November's books are full of fantastical greatness. There's a sinister alternate history by Robert Charles Wilson, a new Gene Wolfe novel, and a historical epic by Nicola Griffith. Plus the definitive collection of 21st century science fiction. Here are all the science fiction and fantasy books you can't miss in November!
Top image: Limit by Frank Schatzing
The legendary author continues to be astonishingly prolific, with a brand new Kafkaesque fable about a travel author who gets stranded in a dystopian Eastern European country after his passport is confiscated. Is he being persecuted by the secret police? Or by something more supernatural? And more importantly, is he actually a CIA spy, or just an innocent victim? Read an excerpt here.
The steampunky magical series that began with God Save The Queen and The Queen is Dead concludes, with Xandra Vardan installed as the queen of the goblins — which only makes her life more complicated, as everybody wants the goblins on their side. And everybody from Queen Victoria to the alpha werewolf is out to get her. By all accounts, this is a fun alt-history series in which the Black Plague turned everyone into supernatural creatures.
Speaking of weird alternate histories... in the latest mind-bender from the author of Spin and Julian Comstock, the world has been at peace since the Great Armistice in 1914. There was no Great Depression, and no World War II. But one nineteen-year-old woman starts to suspect that human history has been interfered with, by aliens who may have a sinister purpose for us. It's gotten mixed reviews, but it's still a new Robert Charles Wilson. Read an excerpt here.
Baker, the author of the acclaimed Company series of time-travel novels, died in 2010 — but here's one last collection of her work, in which the Company tries to steal from the past without attracting any notice from the locals. Including four previously uncollected stories, one of which is a new collaboration with Baker's sister, Kathleen Batholomew.
There's a reason why Waldrop is one of the most acclaimed short-story writers out there, and here's a great chance to find out for yourself. These surprising and confounding stories include "The Wolf-Man of Alcatraz," in which a man serves a 30-year sentence for crimes he committed while he was transformed as a werewolf. There's also a crossover between Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.
The author of Ammonite and Slow River is back, with a historical novel set in seventh century Britain, about the woman who will become the powerful Saint Hilda of Whitby. This strange girl who can see the future becomes the Seer to the King, at his right hand — but if she ever misleads him, then she's through. Griffith did tons of painstaking research to reconstruct a realistic view of Medieval England. It's rare for a book to get praise from both Neal Stephenson and Dorothy Allison, but Griffith's done it. (Not to mention comparisons to T.H. White.)
Now that ChiZine has won a World Fantasy Award (along with one of their authors!), it's time to appreciate the bounty of this longstanding weird fiction publisher — and this flipbook of two novellas looks like a good place to start. In Gamification, a man discovers his evil corporation may have killed someone to cover up an evil secret — and a 1970s novel called Attack of the Sea Monkeys provides a crucial clue. In C-Monkeys, it's the 1970s and a pulp novelist sneaks aboard an airplane going to an island paradise where energy experiments are happening. But ancient salamanders are being "genetically altered" in a bid to take over the world. Woo hoo!
This debut novel follows Robert Strong, a physcist who loses his job at the Dark Matter research lab, and then discovers that the dead are coming back to visit him. Then Strong learns that he must destroy the Large Hadron Collider — or the entire world could be destroyed. The Skinny describes this thriller as "an intriguing, opportune ‘day after tomorrow’ thriller, that gets away with its James Bondian secret bases and conspiracies by scrupulously grounding itself not just in its characters’ lives and relationships but also in modern particle physics."
This is an indispensible survey of important stories by the up-and-coming writers in the field from the past dozen years or so. Including a lot of names you'll recognize, like Paolo Bacigalupi and Elizabeth Bear — but also some you might not know. These 34 stories are basically a crash course in science fiction of the new millennium, and required reading for anybody who wants to be up on the state of the field — not to mention, anybody who wants their perceptions of reality to be challenged and expanded.
Schätzing has written a ton of successful thrillers in Germany, but we haven't gotten a lot of his works in English until now. It's a near-future adventure, where the first space elevator is finally built — and it leads to a luxury hotel on the Moon. (And it's also going to bring Helium-3, that substance that Sam Rockwell was mining in Moon, back to Earth.) Meanwhile, "cybercop" Owen Jericho is looking for a hacker named Yoyo, and she turns out to be the key to a conspiracy that could spell disaster for the billionaires in their space elevator to the Moon.
This space opera adventure sounds rollicking and insane. Ambitious, crafty mercenary Devi Morris signs on as the security officer on the Glorious Fool, a trade ship so dangerous that one year serving on board her is the same as five years anywhere else. Tor.com praised this novel for giving us a classic "space marine" type character who kicks ass and goes for what she wants — but also, a compelling a romance. Fantasy Book Critic liked the worldbuilding, with four different races in Bach's universe, and the "rip-roaring ride" full of action and snark.
The author of Total Oblivion, More or Less explores a bunch of strange worlds in this story collection that straddles the illusory genre-litfic divide. As the title suggests, these stories are all about people who are oppressed, in various ways, and searching for freedom in whatever form they can. In one story, a writer grapples with the evil world of science fiction publishing in a dystopian future. In another, aliens travel across a conquered Earth, refueling at a gas station staffed by human slaves in chains. Read an excerpt here.
This isn't just another volume in Priest's acclaimed Clockwork Century series — it's a very different spin on her alt-history world, in which the Civil War is still going on even though Abraham Lincoln has resigned. Ex-slave Gideon Bardsley copes with assassination attempts as well as people trying to destroy his invention, a calculating engine called Fiddlehead. His only hope may be Maria "Belle" Boyd, a former Confederate spy-turned-detective.
You've already marveled at Watts' story "The Things" (from the POV of the alien in The Thing), but there's plenty more where that comes from. These stories include the Hugo-winning space opera tale "The Island," plus the terrific "A Niche," about someone seeking a haven at the bottom of the ocean. This is a great chance to get to know one of our best short-story writers, at the top of his game.