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The best new science fiction & fantasy and romance every month

For years, I’ve hemmed and hawed about how to cover genre fiction more consistently. As our readers know, we do well by mysteries and thrillers (every Monday), but other popular genres have received only sporadic attention from Book World.

Of course, we’ll never be able to satisfy the thirst of the most devoted fans, but I’m pleased to announce the introduction of two new monthly roundups dedicated to some of the most popular fiction in the country: science fiction & fantasy and romance. Each month, critics will present their favorite three new novels in these genres.

Our first sf & fantasy columnist, Nancy Hightower, began two weeks ago (you can read her first roundup here). Hightower, who has a PhD in English, has been teaching writing and rhetoric for almost 20 years, while publishing poetry, criticism and speculative fiction. She has an engaging style and a deep appreciation for sf. “Science fiction challenges me to think about the relationship of technology and the environment,” she says. “It sets me on private pilgrimages, gets me to consider alternate pasts, and asks me why I believe what I do.”

Our first romance columnist is the best-selling novelist Sarah MacLean. (Her “Rogue by Any Other Name” won a RITA Award in 2013.) “Romance has always been my go-to genre as a reader,” she says. “At its best, it’s the perfect escape. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s the story of life’s important qualities: love, of course, but also passion, and beauty and strength. Add to it the fact that it’s a genre written by women, for women and about women, and how could I not want to write it?” And — we’re happy to say — write about it. Sarah’s first roundup appears in today’s Washington Post.

You won’t hear anyone breaking into Klingon or sniffing, “People who like this sort of thing, might like this.” The critics who write these monthly best-of roundup columns for us will strive to welcome curious readers while also speaking to fans well-versed in the conventions of the genres. Over the course of the year, they’ll help you find a few dozen of the very best titles.