New science fiction and fantasy titles

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

This month’s science fiction and fantasy showcase features five-time Nebula award-winner Greg Bear‘s latest epic historical fantasy novel, The unfinished land, which evokes the seafaring spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson’s work. Also included this month is The burning god — the fantastic finale to R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed Poppy war trilogy, partly inspired by 20th century Chinese history. On a much stranger and weirder note, Nino Cipri’s Finna sees carnivorous furniture running amok and elderly customers slipping through portals in a box furniture store to find themselves ending up in other dimensions. And if Finna is your cup of tea, you should also try Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör. Have a browse of these and other exciting new titles below!

The unfinished land / Bear, Greg
“Reynard, a young apprentice, seeks release from drudgery in the English village of Southwold. His rare days off lead him to strange encounters — not just with press gangs hoping to fill English ships to fight the coming Spanish Armada, but strangers who seem to know him — one of whom casts a white shadow. And after a fierce battle at sea, Reynard finds himself the sole survivor. For days he drifts, until he is rescued by a galleon, also lost– both are propelled by a strange current to the unknown northern island of Thule. Here Reynard must meet his destiny in a violent clash between humans and gods.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The burning god / Kuang, R. F.
“After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much – the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges – and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Finna / Cipri, Nino
“When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago. To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix (ebook)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The mask of mirrors / Carrick, M. A.
“Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bone maker : a novel / Durst, Sarah Beth
“Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor — a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband.  Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all. Five warriors — one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remote control / Okorafor, Nnedi
“The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—-a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past. Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The swimmers / Womack, Marian
“After the ravages of the Green Winter, Earth is a place of deep jungles and monstrous animals. The last of the human race is divided into surface dwellers and the people who live in the Upper Settlement, a ring perched at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Bearing witness to this divided planet is Pearl, a young techie with a thread of shuvani blood, who lives in the isolated forests of Gobari, navigating her mad mother and the strange blue light in the sky. But Pearl’s stepfather promises her to a starborn called Arlo, and the world Pearl thought she knew will never be the same again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Upright women wanted / Gailey, Sarah
“Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her — a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. A good old-fashioned horse opera for the 22nd century. Gunslinger librarians of the apocalypse are on a mission to spread public health, decency, and the revolution” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

What if? A selection of alternative history books

It is like the point where the rainbow touches the forest. We think that we can see it—but if we go to look for it, it isn’t there.”
― Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time

What if the Nazis had won World War Two, or what if you could travel back in time to save J F Kennedy from assassination? Alternative history novels offer authors the unique opportunity to do just that, take real life events and characters and then explore what would have happened if history had taken a different route. Many great writers have delved into the field such as Philip K Dick, Stephen King and Susanna Clarke to name but a few. Below is a very small selection of novels which depict a different reality from the one we exist in.

The man in the high castle / Dick, Philip K
“It is 1962 and the Second World War has been over for seventeen years: people have now had a chance to adjust to the new order. But it’s not been easy. The Mediterranean has been drained to make farmland, the population of Africa has virtually been wiped out and America has been divided between the Nazis and the Japanese. In the neutral buffer zone that divides the two superpowers lives the man in the high castle, the author of an underground bestseller, a work of fiction that offers an alternative theory of world history in which the Axis powers didn’t win the war.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The plot against America / Roth, Philip
“Philip Roth imagines an alternate history where Franklin D. Roosevelt loses the 1940 presidential election to heroic aviator and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh. Shortly thereafter, Lindbergh negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh’s election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America-and with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Rodham : a novel / Sittenfeld, Curtis
“In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage to Bill Clinton, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail–one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fatherland / Harris, Robert
“Berlin, 1964. The Greater German Reich stretches from the Rhine to the Urals, and keeps an uneasy peace with its nuclear rival, the United States. As the Fatherland prepares for a grand celebration honoring Adolf Hitler’s seventy-fifth birthday and anticipates a conciliatory visit from U.S. president Joseph Kennedy and ambassador Charles Lindbergh, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union / Chabon, Michael
“For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal Distric of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

11/22/63 / King, Stephen
“On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession–to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The difference engine / Gibson, William
“1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine, and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. Three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with the future: Sybil Gerard—fallen woman, politician’s tart, daughter of a Luddite agitator Edward “Leviathan” Mallory—explorer and palaeontologist; Laurence Oliphant—diplomat, mystic, and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell / Clarke, Susanna
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains- the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician- the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Eyre affair / Fforde, Jasper
“Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. There are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades,  steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! his next target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next. She’s the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche.” (Catalogue)

Our latest highlighted Science Fiction, Fantasy and speculative fiction selection

I had always wanted to be a writer who confused genre boundaries and who was read in multiple contexts”  Jonathan Lethem

A nuclear powered supercar that can tunnel through the earth, a progressive pulp tome in which a band of Mercenary librarians set out to save a crumbling America, an enthralling fantasy epic from a New Zealand author,  a world where men have become a prized commodity and a very welcome return of Elizabeth Bear in a star spanning space opera with ex crime lords and mega intelligent AI systems. All are to be found in Decembers recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles. Enjoy.

