April is full of blockbusters! Including Ken Liu's long-awaited epic fantasy novel, a thought-provoking new Robert Charles Wilson book, and a whole lot of space adventures. Here are all the science fiction and fantasy books to look out for in April!
Top image: Apex by Aer-Ki Jyr
As usual, we're keeping the sequels and series books to a minimum, in order to focus on standalones and books that are the first in a series.
The massively award-winning short story author finally releases his first novel — and it's a fascinating epic fantasy, about two men who join together to defeat a tyrant emperor. And then, once the emperor is defeated, they have some slight disagreements about what should happen next. Publishers Weekly says, "Liu seasons his fantastical Han Dynasty drama with plenty of intrigue, passion, bloodlust, and even a nod to historical feminism, against a backdrop of magical and technological marvels." Read an excerpt. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
What if Divergent was actually more scientific, and included more of a heavy dose of real-life social media? Then you might get something like this novel from the author of Spin. In the near future, the InterAlia company has gotten amazingly good at grouping people into "affinities," based on character traits and interests — and members of the same affinity communicate so well, they're almost telepathic. But some people don't fit into any affinity at all, and the affinity groups may be starting to murder each other. Kirkus calls this "an intriguing and seriously innovative attempt to grapple with some of the issues raised by the 21st century’s obsession with social media." BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
This historical fantasy got a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. They write, "Squabbling deities and cultural clashes form the heart of this entertaining and original debut secondary-world fantasy... Thoughtful worldbuilding adds color and believability. Readers searching for a strong female protagonist and dangerous intrigue in a refreshing fantasy world will enjoy this impressive series opener." Basically, it's another world, and two women are challenging the old religious ways, in different fashions — and war is about to break out on two different fronts. BN
A new standalone space adventure by the author of A Quantum Mythology. A salvage captain named Eldon is desperate for new work, so he takes a job in the Red Space, a "vampiric" region where nothing quite works right and it's easy to get lost. And that's just the beginning of his troubles. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
This sounds like a fun premise. A woman throws herself off a building in 2144, and never hits the ground, but a burnt body randomly lands in 1640. The woman who tries to comfort her gets thrown through time, in turn. Three women wind up being flung to different eras, and discover a war that spans thousands of years. They have to deal with the evil Lord Sweetclover, a deadly army, and the dangerous woman known only as Quil. Tor.com calls this book "a bit of fun." BN | Powell's
Here's a pretty unique spin on a historical novel — Winona is a seer in 7th century Northumbria, and her world is being threatened by the arrival of Christianity. And meanwhile, a young monk named Egan embraces the Christian faith, but finds that his experiences of the divine put him at odds with the church. Can they hold onto their own beliefs in spite of pressures from those in power? BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
It's a noir detective novel set in a future flooded New York, where the city is 21 storeys underwater. Simone Pierce thinks she's taken on a simple case, keeping tabs on an unfaithful husband. But instead, she finds a secret that all the most powerful people in the drowned city will kill to get their hands on. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
This is a collection of stories that explore "the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change." They span various genres, including magical realism, horror, science fiction and fantasy. BN | Powell's
In this debut, it's been thousands of years since humans controlled the universe, and we've fallen into a dark age of technological stagnation and despondence. Until one day, tons of forgotten human technology starts turning up — and one rediscovery could change the course of the entire cosmos. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
The Imagine Network needs a new reality TV hit — so how about a sea voyage to discover the real-life truth about mermaids? Sounds awesome, right? Except that the crew of the SS Atargatis actually finds mermaids, and they have really sharp teeth. Illustrated by the award-winning artist Julie Dillon. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
Scanlon has been curating the Twin Peaks Project, in which authors write essays, poems and personal pieces about the early 1990s TV show. And this book sounds almost like literary Twin Peaks fan-fiction — a near future Seattle is threatened by an apocalypse, but the Guild of Saint Cooper has a plan. They get a writer to save the city, by rewriting history so that Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks saves everybody. Kirkus calls this "an inventive but baffling literary experiment," and says it includes "aliens and mind control and Dale Cooper–isms and flashbacks and ruminations on the nature of writing." BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
Bryan Pierce is a famous painter, who can only come up with new paintings after he has particularly vivid dreams — which also leave him with new abilities, like speaking foreign languages or playing musical instruments. And then a brilliant neurogeneticist, working on the genetic basis of memories, sees her own dream in one of Piece's paintings. After they meet, he has his most vivid dream yet — about a team of researchers who were working on an Alzheimer's drug and had a laboratory accident, years earlier. It's a thriller as well as a love story, spanning 10,000 years of history. And it sounds freaking mental. Kirkus says Womack "does a beautiful job... of building emotional depth." BN| owell's| ooks Inc
This is a literary novel about the nature of technological and social change — that sounds like something that science-fiction fans ought to be interested in. In a set of interlocking stories, a group of librarians come to grips with the rise of e-books and the end of the public library system. A photographer and his deaf lover each mourn the other's death. And a new theory overtakes the hard sciences called Many Worlds, an interpretation of quantum theory that tries to prove using higher math that our lives don't follow a single linear path. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
Here's one of the year's most anticipated young-adult debuts. This book takes place in a world that sort of resembles the Roman Empire, where the Masks rule over the conquered Scholars with an iron fist. And after Laia's brother gets locked up as a suspected traitor, she is convinced to go undercover in the Masks' military academy, where no spy has ever survived before. And meanwhile the top student in that academy, Elias, wants to quit — but instead, he's chosen to compete for the highest honor. Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review and said, "Tahir’s deft, polished debut alternates between two very different perspectives on the same brutal world, deepening both in the contrast." BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
Apparently, "Alex Marshall" is the pseudonym for a well known, acclaimed author. Cobalt Zosia was a legendary general who slew monsters and overthrew an empire. Now she's retired and just wants a quiet life... until her entire village is massacred. Publisher's Weekly gives it a star and says, "the splendid storytelling, wry humor, and unresolved intrigue will leave readers hungry for the sequels." BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
Aza Ray is dying of a mysterious disease so unknown, it's been named after her — but then she does die, and finds herself on an airship, being told she's the savior of the blue-skinned sailors and bird people. It's basically The Fault in Our Stars meets swashbuckling airship adventures. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
A teenage porn-seller named Baxter has a pretty sweet life, until his girlfriend gets kidnapped — and he has to turn to a supernatural bounty hunter named Jackson "Jackie" Ronin for help. They have to hunt down Baxter's girlfriend through Cape Town's bizarre supernatural underworld, in this debut from a South African SF author. Tor.com has a few reservations, but calls it "an addictive experience." BN | Books Inc.
In a weird dystopian future, young girls fight to the death to become the Archivist, who traps ghosts and interrogates them. But after a few years of being Archivist, Wasp wants to quit, so she makes a deal with the ghost of a supersoldier. Once Wasp escapes into the land of the dead, though, she discovers that everything she ever knew was a lie. Kirkus gave this a starred review and calls it "difficult, provocative, and unforgettable—the most dangerous kind of fiction." BN | Powell's | Books Inc.
It's another post-apocalyptic novel, but this one is getting tons of praise. The last survivors are living in an enclave outside St. Louis, but when they hear there's life elsewhere, a postmodern Lewis and Clark set out across the Dead Lands, braving giant spiders and huge bats, along with human slavers. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. BN | Powell's | Books Inc.