This month’s selection from our recently received new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels includes four alternative histories, set in Paris, Central Africa, Japan and San Francisco. There are also novels about zombies, space warfare, interplanetary voyages, robots and survival.
Obelisk / Stephen Baxter.
“This collection contains stories set in the worlds of the bestselling duology ULTIMA and PROXIMA, which expand on the characters and worlds of that series, including two brand new short stories. There is also a selection of alternate histories and possible futures, building on Baxter’s work with Terry Pratchett on the LONG EARTH series.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Impact / Rob Boffard.
“This is the concluding volume in the Outer Earth Trilogy. A signal has been picked up from Earth, although the planet was supposed to be uninhabitable. But it seems there are survivors down there, with supplies, shelter and running water. Perhaps there could be a future for humanity on Earth after all. Riley Hale will find out soon enough. She’s stuck on a spaceship with the group of terrorists that is planning to brave the planet’s atmosphere and crash-land on the surface. But when the re-entry goes wrong, Riley ends up hundreds of miles from her companions Prakesh and Carver, alone in a barren wilderness. She’ll have to use everything she knows to survive. And all of them are about to find out that nothing on Earth is what it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Breath of earth / Beth Cato.
“In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation, the Unified Pacific, in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong secretary Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her own talent, or that she is the only woman to possess such skills. When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose the earth’s power to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The span of empire / Eric Flint, David Carrico ; with K.D. Wentworth.
“A new novel in the Jao Empire series. It has become clear to both the Jao and their human and Lleix partners that if they are going to defeat the Ekhat who have been terrorizing the galaxy for eons, they need more allies. To that end, Preceptor Ronz, guardian of Earth and greatest living strategist of the Jao, has harnessed the energy of Earth’s humans to create and send out an exploration fleet under the command of Caitlin Kralik. But after a long search, all the expedition has found are dead worlds and now-extinct intelligent species slaughtered by the genocidal Ekhat. Do they continue to search down the galactic arm in which Earth and the Jao worlds lie, or do they make an astounding leap in another direction?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The emperor’s railroad / Guy Haley.
“Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities, homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.” (Adapted from Synedetics summary)
The ghoul king / Guy Haley.
“The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world, whatever that means any more, to restock his small but essential inventory. After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot. But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary
Lord of the Darkwood / Lian Hearn.
“Shikanoko, at what should be a warrior’s hour of greatest triumph, turns his back on those around him, in mourning for a secret love. The Spider Tribe, spurned by their guardian, explore the extent of their powers and ruthless ambitions. Hina, who alone knows the whereabouts of the true emperor, has to forge a new identity of her own. No one must ever know that she is Kiyoyori’s daughter. As the traditional powers navigate weakness and disarray, old spirits and new figures enter the epic battle for the Lotus Throne.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Deep time / Anthony Nanson.
“Zoologist Dr Brendan Merlie has wasted his best years in futile pursuit of imaginary creatures. He’s now leading a survey of an ecological hotspot in a forgotten corner of Central Africa. Guided by the enigmatic Salome Boann, a woman strangely at ease in the rainforest, with her own reasons for being there, the team discovers a ‘refugium’ of prehistoric plant-life. Among the forest people they hear rumours of animals, too, unknown to science. Driven by civil war, and their own competing desires, Brendan and his companions enter a shifting world in which they must come to terms with the wildness within as well as the wildness around them. The deeper they travel, the more is revealed, beyond Brendan’s wildest dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The long cosmos / Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.
“2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day and in the Long Earth, the new Next post-human society continues to evolve. For Joshua ValientÃ©, now in his late sixties, it is time to take one last solo journey into the High Meggers: an adventure that turns into a disaster. Alone and facing death, his only hope of salvation lies with a group of trolls. But as Joshua confronts his mortality, the Long Earth receives a signal from the stars, a signal that is picked up by radio astronomers but also in more abstract ways by the trolls and by the Great Traversers. Its message is simple but its implications are enormous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)