Disclaimer: Some of the links in this list of 2020 sci-fi and fantasy books are affiliate links. If you click them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision of whether or not to buy something is completely up to you.
When the pandemic hit, some 2020 sci-fi and fantasy books may have fallen through the cracks. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably 84 years behind on your TBR. But it’s okay, because as 2021 comes to an end, now is the perfect time to discover the books you missed when the pandemic started.
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
McLemore creates a haunting and beautiful fairytale retelling with their story about Rosella Oliva and Emil. A pair of red shoes attach themselves to Rosella’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. Emil reveals the history of the village’s ancestors who once danced themselves to death in those same shoes, and how his family was blamed for it five centuries before.
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Onyebuchi combines the magic of fantasy with the science fiction of dystopian novels. Brother and sister Ella and Kev have supernatural powers that help them navigate a world built on brutality and racism. When Kev is imprisoned simply for being a black man in America, Ella tries to lead her brother to a revolution that can undo the world as they know it.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
This was one of my favorite among the 2020 sci-fi and fantasy books published. Thomas takes their place among the queer young adult book canon. In this YA fantasy, Yadriel, a Latinx brujo wants to prove his place to his family that can’t accept his gender. But when he summons the ghost of Julian Diaz, the school’s bad boy, he can’t get rid of him. After spending time with him though, he’s not sure he wants to. You can see my full review here.
Docile by K.M. Szpara
In Szpara’s dystopian sci-fi novel, Dociles are the new slaves. These unfortunate individuals find themselves in dire straits and need to find a way to survive and provide for their children’s future. But the true horror of this science fiction novel is its all too real resonance with today’s life. It’s a promising read to add to the queer sci-fi canon.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Roanhorse has earned her place among indigenous authors of renown. With this fantasy novel inspired by Ancestral Puebloan culture, she sets off the Between Earth and Sky trilogy. Featuring a matriarchy, rebel uprising, dark magic and political intrigue, this fantasy series is sure to satiate fans of the genre.
A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen
For sci-fi lovers with a taste for the post-apocalyptic, Chen’s novel fits the wheelhouse. After an epidemic wipes out a large chunk of Earth’s population, the rest are left to rebuild. This splits the world into factions of self-governed cities, gangs in the wastelands and communes for the free-loving. It’s a free-for-all that sci-fi readers will love.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
Featuring queer librarians who act as spies in the American Southwest working for a rebellion against fascists and bandits, Gailey’s LGBTQ+ fantasy is sure to hit all the right notes this coming year. Esther fell in love with her best friend before they killed her for possessing propaganda from the resistance. When her father betrothed her to the man once engaged to her best friend, she stowed away in a librarian’s wagon.
You can find all the books mentioned here on my Bookshop page.