It’s a new month, which means there is another stack of books hitting bookstores to check out.
I recently finished John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, and I had a lot of fun reading it. I’ve largely enjoyed the books that I’ve read from him, and I had the chance to chat with him back in February about this new one.
It’s a very utilitarian space opera novel, one that’s fun to sink into, but it isn’t quite as serious as books like Ann Leckie’s Ancillary novels or Iain M. Banks’ Culture series. As Scalzi noted in the interview, it’s his job to be a gateway author for the science fiction genre, and I can see how this book would be a nice jumping-off point for some of the other, heady books in the canon.
In the meantime, though, there’s a huge number of books coming out this month.
American War by Omar El Akkad
In 2074, a second civil war breaks out in America. The country is in tough shape: oceans have risen and covered protagonist Sarat Chestnut’s home state of Louisiana. When her father is killed, she’s sent to a refugee camp, where she grows up among other displaced persons. It’s there that she meets a mysterious individual who trains her to become a weapon, and the choices she must make will have a devastating impact on her family and her country.
The Moon and the Other by John Kessel
Author and science fiction scholar John Kessel has been called one of science fiction’s most necessary critics, and his new novel, The Moon and the Other, benefits from that knowledge. In the 22nd century, the Moon is covered by a series of city-states, including the matriarchal Society of Cousins. As the Organization of Lunar States sends a delegation to investigate the rights of men, the story of citizens in the Society intertwine, and the secrets the delegation uncovers spark a war on the lunar surface. According to Kirkus Reviews, Kessel has “imagined a richly detailed future world, and a strong plot full of intrigue keeps this story moving along.”
The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard
The next installment of the Dominion of the Fallen saga sees the city of post-apocalyptic Paris recovering from the devastation wrought in de Bodard’s last novel, The House of Shattered Wings. Forcibly transplanted immortal Phillippe seeks to resurrect a friend he lost in the last novel. Alchemist and magic addict Madeleine ventures into an underwater dragon kingdom, only to find a brewing political war between its inhabitants and Paris’ fallen angels. While the powerful houses attempt to force peace, those involved must navigate their way through it, or fall victim to a dark magic that seeks to control them.
Convergence by C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherryh has been plugging away at her space opera Foreigner series for nearly two decades now, and the next installment is Convergence. Following the destruction of a distant space station, Alpha Station takes on 5,000 human refugees, stretching its space and life support to the brink. It’s forced to relocate the refugees to atevi, the planet below, but it’s a solution that angers the planet’s inhabitants and could cause further problems for everyone.
The Best of Gordon R. Dickson Volume 1 by Gordon R. Dickson
Gordon R. Dickson is well known for his many military science fiction and fantasy novels, written over a career that spanned decades. Now, Baen Books has gathered 14 of his stories published between 1950 and 1960, for the first of a two-volume series of his best works. Ranging from adventure to tragedy, the book should be a good introduction to one of the genre’s best-known writers.
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
Ruthanna Emrys sets her debut novel, Winter Tide, squarely in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Following an attack in 1928, the US Government has rounded up the people of Innsmouth — a long-standing Lovecraftian location — and imprisoned them in the desert. In 1949, a number of dangerous magical secrets go missing from Miskatonic University, and it’s feared that they’ve ended up in the hands of the Soviet Union. So the FBI recruits Aphra and Caleb Marsh, the only two Innsmouth residents who made it out alive, to track them down. Publishers Weekly says that Emrys’ “sensitive comparisons of Aphra’s experience to those of other confined and displaced peoples make the novel historically relevant and resonant.”
Defy the Stars by Claudia Grey
In the midst of an interstellar war, Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier fighting against Earth’s robotic armies. On one mission, she comes across a sophisticated mech on an abandoned ship, and a loophole in its programming compels the machine to recognize her as its commander. Despite their different allegiances, the two embark on a dangerous journey, one in which they learn more about one another along the way, and what it means to be human.
Gauntlet by Holly Jennings
The sequel to Holly Jennings’ 2016 novel Arena finds video game champion Kali Ling enmeshed in another brutal competition. This game presents a new challenge to Ling and her fellow players: it adapts to their every more, and will push them to their physical and mental limits.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence is best known for grimdark fantasy novels such as Prince of Thrones and The Liar’s Key, and he’s launching a new trilogy, called Book of the Ancestor, with the novel Red Sister. In the Convent of Sweet Mercy, girls are raised to be killers. But when one girl, Nona Grey, is brought to the Convent’s halls, the convent could be in for more trouble than it’s expecting. Nona’s past is quickly following her, and powerful figures in the Empire have their eyes on her.
