Fall is a big season for the books, and the next few months will be bringing you literary treats you only dreamed of. There's new work from William Gibson, Connie Willis, Iain M. Banks, Cherie Priest, and more!
John Birmingham, After America (Del Rey)
Australian author Birmingham gives us the second action-packed installment in his alternate history series where a mysterious energy weapon wipes out most of the US in 2003, and a government run by a Seattle engineer tries to rebuild the nation. Interesting geopolitics, incredible action, and pirate battles make this a perfect end-of-summer read.
"Mockingjay" leaves the government's kid-on-kid hunting grounds and heads into the destitute reality of the districts, which have come under heavy fire from the Capitol for rising up against its superficial and oppressive leadership.
If you've been waiting for all the books to be published before starting this post-apocalyptic trilogy about a game show where kids fight to the death on TV - well, now's the time.
Gail Carriger, Blameless (Orbit)
The third in Carriger's beloved Parasol Protectorate series, this installment finds heroine Alexia fleeing London after an attack from mechanical ladybugs. Chased by vampires, she travels to Italy seeking information from the Templars. But they're more dangerous than she thought, and apparently they're armed with pesto.
Sherri S. Tepper, The Waters Rising (Eos)
Award-winning author Tepper brings us a fable from the environmental apocalypse. From Publishers Weekly:
The Earth of this futuristic fable is still scarred by the "Big Kill," the disastrous crescendo of our civilization that all but obliterated terrestrial life. Now a new threat has appeared in the form of rising sea levels, a process that appears unbounded by such petty concerns as a plausible source for all that water. Xulai, initially an unimportant and expendable young girl, encounters a specter from the days of Big Kill, an entity bent on preventing Xulai from realizing her potential role in the salvation of humanity.
Ann Aguirre, Killbox (Ace)
More adventures await you as Sirantha Jax fights and romances her way through space. You know you want to read it.
Darin Bradley, Noise (Spectra)
I was filled with intense desire for this book the moment I read the plot description, which includes everything from D&D campaigners to analog television hackers. Here's what awaits you:
In the aftermath of the switch from analog to digital TV, an anarchic movement known as Salvage hijacks the unused airwaves. Mixed in with the static's random noise are dire warnings of the imminent economic, political, and social collapse of civilization-and cold-blooded lessons on how to survive the fall and prosper in the harsh new order that will inevitably arise from the ashes of the old. Hiram and Levi are two young men, former Scouts and veterans of countless Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Now, on the blood-drenched battlefields of university campuses, shopping malls, and gated communities, they will find themselves taking on new identities and new moralities as they lead a ragtag band of hackers and misfits to an all-but-mythical place called Amaranth, where a fragile future waits to be born.
Jay Lake, The Sky That Wraps (Subterranean)
A collection of 25 of Lake's most recent short stories.
Audrey Niffenegger, The Night Bookmobile (Abrams)
In this richly-illustrated story, Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) tells the story of a woman who discovers a mysterious bookmobile that contains every book she's ever read.
Karen Joy Fowler, What I Didn't See And Other Stories (Small Beer Press)
Fowler is probably best known for her novel The Jane Austen Book Club, but she's also a fiercely brilliant science fiction writer who has won several awards for her speculative short stories. This beautifully-written collection of stories will bend your mind in wild new directions.
William Gibson, Zero History (Putnam)
The final book in his loosely-connected series that began with Pattern Recognition, Gibson's Zero History is a brain-melting, eccentric thriller about avant-garde advertising and fashion espionage. Hollis, the main character from Spook Country, is back to do more cultural investigation for Bigend - and of course, she's going to get more than she bargained for when she signed up to figure out the "secret label" behind the coolest denim jackets and jeans you've ever seen in your life.
Charles Yu, How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe (Pantheon)
We've already given Yu's debut novel about a minor fictional universe owned by Time Warner Time a stellar review here. This is how I summed it up:
[Yu's protagonist has a] job as a time machine mechanic where his colleagues are mostly artificial intelligences who act more human than he does - or who actually believe they are human. Yu effortlessly switches between comic vignettes about the fate of Luke Skywalker's less-famous son (who has messed up his time machine in a fictional universe), and his protagonist's painful memories of growing up at the center of a Venn diagram whose circles include the alien universes of Taiwan, America, and Tatooine.
