Science fiction and fantasy books are bigger than ever. A Dance With Dragons and Stephen King's time-travel saga rule the bestseller lists. Literary authors all flock to write about zombies, apocalypses and time travel. And by all indications, 2012 is going to be an even greater year for genre books.
Here are 25 books we can't wait to read in 2012.
Top image: Detail of cover art for Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312.
Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson (Putnam)
William Gibson is best known for cyberpunk works like Neuromancer and fifteen-minutes-into-the-future thrillers like Pattern Recognition. But he's always been a keen observer of that moment where the future meets the now, and Distrust That Particular Flavor gathers years' worth of nonfiction writing into a single volume. Included are essays for Wired and Rolling Stone, plus other articles and even a speech from Book Expo America. Read our review here.
Cinder, Marissa Meyer (Feiwal and Friends)
Cinderella, re-imagined as a cyborg! Done and done.
The Fourth Wall, Walter Jon Williams (Orbit)
In the latest Dagmar Shaw adventure, she's doing what she does — in Hollywood. She hires a washed-up former child star, reduced to reality TV and an absolute mess. Once he's drawn into her dangerous orbit, suddenly someone is trying to kill him.
Angelmaker, Nick Harkaway (Knopf)
It's been nearly four years since Harkaway's fabulous, madcap debut, The Gone-Away World. Angelmaker looks to be equally wonderfully off-the-wall. The protagonist is one Joe Spork, repairer of antique clocks. He's also the son of a legendary gangster, but he'd like to avoid that part of his heritage, thank you very much. But things get a little crazy when Spork goes to work on a device and discovers his client is a retired superspy and this seemingly harmless object is a doomsday machine.
Crucible of Gold, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
In her latest novel of Napoleonic dragon-based derring-do, Naomi Novik sends protagonists Capt. Will Laurence and Temeraire to South America. They've been assigned to broker a peace with the forces of the African Tswana empire, who're besieging Rio. Unexpected events leave them stranded among the none-too-welcoming Incas.
The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel, Stephen King (Scribner)
Set in the world of the Dark Tower, The Wind Through the Keyhole nevertheless stands alone. It's a story from Roland Deschain's difficult youth. Tracking a deadly shape-shifter, he meets a scared boy and comforts him with a story his mother used to tell him, before her death.
Triggers, Robert J. Sawyer (Ace)
An attempt is made on the president's life, and he's taken to a top-notch research hospital for treatment. This should be a relatively simple matter of emergency surgery, but then a bomb goes off, triggering experimental trauma-treatment technologies that briefly allow some people a glimpse at other people's memories — including some of the president's state secrets.
The Night Sessions, Ken MacLeod (Pyr)
Religiously motivated terrorism should be a thing of the past, and yet Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson stands in the ruins of a bombed church, tasked with figuring out who's behind this.
RailSea, China Mieville (Del Rey)
Mieville's next work of surreal genius is a young-adult novel — but don't think that means he's going to let up on the weird. Railsea is the novelist's take on Melville's Moby Dick, with perhaps a touch of Treasure Island to season the pot. But he's relocated the greatest oceangoing story of all time to an endless sea of — oh yes — rails.
The Drowned Cities, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Bacigalupi returns to the ruined world of Ship Breaker with the story of Mahlia and Mouse, fugitive child soldiers from an eternal civil war. They've made it out, but then they encounter another refugee, a bioengineered creature that's part man, part beast, fleeing from some determined pursuers.
Deadlocked, Charlaine Harris (Ace)
The 12th installment of the Sookie Stackhouse saga drops in May. Details are scant, but Harris has posted an excerpt on her website.
Glamour In Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
With Glamour in Glass, Kowal returns to the Austenian world she introduced in her debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. Now married, Jane and Vincent set out for their honeymoon on the continent, shortly after Napoleon departs for Elba. But of course Boney isn't done, and so the artistic young couple quickly find themselves caught in the mess.
2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Three centuries from now, humanity has spread across the solar system. But things are unraveling. Something is afoot in the wondrous city of Terminator, on Mercury, where Swan Er Hong is being drawn into a conspiracy to destroy worlds.
The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
An elite priesthood known as the Gatherers keeps the peace in the city of Gujaareh. These individuals collect and deploy dream magic as the populace sleeps, soothing any unrest before it can really get going. But then someone begins killing dreamers. Good news for the impatient: The sequel, The Shadowed Sun, will follow in June.
Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds (Ace)
Blue Remembered Earth launches a brand-new trilogy from Reynolds, focusing on the Akinya family and their dynastic fortunes over the next ten thousand years. That's a pretty broad canvas. This first volume opens a century and a half from now in a blissful, poverty-free world. Scion Geoffrey Akinya would prefer a quiet, contemplative life, but his family needs him to investigate his entrepreneur grandmother's safe-deposit box on Luna. What he finds has world-altering implications.
Caliban's War, James S.A. Corey (Orbit)
As the follow-up to Leviathan Wakes begins, Jim Holden is still piecing together what happened on Ganymede and how the alien protomolecule wreaking havoc can be stopped. And make no mistake — that protomolecule is doing serious damage to the solar system's (admittedly precarious) balance of power.
RedShirts, John Scalzi (Tor)
There might not be a formal description or even many details available just yet, but that title and blurb say quite a bit about what to expect from Scalzi's latest standalone. It is not, however, a Star Trek novel.
Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)
After the cliff-hanger at the end of Deadline, the conclusion to Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy about zombies and social media cannot possibly come fast enough.
The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (Ace)
When an American megapreacher with a seemingly supernatural talent for faith healing starts getting chummy with the Prime Minister, the Laundry (the top-secret agency responsible for all things paranormal) sees some cause for concern. And so they send a freelancer — one Persephone Hazard, whose name says it all — to investigate. Meanwhile up-and-comer Bob Howard is assigned to keep an eye on Persephone.
Wake of the Bloody Angel, Alex Bledsoe (Tor)
Eddie LaCrosse is hired to discover the fate of Black Edward Tew, a pirate-by-necessity who charmed a young barmaid then disappeared. That barmaid now runs her own tavern and wants to know what came of the man she loved. And so he sets out with a lovely former pirate to find the pirate (oh, and also his treasure).
Energized, Edward M. Lerner (Tor)
First serialized in Analog, this near-future energy-shortage thriller is now being made available in book form.
Fall and beyond
Some Remarks, Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
What are these remarks regarding? That's a good question. But you know if they're coming from Neal Stephenson, they'll be brain-bending and thought-provoking.
The Fractal Prince, Hannu Rajaniemi (Tor)
Details are scant, but the sequel to The Quantum Thief will return to Rajaniemi's whiz-bang puzzle-box of a far-future, so it's sure to be interesting.
Rapture of the Nerds, Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross (Tor)
This new release will pair the already-published "Jury Service" and "Appeals Court" with a concluding novella, as well as (potentially) some additional plot glue to hold it all together. For more, we wrote about the deal here.
The Eternal Flame, Greg Egan (Night Shade Books)
The second volume of Egan's Orthogonal series continues the tale of Yalda and her descendants, who're taking advantage of interstellar physics to develop the ultra-advanced science her planet desperately needs in the limited time available.
Did we forget anything? If there's something you're excited about that you don't see above, let us know in the comments!