.R.R. Tolkien? (In a manner of speaking, yes.)

Here are our 17 most anticipated science fiction and fantasy books hitting shelves between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (Sept. 6)

Cover image for Stephen King’s fairy tale, with two figures standing on cobblestone. Image: Simon and Schuster

At some point in the early days of the pandemic, Stephen King reportedly asked himself, “What could you write that would make you happy?” The resulting novel, Fairy Tale, is about a high school athlete named Charlie Reade. When Charlie starts doing odd jobs for a reclusive old man, he discovers a portal to another world — “a vast deserted city” and a “sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds.”

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Sept. 13)

Cover art for Tamsyn Muir’s Nona the Ninth, featuring a person with long hair in front of a dog and some skeletons. Image: Tor Publishing

Everyone’s favorite space necromancers are back in the third installment of Muir’s Locked Tomb series. On the heels of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth, the interplanetary saga of the Nine Houses pivots to a woman named Nona, who recently woke up in a new body with no memory of her life before. She was originally going to be a character in the final book of a planned trilogy, Alecto the Ninth, but according to Carl Engle-Laird (Muir’s editor at Tordotcom), Nona “could not be contained, and demanded her own volume,” which will make Alecto the Ninth the fourth and (for now) final book in fall 2023.

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma (Sept. 13)

Cover image for Bliss Montage by Ling Ma, with oranges in plastic wrapping Image: Macmillan

The author of one of the best novels of the 2010s — Severance (no, not the show) — returns with a brilliant short story collection that straddles many different genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, all the while staying grounded in everyday realism. For a sneak peek, check out “Peking Duck” in The New Yorker or “Office Hours” in The Atlantic.

Lark Ascending by Silas House (Sept. 27)

Cover image of Lark Ascending by Silas House, with a rainbow colored waterfall Image: Workman Publishing

House’s dystopian seventh novel is a clever reversal of the Irish migration to America during the potato famine of the 1840s. In the near future, as the United States succumbs to wildfires, a family of American refugees flees across the Atlantic to Ireland, “the last country not yet overrun by extremists.” Of course, things are never what they seem when protagonists seek a safe haven in an apocalypse.

The Famous Magician by César Aira (Sept. 27)

Cover image for The Famous Magician by Cesar Aira, featuring an arm and a hat in a painted image. Image: New Directions

Aira’s short books are the literary equivalent of a Périgord black truffle — small, rich delicacies worth savoring and contemplating. This 48-page novelette is about an aging writer in Buenos Aires who stumbles upon a magician in a book market. The magician, Ovando, presents the writer with a “devil’s bargain”: omnipotent power in exchange for never reading or writing again.

The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang (Sept. 27)

Cover image of Neon Yang’s The Gensis of Misery, with a humanlike figure posed in front of an alienlike figure in space Image: Macmillan

After earning Nebula and Hugo award nominations for their Tensorate series novella, The Black Tides of Heaven, Yang is back with their first full-length novel. The Genesis of Misery reimagines Joan of Arc as a space-fantasy warrior named Misery Nomaki, who hears the voice of an angel in their head. It’s also the first book in a new series called the Nullvoid Chronicles.

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (Oct. 4)

Cover image for Ray Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, featuring an illustrated octopus-like figure with symbols at the end of each “tentacle” Image: Macmillan

Have you been waiting your entire life for a novel about humans discovering a civilization of octopi? The wait is over! In Nayler’s debut, a marine biologist travels to an isolated Vietnamese archipelago to study a new (deadly) cephalopod species with off-the-charts intelligence. But in true Michael Crichton fashion, a tech company has already purchased the islands and evacuated the locals — and it’s got its own agenda for the octopi.

Illuminations by Alan Moore (Oct. 11)

Cover image for Alan Moore’s Illuminations, with an image of what looks like wispy sideways blue mountain peaks Image: Bloomsbury

This is the first-ever short story collection from Alan Moore, best known for writing comic books like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and Batman: The Killing Joke. More than 40 years in the making, some of these stories have never been published before, and they bounce between genres with glee. There are ghosts, sorcerers, creatures, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and a long novella, “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” that fictionalizes the history of comic books.

