R. Scott Bakker, The Great Ordeal
(Overlook Press Jul 2016)

The third and penultimate volume of the Aspect-Em­peror series (set in the same epic fantasy world as the earlier, acclaimed Prince of Nothing saga) continues the grim and gritty tale of clashing armies, personal tragedy, and impending apocalypse against an intricate and vast backdrop that stands as a true triumph of worldbuilding.

Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2016
(Lethe Aug 2016)

The latest installment of this annual anthology of ‘‘the year’s best gay speculative fiction’’ includes 15 stories featuring gay characters, with fiction by Richard Bowes, Chaz Brenchley, Sam J. Miller, Benjamin Parzybok, E. Catherine Tobler, and more, plus an introduction by the editor discussing 2015, ‘‘a very good year for gay-themed speculative fiction.’’

Michael Bishop, Joel-Brock the Brave and the Valorous Smalls
(Fairwood Press/Kudzu Planet Productions Jun 2016)

The latest book from the Fairwood Press imprint devoted to Bishop’s work brings us an original middle-grade fantasy novel charm­ingly illustrated in pen-and-ink by Orion Zangara, with the titular character and his friends embarking on an adventure in a world of mazes, mushrooms, and magic to find his missing family.

Paula Guran, ed., The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2016 Edition
(Prime Books Jul 2016)

The editor (and Locus reviewer) turns her expertise toward this selection of the best dark fiction of 2015, with 30 chill­ing tales by Dale Bailey, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Lisa L. Hannett, Stephen Graham Jones, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Kaaron Warren, and more. She also includes an introduction and (for the first time in her series) a list of other notable stories from the year.

Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic for Small Change
(Aqueduct Press Jun 2016)

This ambitious novel interweaves the story of young aspiring actor Cinnamon Jones and her family’s secrets with a diary she inherits – The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer – written by a great woman warrior of the 1890s who came to Earth from another dimension. Hairston excels at ‘‘giving every type of magic, hoodoo, and weirdness its own flavor and tone, yet grounding them in our gritty world… A remarkable achievement.’’ [Faren Miller]

Rich Horton, ed., The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 Edition
(Prime Books Jun 2016)

Locus’s own short fiction reviewer brings us his picks for the best of 2015 in the latest installment of his annual series, with 30 outstanding works of SF/F from the likes of Elizabeth Bear, Brooke Bolander, Gregory Norman Bossert, S.S.E. Cooney, C.C. Finlay, Naomi Kritzer, Seanan McGuire, Vonda N. McIntyre, Tamsyn Muir, and more, plus an introduction by the editor and a list of further recommended reading.

N. K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate
(Orbit Aug 2016)

The second book in the acclaimed author’s Broken Earth trilogy, following Hugo finalist The Fifth Season, con­tinues to explore a strange and shattered world on the cusp of extinction (which may be our own far future), where powerful ‘‘orogenes’’ are hated and feared for their ability to destroy and reshape the land.

Nick Mamatas, I Am Providence
(Skyhorse/Night Shade Books Aug 2016)

In this inventive twist on the ‘‘murder mystery at a conven­tion’’ tale, widely despised horror novelist Panossian is murdered at the Summer Tentacular, and a rare volume he hoped to sell is stolen. His roommate – new writer and first-time convention attendee Colleen – turns amateur sleuth to solve the crime while coping with a motley crowd of fans, writers, collectors, and scholars who will seem very familiar to those who know the horror scene… while an understandably bitter Panossian narrates half the novel from his drawer at the morgue.

Jonathan Strahan, ed., Drowned Worlds
(Solaris Jul 2016)

This anthology of 15 new stories ‘‘set in drowned and inundated futures, in the possibly shattered worlds of the later Anthropocene, or in any drowned world’’ the authors can imagine, contains standout work by Nina Allan, Charlie Jane Anders, Jeffrey Ford, Nalo Hopkin­son, Ken Liu, Kim Stanley Robinson, Rachel Swirsky, Lavie Tidhar, Catherynne M. Valente, and more. ‘‘Well-written, passionate, and vivid.’’ [Russell Letson]

Michael Swanwick, Not So Much, Said the Cat
(Tachyon Publications Aug 2016)

This collection gathers 17 recent stories by one of our most puckish and surprising short fiction authors, including Hugo and Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist ‘‘From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…’’, and an introduction tracing his development into a SF writer. Swanwick ‘‘demonstrates as consistently as anyone now working that the craft of the literary short story and the materials of SF and fantasy can not only be compat­ible, but impressively synergetic.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]

Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer, eds., The Big Book of Science Fiction
(Random House/Vintage Jul 2016)

This immense (nearly 1,200 pages) overview of short SF attempts to outdo previous volumes of this type by branching out beyond the oft-reprinted classics, including authors not known primarily for SF, and considering more international fiction. The result is 105 stories from 1897 to 2002, with work by Iain M. Banks, Jorge Luis Borges, Octa­via E. Butler, Pat Cadigan, Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, Cixin Liu, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., H.G. Wells, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, and (many, many) more. The editors include an engaging history of SF in their introduction. ‘‘These stories were chosen for continuing relevance and arranged to interplay like voices in a great conversation: shifting and offering new insights.’’ [Faren Miller]

K. B. Wagers, Behind the Throne
(Orbit Aug 2016)

This rollick­ing debut space opera, first in a series, finds freewheel­ing criminal Hail Bristol forced to return home to her role as rightful heir to the throne of the matriarchal Indranan Empire. Life as a gun runner was easy, and safe, compared to life in politics. ‘‘A fast, explosive, fun read…. I can hardly wait for the sequel. I could use more fun space opera.’’ [Liz Bourke]

Jo Walton, Necessity
(Tor Jul 2016)

The third book in the philosophical SF series begun with The Philosopher Kings and The Just City sees the goddess Athene’s experiment to create a society based on Plato’s Republic relocated from Earth to a planet in a distant start system and 4,000 years in the future. ‘‘Most of the novel is in the form of intellectual conversations, so a lot depends on the voices of the four main narrators and Walton’s ability to keep her characters convincing as more than mouthpieces. She does… [and] those conversations are still the meat of the narrative, and are as provocative as ever.’’

Jacob Weisman, ed., Invaders
(Tachyon Publications Jul 2016)

These ‘‘22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature’’ come from authors better known for their literary work than their genre fiction, with stories by authors including Amiri Baraka, Katherine Dunn, Molly Gloss, W.P. Kinsella, Jonathan Lethem, George Saunders, Steven Millhauser, and others. The editor’s introduction ex­plores the way ‘‘barriers between science fiction and literature have begun to crumble’’ in recent years.