We’re going to start doing something a little different with our monthly book list here on The Verge: we’re shifting this column from a monthly schedule to a bi-weekly one. Each list will be a bit shorter and hopefully, a bit less daunting than a longer list.
Speaking of shorter and less daunting, I packed two books when I went on a trip out of state recently: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark and War Cry by Brian McClellan. The two are fantasy novellas from Tor’s Tor.com imprint, and each are tiny adventures set in a much larger world.
The Black God’s Drums is set in an alternate 19th century where the American Civil War persisted long past 1865. In New Orleans, a young girl named Creeper overhears a group of Confederate soldiers plotting to grab a scientist who developed a terrible weapon, and she goes off to seek an unlikely ally to try and foil their plot. In War Cry, we follow a ranger unit stationed on an isolated plateau in the midst of a World War that’s lasted for as long as people can remember. A changer, Teado, is one of the last of his kind, and he and his fellow soldiers embark on a risky supply mission behind enemy lines, and are forced into an untenable situation that might end the war.
In both short books, we’re treated to a couple of well-sketched characters who face a situation that could drastically alter the world around them, and they’re forced to make some hard decisions to act. What impressed me in both stories was just how rich and vibrant each world is: they’re each layered with history and backstory, and I hope that both Clark and McClellan return to explore them again.
Here’s what’s coming out over the next two weeks.
Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman
Claire Coleman’s debut novel Terra Nullius came out last year in her home country of Australia, but it’s now hitting the United States for the first time. In it, mysterious invaders have come to Australia to set up a colony, and the natives whose lands they take suffer the consequences. Coleman is part of an indigenous group called the Noongar, and she told The Guardian that her experiences visiting a memorial dedicated to a massacre of her people helped inspire the novel, using science fiction to look back on the darker history of Australia and the invasion of the British colonists in the late 1700s.
Worlds Seen in Passing by Irene Gallo
Tor.com celebrated its 10th year this July. The website has become more than just a company blog to promote the publisher’s authors: it’s become an indispensable source for news and reviews within the SF/F community, not to mention home to original stories. Irene Gallo, who oversees the site, has collected some of the best stories that they’ve published over the years in this anthology, and it includes some of the biggest names in SF/F publishing: Charlie Jane Anders, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Max Gladstone, Jeff VanderMeer, and many, many more.
Halo: Silent Storm by Troy Denning
We might have a year or so to go before the next Halo game, but over the years, 343 Industries turned out a number of books to complement the games. The latest is set in 2526, a year after the start of the Human-Covenant war, and follows Master Chief as he’s assigned to lead a desperate mission to buy humanity some time.
Listen to an excerpt.
Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton explores the distant future in his latest novel, Salvation, switching between two distant but connected eras. In 2204, humanity is beginning to explore the rest of the galaxy through a newly invented gate technology. Travel to the stars is now easy, and after the discovery of a crashed spaceship on a newly explored world, a team is sent out to investigate — only to discover that the ship carries a strange cargo. Meanwhile, in the 51st century, a team of genetically engineered soldiers is preparing to confront an implacable enemy.
Solo: A Star Wars Story by Mur Lafferty
Solo: A Star Wars Story hit theaters in May, but the novelization for the film is out this week. While many of us have seen the film already, this book is being touted as an “expanded edition.” It adds some additional scenes that didn’t make it into the film, giving the story a bit more depth to the characters and flesh out the world a bit more.
The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chinese Science Fiction edited by Mingwei Song and Theodore Huters
China has a vibrant science fiction community that’s been gaining prominence in the west in the last couple of years: more and more, we’re seeing English translations from the country. Mingwei Song, an associate professor of Chinese at Wellesley College and Theodore Huters, professor emeritus in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles has put together a tome of stories published since the turn of the century, and includes some already familiar names, like Liu Cixin, Han Song, Xia Jia, Chen Qiufan, and more.
The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams
Walter Jon Williams kicks off a new trilogy set in the world of his Dread Empire’s Fall novels. The Accidental War is set after the events of the Naxid War, which saw Senior Captain Lord Gareth Martinez and Senior Captain Caroline Lady Sula exiled after going against the Terren Fleet’s traditions during the conflict. But after a crisis cripples the Commonwealth, Martinez, Sula, and their allies must escape and rally their fleet to end off a larger enemy looking to take advantage of their weakness. Publisher’s Weekly says that it’s “a solid start to a series that military science fiction fans should enjoy.”
State Tectonics by Malka Older
The final installment of Malka Older’s The Centenal Cycle, follows Infomocracy and Null States, a political thriller set in the distant future that imagines a world governed by micro-democracies — blocs of 100,000 voters known as centenals — and the efforts by major organizations to game the system to win control. Five years ago, sabotage and an earthquake threatened the last election, and as a new election approaches, an unknown group is attacking the underlying infrastructure of the system. Kirkus Reviews gave the novel a starred review, saying that it’s “satisfying as a novel, anxiety-inducing as a comment on our society.”
Port of Shadows by Glen Cook
Glen Cook made a name for himself with his Black Company series, a gritty story of a group of elite mercenaries. He’s returned to the world over the years, and his next, Port of Shadows, is set between the first two books of the series, The Black Company and Shadows Linger. In it, the soldiers of the Black Company are in the service of a mysterious sorceress known as the Lady. One of their numbers had been taken into the Lady’s Tower and returned unchanged, earning him a certain amount of attention from a group of sorcerers called The Ten Who Were Taken. As the company is dispatched to fight against a rebel army, they run into some strange occurrences. Publisher’s Weekly says that the book doesn’t have a huge impact on the larger series, but that it “makes for a pleasant diversion for fans.”