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal (Oct. 11)

Cover image for Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man, featuring two figures standing in front of a bar with a dog sitting next to them Image: Tor Publishing

Tor is billing this as “The Thin Man in space.” The Spare Man is a mystery set on a luxurious, interplanetary cruise ship from the author of The Calculating Stars, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel in 2019. When her spouse is arrested for murder on their honeymoon, the heiress-inventor Tesla Crane decides to investigate the crime herself.

The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty (Oct. 11)

Cover image for S.A. Chakraborty’s River of Silver, showing a waterfall with a spacelike backdrop Image: HarperCollins

Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy — The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold — is among the most celebrated fantasy series of the century so far. This book of stories is set in the same universe, and features new characters, old characters, and never-before-seen material that broadens the scope of the world.

The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake (Oct. 25)

Cover image for Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Paradox, with geometric shapes on it Image: Tor Publishing

Blake’s self-published series starter, The Atlas Six, absolutely blew up on TikTok last year like few books have before or since. After becoming a viral sensation, Tor picked it up (and the rest of the planned trilogy). In December 2021, Amazon announced a forthcoming TV adaptation of the series, and now the second novel is hitting shelves on Oct. 15. It will continue following the six magicians who joined the Alexandrian Society, a secret organization dedicated to guarding lost knowledge passed down from ancient civilizations.

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin (Nov. 1)

Cover image for N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make, with a black-and-white apartment building that has colorful octopus-like graffiti on it Image: Orbit

Who can forget 2020’s The City We Became, Jemisin’s mold-breaking novel about five people who become living avatars of the boroughs of New York? This sequel will complete the Great Cities duology, as the New York avatars team up with other cities around the world to defeat “the Enemy” and her puppet: a mayoral candidate hellbent on making New York whiter and wealthier.

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (Nov. 8)

Cover image for Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk, featuring a couple kissing with their faces obscured by birds. Image: Tor

Polk, who won a World Fantasy Award for their debut novel Witchmark in 2019, reimagines midcentury Chicago as a breeding ground for “divine monsters” and serial killers, like the White City Vampire. Even Though I Knew the End is also a noir romance between a magical detective and the woman she loves, as well as a supernatural murder mystery.

The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson (Nov. 15)

The cover for Brandon Sanderson’s The Lost Metal, featuring two figures — one dual-weilding pistols, the other with a hat and a cane. Image: Tor

Sanderson’s original Mistborn trilogy is widely considered one the best fantasy series ever written. The Lost Metal is the fourth and final book in the follow-up Wax and Wayne tetralogy, set 300 years after the events of the trilogy. Confused yet? Welcome to the Cosmere.

Africa Risen edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight (Nov. 15)

The cover for Africa Risen, featuring a Black person whose hair is blending in with green growth behind them, wearing a colorfully painted outfit that looks like a space suit Image: Tor

This anthology features 32 science fiction and fantasy stories from African writers living on the continent and of the diaspora, including Tananarive Due, Tobias S. Buckell, Ytasha L. Womack, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, and Wole Talabi. Expect plenty of cyborgs, spirits, robots, djinn, and a rain goddess.

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse (Nov. 15)

Cover art for Rebecca Roanhorse’s Tread of Angels, featuring a gold feather Image: Saga Press

Tread of Angels has a really unique combination of setting and premise: In 1883, a mining town in the Colorado mountains experiences a gold rush when a new element called Divinity is discovered beneath the earth. But this isn’t our Colorado — it’s home to the descendants of demons and angels, many years after an ancient war.

The Fall of Númenor by J.R.R. Tolkien (Nov. 15)

Cover image of The Fall of Numenor, featuring a city about to get wiped out by a tidal wave Image: HarperCollins

Fans of Prime Video’s The Rings of Power will eat up this newly expanded collection of writings about the Second Age of Middle-earth (the period of time covered by the new TV series), including Tolkien’s “Atlantis” myth set in the island kingdom of Númenor, the rise of Sauron, and the forging of the rings of power.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon