21 SFF Backlist Titles to Read in 2021

I wanted to increase the amount of backlist titles this year, and while I didn’t read nearly as many as I wanted (that were on my TBR), I did read a number that weren’t published in 2020!

Here are 21 backlist titles that I need (really want) to read in 2021! And…maybe one or two bonus titles!

Let Me Take a Moment to Congratulate Myself for 2020

I did read some of my long-time TBR lurkers, and had a couple re-reads too! Plus, I finished a trilogy that had been unfinished since…2017. So congrats to me!

The Sequels I Kinda Probably Should Read Already

Most, if not all, of these series were started well before 2020, and I still have not finished them. One of them I even started in high school, which was…over 15 years ago. All of these are series that have already ended and I either own or can get copies of them from the library. I need to finish what I started!

  • Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso
  • Kingdom of Gods by NK Jemisin
  • Stone Sky by NK Jemisin
  • Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Sea and Sand by Alex Liddell
  • Fray by Rowenna Miller
  • Summer Queen by Joan D Vinge

New Year, New Books, New…Me?

Some of these have been on my TBR for quite a while, while others were recent(ish) additions. I want to read them all in 2021, but let’s be real: despite reading a lot of books, I tended to get sucked in to the shiny new releases. With a lot of must-reads from 2020 still unread and a mass of 2021 releases to enjoy, these might find themselves on my back-burner yet again. Much shame, I know.

  • Deadline by Stephanie Ahn. Disgraced witch Harrietta Lee has made a lot of mistakes in her life; there’s a reason she’s got a sizable burn scar slapped across the side of her neck and a formal letter of excommunication from the international underground magical community. It’s about a butch lesbian with BDSM and magic, and um, yes please!
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Childhood friends Patricia Delfine, a witch, and Laurence Armstead, a mad scientist, parted ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. I am intrigued, I am entranced, I must read this in 2021.
  • Semiosis by Sue Burke. Forced to land on a planet they aren’t prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. I don’t normally read really weird SF, but after reading and loving Chana Porter’s The Seep, I thought that this might be a lovely segue.
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I tried reading the graphic novel adaptation of this classic, but it was an unfinished ARC and I quickly found I was missing something. I want to read this, because Butler is incredible.
  • Traitor Baru by Seth Dickinson. To be honest I’m on the fence with this one, mainly because of the homophobia/transphobia rumors I’ve heard swirling around it.
  • Jaran by Kate Elliott. In the future, Earth is just one of the planets ruled by the vast Chapalii empire. The volatility of these alien overlords is something with which Tess Soerensen is all too familiar. Her brother, Charles, rebelled against them at one time and was rewarded by being elevated into their interstellar system—yet there is reason to believe they murdered his and Tess’s parents. On my TBR since high school. Will I get to it?
  • American Hippo by Sarah Gailey. Gailey is another hit or miss author, but let’s be honest with ourselves—hippos are a delicious combination of scary and cute and hippo-riding cowboys are even more intriguing. I like good alternative history, and this sounds like it might fit the bill!
  • Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Possible F/F romance and a mix of SF and fantasy? I am intrigued.
  • Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin. A classic, and should I admit that I have never read LeGuin before? Do I lose my SF card?
  • Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin. In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers, eliminating China’s best chance of fighting back. Um, it’s Chinese steampunk. How could I not read it?
  • The Three-body Problem by Liu Cixin. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. In 2020, I wanted to diversity my reading and branch into translated works. That didn’t happen, but maybe 2021 is the year for me!
  • Embassytown by China Mieville. In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. It’s hard SF, it’s fairly short, so why haven’t I read it already?
  • Velocity Weapon by Megan O’Keefe. I think that this has been on every single one of my monthly TBRs since August or something. I will get to it!
  • Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds. One of my good friends has highly recommended Reynolds for years (and said that my writing reminds her of him), so I definitely need to check it out…eventually.
  • The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. My track record with Sanderson is iffy, but I have wanted to read this series for the longest time. However, he writes tomes and my attention span is goldfish short. Will this be the year for Mistborn??
  • Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This one had lingered in my mind for a while without ever making it to my official Goodreads TBR. But I saw that there is a sequel coming out next year and it’s set during WWI, so I am intrigued!

What backlist titles do you want to read in 2021?

4 thoughts on “21 SFF Backlist Titles to Read in 2021

  1. I haven’t heard of most of these books, so please imagine me FURIOUSLY taking notes. Gunpowder Alchemy is *very* intriguing to me, and I’ve been meaning to try out Brandon Sanderson for, uh… years. I’ve never quite gotten around to it, since I’m terrified of the books disappointing me.

    Liked by 1 person

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