May books bring zombie football players, migrations across deep space, and elegiac short stories. Plus, a Jazz-Age social worker campaigns for equal rights for vampires, and a young man travels through a post-scarcity Gulf Coast.
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Paolo Bacigalupi brings his reservations about Earth's future to the young adult market with Ship Breaker. Set on a futuristic, post-peak-oil Gulf Coast, the novel follows Nailer, a teenage boy scraping by scavenging copper wire from discarded oil tankers. His father's an abusive addict and his home lies in the path of massively destructive hurricanes spawned by global warming. It's a rough life, without much potential for improvement. Then one day, he comes along a beautiful clipper ship skippered by a beautiful heiress. Instead of stripping the craft of everything worth taking, he joins the girl and they sail toward New Orleans, journeying through a stratified world plagued by piracy and want. The recent oil spill makes this one a particularly timely read.
Machinery of Light, David J. Williams (Spectra)
This volume concludes Williams' Autumn Rain trilogy, a blend of cyberpunk, military SF, and futuristic dystopia. In 2110, the map's been remade by the desperate events of the Second Great Depression, splitting the world's nations into two camps: The U.S., and the Eurasian Coalition. The books follow the year's upheavals, as military factions struggle for control of the United States. In Machinery of Light, events have come to a head, as the US president is assassinated and rogue generals seize control to launch World War III. Meanwhile, hacker Claire Haskell and the remnants of terrorist group Autumn Rain converge on the Moon for a final showdown.
Moonshine by Alaya Johnson (St. Martin's Griffin)
Zephyr Hollis is a social activist and demon-hunter's daughter living in an alternate Progressive-Era Manhattan, teaching night school for underprivileged supernaturals and picketing for the rights of nonhumans. Then one of her students, a charming djinn named Amir, talks her into helping take on a vampire mafioso, using her charity work as a cover. She agrees, all the while working to uncover his real motives and negotiating the dangers of a Jazz Age Gotham infused with supernatural menace.
Ark, Stephen Baxter (Roc)
Baxter returns to the drowning world of Flood with this follow-up, newly published in the States. Humanity has realized Earth will be completely submerged in mere decades, and a small handful of individuals attempt an escape to the nearest habitable planet in vast spaceships. The novel follows Holle, a young woman groomed her entire life for the trip aboard the Ark I, and Grace, an exhausted flood survivor who finds new purpose on the ship, as they make the dangerous journey across the stars to a new home.
Play Dead, Ryan Brown (Gallery)
The zombie trend continues to shamble inexorably on. But this month brings us two promising releases. First up: Revenant football players, in Ryan Brown's debut Play Dead. Quarterback is a tough job under the best of conditions. But when Cole Logan finds himself without a living team to lead - thanks to the villainy of their bitter rivals, the Elmwood Heights Badgers - he enlists the aid of a local black magic practitioner to raise the rest of the Killington Jackrabbits from the dead. The catch: They've got to beat the Badgers, or they're all going to hell.
Feed, Mira Grant (Orbit)
The month's other reanimated release takes a good, hard look at the way we get our news, while reminding readers where the term "viral" originated. The world has changed since "The Rising" in the summer of 2014. The CDC has risen to an unprecedented level of power, and the Internet has replaced mainstream media as a cultural force. In Feed, the first novel of Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, three bloggers eager for their big break sign up to follow a senator on his presidential campaign. They're not expecting to discover that the truth of outbreak is nothing like what's been reported.
Recovering Apollo 8, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Golden Gryphon Press)
This volume collects eight great stories by science fiction author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, many of which explore the dark territories of loss and death. The title story, for example, imagines that an orbital mishap doomed the first manned moon mission, and a boy of the time grows into a space age pioneer, obsessed with recovering the ship and its crew. And "Diving into the Wreck," recently expanded into a full-length novel, follows a crew attempting to salvage an old ship armed with an awful weapon.
Blood Oath, Christopher Farnsworth (Putnam)
More than a hundred years ago, Nathaniel Cade swore loyalty to Andrew Jackson and became the president's vampire, fighting for every man to hold the office since. Fast forward to the here-and-now, where he's fighting top-secret supernatural threats to homeland security. When his tough old handler retires, he's paired with Zach Barrows, an up-and-coming politico caught with the president's daughter and subsequently shifted to vampire duty. The two unearth conspiracies and race to stop a mad scientist from creating an army of Frankensteins.
Deceiver: Foreigner #11, C. J. Cherryh (DAW)
With Deceiver, C. J. Cherryh continues her long-running Foreigner series. The civil war among the aliens of Atevi is over, and young nobleman Cajeiri has returned with his father, the ruler of the Western Association, to their seat in Bujavid. But the tensions that spawned the conflict are far from settled, and rebel factions remain a threat.
Migration, James P. Hogan (Baen)
Migration takes place in world rebuilt from the ashes of a high-tech global society that eventually blew itself sky-high. It's a scaled-down future, understandably wary of changes-except the people of Sofi, the one nation that's rediscovered science. But when the bad old ways begin to reemerge, a splinter group musters the resources to built a massive generation ship and start over in a new star system. But those who leave find they can't escape human nature, no matter how many light years they travel.