Planetfall, Emma NewmanRead about the other entries on the list.
Emma Newman is known for her Split Worlds urban fantasy series, the first of which was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Society’s Best Novel and Best Newcomer awards. She also hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast “Tea and Jeopardy.” Planetfall is her first science-fiction novel, and is absolutely stunning. Newman has been open about her own struggle with anxiety, and it clearly informed the direction of this novel, which follows a new colony of humans inhabiting a seemingly empty alien world. The setting is littered with the remnants of ancient alien architecture that prove key to solving the mystery surrounding the death of the colony’s founder and visionary, but the most fascinating element of the narrative is that we experience everything through the eyes of the deeply troubled Ren, who is coping successfully and not-so-successfully with isolationism, loss, and the burden of carrying secrets in a small, hermetically sealed society. When an impossible stranger enters their midst, the careful balance Ren has struck between herself and the other colonists is threatened. I hesitate to reveal more about the plot, as the shattering beauty of the book hinges so much on the journey of discovery for both the narrator and the reader. I’m very much looking forward to the companion volume, After Atlas, in November.