This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Magical Spies, Godhunters, and Ash-Kicking Dragonfighters

Ash Kickers, by Sean Grigsby
Last year, Sean Grigsby’s debut novel Smoke Eaters totally delivered on a truly brilliant setup: what would it like to be a part of a magically gifted firefighting force battling blazes set by dragons in an alternate modern-day world? The sequel, Ash Kickers, doubles down and raises the stakes. Ex-firefighter Cole Brennigan and his “Smoke Eaters” have managed to protect their city from the circling dragons, placing them under lock and key with the help of newly developed technology courtesy of Canada. Though that’s a good thing for the general population, it’s a bad thing for adrenaline-junkie firefighters like Tamerica Williams, who thrives on the charge she gets from battling dragon-set blazes. Unfortunately when she’s presented with the fresh challenge she’s looking for, it might be more than even she can handle: a phoenix is now swooping over the metropolis, and every time it is eliminated, it just comes back, badder than ever (as phoenixes are wont to do). The fires burn hotter and the action is more furious on our second visit to this unusual urban fantasy universe.

Null Set, by S.L. Huang
The sequel to S.L. Huang’s propulsive 2018 debut Zero Sum Game is another mind-trip of a thriller starring math genius mercenary Cas Russell, who can use numbers to McGuyver her way out of any jam. She’s now wholly devoted herself to fighting bad guys, but having a mission doesn’t mean she’s over her issues—namely, dealing with the revelation that she’s not the person she thought she was (thanks to a bit of bad news brainwashing courtesy of nefarious forces still aligned against her). Beset by questionable memories, she begins to doubt everyone she once thought she could trust, and in the process makes some new enemies among L.A.’s crime bosses. It’s a sci-fi thriller that will make you feel smarter and give your pulse rate a kick.

Eye Spy, by Mercedes Lackey 
In the sequel to The Hills Have Spies, a spycrafty extension of Mercedes Lackey’s beloved Valdemar series, the daughter of Heralds Mags and Amily of Valdemar wants nothing more than to follow in her parents’ footsteps. But Abidela doesn’t have a Gift—until she senses a disaster moments before it strikes and saves many lives, including her bestie Princess Katiana. Abi is claimed as an apprentice by both the Artificers and the Healers, and her training reveals heretofore unknown aspects of her power that might make her the most powerful and effective spy the realm has ever known. But with no secret hidden enough to elude her—a fact that carries great consequences both for her and for the entire kingdom of Valdemar.

David Mogo, Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
The gods, called orisha, have fallen to earth, and the city of Lagos is under threat. Demigod David Mogo has long buried his origins, but in order to defend his family and friends from this deific threat, he steps forward to fight and make alliances with both humans and gods, seeking to capture two of the most powerful celestials and deliver them to the wizard Lukmon Ajala. But even a demigod has his work cut out for him when going up against thousands of fallen gods. For David, saving his beloved city and those closest to him will be anything but easy in this unusual urban fantasy debut.

Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Venerable science fiction and fantasy editor Jonathan Strahan’s latest anthology is built around a nail-biting theme: these are SF stories about the fragility of life and the dangers that await us out in the black of space, where only a thin layer of man-made metal protects us from the utter void. When things go wrong and lives are on the line, there are only moments to act—and any mistake will mean the end. Featured authors include Peter F. Hamilton, Yoon Ha Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Greg Egan, Linda Nagata, Tobias S. Buckell, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Peter Watts, and more.

Age of Legend, by Michael J. Sullivan
The penultimate installment of the Legends of the First Empire saga continues to explore the distant past of the world of Michael J. Sullivan’s beloved Riyria novels. The Fhrey, once worshipped as gods, have proven to be mortal and vulnerable, and the humans are eager to defeat their former masters. Yet on the cusp of victory, a betrayal threatens to destroy everything they’ve fought for, and a final, desperate plan must be launched, hinging upon an old tale of a witch, a story told in song, and a deceptively everyday garden door. This action-filled adventure fantasy series sets the stage for a no-doubt thrilling conclusion in next February’s Age of Death.

Salvation Day, by Kali Wallace
The immense exploration ship House of Wisdom was abandoned by Earth years ago in the wake of the devastation wrought by a deadly virus that killed all but one of the crew on board. The ship sits dark and empty—but Zahra and her people intend to claim it and use it to go home, to their salvation. In order to access the ship, they’ll have to kidnap the lone survivor of the incident in order to use their DNA for access—but that’s the least of their problems. Because House of Wisdom contains something much worse than a virus—something that Zahra and the other are about to awaken. This sci-fi horror thriller looks do outdo the scares of Alien, and comes damn close.

What new sci-fi & fantasy books are on your list this week?

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