TEN FREE SFF BOOKS TO GET YOU THROUGH SELF-ISOLATION

This has been a tough week for everyone. So much of the world is in quarantine, self-isolation, or participating in intense social distancing. Like a lot of people, I’m choosing to isolate myself while COVID-19 is so active. Lucky for us, there are some awesome authors in the science fiction/fantasy book community who are making some of their works free for all of us to enjoy. This list includes these free works from a lot of prolific writers, and also some other free SFF reads to enjoy right now.

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Review: Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler

Here’s where I have to admit something that’s embarrassing as a science fiction blogger and former English major: I had never actually read any Octavia Butler works before now, and I am honestly pretty ashamed of myself. I have known of Butler for years, but for one reason or another, hadn’t ever made time for her books. When I was given an eArc of Subterranean Press’s forthcoming collection, Unexpected Stories, by the one and only Octavia Butler, I knew it was time to finally dig into some of her work.

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The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo: A Fantasy Novella Full of Strength and Female Friendship

I usually gravitate towards Tor.com titles because, let’s be honest, it’s where you can find some of the best science fiction out there today. While I enjoy fantasy, my genre sweet spot is almost always “speculative” and light science fiction. Well, The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, changed my mind about fantasy novellas for good. This little novella packs such a punch, and is simultaneously heart-wrenching and heart-warming; it’s feminist as heck, and doesn’t hold back or apologize for it’s presence.

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Sea Change by Nancy Kress

Sea Change, a forthcoming novella by acclaimed writer Nancy Kress, is everything I love about speculative fiction. The story has a compelling near-future setting, is full of smart characters with sharply written dialogue, and is so thematically rich and progressive. It’s character driven, scarily close to reality, and covers topics often overlooked by other media.

Not unlike my previous review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s upcoming novella, Firewalkers, Kress’s Sea Change also centers on our world following devastation caused, primarily, by climate change. However, whereas Firewalkers is set in a time that feels very distant and in a place that feels far from our present world, Sea Change is set in the 2030s in America and feels very true to a near-future picture of the country.

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Hearts of Oak – Genre Bending Speculative Fiction at it’s Best

Hearts of Oak starts with a king, an architect, a magically growing city, and a talking cat, and, somehow, it manages to keep these pieces at it’s (oak) heart, even as the story itself expands and changes. What starts as a tender, character focused fantasy about an ever-growing city shifts into a very different story mid-way through. The result is a beautifully clever genre-bending experience, with a story that is part whimsical fantasy and part provocative science fiction.

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