Top 10 Sci-fi & Fantasy Books by Asian American Authors (2023)
There's no doubt about it, book genres are more diversified than ever, and with so many combos out there, you can find something suitable regardless of what you like.
You can mix and match and find whatever you’re into. When it comes to sci-fi, it’s most commonly associated with fantasy, a blend of adventure and imagination. And if you love the genre, you’re probably familiar with the most common plots, similar mystical lands, and unusual heroes.
It feels like it could do with a revamp and let me tell you why is that. It’s because most of the sci-fi fantasy books we go through feature European and American inspiration. How about some Asian-inspired stories then?
Exactly, I know it may sound a bit unusual, but if you’ve ever watched an Asian movie or perhaps read an Asian story, you might have noticed a completely different approach. And the same goes to sci-fi fantasy books.
It's no surprise you can find so many Asian-inspired fantasy series on Netflix or new movies on platforms like Amazon or Hulu. They're taking over, and everyone loves them because of their uniqueness.
Now let me introduce you to some of the most authentic sci-fi fantasy books from Asian American authors and a few words about the plots. Don’t worry, no major spoilers included!
What Are The Best Sci-fi & Fantasy Books by Asian American Authors?
In Search of Rohan Chang, by Lincoln Lee (2022)
Get ready for one of the best fantasy stories you've ever read, with unexpected plot twists, numerous characters, and tenets touching on Christianity, immersed in the quick hustle and bustle of New York City.
It’s not the type of slow-moving action, but the type of fantasy that will make you turn one page after another. It’s the book you’ll keep in your backpack just in case you have time on the bus or on your break in work.
The story goes in two different directions. First, you have a serial killer hunting in New York City. Then, you have Rohan Chang, who’s got his own issues with voices popping up in his head when least expected. He knows they’re there, but he feels like his sanity is going away.
There are so many questions and literally no answers, but things change when Rohan has an unusual night out. Certain powers unlock, and Rohan understands that in order to conquer the present, he'll need to settle the past.
And as if all these were not enough, he’s also trying to win the love of his life, a high school classmate.
The author, Lincoln Lee‘s story is about survival, love, questions surrounding prejudice and Christianity, and the mystery of the immigrant experience seen through an Asian American boy's eyes.
I’ve tried to keep small details to a minimum because anything can spoil the experience, but trust me, once you go through the first few pages, you’ll be hooked in.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, by Axie Oh (2022)
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sky: Children of Light, Genshin Impact, or other similar mobile games… But this is exactly what the book feels like. It's one of those mesmerizing experiences with free spirits, love, action, and sophisticated puzzles.
Coming from one of the most underrated Asian American authors in my opinion, the story follows Mina and her struggle to survive in a damned village. It feels like all the drama in the world has picked her village. From wars to floods, there’s everything.
Back in the day, the village was protected by the Sea God. Now, people believe he’s turned against them. To keep him happy, they throw a beautiful maiden into the sea year by year. They hope the god will eventually choose a bride and end the disasters.
This time, it’s Shim Cheong’s turn. She’s gorgeous. However, Mina’s brother Joon loves her and would do anything to prevent her sacrifice. He follows her out to sea when she’s about to be sacrificed, even if he knows that interfering could get him killed.
Mina decides to sacrifice herself, so she jumps in the water instead. And this is when the real story begins…
She ends up in a completely unusual world filled with spirits, demons, gods, and all kinds of creatures. She needs to find the Sea God, but it's not as easy as it seems.
The Iron Sword, by Julie Kagawa (2022)
This is the second and best book in the Evenfall series. I recommend the first release to become familiar with the action type and characters, but this second release is what will blow your mind.
Evenfall is close, and the Faery kingdom is barely waiting for it. Prince Ash was banished because he fell in love. His mission was to find the end of the world to earn a soul. That was the only way to prove his love… And he did it.
But now, he's got a son, and he's missing. Something threatens the whole kingdom as the Evenfall approaches. I know, you’re wondering what Evenfall is, but I won’t spoil it. Ash and his allies need to find a solution to save everything.
The action unfolds as the tension builds up, leading to a culminating experience that won’t let you down.
Shadow of the Fox (Book Series), by Julie Kagawa (2018-2022)
If you like fantasy, dragons, mystical creatures, and lots of plot twists, this book has it all. Julie Kagawa is now one of my favorite Asian American authors, and you'll see immediately why.
The action started about 1,000 years ago. The Kami Dragon was asked to fulfill a wish, one thing led to another, and the kingdom of Iwagoto is now struggling in darkness. But a new age is about to start.
Yumeko has been trained and raised by monks. She’s not 100% human, and she's trying to hide it, but someone knows her secret. Her adoptive family is slain, and the temple is under attack, so she has to flee the area, but she also grabs one of the ancient scrolls with her.
This scroll could summon the Kami Dragon, so everyone wants it… Both good and bad people. Yumeko suddenly becomes the most wanted character in a world filled with chaos.
