One of our marketing team’s favourite brain teasers is guessing what will be the next big trend in sci-fi and fantasy book genres. What sub-genres will capture the hearts of so many readers that aspiring authors scramble to jump on the trend train? (FYI: don’t do this, the trend will be over by the time you do. Just write what you love.)

While we are not soothsayers, below are some trends we think (and hope) will come up in 2020. You’ll notice some commons themes in our predictions based on the current political climate. We’d love to see any of these subgenres in our query inbox. Speaking of, we are open for submissions. Even if your story doesn’t fit these categories, if you write what you love and it fits our submission guidelines, we want to read it! Here are our predictions for 2020:

1. Fantasy Heist (Allison’s Pick)

With the incredible popularity of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows—a YA fantasy book currently being adapted into a Netflix show—and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn—an adult fantasy renown for its unique magic system—we can see this genre taking off even more in 2020. Thieves and misfits are popular characters right now.

Readers, us included, love a sarcastic, quick-witted rogue, after all! When the world is out to get them, they fight back. We’d love to see more heist stories with Firefly-style humour in our query inbox.

2. Oathbreakers in Fantasy (Kyle’s Pick)

Oathbreakers are a common occurrence in fantasy stories: Jaime Lannister from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Peter Pettigrew from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Isildur’s curse in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While this is more of a plot theme than a genre, given the coming 2020 election in the U.S. and the overall discussion about “oaths of office,” we think we will see this bleed more and more into our fantasy works. We are all for discussing the themes and repercussions of breaking oaths in our fiction. 

3. Colonization in Sci-Fi (Emma’s Pick)

As concerns of global warming and political unrest loom ever higher in our collective mind, the question of “what will we do?” becomes ever more pressing. This sort of story allows us to explore the possibility of abandoning ship and starting fresh somewhere else. Also known as the “dying Earth” subgenre, books like The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and the revamped TV show Lost In Space point towards a resurgence of this topic. We can’t wait to see more stories that point towards hope in the stars.

4 Political Dystopian Fiction (Kyla’s Pick)

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has been making a come-back with the resurgence of paranoia around Fake News and surveillance. The popularity of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale exploded with the Netflix series based on the novel, so much so that Atwood wrote a sequel in 2019 called The Testaments. Stories that ask “What if?”, and their answer is terrifying, are fascinating to pursue in sci-fi settings. We’d love to see more books following the example of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 415, tackling the tough political questions, like those around class, reproductive rights, and censorship.

5. Diverse Fantasy and Sci-Fi (Allison’s Pick)

With the success of Black Panther, we hope publishers are realizing people want more diverse stories. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang was a huge hit, and we keep seeing more gorgeous covers featuring Asian women wielding katanas. We also want to continue seeing stories featuring a variety of cultures, races, and genders, such as Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao, and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Authors and characters of colour, queer romances, and feminist themes are always welcome at Mythos & Ink. Bring ‘em on.

6. Light-Hearted Sci-Fi and Fantasy (Kyle’s Pick)

With the world (d)evolving around us and things like political divides and climate anxiety at all time highs, what better story can we encounter than a low-stakes tale. Let’s be honest, we all need that reminder that everything is going to be okay and what better way than a simple story set in a world where we are not constantly under some catastrophic threat? Light-hearted fantasy like Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, humourous science fiction like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or slice of life sci-fi like Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside are high on our query wishlist.

7. Steampunk Fantasy (Emma’s Pick)

The aesthetic of steampunk is just irresistible. Some of the Mythos & Ink staff are huge fans of the anime Fullmetal Alchemist and wouldn’t say no to worldbuilding like that. Automail—yes, please! We can get behind books like Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve and Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. As sci-fi gets sleeker and more automated, what better direction for fantasy to go than more rustic? Gears, steamship, and top hats ahead!