Daniel Abraham, The Widow’s House
(Orbit Aug 2014)
The fourth volume in the Dagger and the Coin fantasy series continues to deftly weave a compelling tapestry of characters and plots, including a Lord Regent whose ambition outstrips his competence, a cult of priests devoted to a spider goddess, a mercenary captain and a banker trying to save the world from disaster… and new revelations about the nearly extinct dragons who long ago created the 13 races of man.
Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress
(Nan A. Talese Sep 2014)
This collection, Atwood’s first since Moral Disorder in 2006, gathers nine stories (six original) that embrace the spirit of folk tales, ‘‘wonder tales,’’ and genre fiction, often with a hint of the macabre – including a woman mistaken for a vampire, a gruesome discovery in a storage unit, an old lady struggling with hallucinations and impending arson, and a near-future tale.
Darin Bradley, Chimpanzee
(Resurrection/Underland Sep 2014)
This dystopic thematic companion to Bradley’s debut novel Noise takes place in an economically devastated near-future. Unemployed professor Benjamin Cade’s education is being literally removed from his mind for failure to pay his student loans, but before he loses everything, he becomes a street teacher and falls in with a group of revolutionaries. ‘‘There’s a revolutionary zeal, and a belief in the power of the mind to effect change in the world, that provides some light in this otherwise bleak dystopia.’’ [Tim Pratt]
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Assassin
(Ballantine Del Rey Aug 2014)
Hobb returns to the beloved world of the Farseer series after a decade away. This first volume of the new Fitz and the Fool trilogy sees FitzChivalry Farseer interrupted in his peaceful retirement and tempted back to his old life as a roving assassin. ‘‘Where some fantasists specialize in ponderous trilogies with immense casts of characters, elaborately unimaginative world-building, and an overall aura of the ‘medievalesque,’ Hobb distills similar materials into a far more potent brew. However paradoxical it seems, her epics manage to feel intimate.’’ [Faren Miller]
Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire
(Angry Robot Sep 2014)
Locus columnist Hurley launches her new Worldbreaker Saga – ‘‘Game of Thrones meets Fringe’’ – in this audacious fantasy, set in a world menaced by invaders from parallel dimensions and populated by semi-sentient killer trees, bear-riding raiders, and witches adept at blood magic. (See our interview with Hurley elsewhere in this issue for more insight into the series.)
Graham Joyce, The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit
(Doubleday Aug 2014)
This final published novel by a beloved voice we lost too soon (see elsewhere in this issue for obituary and appreciations) appeared last year in the UK as The Year of the Ladybird. In 1976, teen David Barwise goes to the resort town of Skegness in search of answers about his father, who died 15 years before. ‘‘What begins with the nostalgic glow of a hot 1970s summer ends up grounded by the shadows of real history… shapely and magical.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Nancy Kress, Yesterday’s Kin
(Tachyon Publications Sep 2014)
Kress’s fast-moving and idea-packed novella features an alien visitation, a cloud of life-destroying space spores bearing down on Earth, a desperate group of scientists trying to save the world – and a moving tale of family dynamics, too. ‘‘Her ideas, even when somewhat familiar, are as compelling as always… a hard SF writer in the classic mold… she shows us that the form still has a lot of life in it.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Jay Lake, Last Plane to Heaven
(Tor Sep 2014)
The final collection by the late master of the short story, who died of cancer three months before its publication, gathers 32 stories, selected as the best from more than 300 published pieces. Includes a foreword by Lake’s literary hero Gene Wolfe, and an afterword by the author himself, written near the end of his life.
Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, eds., Monstrous Affections
(Candlewick Press Sep 2014)
This original ‘‘Anthology of Beastly Tales’’ features 15 delightfully monstrous and romantic tales for teens by M.T. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Nalo Hopkinson, Kelly Link, Alice Sola Kim, and more, with an introduction by the editors – featuring a pop quiz!
Kate Milford & Jaime Zollars, Greenglass House
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Aug 2014)
This endearing middle-grade mystery, with a hint of fantasy and alternate-world strangeness, takes place in the eponymous inn, filled with stained glass and offering welcome to smugglers (among other guests). One night it fills with secretive strangers seeking treasure, and the innkeeper’s adopted son Milo investigates their mysteries while exploring his own history. With charming illustrations by Jaime Zollars.
Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells & Howard Tayler, Shadows Beneath
(Dragonsteel Jul 2014)
This anthology, a miniature master class in short story writing, grew out of the Writing Excuses podcast, hosted by Kowal, Sanderson, Tayler, and Wells. Each host contributed an original story, and those make up the first third of the book. The rest is devoted to transcripts of brainstorming sessions, first drafts, and marked-up versions of the stories to demonstrate the entire writing process from idea generation, to editing, to final draft.
John Scalzi, Lock In
(Tor Aug 2014)
Deeper and more serious than the author’s usual fare, this near-future police procedural is set in a world where a virus causes a small percentage of its victims to be ‘‘locked in’’ – conscious, but unable to move or communicate physically. Victims can use mechanical bodies to move around, or temporarily borrow the bodies of ‘‘integrators’’ – which makes finding out who committed murder even more complicated than it is in our world. ‘‘The most enjoyable robot story I’ve read this year – even though it’s not quite about robots.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Jeff VanderMeer, Acceptance
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux/FSG Originals Sep 2014)
In this final volume in the challenging and bizarre Southern Reach trilogy, one last expedition is sent into the mysterious Area X in search of ultimate answers on a remote island, facing perils both literal and metaphysical. Readers may not find all the explanations they seek, but the journey is sure to leave them changed. ‘‘Acceptance shows just how narrow-minded technophilia can be, compared to an active sense of wonder.’’ [Faren Miller]
Peter Watts, Echopraxia
(Tor Aug 2014)
Watts delivers another ambitious and bleak vision of the future in this loose sequel/companion piece to Blindsight, with ‘‘baseline human’’ biologist Daniel Brüks taken on a journey through the solar system with a vampire and a group of posthuman monks. ‘‘The famously dismal brilliance of Watts’s imagination… at first stuns you with its barrage of smart ideas and cutting-edge research, then disarms you with its grim determinism and unsympathetic, semi-posthuman characters, and ends up, pretty much, by just making you want to crawl under a rock…. SF hard enough to break a tooth on.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Andy Weir, The Martian
(Crown Feb 2014)
This debut novel (originally self-published in 2012) is an acclaimed hard-SF thriller about an astronaut from the first manned mission to Mars who finds himself stranded on the red planet after a dust storm leads his crew to evacuate, believing him dead. He uses his ingenuity, engineering prowess, and humor to fight for survival in impossible circumstances… and maybe even arrange his own rescue.
Ian Whates, ed., Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction
(Solaris Aug 2014)
The third New Solaris Book of Science Fiction continues the acclaimed anthology series and features 18 original SF stories by Aliette de Bodard, Ken Liu, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Rachel Swirsky, Ian Watson, and more, with an introduction by the editor.