9 science fiction and fantasy books to read during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Posted on May 2nd, 2022 by

Just in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, here is a list of science fiction and fantasy books by AAPI authors to check from our John C. Rezmerski Science Fiction Collection.

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon-Ha Lee

Cover of Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon-Ha Lee

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon-Ha Lee
Call Number: PS3612.E34884 P46 2021
Publication Date: 2021-08-17

Yoon-Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. His newest novel is Phoenix Extravagant.

From the publisher:

The highly anticipated paperback of the smash new blockbuster original fantasy work from Nebula, Hugo and Clarke award nominated author Yoon Ha Lee!

Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter, or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Cover of Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Call Number: PS3601.O38 L54 2021
Publication 2021-09-28

Finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel
A Kirkus Best Book of 2021
2022 Alex Award Winner
2022 Stonewall Book Award Winner

From the publisher:

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.

Stories of Your Life and Others and Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Cover of Exhalation by Ted ChiangCover of Stories of Your Lifes and Others by Ted Chiang
Cover of Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve

Stories of Your Life and Other by Ted Chiang
Call Number: PS3603.H53 S76 2016
Publication Date: 2010-10-26

Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Call Number: Browsing PS3603.H53 A6 2019
Publication Date: 2019-05-07

Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve
A film adaptation of “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Call Number: Audio Visual PN1995.9.S26 A77 2017
Release Date: 2017

Ted Chiang is one of the most acclaimed science fiction authors working today. His short story “Story of Your Life” was adapted by director Denis Villeneuve into the 2017 film Arrival. He has since produced one more acclaimed collection of short stories, Exhalation, in 2019.

From the publisher’s description for Stories of Your Life and Others:

Stories of Your Life and Others delivers dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change—the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens—with some sense of normalcy. With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty, but also by beauty and wonder. An award-winning collection from one of today’s most lauded writers, Stories of Your Life and Others is a contemporary classic.

And here is the publisher description for Ted Chiang’s newest collection:

Nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories—two published for the very first time—all from the mind of the incomparable author of Stories of Your Life and Others

Tackling some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine, these stories will change the way you think, feel, and see the world. They are Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic, revelatory.

Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine.

In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Cover of How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Call Number: PS3614.A423 H69 2022
Publication Date: 2022-01-18

National Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

From the publisher:

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Cover of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

How to Live Safely in a
Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Call Number: PS3625.U15 H68 2011
Publication Date: 2010-09-07

From the publisher:

“From the National Book Award–⁠winning author of Interior Chinatown, comes a razor-sharp, hilarious, and touching story of a son searching for his father … through quantum space-time.

Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.

The Poppy War trilogy by R.F. Kuang

Cover of The Dragon Republic by R.F. KuangCover of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Cover of The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Call Number: PS3611.U17 P67 2018
Publication Date: 2018-05-01

The Dragon Republic
Call Number: PS3611.U17 D73 2019
Publication Date: 2019-08-06

The Burning God
Call Number: PS3611.U17 B87 2020
Publication Date: 2020-11-17

From the publisher’s description for The Poppy War:

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

Cover of An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
Call Number: PS3611.I583363 E93 2017
Publication Date: 2017-09-12

From publisher Harper Via:

From debut author Maggie Shen King, An Excess Male is the chilling dystopian tale of politics, inequality, marriage, love, and rebellion, set in a near-future China, that further explores the themes of the classics The Handmaid’s Tale and When She Woke.

China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritarian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.

Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.

In Maggie Shen King’s startling and beautiful debut, An Excess Male looks to explore the intersection of marriage, family, gender, and state in an all-too-plausible future.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Cover of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Call Number: Young Adult
PZ7.1.T6225 M47 2020
Publication Date: 2020-05-05

From the publisher:

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Cover of Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City by Fonda Lee
Call Number: PS3612.E34285 J36 2018
Publication Date: 2018-06-26

Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
Named one of TIME‘s Top 100 Fantasy Books Of All Time

From the publisher:

Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — and of Kekon itself.

“An epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but set in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you’ll forget you’re reading a book.” –Ken Liu, Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning author

 

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