David Drake, What Distant Deeps (Baen)
Captain Leary kicks more ass. What more do you need to know?
Housuke Nojiri, Rocket Girls (Viz)
From the back cover:
Yukari Morita is a high school girl on a quest to find her missing father. While searching for him in the Solomon Islands, she receives the offer of a lifetime—she'll get the help she needs to find her father, and all she need do in return is become the world's youngest, lightest astronaut.
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Fall (William Morrow)
It's the sequel to vampire war book The Strain, and things are just going to get creepier as the war (and the vamp virus) spreads.
Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (Harper Collins)
The fourth Tiffany Aching novel from the Discworld series, this novel promises to be pure urban fantasy.
Sandra McDonald, The Stars Blue Yonder (Tor)
Another entry in McDonald's Outback Stars trilogy, a military SF series that spans the Australian outback and outer space. Here's the description:
Chief Terry Myell died and became a god. Now he's back to life, careening around space and time at the behest of a voice that told him to save all of mankind. Helping and hindering this quest are his elderly wife, his young wife, grandchildren who haven't been born yet, romantic rivals he hasn't even met, a descendant from two thousand years in the future, and an alien nemesis who calls itself the Flying Doctor. Life in the military has never been so complicated.
Cherie Priest, Dreadnought (Tor)
The sequel to Priest's critically-acclaimed alternate history of the Civil War, Boneshaker, this novel takes us out of the poisoned, zombie-ridden heart of Seattle and straight to the battlefields of the South. Here's what's in store:
Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy's husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she'll catch a train over the Rockies and-if the telegram can be believed-be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.
Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.
What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can't imagine why they're so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?
Eric Brown, Engine Man (Solaris)
From the description:
Once they pushed big ships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum, but faster than light isn't fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undisclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph's future. What he cannot anticipate is its universal importance-nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world.
Sounds like space opera of the highest order - count me in.
Jonathan Strahan, editor, Eclipse 4: New Science Fiction and Fantasy (Nightshade Press)
Strahan's Eclipse series showcases terrific, mind-bending short stories from new and known names in the genre. We never want to miss this annual anthology.
Richard Kadrey, Kill the Dead (Eos)
In the sequel to Sandman Slim, our titular antihero buddies up with Satan, and wonders if the ruler of Hell is actually his father. Funny and enjoyable.
Scott Westerfeld, Behemoth (Simon Pulse)
In this sequel to Leviathan, Westerfeld returns to his biopunk vision of the nineteenth century, where Darwin discovered the genome and all technology is based on genetic engineering. Battles are fought with flying whales, and our young heroes find themselves alone in enemy territory during the war between Clankers and Darwinists. With gorgeous illustrations by Keith Thompson, this is a must-read.
Felix Gilman, The Half-Made World (Tor)
From the synopsis:
The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared-the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they're just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope . . . Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.
Connie Willis, All Clear (Spectra)
Those of us who read Blackout, the first half of this two-part novel extravaganza, have been basically sitting on pointy shrapnel as we waited for this action-packed conclusion. Several history students have traveled back in time to study what ordinary people did during World War II, but something has trapped them in a world where knowing the future won't necessarily prevent you from getting bombed. How can our heroes return home, without altering history - and without getting themselves killed? Willis is brilliant at worldbuilding - so you'll want to read Blackout, where she introduces her characters and sets the scene, before reading All Clear.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Cryoburn (Baen)
Miles Vorkosigan is back! Need we say more?
John Freeman, Scifi Art Now
A lovely coffee table book highlighting contemporary scifi art from a wide range of creators.
Iain M. Banks, Surface Detail (Orbit)
Yes, your wishes have all been granted today - there is a new Culture novel from Iain M. Banks. Here's all we can tell you:
It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.
It begins with a murder.
And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.
Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.
Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality.
It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.
And by the way? I happen to know from first-hand experience that it really is awesome - I promise.
Catherynne N. Valente, The Habitation of the Blessed (Night Shade Books)
Valente, author of the award-winning Orphans Tales series, and Palimpsest, brings you another dose of hallucinatory historical revisionism. From the blurb:
Brother Hiob of Luzern, on missionary work in The East on the eve of the 16th century, stumbles across a miraculous tree who's fruits are books... books which chronicle the Kingdom of Prester John. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these miraculous volumes, revealing John's rise to power... from John's own viewpoint... from the viewpoint of his wife Hagia, and from the viewpoint of Hajji, a prayer-cantor who vowed to end John's illegitimate reign.
