I’ve spent the past two years giving book recommendations of new releases. And now it’s December (apparently this year is still happening), and I’m exhausted. So, I’m embracing the chaos and choosing books the way we think about them, not pegged to a specific release but for what we need right now. For example, at this moment all I want is to escape this earthly plane and do some thrill-seeking without having to leave my bed. (Don’t worry, I’m okay.)
If you’re like me and ready to leap into the holidays with an adventure featuring a motley crew and a dash of magic, check out this playlist featuring a mix of recent and not-so-recent space fantasies.
This second installment in the Salvagers series dropped in December and is set in a galaxy powered by magical technology where two women from opposite ends of the socioeconomic scale are brought together: Nilah Brio, a rich kid hotshot racecar driver, and Elizabeth “Boots” Elsworth, a drunk treasure hunter running from a tragic past. The women are pulled into an intergalactic conspiracy that involves murder, killer robots and an evil cult. White’s novels are best consumed by just letting them happen to you; inconsistencies and improbabilities fade away as you cavort with Boots, Nilah and their unlikely crew through heist after heist. After two books, I found the affection between the crew members genuine and moving and was happy to spend a few more nights curled up with them. (Related note to authors: Please write more heists.)
Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples
There’s a good reason this comic book series has ended up on so many superlative lists. The story follows Alana and Marko, star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of a galactic war. Despite being different species, they conceive a child, forcing them to go on the run, fleeing journalists, mercenaries and the authorities. Nine volumes have given Vaughan and Staples the chance to dig into the nuances of every character and craft a rich community in a lush world. The duo are currently on hiatus, so now is the time to catch up.
by K.B. Wagers
This one has the political machinations of a high-fantasy drama and the action adventure high jinks of Star Wars. The series was completed in 2017 (and I reviewed the second in the trilogy in 2016). Wagers’s books follow Hail Bristol, an older female heroine who is the reluctant savior of the galaxy. In the first novel, “Behind the Throne,” Bristol is one of the most feared gunrunners in the galaxy. But 20 years ago, she was the runaway princess of the Indranan empire. After her family is murdered, she is called back home as the sole heir to the throne — and possibly the only person who can quell an intergalactic war. She must rely on her hard-won gunrunner skills and her crew to survive.
This classic series is a little like “Canterbury Tales” for science fiction fans. Set in the 28th century, it follows a group of seven people making a pilgrimage by space treeship (there’s one in “Saga” too!) to a moon called Hyperion. Over the course of the journey, the travelers take turns telling their life stories, weaving a rich history of their world and their connection to each other. This is the most ambitious of the list, but it’s well worth picking up the entire series of four novels and three short stories. It all depends on just how much escaping you need.
Everdeen Mason is an audience editor and science fiction and fantasy columnist at The Washington Post.