The tower of fools / Sapkowski, Andrzej
Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a healer, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion forces him to flee his home, he finds himself pursued not only by brothers bent on vengeance but by the Holy Inquisition. In a time when tensions between Hussite and Catholic countries are threatening to turn into war and mystical forces are gathering in the shadows, Reynevan’s journey will lead him to the Narrenturm — the Tower of Fools.  And escaping it, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity will prove more difficult than he ever imagined” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook 

Afterland / Beukes, Lauren
“All Cole has left in the world is her boy, Miles. With men now a prized commodity, keeping him safe means breaking hastily written new rules – and leaving her own sister for dead. All Miles has left in the world is his mother.But is one person enough to save him from the many who would kill to get their hands on a living boy? Together, Cole and Miles embark on a journey across a changed, hostile country, towards a freedom they may never reach. And when Cole’s sister tracks them down, they’ll need to decide who to trust – and what loyalty really means in this unimaginable new world.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Deal with the Devil : a Mercenary Librarians novel / Rocha, Kit
” Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process… Or they could do the impossible: team up. This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Providence / Barry, Max
” We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored. Afterward, we knew better. Seven years after first contact, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four–tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war’s progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media. But while pursuing the enemy across space, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson confront the unthinkable: their communications are cut, their ship decreasingly trustworthy and effective. To survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real.” (Catalogue)

Scardown / Bear, Elizabeth
“Jenny Casey was not born for this mission. She was modified for it.  Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life – a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny – as pilot of the starship Montreal – must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.  With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The saints of salvation / Hamilton, Peter F
” Humanity is struggling to hold out against a hostile takeover by an alien race that claims to be on a religious mission to bring all sentient life to its God at the End of Time. But while billions of cocooned humans fill the holds of the Olyix’s deadly arkships, humankind is playing an even longer game than the aliens may have anticipated. From an ultra-secret spy mission to one of the grandest battles ever seen, no strategy is off the table. Will a plan millennia in the making finally be enough to defeat this seemingly unstoppable enemy? ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The arrest : a novel / Lethem, Jonathan
“Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn’t hurt. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mother of daemons / Hair, David
Lyra, Queen of Rondelmar, has fought enemies without and within, dealt with grief and loss, embraced forbidden magic, found her father and borne a child – and still it isn’t enough. Her enemies are on the march and the Rondian Empire is collapsing. But a more dangerous adversary is out there . . . and he is winning. Ervyn Naxius, amoral genius, has unleashed war on two continents and is now laughing kings and priests dance to his tune and his daemonic followers are spreading through the lands, but still he isn’t satisfied. His ultimate goal – absolute control of all life – is finally within his reach . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The unstoppable rise of Progressive Pulp

If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”

Philip K. Dick

Progressive Pulp is a new trend in science fiction that we have seen emerging in recent years, where the fast paced, page turning, addictive aspects of old fashioned pulp fiction are being reimagined or merged with bigger more serious ideas or concepts  such as explorations of gender or racial oppression.  Some authors are working almost exclusively in this new genre, e.g. Adam Christopher, whilst others are releasing individual titles that fit into this exciting and fast-growing sub-genre. Below are a couple of the authors and books we consider as fitting into this new Progressive Pulp category. Enjoy.


Ring shout : or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the end times / Clark, P. Djèlí
“D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth. Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls Ku Kluxes. She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face otherworldly nightmares–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harrow the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn
“She answered the Emperor’s call. She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend. In victory, her world has turned to ash. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I only killed him once : a Ray Electromatic mystery / Christopher, Adam
“Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery–one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel… When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Condomnauts / Yoss
“In the 24th century, Josu Vald’s rise from an orphan in the slums of Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. On the streets, Josue raced cockroaches for cash–until he discovered his true-calling: as a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony. Every so-called “condomnaut” knows that diplomacy and trade deals depend on sexual pacts in the galactic community–and every encounter becomes a close encounter, a wildly inventive and unapologetic tale that would make even Barbarella blush.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Altered carbon / Morgan, Richard K.
“In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”).  Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, now he is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the Sun / Rabarts, Dan.
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Because if he’s involved, Penny will murder him herself… Matiu can taste the chaos in the air. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready Player Two / Cline, Ernest
“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines — puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trail of lightning / Roanhorse, Rebecca
“In a world sinking beneath climate-warmed waves, Maggie works as a monster hunter in Dinétah, once the Navajo reservation. There, she encounters a creature that out-Grendels Grendel and seeks help from medicine man Kai Arviso. Maggie Hoskie is a Din tah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The southern book club’s guide to slaying vampires / Hendrix, Grady
” Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club.  One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted–including the book club–but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sisters of the Vast Black: New Sci-Fi & Fantasy

There are some big names among this month’s new sci-fi and fantasy titles, including Nora Roberts with the third book in her Chronicles of the One series and Jeff VanderMeer with Dead Astronauts. However the book we’re probably most excited about is by debut author Lina Rather: it’s the fantastic Sisters of the Vast Black.

Sisters of the Vast Black tells the story of a group of space-travelling nuns who must answer a mysterious distress call from a recently-established colony. However this isn’t your usual space opera: Rather’s work investigates everything from theology and faith to governance and bio-engineering–and more!

For more sci-fi and fantasy suggestions, check out Novelist Plus in our eLibrary!

Sisters of the vast black / Rather, Lina
“Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations. When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The rise of magicks / Roberts, Nora
“After the sickness known as the Doom destroyed civilization, magick has become commonplace, and Fallon Swift has spent her young years learning its ways. Fallon cannot live in peace until she frees those who have been preyed upon by the government or the fanatical Purity Warriors, endlessly hunted or locked up in laboratories, brutalized for years on end. She is determined to save even those who have been complicit with this evil out of fear or weakness–if, indeed, they can be saved.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dead astronauts / VanderMeer, Jeff
“Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters – Grayson, Morse and Chen – shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

CTRL + S / Briggs, Andy
“Life in the near future’s not all bad. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire. But almost anything isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested–and lives traded–to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted. Now Theo’s mother has disappeared . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The true bastards / French, Jonathan
“French debuted in a big way last year with The Grey Bastards. Here, Fetching now leads her own band of half-orcs, the True Bastards, and she faces famine and desertion from within and contempt from other half-orc leaders from without. Then real problems come from beyond the grave. The sequel to The Grey Bastards, this irresistibly swashbuckling, swaggering, foul-mouthed fantasy is rollicking, cunningly clever swords ‘n’ sorcery storytelling that’s a shot of pure fun for fantasy fans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The warrior moon / Rivera, K Arsenault
“Barsalayaa Shefali, famed Qorin adventurer, and the spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, have survived fights with demon armies, garnered infamy, and ruled an empire. Raised together since birth, then forced into exile after their wedding, and reunited amidst a poisonous invasion–these bold warrior women have faced monumental adventures and catastrophic battles. As they come closest to fulfilling the prophecy of generations–Shefali and Shizuka will face their greatest test yet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The beast’s heart / Shallcross, Leife
“I am neither monster nor man – yet I am both. I am the Beast. I know why I was cursed; I know the legacy of evil I carry in my tainted blood. So how could she ever love me? My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart when I was struggling just to be human. And now I might lose her forever. Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sci-Fi Lord of the Flies: New Science Fiction

Salvation Lost / Peter E. Hamilton

Supernova Era, by Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy was one of the most expansive science fiction series in recent years, and this month Liu returns with a brand new epic: The Supernova Era. Liu began writing Supernova Era soon after the political uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 (the book was published in China in 2004 and for the first time in English this year), and perhaps not coincidentally (social upheaval, disillusionment) it tells the story of an Earth that has been stripped of its adult population, leaving only children to try and navigate the future.

This month also sees some great Australian sci-fi, including The Old Lie by Claire G. Coleman and the finale of Jay Kristoff ‘s Nevernight Chronicles. For more on Coleman’s work, check out this recent interview. Enjoy!

Supernova era / Liu, Cixin
“Eight years ago, a star died. Tonight, a supernova tsunami of high energy will finally reach Earth. Dark skies will shine bright and within a year everyone over the age of thirteen will be dead. And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge they’ll need to keep the world running. But the last generation may not want to carry the legacy of their parents’ world. And though they imagine a better future, they may not be able to escape humanity’s dark instincts.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Salvation lost / Hamilton, Peter F
“The comparative utopia of twenty-third century Earth is about to go dreadfully awry when a seemingly benign alien race is abruptly revealed to be one of the worst threats humanity has ever faced. Driven by an intense religious extremism, the Olyix are determined to bring everyone to their version of god as they see it. But they may have met their match in humanity, who are not about to go gently into that good night or spend the rest of their days cowering in hiding.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Darkdawn / Kristoff, Jay
“The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic. Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

A second chance / Taylor, Jodi
“Behind the facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”–these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics; a more accurate description might be unintentional disaster-magnets. The Chronicles of St. Mary’s tells the adventures of Madeleine Maxwell and her compatriots as they travel through time, saving St. Mary’s and thwarting time-travelling terrorists.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The old lie / Coleman, Claire G
“Shane Daniels and Romany Zetz have been drawn into a war that is not their own. Lives will be destroyed, families will be torn apart. Trust will be broken. When the war is over, some will return to a changed world. Will they discover that glory is a lie?” (Catalogue)

New Science fiction and fantasy: Epic conclusions and curious creations

New tales in science fiction and fantasy and delving into the vaults.  Wheel of time fans have a pre Wheel of time Robert Jordan, a.k.a. James Oliver Rigney, Jr. title to revel in. Becky Chamber’s new novella explores the potential for space exploration, boundaries expand as humans are adapted to their new environments before they arrive, but what is the fate of the homeworld they leave behind?

The confines of linear time and lifespan are challenged in Joe Abercrombie’s A little hatred and Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the ninth. The Lightbringer series concludes with Brent Weeks’ The burning white. Nine years from start to finish this epic saga of magic, lies and betrayals has seen it’s characters transform as the world they know evolves around them. So who is the Lightbringer?

To be taught if fortunate / Chambers, Becky
“In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the galaxy transform themselves.  Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Warrior of the Altaii / Jordan, Robert (print), (eBook)
“Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end. The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets, and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. This is Robert Jordan’s never-before-published first novel, which he wrote before his well-known Wheel of Time series.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A little hatred / Abercrombie, Joe
“The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the Long Eye glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another. Old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield. Savine dan Glokta plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary and the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Gideon the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn (print), (eBook)
“Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse.  But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, has been summoned into action. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The burning white / Weeks, Brent
“In the stunning conclusion to the epic, Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves. As the White King springs his great trap, and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile and his companions will scramble to return for one impossible final stand. In the darkest hour, will the Lightbringer come? (Adapted from catalogue)

The cruel stars / Birmingham, John
“Centuries after their defeat, the Sturm have returned with an overwhelming attack on the fringes of human space.  Everybody thought the Sturm were dead, engulfed by the Dark. They were wrong. On the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial onslaught. Five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Season of storms / Sapkowski, Andrzej
Translated from original Polish by David French
“Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, one of the few capable of hunting the monsters that prey on humanity. A mutant who is tasked with killing unnatural beings. He uses magical signs, potions, and the pride of every Witcher – two swords, steel and silver. But a contract has gone wrong, and Geralt finds himself without his signature weapons. Now he needs them back, because sorcerers are scheming, and across the world the  season of storms is coming…” (Adapted from catalogue)

Knight / Zahn, Timothy (print, (eBook)
“Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philidelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship. Competing factions control different parts of the ship with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Vivid imaginings: new science fiction and fantasy

This new collection of science fiction and fantasy writing has a diverse range of debut novelists. New Wellington talent H. G. Parry writes about fiction characters becoming all too real, while Ada Hoffman of The Outside has written many short works of speculative fiction and now takes to novel form. Hoffman creates neurodiverse characters from a place of personal knowledge, her own pitch for the novel being, “It’s a suspenseful space opera with some totally wild surreal cosmic horror mixed in, a whole bunch of strong female/queer/disabled characters, genuinely difficult moral quandaries, and empathy winning.”

Set in the universe of the Three-Body Problem Trilogy, The Redemption of Time continues Cixin Liu’s multi-award-winning science fiction saga. This original story by Baoshu, published with Liu’s support, envisions the aftermath of the conflict between humanity and the extraterrestrial Trisolarans.

In Longer, Michael Blumlein explores dauntingly epic topics including love, the expanse of the human lifespan and mortality. Finally, in a nod to the recent Hugo Awards hosted in Dublin (and foreshadowing Wellington’s WorldCon), Brilliant Void showcases vintage imaginings–Irish science fiction from way back!

Brilliant void : a selection of classic Irish science fiction
“An astronomer challenges an emperor. A hunter pursues the last dinosaur. A young Kerryman emigrates to the Moon to seek his fortune. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the winds of change came rushing in Ireland’s direction. Science would transform everything: life, love, death, crime, war, and even history itself. Edited and introduced by Jack Fennell, this collection of lesser-known works of classic Irish science fiction includes stories by Frances Power Cobbe, Fitz-James O’Brien and Charlotte McManus.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
“For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob a young lawyer with an utterly normal life hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The redemption of time / Baoshu
“In the midst of an interstellar war, Yun Tianming found himself tortured beyond endurance for decades. Yun eventually succumbed to helping the aliens subjugate humanity in order to save Earth from complete destruction. Yun has spent his very long life in exile as a traitor to the human race. Nearing the end of his existence at last, a consciousness calling itself The Spirit has recruited him to wage battle against an entity that threatens the existence of the entire universe. But Yun refuses to be a pawn again.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The outside / Hoffmann, Ada (print, (eBook)
“Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor.” (Catalogue)

Longer / Blumlein, Michael (print), (eBook)
“Gunjita and Cav are in orbit. R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third. After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death and morality arise to test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.” (Catalogue)

The record keeper / Gomillion, Agnes
“After World War III, Earth is in ruins, the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law or risk shattering the fragile peace. Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity. After ten grueling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives.” (Adapted from catalogue)

If, then : a novel / Day, Kate Hope (print), (eBook)
“In the quiet mountain haven of Clearing, Oregon, four neighbors find their lives upended when they begin to see themselves in a parallel reality… At first the visions are relatively benign, but they grow increasingly troubling–and in some cases, frightening. Startling, deeply imagined, and compulsively readable, Kate Hope Day’s debut novel is about the choices we make that shape our lives and determine our destinies, the moments that alter us so profoundly that it feels as if we’ve entered another reality.” (Catalogue)

The iron dragon’s mother / Swanwick, Michael
“Caitlin of House Sans Merci is the young half-human pilot of a sentient mechanical dragon. Returning from her first soul-stealing raid, she discovers an unwanted hitchhiker. When Caitlin is framed for the murder of her brother, to save herself she must disappear into Industrialized Faerie, looking for the one person who can clear her. Unfortunately, the stakes are higher than she knows. Her deeds will change her world forever.” (Catalogue)

Our latest Science Fiction and Fantasy showcase of newly acquired books.

“Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.”
– Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

With the 2019 Hugo award nominees recently announced and it now being just under a year until the Hugo awards ceremony here in Wellington at CoNZealand, it is great to see two newly acquired science fiction and fantasy books that have connections to the Hugos. The first is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik which is on the 2019 Hugo long list. The second is Mercedes Lackey’s Eye Spy. Mercedes Lackey is one of the guests of honour at CoNZealand next year.

There were lots of other new titles that caught our attention including the continuing rise of the awesome Afro Futurism genre as represented in this month’s list by Tade Thompson’s The Rosewater Insurrection. There is also Neal Stephenson’s latest magnum opus Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, described by the New York Times no less as “a staggering work of imagination”. And as if that wasn’t enough two new books from acknowledged fantasy masters Stephen Donaldson and Tad Williams as well as a whole plethora of other science fiction and fantasy goodies to enjoy.

Overdrive cover Spinning Silver / Novik, Naomi (print) (eBook)
“Miryem was brought up in a snowbound village, on the edge of a charmed forest. She comes from a family of moneylenders, but her kind father shirks his work. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, his family faces poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what’s owed, and her neighbours soon whisper that she can turn silver into gold. Then an ill-advised boast attracts the cold creatures that haunt the wood. Nothing will be the same again, for words have power.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Eye spy / Lackey, Mercedes
“In this second installment of the Family Spies series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, the children of Heralds Mags and Amily must follow in their parents’ footsteps to protect the realm. When Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift–an ability to sense the physical strains in objects.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Rosewater insurrection / Thompson, Tade
“All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret. The government agent Aminat, the lover of the retired sensitive Kaaro, is at the forefront of the cold, silent conflict. She must capture a woman who is the key to the survival of the human race. But Aminat is stymied by the machinations of the Mayor of Rosewater and the emergence of an old enemy of Wormwood…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fall, or, Dodge in hell : a novel / Stephenson, Neal
Fall, or Dodge in Hell is pure, unadulterated fun: a grand drama of analog and digital, man and machine, angels and demons, gods and followers, the finite and the eternal. In this exhilarating epic, Neal Stephenson raises profound existential questions and touches on the revolutionary breakthroughs that are transforming our future. Combining the technological, philosophical, and spiritual in one grand myth, he delivers a mind-blowing speculative literary saga for the modern age.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The war within / Donaldson, Stephen R
“It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. But an ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Empire of grass / Williams, Tad
“The kingdoms of Osten Ard have been at peace for decades, but now, the threat of a new war grows to nightmarish proportions. Their allies in Hernystir have made a pact with the dreadful Queen of the Norns to allow her armies to cross into mortal lands. The ancient, powerful nation of Nabban is on the verge of bloody civil war, and the fierce nomads of the Thrithings grasslands have begun to mobilize, united by superstitious fervor and their age-old hatred of the city-dwellers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Exhalation / Stories / Chiang, Ted (print) (eBook)
“This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Triumphant / Campbell, Jack (print) (eBook)
“The recently colonized world of Glenlyon has learned that they’re stronger when they stand with other star systems than they are on their own. But after helping their neighbor Kosatka against an invasion, Glenlyon has become a target. An attack is launched against Glenlyon’s orbital facility with forces too powerful for fleet officer Rob Geary to counter using their sole remaining destroyer, Saber. Mele Darcy’s Marines must repel repeated assaults while their hacker tries to get into the enemy systems to give Saber a fighting chance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Expanse: the best sci-fi around?!

