October brings an amazing horde of great books, to keep you reading way into the night. Lois Lowry concludes the Giver saga, Justin Cronin continues the Passage trilogy, and Iain M. Banks has a new story of the Culture. Plus Catherynne M. Valente's latest Fairyland novel, and Cory Doctorow's follow-up to Little Brother. And some righteous smut.
Here are 16 books you absolutely should not ignore in October!
We featured a preview of this book back in February, and now it's finally here. The creator of The Child Thief, is back — and this time he's taking on the Christmas Devil. Are you ready for a studly, Nordic Santa Claus, and his scary/sexy wife (pictured above)?
This weird novel is a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and has sparked tons of discussion. It's a noir detective and a Philip K. Dick-esque reality-warping adventure and an exploration of an alternate world where there's no terrorism and Osama Bin Laden is the hero of a series of obscure pulp novels.
For two decades, Circlet Press has been creating amazingly high-quality smut that includes science fiction and fantasy themes and settings. Cecilia Tan and her comrades have proved, over and over, that stories can be good erotica and good SF, and that clever storytelling can only make smut hotter. This volume includes stories by many of your favorite authors — and the topics range from vampires to fairytales to cyberpunk to futuristic love dolls. (Note: An earlier version had the wrong authors listed.)
Lois Lowry's Giver trilogy is now a tetralogy, thanks to this fourth book that tells the story of Claire, a new "Birthmother" who wants to follow the example of Jonas and flee the community. As a teenager, she has a son, whom she becomes determined to see again, no matter what it costs. Lowry calls this book the only direct sequel to The Giver that she's written.
After (Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (Hyperion)
Because it's 2012, and you don't have enough post-apocalyptic fiction already. But also, because this collection is edited by superstars Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, who have an amazing track record, and short fiction lets you explore a lot of different apocalyptic scenarios in one volume, from ice ages to alien invasions to World War III. Including Genevieve Valentine, N.K. Jemisin, Beth Revis, Jeffrey Ford, Cecil Castellucci, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nalo Hopkinson, Carol Emshwiller and basically all your favorite authors. Even if you're tired of post-apocalyptic stories, this might be a good way to regain the joy of world-destruction (which really ought to be a German word).
The long-awaited sequel to Valente's bestselling book about a girl who escapes to Fairyland — and this time around, the Hollow Queen is stealing the shadows of the people in Fairyland, and doesn't want to give them back. It's up to September to stop the Hollow Queen — who happens to September's shadow. People are comparing this book to The Phantom Tollbooth, which is good enough for me. You can read an excerpt here, and we'll have a longer excerpt here at io9 tomorrow.
Speaking of long-awaited sequels... Cronin returns to the world of The Passage to explore the world of the deadly Virals. And instead of picking up where the first book left off, he goes back to Year Zero, to tell a different, darker story. This time around, it's often humans who are the most evil creatures around — and we visit more of the post-apocalyptic landscape, including a totalitarian labor camp and an embattled stronghold in Texas. Cronin's blend of "literary" character development and supernatural menace continues to win him passionate followers.
David Wong's comic horror novel John Dies at the End was an internet sensation, and now the sequel is already making waves — we published a huge excerpt the other day. It's even more anarchic and crazy than the first book, as "David Wong" starts seeing big-ass spiders everywhere, biting people and taking over their minds. And there's a portal to the women's underwear department at Wal-Mart. Because.
We really enjoyed the heck out of Fair Coin, the first novel in Myers' series about a coin that miraculously grants your wishes. What happens when the alternate universe version of your girlfriend shows up at your senior prom? (Besides terrible embarrassment, I mean?) We find out — and there's a lot more universe-hopping weirdness this time around, including a visit to a universe where time moves more quickly and everybody is way older. Another dose of the science-fantasy adventure that made the first book so much fun.
Doctorow is back writing novels for young adults, in the vein of his mega-successful Little Brother. This time around, it's a copyright apocalypse! A teenager named Trent downloads movies from the Internet and remixes them to make his own films — but the authorities have cracked down on piracy and mash-up culture more than ever, making the penalty for illegal downloads a year without internet. When this happens to Trent's family, he runs away from home and discovers a demimonde of young activists who are fighting to keep the internet restrictions from getting even more draconian. Says Little Red Reviewer, "This may sound like it's a story for and about people who remix videos and remix music, and if you're not one of those folks it's easy to think this politically charged story doesn't apply to you. Ever recaptioned a photo or submitted something to Lolcats? Ever shared a deviantart image on Facebook simply because you liked it? ever taken a photo you found online and photoshopped it into something you liked better, if only to show off your photoshop skills? If you've ever done any of those things, you're in the same boat as Trent."
With stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Ken Liu, Paolo Bacigalupi and Daniel H. Wilson, this anthology of dystopian stories featuring a person of color is bound to be pretty memorable. Weird premises include a robot uprising, a world where poor children are taken prisoner by corporations for their pattern-recognition skills, and a little girl who's the only one who can notice that reality is warping and the president keeps changing. And an Indonesian boy discovers he's descended from the Norse God Odin. Early reviews say this book is terrific but depressing.
The creator of the Kushiel series is back with her best book in years, about Daisy, the daughter of a demon who's assigned to enforce eldritch law in Michigan. As our review the other day notes: "Dark Currents is suburban fantasy wrapped around a crime thriller, which makes it sound like pretty much every other paranormal romance book you've ever read. But it's really not. What's great about this frothy page-turner is that Carey surprises you at every turn with smart plot twists and characters who are pleasingly complex."
The second part of Burns' disturbing, creepy trilogy that began with X'ed Out. This time around, Doug is trapped in the Netherworld, where his name is Nitnit and he has a job delivering comic books to women known as "breeders." There are strange tunnels, some of which have weird smells, and of course those giant red-and-white eggs. What is going on? Will this surreal story ever fully make sense? Or will it just infest your dreams with craziness?
At last, a new Culture novel! And it's a story that explores the origins of Banks' interstellar utopia. The Gzilt civilization is preparing to Sublime, or vanish into higher dimensions, but then there's a devastating attack on their Regimental High Command. Lt. Cmdr. Vyr Cossont is ordered to investigate, and the answers may lie with the oldest living person in the Culture and some events that happened at the Culture's beginnings, 10,000 years ago. Read the first chapter here, and stay tuned for our review, coming soon. But the consensus among everyone thus far is that this novel is, as Kirkus says, "sheer delight."
At last, a full-length collaboration between one of hard science fiction's greats and the creator of the Known Space universe. This time, instead of a Ringworld, there's... a bowl? At least, it's a ginormous bowl-shaped object in space, the size of millions of Earths, "half englobing" a star. And it's on a course to a star system that the humans are also heading for. Soon enough, two groups of humans are having hair-raising adventures on the bowl's surface, and there are crazy answers about our place in the universe and stuff. This could be the most cosmic novel in ages.
The author of the Riddlemaster trilogy has a collection of fantasy stories, that have already appeared in some year's best anthologies. And the collection is winning early praise for its poetic but tough and humorous prose. According to Tachyon:
The bewitching wonders offered here include princesses dancing with dead suitors, a knight in love with an official of exotic lineage, and fortune's fool stealing into the present instead of the future. You'll discover a ravishing undine and her mortal bridegroom who is more infatuated with politics than pleasure, a time-traveling angel forbidden to intervene in Cotton Mather's religious ravings, a wizard seduced in his youth by the Faerie Queen returning with a treasure that is rightfully hers, and an overachieving teenage mage tricked into discovering her true name very close to home.