Contravening the expectations of both springtime and speculative fiction, this season’s science fiction and fantasy authors are looking back as well as forward.
Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, her first fantasy novel for adults, made a big splash in 2010 and landed a spot on PW’s Best Books list. Most authors would follow a successful novel with a sequel, but Okorafor always goes her own way; this year she’ll be releasing a prequel, The Book of Phoenix. Also on the retrospective side are collections of short works from two highly regarded novelists: The Very Best of Kate Elliott and Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction. Elliott is famous for female-driven fantasy epics, and Rajaniemi for intricate, brain-bending science fiction tomes, but both are equally skilled at shorter lengths.
Our shared past beckons to alternate historians. Victor Milán’s The Dinosaur Lords combines the age of dinosaurs with the age of knights in a smashing fantasy conceit. In Ian Tregillis’s The Mechanical, a 17th-century clockwork army turns the Netherlands into the first global superpower. European legends influence Naomi Novik’s standalone novel Uprooted, a beauty-and-the-dragon story. Viola Carr gives Victorian England a dark psychological twist with The Diabolical Miss Hyde, which opens the Electric Empire series. And V.E. Schwab imagines not one but four different Georgian Londons, and the daring people who travel among them, in A Darker Shade of Magic.
Of course, there are still authors who look to the future, though their visions are often grim. Lee Kelly’s City of Savages turns near-future Manhattan into a camp for prisoners of war, where two sisters fight for survival while searching for the truth behind the city’s destruction. In Judd Trichter’s Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, a man searches for the pieces of the android who was his lover, hoping to reassemble her and escape to a place where their relationship is legal. In the longstanding tradition of SF, these stories reflect the present while imagining what might lie ahead. But anyone who thinks that speculative fiction is all futurism should think again. Many writers and readers are using the tools of the genre to question long-held assumptions about history, and they’re coming up with some fascinating answers.
PW’s top 10: SF, Fantasy & Horror
The Book of Phoenix. Nnedi Okorafor. DAW, May 5
City of Savages. Lee Kelly. S&S/Saga, Feb. 3
A Darker Shade of Magic. V.E. Schwab. Tor, Feb. 24
The Diabolical Miss Hyde. Viola Carr. Harper Voyager, Feb. 10
The Dinosaur Lords. Victor Milán. Tor, July 28
Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction. Hannu Rajaniemi. Tachyon, May 12
Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Judd Trichter. St. Martin’s/Dunne, Feb. 3
The Mechanical. Ian Tregillis. Orbit, Mar. 10
Uprooted. Naomi Novik. Del Rey, May 19
The Very Best of Kate Elliott. Kate Elliott. Tachyon, Feb. 10
SF, Fantasy & Horror Listings
Day Shift by Charlaine Harris (May 5, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-425-26319-8) continues the mysterious saga of Midnight, Tex., a small town full of strange events and even stranger people. When psychic Manfred Bernardo is accused of murder, he turns to the enigmatic Olivia Charity for help.
The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello (June 23, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-4778-2940-0). Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Monument Men in a new novel from acclaimed author Masello (Blood and Ice).
The Last Dragon: Twilight of the Celts, Book 1 by M.K. Hume (Feb. 17, e-book, $16, ISBN 978-1-4767-1525-4). Hume, author of the Arthur and Merlin trilogies, explores the lives of the Celts after the death of King Artor, when two childhood friends have claims to the vacant throne.
A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson (May 5, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-4767-8033-7). Ten soldiers on convoy in Afghanistan are transported back to Paleolithic Asia, with no idea how they arrived or how to get back. Then two more time travelers arrive from a future far beyond the present.
Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton (June 2, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-425-25571-1). Vampire hunter Anita Blake is a U.S. Marshal, a trained killer, and a master vampire’s fiancée. In this installment she battles unclean magic that’s trapping living souls in rotting zombie bodies.
Devil’s Daughter: Lucinda’s Pawnshop, Book 1 by Hope Schenk-De Michele and Paul Marquez (July 14, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-939457-36-3). Lucinda, the daughter of Eve and Lucifer, is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young and beautiful. She tries to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes. When she falls in love with a mortal man, their romance could derail Lucifer’s plans to trigger Armageddon.
