I have read some really great novellas this year after realizing how great they are for breaking my reading slumps. There’s something really satisfying about being able to finish a book quickly and move on to the next that gives me the motivation to read more when I’ve had a bookish dry spell. #NovNov is a great time to pick up a couple of novellas, especially if you’re trying for that last push of the year to complete your reading goals. You can read about the history of #NovNov HERE.
Here are Nine SFF Novellas we highly recommend to get you started…
Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire
This is the beginning of a series focused on the dark twisty side of fairytale characters. I’m only on book 3 but I’m really loving them.
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back and living at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
All Systems Red, Martha Wells
I don’t think I need to say anything more about this series. I’ve been shouting my love for Murderbot from the rooftops for over a year now!
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
Binti is such a wonderfully complex character and so is the world she lives in. I read all three books and I’ll be honest, the third book felt a little like there could have been more.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
Summer Frost, Blake Crouch
Blake Crouch is quickly becoming a favorite realistic sci-fi writer for me. If you liked Ready Player One, you’ll like this novella.
Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?
To Be Taught if Fortunate, Becky Chambers
Ah, Becky Chambers. If anyone can make you look inside yourself, question your purpose, and ask the hard questions, it’s her. This novella is so gorgeous and heart-felt.
As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does. But what happens when they can no longer contact Earth and they don’t know what will be waiting for them back home.
Gwendy’s Button Box, Stephen King
I think we’ve all asked ourselves what we would do if we got infinite wishes or could make anything happen. Gwendy finds out the price that these gifts cost the hard way.
One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy. On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…
Permafrost, Alastair Reynolds
A time-travel, post apocalyptic novella involving the host takeover of unsuspecting humans from the past. This one is really interesting.
2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.
The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djeli Clark
A delightfully crazy novella about a tram car haunted by an ancient spirit. I didn’t quite know what to expect next with this one.
Cairo, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.
Silver in the Wood, Emily Tesh
If you’re looking for a love story that takes place within an enchanted forest, look no further. I loved the follow up to this one even more than the first.
There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads. When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes.
Which of these novellas looks like a good read to you?
// Comments //
Such a great list! Every Heart A Doorway has been one of my favorites ever since I read it the year it came out. Tor’s novella program is the gift that keeps on giving. I haven’t read Drowned Country yet, but I’m glad to hear it’s even better than Silver In the Wood!
Yes! I’ve gotten completely sucked into Tor. Drowned Country was quite good. I really enjoyed it.
The cover of Silver in the Wood is gorgeous!
I think so too!