Blood Enemies by Susan R. Matthews
The latest installment of Susan R. Matthews’ Under Jurisdiction series is Blood Enemies. Andrej Koscuisko served in the Jurisdiction Fleet as a torturer. Disgusted with the work, he fled with several slaves into Gonebeyond Space, away from the Jurisdiction. Now, a terrorist organization has begun to wage war in the Gonebeyond system, and the Malcontent, the secret service of the Dolgorukij church, has a plan to stop them. Andrej is recruited to help save the system, and must resort to his old ways to do so.
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
In last year’s Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel wrote about the discovery of a giant alien robot hidden under the Earth’s surface. In its sequel, Waking Gods, more giant robots arrive at Earth in an invasion that could threaten the survival of the human race. Rose Franklin and her associates at the Earth Defense Corps rush to unlock the remaining secrets of their own robot in a desperate attempt to turn the tide before humanity is wiped out.
The End of the Day, Claire North
Claire North has had several hits on her hands, with books such as The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and The Sudden Appearance of Hope. Her latest is an apocalyptic novel that follows Charlie, the Harbinger of Death. He visits people before they die, and is closely followed by his employer. Kirkus Reviews called the book “wholly original and hauntingly beautiful.”
Brimstone by Cherie Priest
During the First World War, Tomás Cordero wielded a flamethrower, and left the battlefield a broken man. He discovers that his wife died of the flu, after returning home, and he’s haunted by dreams of fire whenever he sleeps. In Cassadaga, Florida, Alice Dartle is a clairvoyant who also dreams of fire, and seeks out Cordero, trying to bring him some peace. However, the flames that bind them were started centuries ago, from someone whose hate extends beyond the grave.
The Horror on the Links by Seabury Quinn
While authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard are well-known staples in the Weird Fiction genre, Seabury Quinn is a far more obscure writer. Night Shade Books has collected the author’s stories about his supernatural French detective Dr. Jules de Grandin into a new five-book series, The Complete Tales of Jules De Grandin. The first volume, The Horror on the Links, kicks off the series with stories published between 1925 and 1928. The second volume, The Devil's Rosary, will be out in September.
Saga Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
The Saga series from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are some of my absolute favorite comics. As the series continues into its seventh volume, Hazel has been reunited with her family, but she must travel to a war-torn comet that both Wreath and Landfall have been fighting over.
The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf
Life is hard in the middle of a desert world, where the Earth Dragon sleeps far below the surface. Sulema is a new warrior — a Ja’Akari, the daughter of the desert. When a man arrives in her village, she learns that the Dragon King is dying, and when he passes, so too will the magic that keeps the Earth Dragon asleep. There are powerful forces that want to keep the dragon asleep, but there are others who want to wake her up.
Proof of Concept by Gwyneth Jones
In the future, on an overcrowded and polluted Earth, a government project has developed a technology that might spell out some hope for the human race: the ability to travel to other, habitable worlds. A woman named Kir is given a chance to join the team, because her brain is host to an artificial intelligence named Altair. Evolution has programmed Kir’s brain to ignore theoretical dangers, and the Altair is going to have to convince his host that the future holds plenty of peril.
Void Star by Zachary Mason
In this novel set in the near future, three individuals eke out a living in a dystopian San Francisco. Irina is enhanced with an artificial intelligence, and accidentally finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop screen. Thales has fled to California after a brutal attack, and is accosted by a stranger asking how much he remembers. Kern is a refugee living at the edge of the city, and robs the wrong person. All three of them come together as they’re pushed by unseen forces.
Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
When I was just starting to read science fiction, I picked up and really enjoyed Elizabeth Moon’s military science fiction novel Trading in Danger, the first of her Vatta’s War series. Almost a decade after leaving the series, Moon is returning to the world with a new adventure. In Cold Welcome, commander Kylara Vatta returning home, only to find herself thrust into new dangers in a deadly environment with a motley group of soldiers. They discover a deadly conspiracy that has consumed both the military and government, and it spells the end for her team, and her home planet.