Leviathan Wakes cover

Stars are better off without us.”
― James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes

Written by James S. A. Corey (the pen name used by collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), the Expanse series has gained wide-ranging critical and popular success. The Expanse is set in the near future where humankind has colonized the solar system. One of the core themes is the vastness of the universe and the difficulties humans have in relating to its scale and alienness.

The eighth book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, was released last month, while the fourth series of the television adaptation is due to air later this year. With a total of four Hugo and three Saturn Award nominations between them, both the books and television series are definitely worth getting your teeth into. Enjoy!


Syndetics book coverLeviathan wakes / James S.A. Corey.
“Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship’s captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
For The Expanse Season One DVD availability click here.

Syndetics book coverCaliban’s war / James S.A. Corey.
“For someone who didn’t intend to wreck the solar system’s balance of power, Jim Holden did a pretty good job of it. While Earth and Mars have stopped shooting each other, the core alliance is shattered. Then, on one of Jupiter’s moons, a single super-soldier attacks, slaughtering soldiers indiscriminately. The race is on to discover whether this is the vanguard of an alien army, or if the danger lies closer to home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eAudiobook. For The Expanse Season Two DVD availability click here.

Syndetics book coverAbaddon’s Gate / James S. A. Corey.
“For generations, the solar system was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure: a gate that leads into a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding. The greatest danger is the one they brought with them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTiamat’s wrath / James S.A. Corey.
“Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper. Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Sir Julius Vogel Awards Announced!

Aotearoa/New Zealand has a long history of publishing exciting science fiction and fantasy, from Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman’s Destiny by former Prime Minister Sir Julius Vogel to The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox to Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira.

Each year the best of this local sci-fi and fantasy is recognised at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, with awards for novels, short stories, fan productions and more. This year the Vogels were announced at GeyserCon, the 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Rotorua. Congratulations to all the winners!

And next year things get even bigger. In 2020 the Vogels will be held as part of CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention–happening right here in Wellington. Guests include Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Greg Broadmore and toastmaster George R.R. Martin!

To get you started, we’ve got a list of past Vogel winners and finalists currently available in our collection. And for everyone who went to GeyserCon, we hope you had a great time!

Overdrive cover Fosterling, by Emma Neale (ebook)
“A young man is found unconscious in a remote forest. He is over seven feet tall, his skin covered in thick hair which reminds onlookers of an animal’s pelt. When he wakes in a city hospital, he is eerily uncommunicative. Speculation begins. Medics want to run tests on him, the media want to get his story, and the public want to gawp and prod. A moving, compelling story about society and our reactions to difference.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Dreamer’s pool : a Blackthorn & Grim novel / Marillier, Juliet
“In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help…” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The traitor and the thief / Ward, Gareth
“Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Secrets, spies and steampunk gadgets abound in this fantastic adventure story!” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Onyx javelin / Wheeler, Steve
“Move over Star Wars! This is a superb space opera… humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fighting for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. There is life everywhere throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes forms that will astonish and frighten, that will challenge and terrify as they exist within the greater fight of existence: eat or be eaten. But who is the enemy really?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Heartwood / Robertson, Freya
“Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Hearthwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

When we wake / Healey, Karen
“In 2027, sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl–playing the guitar, falling in love, and protesting the wrongs of the world with her friends. But then Tegan dies, waking up 100 years in the future as the unknowing first government guinea pig to be cryogenically frozen and successfully revived. Appalling secrets about her new world come to light, and Tegan must choose to either keep her head down or fight for a better future.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Check out the shortlist for the 33rd Arthur C. Clarke award!