Six Crimson Cranes, by Elizabeth Lim (2022)
Shiori is a princess with a secret. She can do a bit of magic, but she keeps it well hidden. Until one day, when she's forced to get married. She loses control over the powers, and her stepmother Raikama realizes what's going on.
Raikama is into black magic and banishes the princess, promising her that she’ll kill one of her brothers for every word she’ll mention.
Shiori can’t talk to anyone about it and seems to be helpless. But then, she discovers a conspiracy against the throne, a conspiracy that’s even worse than Raikama’s actions.
Now, she has to team up with an unexpected ally to sort her kingdom out.
Song of the Crimson Flower, by Julie C. Dao (2019)
If you like a bit of romance mixed into your sci-fi fantasy books, Song of the Crimson Flower won’t let you down.
Coming from one of my favorite Asian American authors, the story begins with Lan rejecting Bao’s love. Lan is a nobleman’s daughter, while Bao is a physician’s apprentice. She thinks she’s out of his league, so she says no, but she ends up regretting it later.
One day, she finds Bao’s boat floating by itself, close to her house. There’s a flute in the boat… What Lan doesn’t know is that Bao has been hit by black magic, so his soul is trapped inside that flute.
Will she figure it out? Will she manage to break the spell? Only one way to find out, and trust me, there's plenty of adventure before the final twist.
The Girl King, by Mimi Yu (2019)
You know what kingdoms are like, both in stories and real life. One of the kids becomes the next monarch, while the others will probably never get on that throne.
Well, the same happens in this story too. Lu will be the first female emperor, and Min will always be in the shadow. But their father has a different plan when he chooses their male cousin’s heir.
Lu wants the throne back, but she’ll need to find some allies. And the perfect ally doesn’t like the royal family. Meanwhile, Min is left to watch the throne and starts thinking about claiming it herself.
I know, there are plenty of plot twists in this story, and the best part about it is you won't know who to support.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Yee (2019)
Genie Lo is one of the best in her community, one of those who always win. Life’s good, until one day, when her hometown is under attack.
Every bad thing in Chinese folklore seems to target her little community. As a result, all of her priorities are changed now. She needs some allies and perhaps some guidance in battling demons.
Gathering together an unusual team and discovering a parallel world that she could tap into, Genie is now pressured by time and must tap into a new type of power in order to save her loved ones.
It sounds a bit classic, I know, but I don’t want to give out too many spoilers. It feels like the traditional scenario where an unsuspecting hero saves the world. Well, it’s nothing like that, trust me. And the way the story lays out stands out, making F.C. Yee one of my favorite Asian American authors.
Forest of Souls, by Lori M. Lee (2021)
Alright, time for a bit of action and some thrills, maybe a bit of horror in this sci-fi fantasy masterpiece. Forest of Souls tells the story of Sirscha Ashwyn. She was born into poverty. She isn’t royal, and she's never had anything. Apart from a plan, a mission.
She’s always dreamed of becoming someone in life, so she’s always been training hard to become a royal spy for the queen. But her plan goes down when an unexpected drama hits. Shamans kill Saengo, her best friend.
Somehow, Saengo is restored to life. Sirscha does it, without having a clue. It looks like she’s got some newly awakened abilities. And this is when action begins…
I won't give you too many spoilers, but you'll follow Sirscha through ancient forests, different kingdoms, adventures in the wild, and a plot about a forest possessed by souls. And this is obviously one of Sirscha's missions, making sure her best friend won’t be claimed by the forest.
I’ll be honest with you, some parts in this book will challenge you a bit, just to make sure you understand everything. Fantasy’s gone to another level, but you’ll love the outcome.
Want, by Cindy Pon (2019)
If you like conspiracy theories and sci-fi fantasy that might actually become a reality at some point in the future, Want will fuel your thirst for adventure. It's the first book in the series, and it feels like one of those books that predict the future.
Coming from one of the most appreciated Asian American authors, Want follows Jason’s story in a society divided between the poor and the rich. The planet is covered in chaos due to pollution and viruses. No one has any control whatsoever.
However, the rich wear special suits to protect themselves and live longer. And here comes the best part. The corporation producing these suits is also the corporation polluting the planet, only to make them an actual necessity.
Jason’s mother died because of this high level of corruption, so he tries to infiltrate and destroy the corporation from the inside. But his plans change when he falls for the CEO’s daughter. There are lots of possible scenarios now, I’ll let you discover yourself what happens next.
If this book reminds you of that Justin Timberlake movie when they have to buy time to live, you’re right. But the outcome and details are completely different.
There are plenty of Asian American authors that simply do and understand things differently. The cultural impact of Korean, Japanese and Chinese culture is clear in these works.
Oriental influence in fantasy is a thing these days and we do enjoy this fresh breath of air. In fact, oriental fantasy is often considered the best in the industry and can often change some perceptions.
Moreover, if you’re used to traditional sci-fi fantasy, you’ll love a different approach and a more appealing perspective over the genre.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.