Ellie over at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm is hosting a science fiction/fantasy challenge this year, and in the past few years I have realised just how much I love science fiction, so I want to take part. I’m using this as an excuse to finally get to a lot of books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages, as well as a few that I’ve never heard of before.

I’m planning to do the column that’s second on the left (plague, dystopia, alternate reality, cyberpunk, and ‘this is totally going to happen one day’). However, there are a lot of wonderful themes, so I might try the second row down as well. My TBR is very much not set in stone, but here are some thoughts about what I would quite like to read for each square.

Plague. Planning on Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, which has not one but two plagues: a very bad flu outbreak in Oxford in 2055, and the Black Death in 14th century rural England.

Dystopia. I have The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon out from the library, so I’m going to give that a try, but I am not sure if it’s for me, so I welcome other suggestions!

Alternate reality. I’m currently reading Dominion by CJ Sansom, an alternate history based on the idea that Lord Halifax rather than Winston Churchill took over as PM after the fall of Chamberlain. I know there are a million “what if the Nazis won though?” alternate history books out there, but this one is proving to be really special so far. It focuses on the story of a civil servant, David, who is covertly working for the Resistance.

Cyberpunk. Technically classed as “nanopunk”,  but I think I’m going to go with it – for this I’m hoping to read The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata.

This is totally going to happen one day. Optimistically, I think humanity is going to survive long enough to colonise Mars. To that end, I am hoping to read Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is set in 2026 (I think that may be pushing it a bit) as the first human colonists arrive.

AI. Using this to get to Consider Phlebas, the first in Iain M Banks’ Culture series, which I am very keen to read.

Dystopia (see above)

African. I am hoping to read Everfair by Nisi Shawl, which is described as a neo-Victorian steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo. Here is a sentence from the blurb: Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Why wouldn’t I read this, honestly? (Actually, the only reason that I didn’t run out and buy it the minute I heard of it is that it is absurdly expensive to get in the UK, but I think I am going to treat myself).

Fantastic beasts. For this item, I am looking forward to League of Dragons by Naomi Novik, which is set against a background of the Napoleonic Wars and features, well, a league of dragons.

Kings, queens, and long-lost relatives. It’s stretching the definition, but I’m going to go for Successor’s Promise, the third in Trudi Canavan’s Millennium’s Rule series. Though I am not sure if it contains royalty, exactly, there is a lot of palace intrigue-type content in the previous two. It feels very much in the vein of that particular subgenre of fantasy to me.

I’m really excited about this challenge. I have no idea if I’ll read all of these books (I doubt it), but there are a lot I’m really looking forward to. Thanks, Ellie, for inspiring me to read more science fiction and fantasy this year, and for giving me a few excellent places to start.