The Fold by Peter Clines (June 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-553-41829-3). A team of DARPA scientists has invented a device that could make teleportation a reality. But something is very wrong with the project. The personalities of the scientists who work on it are changing. People are dying. And reality itself seems to be warping.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (June 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-553-41860-6). Father could do strange things: call light from darkness, raise the dead. Carolyn and her siblings have studied his books and learned some of his secrets. Now, Father is missing, and the children battle for control of his library.
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor (May 5, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7564-1079-7). Phoenix was grown and raised in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, and superhuman abilities. When her beloved commits suicide, she realizes that the tower is her prison and decides to escape.
Nova by Margaret Fortune (June 2, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-7564-1081-0). Lia Johansen, a genetically engineered human bomb, was supposed to slip onto the strategically placed New Sol Space Station and explode. But her clock malfunctions, giving her some precious extra time. If she wants any chance at a future, she must find a way to unlock the secrets of her past and stop her clock.
Bombs Away: The Hot War, Book 1 by Harry Turtledove (July 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-553-39070-4). Alternate historian Turtledove creates a version of the 1950s in which General MacArthur ignites a nuclear war that nearly destroys the planet.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (May 19, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8041-7903-4). A wizard known only as Dragon demands tribute for protecting a village from the dangerous woods in this fantastical Beauty and the Beast story from the author of the Temeraire series.
(dist. by IPG)
Cauchemar by Alexandra Grigorescu (Mar. 17, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-234-7). In this eerie and romantic Southern gothic drama, 20-year-old Hannah’s mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumored to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life and forces her to confront the deadly spirits that haunt Louisiana’s swamps, the dark secrets of her past, and her nascent gifts.
(dist. by IPG)
Hot Head by Simon Ings (Apr. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-575-13061-6). This postmodern, post-cyberpunk debut combines hard science, tarot, and wars in outer space as a fascinating female veteran faces down an artificial intelligence gone amok.
The Diabolical Miss Hyde: An Electric Empire Novel by Viola Carr (Feb. 10, paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236308-4). Forensic science, magic, mystery, and romance mix in this dark steampunk fantasy, in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the infamous Dr. Henry Jekyll, pursues a dangerous murderer in an alternate Victorian London. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Positive by David Wellington (Apr. 21, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231537-3). Anyone who’s “positive”—infected with the zombie virus—could become a zombie at any time in the next two years. When one positive is stranded far from segregation facilities, his journey takes him through a transformed America where living humans can be as dangerous as the undead. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
Apex by Aer-ki Jyr (Apr. 7, e-book, $3.99, ISBN 978-0-06-239644-0). In this exciting space adventure, the last human in the universe is brought out of stasis to find his once vast galactic empire is no more, and his life is very much in danger.
Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle (Mar. 24, e-book, $2.99, ISBN 978-0-06-238986-2). In this contemporary dark fantasy set in the American West, a geologist searches for her lost father in the parklands and ghost towns of Wyoming, home to bulletproof ranch hands, rogue alchemists, and dormant horrors better left undisturbed.
Mercy House by Adam Cesare (June 9, e-book, $1.99, ISBN 978-0-553-39280-7). Mercy House is a state-of-the-art retirement home that appears perfectly crisp, clean, and orderly, but its hpless residents will encounter a shocking eruption of unfathomable horror.
(dist. by IPG)
Beast Charming by Jenniffer Wardell (Mar. 17, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-939967-38-1). Beauty Tremain, a temp worker for a dragon, takes a job at James Hightower’s mansion and falls in love with the beast-like James before old enemies show up to threaten their happy ending.
Little Girls by Ronald Malfi (June 30, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-61773-606-3). Laurie moves into her childhood home with her 10-year-old daughter. But her daughter’s new playmate has an uncanny resemblence to another little girl who lived, and died, next door. Is Laurie slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?