Everyman library collection of first three novels in Isaac Asimov's crucial Foundation series: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.
Tad Williams, Shadowheart (Daw)
The latest in Williams' Shadowmarch series.
N.K. Jemisin, The Broken Kingdoms (Orbit)
Sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, this novel takes us to "the city of Shadow, beneath the world tree." From the blurb:
Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree's guest is at the heart of it. . .
Pamela Sargent, Seed Seeker (Tor)
Sargent's novel promises to be an interesting LeGuin-esque tale of the colonies left behind by a spacefaring culture. From the book description:
Several hundred years ago, Ship, a sentient starship, settled humans on the planet Home before leaving to colonize other worlds, promising to return one day. Over time, the colony on Home divided into those who live in the original domed buildings of the colony, who maintain the library and technology of Ship, and those who live by the river, farming and hunting to survive. The Dome Dwellers consider themselves the protectors of "true humanity" and the River People "contaminated," and the two sides interact solely through ritualized trade: food and goods from the River People in exchange for repairs and recharges by the Dome Dwellers. Then a new light appears in the night sky. The River People believe it might be Ship, keeping its promise to return, but the Dome Dwellers, who have a radio to communicate with Ship, are silent. So Bian, a seventeen-year-old girl from a small village, travels upriver to learn what they know.
L.E. Modesitt, Empress of Eternity (Tor)
Here's the scoop:
In the far future, an indestructible and massive canal more than 2,000 miles long spans the mid-continent of Earth. Nothing can mar it, move it, or affect it in any fashion. At its western end, where it meets the sea, is an equally indestructible structure comprising three levels of seemingly empty chambers. Scientists from three different civilizations, separated in time by hundreds of thousands of years, are investigating the canal. In the most distant of these civilizations, religious rebellion is brewing. A plot is hatched to overthrow the world government of the Vanir, using a weapon that can destroy anything-except the canal. If used at full power it might literally unravel the universe and destroy all life forever. The lives and fates of all three civilizations become intertwined as the forces behind the canal react to the threat, and all three teams of scientists find their lives changed beyond belief.
Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Tachyon)
Steampunk talents of the last decade, including Daniel Abraham, John Coulthart, William Gibson, and Margo Lanagan.
Ekaterina Sedia, House of Discarded Dreams (Prime)
We've already written a review of Sedia's new novel, a magic realist tale of biology, culture clashes, and three college kids and a ghost stuck on a house floating in the middle of the ocean. Here's how I described the novel in my review:
Vimbai is an undergraduate biology major in New Jersey, struggling to separate from her immigrant parents – especially her mother, a professor of Africana Studies who is obsessed with social liberation, except when it comes to her sheltered daughter. Though she's grown up steeped in her immigrant parents' Zimbwaean politics, Vimbai is more interested in studying horseshoe crabs than learning about her family's traditions. Which is why she decides to move into a dilapidated house on the beach with a group of twenty-something slackers.
Except these slackers have problems more bizarre than Facebook drama and midterms. One of them has a portal to another universe in his hair, and the other has a brood of fantastical possum-dog creatures who follow her everywhere she goes. And their phone line contains a creature who represents the congealed psychic energy of all the people who have talked on it. Just when things can't get any weirder, Vimbai's dead grandmother starts making them breakfast and the house floats out to sea.
Salman Rushdie, Luka and the Fire of Life (Random House)
The controversial literary author immerses us in "an alternate world informed by the surreal logic of video games," where a boy and his hologram father go on a quest full of leveling-up and hybrid animals.
Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three (Orbit)
From the blurb:
A starship hurtles through the emptiness of space. Its destination-unknown. Its purpose-a mystery. Its history-lost. Now, one man wakes up. Ripped from a dream of a new home-a new planet and the woman he was meant to love in his arms-he finds himself, wet, naked, and freezing to death. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting other survivors he meets might be the greater danger. All he has are questions— Who is he? Where are they going? What happened to the dream of a new life? What happened to the woman he loved? What happened to Hull 03?
The point is, it's Greg fucking Bear. You really want to miss his latest thriller? Nope.