2021 Locus Recommended Reading List

At the start of each year, Locus publishes a consensus list from several editors, columnists etc (like Strahan, Horton, Clarke,…) a list of recommended readings of the last year. If you’re looking for previous years: 2020 is here, and 2019 is here. Now, the new one for year 2021 has just been published.

2021 Locus Recommended Reading List

I don’t copy the whole list, but pick out the sections I’m most interested in (e.g. no YA, Horror, Art). I’ll add links to my reviews over time, and links to online available works where applicable. Consider this a work in progress 🙂


  • A Blessing of Unicorns, Elizabeth Bear (Audible Originals 10/20; Asimov’s 9-10/21)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
  • “Arisudan”, Rimi B. Chatterjee (Mithila Review 3/22/21)
  • Defekt, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom)
  • Fireheart Tiger, Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
  • Sleep and the Soul“, Greg Egan (Asimov’s 9-10/21)
  • Lagoonfire, Francesca Forrest (Annorlunda)
  • “Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma”, R.S.A Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/21)
  • The Album of Dr. Moreau, Daryl Gregory (Tordotcom)
  • A Spindle Splintered, Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)
  • & This is How to Stay Alive, Shingai Njeri Kagunda (Neon Hemlock)
  • “The Dark Ride”, John Kessel (F&SF 1-2/21)
  • In the Watchful City, S. Qiouyi Lu (Tordotcom)
  • And What Can We Offer You Tonight?, Premee Mohamed (Neon Hemlock)
  • The Annual Migration of Clouds, Premee Mohamed (ECW)
  • The Return of the Sorceress, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Subterranean)
  • A Rocket for Dimitrios“, Ray Nayler (Asimov’s 1-2/21)
  • Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor (Tordotcom)
  • “The Abomination”, Nuzo Onoh (F&SF 9-10/21)
  • “Submergence”, Arula Ratnakar (Clarkesworld 3/21)
  • Flowers for the Sea, Zin E. Rocklyn (Tordotcom)
  • The Necessity of Stars, E. Catherine Tobler (Neon Hemlock)
  • The Giants of the Violet Sea”, Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 9-10/21)
  • Comfort Me With Apples, Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • The Past is Red, Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
  • The Secret Skin, Wendy N. Wagner (Neon Hemlock)
  • Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)
  • “A Canticle for Lost Girls”, Isabel Yap (Never Have I Ever)




  • ★★★★★ • The House of Styx • 2020 • SF novel by Derek Künsken • review
  • ★★★★☆ • Inhibitor Phase • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Alastair Reynolds • review
  • ★★★★☆ • Shards of Earth • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Adrian Tchaikovsky • review
  • ★★★☆☆ • Noor • 2021 • Cyberpunk Africanfuturism novel by Nnedi Okorafor •  review 
  • ★★☆☆☆ • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within • 2021 • Space Opera novel by Becky Chambers •  review 
  • The 22 Murders of Madison May, Max Barry (Putnam; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Appleseed, Matt Bell (Custom House)
  • The Horizon, Gautam Bhatia (HarperCollins India)
  • The Actual Star, Monica Byrne (Harper Voyager US)
  • Leviathan Falls, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr (Scribner; Fourth Estate)
  • The Book of All Skies, Greg Egan (Greg Egan)
  • The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey (Tor; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf; Faber & Faber)
  • Firebreak, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Saga)
  • Beyond the Hallowed Sky, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
  • The Second Shooter, Nick Mamatas (Solaris)
  • A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Perhaps the Stars, Ada Palmer (Tor; Ad Astra)
  • We Are Satellites, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley; Ad Astra)
  • Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Norton; Heinemann)
  • Doors of Sleep, Tim Pratt (Angry Robot)
  • You Sexy Thing, Cat Rambo (Tor)
  • Purgatory Mount, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
  • Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber; Scribner)
  • Termination Shock, Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Borough)
  • Invisible Sun, Charles Stross (Tor; Tor UK)
  • Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer (MCD; Fourth Estate)
  • Out Past the Stars, K.B. Wagers (Orbit US; Orbit UK)