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award shortlist has just been announced. The award aims to honour the best science fiction novel of the year – 124 books were submitted and six have make the shortlist. The judges have selected a fantastically varied list from Simon Stålenhag’s graphic novel The Electric State to Ahmed Saadawi’s politically nuanced Frankenstein in Baghdad, as well as novels in the cyberpunk and military space opera genre. The judges will have a really tough time deciding who the final winner will be!

The 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist:


Semiosis / Sue Burke.
“Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches…and waits… Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Also available as an ebook.

Syndetics book coverThe electric state / Simon Stålenhag.
“In late 1997, a runaway teenager and her small yellow toy robot travel west through a strange American landscape where the ruins of gigantic battle drones litter the countryside, along with the discarded trash of a high-tech consumerist society addicted to a virtual-reality system. As they approach the edge of the continent, the world outside the car window seems to unravel at an ever faster pace, as if somewhere beyond the horizon, the hollow core of civilization has finally caved in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein in Baghdad : a novel / Ahmed Saadawi ; translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
“From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi — a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café — collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Also available as an ebook.

Syndetics book coverRosewater / Tade Thompson.
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again — but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New forays into Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone book cover

Ready to explore new viewpoints, worlds and inventions of the imagination? Recent titles for Science fiction and Fantasy delve into long running series and uncover new writing territory.

Syndetics book coverBikes not rockets : intersectional feminist bicycle science fiction stories / edited by Elly Blue.
“As you ride down the intergalactic bike path, you come to a crossroads. Which path will you take? Your choice could determine your future, or the future of all humanity, forever. These twelve stories explore a variety of intersections set in distant, outlandish, or disturbingly realistic futures and dimensions–all involving bicycles and the breaking of gender stereotypes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories / N K Jemisin
“In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story The City Born Great, a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTexas hold’em / edited by George R.R. Martin ; assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass ; written by David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Victor Milán, Diana Rowland, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector, William F. Wu.
“San Antonio, home of the Alamo, is also host to the nation’s top high school jazz competition, and the musicians at Xavier Desmond High are excited to outplay their rivals. They are also jokers, kids with strange abilities and even stranger looks. On top of that, well, they are teenagers, apt for mischief, mishaps, and romantic misunderstandings.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lies of Locke Lamora : book one of the gentleman bastard sequence / Scott Lynch.
“They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA cathedral of myth and bone / stories by Kat Howard.
“In these sixteen exquisite stories, Kat Howard deftly weaves in and out the countries of myth and hagiography to write the lives of women untold and unexplored.”  (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSplintered Suns (Humanity’s Fire, 5) / Michael Cobley
“For Pyke and his crew it should have been just another heist. Travel to a backwater desert planet, break into a museum, steal a tracking device then use it to find a ship buried in the planet’s vast and trackless sandy wastes. Except that the museum vault is a bio-engineered chamber, and the tracking device is sought after by another gang of treasure hunters led by an old adversary of Pyke’s, the devious Raven Kaligara.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe labyrinth index / Charles Stross.
“Since she was promoted to the head of the Lords Select Committee on Sanguinary Affairs, every workday for Mhari Murphy has been a nightmare. It doesn’t help that her boss, the new Prime Minister of Britain, is a manipulative and deceptive pain in the butt. Mhari’s most recent assignment takes her across the pond into the depths of North America. The United States president has gone missing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

New Science Fiction and Fantasy titles

The Blue Salt Road book cover

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” — Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Our final Science Fiction showcase of 2018 has titles in it that think the unthinkable, do the undoable, and grapples with the ineffable from Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch, to the future noir of Richard Morgan’s Thin Air. Terry Brooks science fiction outing, Street Freaks to Joanne M Harris’s The Blue Salt Road and the wonderful Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. From tales legendary to those full of trickery and wisdom this selection ranges far in the geography of imagination. These new Science fiction and Fantasy titles hold something special for all tastes.


