This month’s selection of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels contains the usual wide variety of imaginative plots readers of this genre have come to love. From cloning to immortality, reincarnation to psychic ability, slave traders to space spiders, all provide many hours of entertaining reading.
The skill of our hands / Steven Brust and Skyler White.
“The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people, an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time. Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone others, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back, but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike. But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s, and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The book of Etta / Meg Elison.
“Etta comes from Nowhere, a village of survivors of the great plague that wiped away the world that was. In the world that is, women are scarce and childbearing is dangerous, yet desperately necessary for humankind’s future. Mothers and midwives are sacred, but Etta has a different calling, as a scavenger. Loyal to the village but living on her own terms, Etta roams the desolate territory beyond: salvaging useful relics of the ruined past and braving the threat of brutal slave traders, who are seeking women and girls to sell and subjugate. When slavers seize those she loves, Etta vows to release and avenge them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The warren / Brian Evenson.
“X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one, or many,but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X. He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be. But when he discovers the existence of another, above ground, outside the protection of the Warren, X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The immortal bind / Traci Harding.
“When Sara is gifted a beautiful antique chair as a wedding present, she is completely unaware that it is one of a unique pair. On the other side of the world, the chair’s twin is presented to a reclusive artist, Jon, as a birthday gift. The two new owners are thrust into a mind-expanding adventure through the ages, medieval East Anglia, Scotland, France and India. In each instance they experience significant junctions in their lives past; to remember and redress ripples of karma they set in motion, and thwart an evil entity that still threatens their present day lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The stars are legion / Kameron Hurley.
“On the outer rim of the universe, a galactic war has been waged for centuries upon hundreds of world-ships. But these worlds will continue to die through decay and constant war unless a desperate plan succeeds. Anat, leader of the Katazyrna world-ship and the most fearsome raiding force on the Outer Rim, wants peace. To do so she offers the hand of her daughter, Jayd, to her rival. As Anat convinces her to spend the rest of her life wed to her family’s greatest enemy, it is up to Jayd’s sister Zan, with no stomach for war, to lead the cast off warriors she has banded together to victory and rescue Jayd. But the war does not go at all as planned.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Spaceman of Bohemia / Jaroslav Kalfař.
“Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procha has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions. Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Six wakes / Mur Lafferty.
“It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone; her first memory was of how she died. Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Humans, bow down / James Patterson and Emily Raymond with Jill Dembowski ; illustrations by Alexander Ovchinnikov.
“The Great War is over. The Robots have won. The humans who survived have two choices, they can submit and serve the vicious rulers they created or be banished to the Reserve, a desolate, unforgiving landscape where it’s a crime to be human. The robots are not content, following the orders of their soulless leader; they’re planning to conquer humanity’s last refuge. With nothing left to lose, Six, a feisty, determined young woman, is a rebel with a cause. On the run for her life after an attempted massacre, Six is determined to save humanity before the robots finish what the Great War started and wipe humans off the face of the earth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
New York 2140 / Kim Stanley Robinson.
“As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city. There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear, along with the lawyers, of course. There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home, and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine. Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)
Radiant terminus / Antoine Volodine ; translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman ; foreword by Brian Evenson.
“Radiant Terminus takes place in a Tarkovskian landscape after the fall of the Second Soviet Union. Most of humanity has been destroyed thanks to a number of nuclear meltdowns, but a few communes remain, including one run by Solovyei, a psychotic father with the ability to invade people’s dreams, including those of his daughters, and torment them for thousands of years. When a group of damaged individuals seek safety from this nuclear winter in Solovyei’s commune, a plot develops to overthrow him, end his reign of mental abuse, and restore humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)