  • ★★★+☆☆ • Black Water Sister • 2021 • Urban Fantasy novel by Zen Cho • review
  • ★★☆☆☆ • The Witness for the Dead • 2021 • Gaslight Fantasy novel by  Katherine Addison • review
  • The Wisdom of Crowds, Joe Abercrombie (Orbit US; Gollancz)
  • The Good Neighbours, Nina Allan (Quercus)
  • Light From Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki (Tor)
  • The Blacktongue Thief, Christopher Buehlman (Tor; Gollancz)
  • The Mask of Mirrors, M.A. Carrick (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, Zoraida Córdova (Atria)
  • Honeycomb, Joanne M. Harris (Saga; Gollancz)
  • Sistersong, Lucy Holland (Macmillan; Redhook)
  • Cyber Mage, Saad Z. Hossain (Unnamed)
  • Paladin’s Strength, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
  • Build Your House Around My Body, Violet Kupersmith (Random House; Oneworld)
  • Jade Legacy, Fonda Lee (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Last Graduate, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Del Rey UK)
  • Son of the Storm, Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Peaces, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead; Faber & Faber)
  • The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki (Viking; Canongate)
  • Soulstar, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)
  • Grave Reservations, Cherie Priest (Atria)
  • The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie, M. Rickert (Undertow)
  • All the Murmuring Bones, A.G. Slatter (Titan)
  • The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Memory Theater, Karin Tidbeck (Pantheon)
  • The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon)
  • The Hood, Lavie Tidhar (Ad Astra)
  • No Gods, No Monsters, Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone)
  • The Angels of L19, Jonathan Walker (Weatherglass)
  • The Hidden Palace, Helene Wecker (Harper)
  • Blackthorn Winter, Liz Williams (NewCon)


  • ★★★+☆☆ • A Master of Djinn • 2020 • Steampunk novel by P. Djèlí Clark • review
  • Unity, Elly Bangs (Tachyon)
  • The Unbroken, C.L. Clark (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga)
  • The Witch King, H.E. Edgmon (Inkyard)
  • The Upper World, Femi Fadugba (Penguin UK; HarperTeen)
  • Mrs Death Misses Death, Salena Godden (Canongate)
  • Star Eater, Kerstin Hall (Tordotcom)
  • Bacchanal, Veronica G. Henry (47North)
  • A Girl Called Rumi, Ari Honarvar (Forest Avenue)
  • The All-Consuming World, Cassandra Khaw (Erewhon)
  • Summer Sons, Lee Mandelo (Tordotcom)
  • A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske (Tordotcom; Tor UK)
  • Winter’s Orbit, Everina Maxwell (Tor; Orbit UK)
  • This Thing Between Us, Gus Moreno (MCD x FSG Originals)
  • She Who Became the Sun, Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor; Mantle)
  • The Unraveling, Benjamin Rosenbaum (Erewhon)
  • Root Magic, Eden Royce (Walden Pond)
  • Blood Like Magic, Liselle Sambury (McElderry)
  • This Weightless World, Adam Soto (Astra House)
  • The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo (Tordotcom)
  • Wendy, Darling, A.C. Wise (Titan)
  • On Fragile Waves, E. Lily Yu (Erewhon)


  • ★★★★☆ • The Best of Walter Jon Williams • 2021 • Mixed genre collection by Walter Jon Williams • review
  • ★★★☆☆ • Robot Artists & Black Swans: The Italian Fantascienza Stories • 2021 • SF collection by Bruce Sterling • review
  • The Art of Space Travel and Other Stories, Nina Allan (Titan)
  • Even Greater Mistakes, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Everything in All the Wrong Order: The Best of Chaz Brenchley, ChazBrenchley (Subterranean)
  • Shoggoths in Traffic and Other Stories, Tobias S. Buckell (Fairwood)
  • Spirits Abroad, Zen Cho (Small Beer)
  • The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, Brian Evenson (Coffee House)
  • Big Dark Hole, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer)
  • The Best of Elizabeth Hand, Elizabeth Hand (Subterranean)
  • Six Dreams About the Train and Other Stories, Maria Haskins (Trepidatio)
  • Reconstruction, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Small Beer)
  • The First Law of Thermodynamics, James Patrick Kelly (PM)
  • On the Origin of Species and Other Stories, Bo-Young Kim (Kaya)
  • AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, Kai-Fu Lee & Chen Qiufan (Currency; W.H. Allen)
  • The Truth and Other Stories, Stanisław Lem (The MIT Press)
  • Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, Usman T. Malik (Kitab)
  • Rabbit Island, Elvira Navarro (Two Lines)
  • Walking on Cowrie Shells, Nana Nkweti (Graywolf)
  • The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories, Charles Payseur (Lethe)
  • The Rock Eaters, Brenda Peynado (Penguin)
  • Belladonna Nights and Other Stories, Alastair Reynolds (Subterranean)
  • Alias Space and Other Stories, Kelly Robson (Subterranean)
  • How to Get to Apocalypse and Other Disasters, Erica L. Satifka (Fairwood)
  • Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes (Tordotcom)
  • The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • The Complete Short Fiction of Peter Straub Volumes One and Two, Peter Straub (Borderlands)
  • The Best of Harry Turtledove, Harry Turtledove (Subterranean)
  • The Ghost Sequences, A.C. Wise (Undertow)
  • Never Have I Ever, Isabel Yap (Small Beer)