Tender by Sofia Samatar
Sofia Samatar won widespread praise for her novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories. She’s now releasing her first collection of short fiction, Tender. The collection’s 20 stories include letters, supernatural beings, Middle Eastern fairy tales, and quite a bit more. The book has also since earned a coveted starred rating from Kirkus Reviews, which called the book “an impressive collection of stories that excite the imagination.”
Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steele
Allen Steele wrote one of our favorite novels last year, Arkwright, but for his next, he’s going in a slightly different direction. Avengers of the Moon goes back to the pulpy world of Edmond Hamilton’s Captain Future stories. The novel follows Curt Newton, a man raised by a robot, an android and the brain of a scientist after his parents were murdered. After discovering a plot to assassinate the president and destroy the Solar Coalition, he must become Captain Future in order to save the day. Steele’s Arkwright had a good understanding of the history of science fiction, and it looks as though he’s diving head first into the world of classic science fiction.
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
When Star Wars Rebels producer Dave Filoni announced last year that beloved EU character Grand Admiral Thrawn was joining the show, I did a little dance. When Timothy Zahn announced that he was writing a novel all about the character? I might have squealed more than a little. Thrawn is one of the most interesting characters to come out of the Star Wars universe, and this novel is all about his rise through the ranks of the Empire. While the EU might not be canon anymore, this is a book I’ve waited decades to read.
The Survivors by Nick Farmer
Nick Farmer is a linguist who’s best known for creating the Belter creole language used in The Expanse, but he’s about to self-publish his first novelette, The Survivors, which takes place in a virtually empty New York City. A man named Daniel wakes up with a disease that he wasn’t aware he’d been infected with, one that makes him biologically immortal, yet dangerous to his neighbors. With threats from all sides, he and his fellow infected set out to look for answers about their predicament.
Cosmic Powers: A Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies by John Joseph Adams
John Joseph Adams has a new themed anthology, one that’s worth buying just for its amazing cover by classic science fiction artist Chris Foss. This book is full of stories that’s all about space opera adventures along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars. As is typical with an Adams anthology, there’s an impressive lineup of authors in the table of contents: Alan Dean Foster, Linda Nagata, Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley (who wrote The Stars are Legion), Becky Chambers, Dan Abnett, and quite a few more.
The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr
In this third installment of Carr’s Electric Vampire series, we return to the fantasy steampunk retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Eliza Jekyll has to once again turn to her darker side, Miss Lizzie Hyde, in order to stop the man targeting London’s scientists. Hyde is wild and unpredictable, threatening Jekyll’s reputation and her marriage. As she works to catch the killer, she’s brought in to a murky world of secret labs, forbidden books, and more. When London is attacked, she has to hold her two halves together in order to survive.
Forgotten Worlds by D. Nolan Clark
In D. Nolan Clark’s first novel, Forsaken Skies, an alien armada threatened Niraya. While Aleister Lanoe helped beat the enemy forces back, there are more ships on their way. Lanoe receives a message that could help. Equipped with a new ship, he’s sent off to investigate, taking his crew into the depths of space to collect some new allies for the coming war.
Ararat by Christopher Golden
When an expedition travels to Mount Ararat in Turkey, an earthquake uncovers a hidden cave with a long-hidden secret: a ship that they believe is Noah’s Ark. The team goes in and discovers a coffin with a horned creature inside. When a blizzard comes in and traps them, their prayers for safety awaken an ancient evil.
Moriah by Daniel Mills
Horror author Daniel Mills looks to his home state of Vermont for inspiration for his latest novel. In the summer of 1874, Civil War veteran Silas Flood returns after the end of the war to escape the trauma he endured. He travels to the tiny village of Moriah, where there have been reports of supernatural occurrences and a pair of brothers who can summon the dead. As Flood looks into the claims, he’s forced to confront his own haunted past as well.
Off Rock by Kieran Shea
A space miner named Jimmy Vik has been having a rough couple of years. He’s been downsized, his ex-girlfriend and supervisor has been bothering him, and he’s reached the end of his rope. When he comes across a substantial pocket of gold hidden away on Kardashev 7-A, he’s hit a lucky break — if he can smuggle it off. In order to do that, he has to go up against a criminal partner, an assassin, his ex, and a mining company.