Syndetics book coverLies sleeping / Ben Aaronovitch.
“Martin Chorley, aka the Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring Chorley to justice. But even as the unwieldly might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that Chorley, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan. To save his beloved city, he might have to come to terms with the malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos known as Mr Punch.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStreet freaks / Terry Brooks.Street Freaks: Limited Edition
“Go into the Red Zone. Go to Street Freaks.” his father directs Ashton Collins before the vid feed goes suddenly silent. The Red Zone is the dangerous heart of mega-city Los Angeles; it is a world Ash is forbidden from and one he knows little about. As Ash is hunted, he must unravel the mystery left behind by his father and discover his role in this new world.
Brooks has long been the grandmaster of fantasy. Now he turns his hand to science fiction filled with what his readers love best: complex characters, extraordinary settings, exciting action, and a page-turning story. Through it, Brooks reimagines his bestselling career yet again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blue salt road / Joanne M. Harris ; illustrated by Bonnie Hawkins.
“The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man. Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHannah Green and her unfeasibly mundane existence / Michael Marshall Smith.
“An unpredictable, poignant, and captivating tale for readers of all ages, by the critically acclaimed author of Only Forward. There are a million stories in the world. Most are perfectly ordinary. This one… isn’t. Hannah Green actually thinks her story is more mundane than most. But she’s about to discover that the shadows in her life have been hiding a world where nothing is as it seems: that there’s an ancient and secret machine that converts evil deeds into energy, that some mushrooms can talk and that her grandfather has been friends with the Devil for over a hundred and fifty years, and now they need her help.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFire & blood / George R. R. Martin ; illustrations by Doug Wheatley.
“Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire & Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire & Blood is the the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThin air / Richard Morgan.
“An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. When Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther than he had ever expected. Soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpire of sand / Tasha Suri.
“The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance.” (Syndetics summary)

Recommended Science Fiction show case books for October

The Poppy War book cover

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” -Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing.

This month’s science fiction showcased books have a wide appeal and feature many of the tropes and genres of the sci-fi world. From Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Moon to Ilona Andrew’s Magic Triumphs, from Raymond E Feist’s King of Ashes to Ben Bova’s Power Failure, there is a whole universe of book choices to enjoy.

Syndetics book coverPower failure / Ben Bova.
“Dr. Jake Ross came to Washington to try to make a difference, but he’s learned the only way to get something done in Washington, assuming your ideals survive the corrosive atmosphere, is to gather power. Ross has gathered a great deal, riding in the wake of Frank Tomlinson. But now Tomlinson has decided to shoot for the moon. If they win, they get it all. If they lose, the game is over for Jake Ross. In the Power trilogy, Bova’s vision of a future powered by solar satellite transmission is tantalizingly within reach.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Magic triumphs / Andrews, Ilona
Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be. Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Barren / Brett, Peter V
“A new Demon Cycle novella from internationally bestselling author Peter V. Brett After The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold and Messenger’s Legacy comes Barren, an enchanting new novella set in the much-loved world of the Demon Cycle series.” (Catalogue)

Chasing shadows : visions of our coming transparent world
“David Brin, Hugo award-winning author of The Uplift War, presents Chasing Shadows, a collection of short stories and essays by other science fiction luminaries. As we debate Internet privacy, revenge porn, the NSA, and Edward Snowden, cameras get smaller, faster, and more numerous. Has Orwell’s Big Brother finally come to pass? Or have we become a global society of thousands of Little Brothers – watching, judging, and reporting on one another? Partnering with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, and inspired by Brin’s nonfiction book The Transparent Society, noted author and futurist David Brin and scholar Stephen Potts have compiled essays and short stories from writers such as Robert J. Sawyer, James Morrow, William Gibson, Damon Knight, Jack McDevitt, and many others to examine the benefits and pitfalls of technologic transparency in all its permutations.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

King of ashes / Feist, Raymond E.
“For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as ‘the Firemane’ for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverShiang / C. F. Iggulden.
In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat. Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe poppy war / R.F. Kuang.
“When Rin aced the Keju – the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies – it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed moon / Kim Stanley Robinson.
“It is thirty years from now, and we have colonized the moon.
American Fred Fredericks is making his first trip, his purpose to install a communications system for China’s Lunar Science Foundation. But hours after his arrival he witnesses a murder and is forced into hiding. It is also the first visit for celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu. He has contacts and influence, but he too will find that the moon can be a perilous place for any traveler.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncompromising Honor / David Weber.
“The Solarian League’s navy counts its superdreadnoughts by the thousands. Not even its own government knows how enormous its economy truly is. And for hundreds of years, the League has borne the banner of human civilization, been the ideal to which humanity aspires in its diaspora across the galaxy. But the bureaucrats known as the Mandarins who rule today’s League, are not the men and women who founded it so long ago. They are corrupt, venal, accountable to no one… and they’ve decided the upstart Star Kingdom of Manticore must be destroyed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ember Blade : book one of the Darkwater legacy / Chris Wooding.
“Empires rise, civilisations fall and one culture comes to subsume another. It’s the way of the world… sometimes ways of life are improved, sometimes they are not. But the progression of change is huge and – usually – unstoppable. In this story, the Ossian way of life is fading and the Dachen way is taking its place and Aren is comfortable with that. Even when his parents are accused of treason he supports the establishment and maintains there’s been some mistake… which is all it takes to get himself and his best friend arrested.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)