August brings some exciting new speculative fiction releases. We've got conclusions for the Hunger Games and Void trilogies, plus Regency magic and a sentient MMORPG. Here are the books you can't miss out on this month.
The Evolutionary Void, Peter Hamilton (Del Rey)
Sprawling, ambitious: Peter Hamilton's Void Trilogy is an example par excellence of modern space opera. Hamilton posits the black hole at the center of our galaxy is home to a micro-universe. But it's not just a abstraction—millions of believers avidly follow a Dreamer's visions of life inside the void, and they're convinced they've glimpsed paradise. The final volume in the series, The Evolutionary Void apparently picks up right where The Temporal Void left off. The Living Dream cultists have devoted themselves to relocating to the Void in massive ships. If they succeed, it'll expand the black hole until it swallows up the entire Milky Way. Understandably, a number of very ruthless people want to stop that from happening.
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
For dystopian young-adult book fans, there's only one August release that counts: Mockingjay, the conclusion to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. Scholastic has kept a tight lid on any plot details, but here's what we know: Tough-as-nails Katniss is still standing after two rounds of the games, and the Capitol wants her dead. They don't care who they have to kill to get to her, either. She's a threat, and no one around her is safe — not her family, friends, or even District 12. Less than a month to go!
The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (Wesleyan)
This giant omnibus collection contains a century and a half worth of science fiction stories. That's the chronological distance, from believing Mars was was criss-crossed with verdant canals to landing robots on the rocky Martian surface. With academic thoroughness, the editors have assembled all the big names of the modern era: Bradbury, Ballad, Clarke, Le Guin. But they've also tracked back to H.G. Wells and even earlier, to the speculative fiction writers of the mid-nineteenth century.
Omnitopia Dawn, Diane Duane (DAW)
Diane Duane's Young Wizards series has often dabbled in science, but she's best known for her YA fantasy. But with Omnitopia Dawn, Duane turns to the near future and serves up high-tech science fiction. It's 2015, and everyone spends the bulk of their time online, immersed in MMORPGs like the hugely popular Omnitopia. But we're not talking about Farmville, here. The game's creator, programmer Dev Logan, goes in to make some routine upgrades and discovers Omnitopia has actually achieved self-awareness. So Logan, like any good parent, resolves to protect his baby — which turns out to be a pretty big job.
A Dream Called Time, S.L. Viehl (Roc)
Dr. Cherijo is back — and still getting into trouble — in Viehl's tenth Stardoc novel. She goes to check out a mystery ship that's drifted out of a rift in space and promptly gets trapped in some wonky temporal anomaly. Will she ever see her family again? Only time will tell! This is the final novel in the series, so let's hope the long-suffering Cherijo gets a better send-off than another doctor on a certain science fictional island.
The Osiris Ritual, George Mann (Tor)
Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, return to deal with cursed mummies and missing magician's assistants in George Mann's second steampunk mystery novel. Sir Maurice is an academic and Miss Veronica a secretary; together, they investigate sensitive, often paranormal matters for the crown. But lest you think the pair are merely up against the occult, Newbury is also trying to track down a rogue agent who seems to have transmogrified himself into some sort of weapon. Quite the bother, one imagines.
Stars and Gods, Larry Niven (Tor)
Larry Niven's latest covers a lot of ground: Non-fiction, short fiction, interviews, editorials. There are even some short excerpts from his novels, including Ringworld's Child. It's a follow-up to his well-received collection Scatterbrain and similarly eclectic. Certainly worth investigating if you're a fan or just interested in the workings of a legendary science fiction writer's mind.
Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Shades of Milk and Honey is about glamour — not the quality attributed to Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman, but good old-fashioned magic. Kowal imagines a Regency England where young ladies of marriageable age compete to land eligible gentlemen using their magical skills. It's hard to refrain from the obligatory joke about Austen fans and truths universally acknowledged, but this looks pretty promising for the fantasy readers out there.
Enclave, Kit Reed (Tor)
If you're looking for something new in paperback, Kit Reed's dystopian Enclave hits the shelves this week. Society is collapsing into war, environmental catastrophe, and all the other post-modern nightmare scenarios. Desperate parents turn their children over to the fortress-like Clothos Academy, which accepts 100 pupils and then locks out the rest of the world. The ominously named "Sarge" keeps everyone in line with frightening images of the outside world, but, of course, things aren't what they seem.
Winter's Song, Colin Harvey (Angry Robot)
Another paperback option is Winter's Song, by Colin Harvey. Karl Allman has the misfortune to crash land onto a miserably frigid planet, populated by the ragged remains of a forgotten colony of Scandinavian descent. The colonists have made do, but their world is harsh and their society strict. Karl joins up with Bera, a young woman shunned for an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and sets off to find the original colony ship — which might or might not still exist, and might or might not have a functioning radio he can use to signal rescuers.