Change Agent by Daniel Suarez
A couple of years ago, Daniel Suarez wrote a fun, pulpy techno thriller called Influx that I had a lot of fun reading. His next book is also set in a technological near-future, where an Interpol agent named Kenneth Durand tracks down illegal genetic enhancements and people who experiment on unwitting subjects. He’s on the trail of the leader of the Huli jing cartel, Marcus Demang Wyckes, which has been engaged in illegal human trafficking and experimentation. However, Durand is captured, and wakes up only to discover that he’s been turned into the man he’s been tracking, and goes on the run from his own team. He’s going to have to find the real Wyckes in order to clear his name.
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
The Earth is turned into a battleground after wars sweep its surface, and the survivors have fled to orbit aboard a platform known as CIEL, which is ruled like a quasi-police state led by a cult leader named Jean de Men. A small group of rebels fight to break his hold on the station, led by a child-warrior named Joan. When she’s martyred by de Men’s forces, it will lead a tidal change against those in power. The book has already been optioned for film.
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan comes to the end of her Lady Trent Memoirs, a series detailing the adventures of Lady Isabella Trent, a dragon naturalist and explorer. After five decades in the field, Trent works to join the all-male Philosopher’s Colloquium, when a stranger named Thu Phim-lat shows up, with reports of the remains of dragons deep in the ice of his home country of Yelang. Trent organizes an expedition, one that will tax her and her as she travels to the tallest peak in the world. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred rating and called it a “thoroughly absorbing conclusion to this refreshingly different and consistently intriguing pentalogy.”
Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
In Maurice Broaddus’ new steampunk novella Buffalo Soldier, a former spy named Desmond Coke finds himself caught between a pair of religious and political factions in his home country of Jamaica. Both are trying to control a boy named Lij Tafari for their own ends. Coke helps lead the boy away, but is pursued by an enemy agent, desperate to cover up the secrets that he holds.
Halo: Envoy by Tobias Buckell
Tobias Buckell is back with another Halo novel. His first, The Cole Protocol, set during the early days of the Human-Covenant War was particularly well-liked by fans of the franchise. Halo: Envoy is set six years after the war, where human colonists and Sangheili settlers live in an uneasy coexistence on the planet Carrow. As Civil War engulfs the aliens, a human envoy, Melody Azikiwe, must try to broker peace, and free a team of SPARTAN-IIs from captivity.
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
A man named Hubert, Etc. watched the breakdown of society, and keeps to himself at the edges of society. When he falls in with a rich heiress named Natalie who’s trying to escape from her repressive father, they decide to simply walk away from society. In the outskirts, they discover something that the ultra-rich haven’t been able to buy: a way to beat death, and it’s a revelation that will turn the world upside-down.
The Ship by Antonia Honeywell
Society has collapsed, and Lalla grew up sheltered from the chaos, above London’s streets in a high-security flat. When she turns 16, her father decides that it’s time to escape on a ship that he’s constructed that can hold 500 people. But the utopia that he’s constructed has its own downsides: those traveling with them forego personal possessions and their memories, and things take a disturbing turn as her father becomes a messiah-like figure.
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
The mill town of Ashford, Vermont is known to residents as Burntown. When Eva Saneski’s father Miles drowned, she and her mother are left homeless. A fantastic inventor, he left behind a secret machine constructed with plans stolen from Thomas Edison’s workshop. When her mother and boyfriend are killed, she’s convinced that someone is after the machine, and she has to rely on the outcasts of Burntown to survive.
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
I’m a huge fan of Brian Staveley’s fantasy trilogy, The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. While that trilogy has come to a close last year with The Last Mortal Bond, Staveley’s not done with this world just yet. Skullsworn is a standalone tale set in the Annurian Empire, following one of the trilogy’s more intriguing characters, Pyrre Lakatur, the Skullsworn assassin. In this novel, she’s preparing to face her final trial, and she’s been given 10 days to kill seven people, including someone that she loves.
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer
Jeff Vandermeer made waves with his Weird Area X trilogy — Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. His next book looks to be just as strange. A young scavenger named Rachel comes across a green sentient lump in the midst of a ruined city. She names the lump Borne, and forms a connection with it, teaching it to speak and about the world surrounding them. But as it grows, Borne incurs the wrath of a mysterious company, and threatens the balance of power in the city and her precarious existence. There’s high hopes for the book, and we might see more of it before too long — Paramount Pictures has already snapped up the rights for a film.