Crooked by Austin Grossman (July 28, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-19851-6). What if Richard Nixon had stumbled on a terrible supernatural secret and did what he had to do to protect humanity, at the cost of disgracing the entire nation? What if he was America’s last defense against the occult? 30,000-copy announced first printing.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (June 2, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236323-7). This tale of psychological horror, focusing on a teen girl whose schizophrenia may be caused by demonic possession, raises vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the nature of evil. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (May 19, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-219037-6). As the end of the world nears, intrepid pioneers set off for lives on another planet. Five thousand years later, their descendants travel to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth. 250,000-copy announced first printing.
(dist. by PGW)
The Dangerous Type: The Dangerous Type Trilogy, Book 1 by Loren Rhoads (July 7, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-59780-814-9). Entombed for 20 years, Reana, one of the galaxy’s most dangerous assassins, has been released in the midst of a galaxy-wide war and the destruction of a human empire. Now free, she begins her quest for vengeance.
Shower of Stones of Jeroun by Zachary Jernigan (June 2, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-59780-817-0). The warrior Vedas Tezul renounced his faith, calling for revolt. Three months later the world has not improved and is instead on the verge of dying.
Children of the Comet by Donald Moffitt (June 30, paper, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-4976-8294-8). In the very far future, on top of a gigantic tree rooted in the ice ball of a comet, a young man’s rite-of-passage journey leads to unexpected encounters that threaten to destroy his native civilization.
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (May 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-09810-6). The voyage from Earth began generations ago. Now the travelers approach their new home: Aurora. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall (Apr. 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-27798-3). Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (Mar. 10, paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-316-24800-6). This epic novel of revolution, adventure, and the struggle for free will is set against an alternate Jazz Age filled with magic and wondrous mechanics. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Prudence by Gail Carriger (Mar. 17, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-0-316-21224-3). The children of the characters from the Parasol Protectorate get their own series, set in a whimsical and magical alternate version of Victorian England. 40,000-copy announced first printing.
Trailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow (June 23, paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-316-27785-3) launches a series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars, and trailer parks. The first novel features a half-human, half-fae construction worker with a hidden past.
Superposition by David Walton (Apr. 7, paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-63388-012-2). This quantum physics murder mystery is a mind-bending near-future science fiction adventure that twists and distorts reality. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Down by Ally Blue (Apr. 6, e-book, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-62649-258-5). Below the ocean’s surface, a new discovery heralds a scientific breakthrough, until brutal violence destroys the underwater mining facility. The surviving crew works desperately to find the cause of the horrors around them. What they uncover could annihilate the human race.
The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (Mar. 10, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4767-6718-5). Four hundred years in the future, following massive nuclear destruction, everyone is born with a twin. In each pair, one is healthy, the other deformed. And when a person dies, their twin dies too.
City of Savages by Lee Kelly (Feb. 3, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-1030-4). After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this action-packed thriller with a dual narrative.
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht (June 23, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-4255-8). Fraternal twins Nels and Suvi move beyond their royal heritage and into military and magical dominion in this flintlock epic fantasy novel.
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu (Apr. 7, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-2427-1). Two men rebel together against tyranny and then become rivals in this sweeping first book of an epic fantasy series from award-winning author and translator Liu.
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (July 14, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-4087-5). It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.
Persona by Genevieve Valentine (Mar. 10, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-2512-4). In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country.
Dirty in Cashmere by Peter Plate (July 14, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-60980-617-0). Ricky squats in abandoned houses in postapocalyptic San Francisco, branding himself an oracle. But it soon becomes clear what he wants most to predict—his future—is the only thing he can’t see.
Small Beer Press
(dist. by Consortium)
The Liminal War by Ayize Jama-Everett (June 9, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-61873-101-2) follows The Liminal People with a thriller that plunges antihero Taggert back into the violent life he thought he’d left behind.
(dist. by PGW)
Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies by Martin Millar (May 12, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-59376-605-4). This witty novel combines fantastical scenes of moody and meddlesome gods, ever-applicable political debates in the senate, backstage scrambling, and glimpses of life in ancient Greece.
