Two alternative history narratives are included in this month’s selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. One is a debut novel by Nina Allan, who is joined in this selection by four other debut novelists. Another debut novelist is Curtis C. Chen whose novel, a satirical outer space thriller, titled Waypoint Kangaroo comes highly recommended.
The race / Nina Allan.
“In a future scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, Jenna Hoolman’s world is dominated by illegal smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. When her young niece goes missing that world implodes. Christy’s life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, who has his own demons to fight and Maree, a young woman undertaking a journey that will change her world forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
War factory / Neal Asher.
“The second book in the Transformation series. Thorvald Spear, resurrected from his death over a hundred years earlier, continues to hunt Penny Royal, the rogue AI and dangerous war criminal on the run from Polity forces. Beyond the Graveyard, a lawless and deadly area in deep space, Spear follows the trail of several enemy Prador, the crab-like alien species with a violent history of conflict with humanity. Blite, captain of a bounty hunting ship, hands over two prisoners and valuable memplants from Penny Royal to the Brockle, a dangerous forensics entity under strict confinement on a Polity spaceship that quickly takes a keen interest in the corrupted AI and its unclear motives. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The book of Esther : a novel / Emily Barton.The Book of Esther: A Novel
“Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania–and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad. Only Esther, the daughter of the nation’s chief policy adviser, sees the ominous implications of Germania’s disregard for Jewish lives. Only she realizes that this isn’t just another war but an existential threat. After witnessing the enemy warplanes’ first foray into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther knows she must fight for her country.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Tracer / Rob Boffard.
“A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart dirty, overcrowded and inescapable. What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Waypoint Kangaroo / Curtis C. Chen.
“Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower. After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship-and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Admiral / Sean Danker.Admiral
“He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empir, a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer. Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one, and they are not alone.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The seascape tattoo / Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.
“Aros of Azteca and Neoloth-Pteor are the deadliest of enemies: Swordsman and Sorcerer, locked in mortal combat, who have tried to kill each other more times than either can count. But when the princess Neoloth loves is kidnapped, there is only one plan that offers any hope of rescueand that requires passing off the barbarian Aros as a lost princeling and infiltrating the deadliest cabal of necromancers the world has ever seen. They cannot trust each other. They will betray or kill each other the first chance they get. But they’re all each other has.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Too like the lightning / by Ada Palmer.
“Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away. The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural completion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The raft / Fred Strydom.
“The day every person on earth lost his and her memory was not a day at all. In people’s minds there was no actual event and thus it could be followed by no period of shock or mourning. There could be no catharsis. Everyone was simply reset to zero.” On Day Zero, the collapse of civilization was as instantaneous as it was inevitable. A mysterious and oppressive movement rose to power in the aftermath, forcing people into isolated communes run like regimes. Kayle Jenner finds himself trapped on a remote beach, and all that remains of his life before is the vague and haunting vision of his son. Kayle finally escapes, only to find a broken world being put back together in strange ways. In his relentless search for his son, Kayle will discover more than just his lost past, he will discover the truth behind Day Zero, a truth that makes both fools and gods of men.’ (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Age of myth / Michael J. Sullivan.
“This is the first in a proposed five book series five-book series. Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)