  • ★★☆☆☆ • Seasons Between Us: Tales of Identities and Memories • 2021 • Anthology by Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law • review
  • We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2020, C.L. Clark & Charles Payseur, eds. (Neon Hemlock)
  • Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Tachyon)
  • The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Thirteen, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Night Shade)
  • When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Titan)
  • Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, ed. (Jembefola)
  • Relics, Wrecks, & Ruins, Aiki Flinthart, ed. (CAT)
  • The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: Volume 2, Paula Guran, ed. (Pyr)
  • Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology, Alex Hernandez, Matthew David Goodwin, & Sarah Rafael García, eds. (Mad Creek)
  • Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices, Swapna Krishna & Jenn Northington, eds. (Vintage)
  • Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future, Gideon Lichfield, ed. (The MIT Press)
  • Sinopticon, Xueting Christine Ni (Solaris)
  • Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness, dave ring, ed. (Neon Hemlock)
  • The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021, Veronica Roth & John Joseph Adams, eds. (Mariner)
  • The Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction: Volume 2, Tarun K. Saint, ed. (Hachette India)
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction Volume 2, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Saga)
  • The Best of World SF: Volume 1, Lavie Tidhar, ed. (Head of Zeus)


  • Yesterday’s Tomorrows, Mike Ashley (British Library Publishing)
  • The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination, Philip Ball (University of Chicago Press)
  • Remainders of the American Century, Brent Ryan Bellamy (Wesleyan University Press)
  • The Anthropocene Unconscious, Mark Bould (Verso)
  • After Human: A Critical History of the Human in Science Fiction from Shelley to Le Guin, Thomas Connolly (Liverpool University Press)
  • Roger Zelazny, F. Brett Cox (University of Illinois Press)
  • Occasional Views Volume 1: “More About Writing” and Other Essays, Samuel R. Delany (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1945: Immigrants in the Golden Age, Valerie Estelle Frankel (Lexington)
  • Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw, Hua Li (University of Toronto Press)
  • Gothic: An Illustrated History, Roger Luckhurst (Thames and Hudson; Princeton University Press)
  • Pocket Workshop: Essays on living as a writer, Tod McCoy & M. Huw Evans, eds. (Hydra House)
  • Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre, eds. (PM)
  • Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color, Joy Sanchez-Taylor (Ohio State University Press)
  • Michael Bishop and the Persistence of Wonder: A Critical Study of the Writings, Joe Sanders (McFarland)
  • You Are Not Your Writing & Other Sage Advice, Angela Slatter (Brain Jar)
  • Disputing the Deluge: Collected 21st-Century Writings on Utopia, Narration, and Survival, Darko Suvin (Bloomsbury Academic)
  • The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the World, Claire Tomalin (Penguin)
  • All of the Marvels, Douglas Wolk (Penguin; Profile)
This entry was posted in Anthology, Fantasy, Science Fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 2021 Locus Recommended Reading List

  1. It’s too much! Too much for one human to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I were able to read all the fiction in the Locus Recommended list but, even with the help of a time-turner, I could never!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The kind of threat you pose to our TBRs should be labeled a crime! 😀 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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