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill (Apr. 28, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04128-9). Stephanie’s cheap new apartment has some downsides. She hears things in the night—things or people—that aren’t there in the light, and has to find a way out before whatever’s in the house finds her.
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker (May 19, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05580-4). Barker’s first novel for adults since 2007 takes readers back to the early days of two of his most famous characters, supernatural investigator Harry D’Amour and evil priest Pinhead, in a battle of good and evil as old as time.
The Fall by R.J. Pineiro (July 28, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05214-8). Federal contractor Jack Taylor has been assigned to test an orbital parachute jump. He hits the speed of sound and disappears into an alternate universe where he’s been dead for five years, his wife still loves him, and his boss is on the wrong side.
Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter (Feb. 3, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-03602-5). After Eliot Lazar’s android fiancée gets kidnapped, chopped up, and sold for scrap, he embarks on a hellish journey to recover her parts and reassemble the robot woman of his dreams.
The Path of Anger by Antoine Rouaud (May 5, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05922-2). In year 10 of the new Republic, Dun-Cadal, once the greatest general of the Empire, is drinking his life away. Viola is a young historian looking for the last emperor’s sword, said to have been taken by Dun-Cadal. Her search embroils them both in a series of assassinations in this high-tension fantasy novel.
(dist. by Legato)
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (June 9, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-61696-193-0). From the author of the Revelation Space series comes an interstellar adventure of war, identity, betrayal, and the preservation of civilization itself.
The Very Best of Kate Elliott by Kate Elliott (Feb. 10, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61696-179-4). Strong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmarks of Elliott’s memorable short fiction. This is her first collection, containing 20 years’ worth of stories.
Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi (May 12, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-61696-192-3). Rajaniemi’s postapocalyptic, post-cyberpunk, and post-human tales are full of exhilarating energy and unpredictable optimism. Whether the next big step in technology is 3D printing, genetic alteration, or unlimited space travel, Rajaniemi writes about what happens after.
(dist. by Perseus)
Cash Crash Jubilee: Book 1 of the Jubilee Cycle by Eli K.P. William (May 5, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-940456-27-0). Every action, from blinking to sexual intercourse, is intellectual property. Every inch of Tokyo crawls with information and shifting cinematic promotainment. In this near-future world of corporate finance run amok, one man will do anything for truth and justice. 10,000-copy announced first printing.
Dead Boys by Gabriel Squailia (Mar. 3, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-940456-24-9). In the land of the dead, there is little to do but drink, thieve, and gamble eternity away. Jacob, a preservationist providing a kind of taxidermy to keep his clients lifelike, begins a quest in search of the Living Man, the only adventurer to cross into the underworld without dying first.
Solomon’s Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings (July 7, paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-940456-22-5). In the mid-21st century, the oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, and terrorist organizations are running rampant. A consortium of the wealthy builds an interstellar ship to ensure the survival of the human race. But looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imagined.
Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman (July 14, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-3629-3). Scientists investigating a new habitable planet find an extraordinary crystalline world laden with dark matter and inhabited by a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with extrasensory perception.
Corsair by James L. Cambias (May 5, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7910-8). Space pirates and computer programmers battle in a thrilling near-future adventure, in which robotic mining in space has become a lucrative part of Earth’s economy, and hackers fight for dominance of the computer systems controlling the valuable shipments.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Feb. 24, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7645-9). Four parallel Londons are linked by couriers who undertake risky jobs for thrills, money, and political advancement. A government courier and a thief team up for an adventure fraught with danger.
The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán (July 28, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-3296-7). Milán’s splendidly weird world of the Dinosaur Lords mirrors 14th-century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics—except the weapons of choice are dinosaurs.
Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory (Mar. 24, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7695-4). Harrison Harrison, a teen “sensitive” who’s attuned to the supernatural world, must face his fears and find his missing mother in a Lovecraftian town where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (July 7, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7718-0). In a future where Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key to maintaining a fragile existence among the planets and their moons.
The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway (July 7, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7966-5). Brockway, senior editor and columnist at Cracked.com, debuts with a funny and frightening urban fantasy with horror elements. There are angels; there are demons; and they are the same thing. It’s up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them and save the human race.