Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon
(DAW Feb 2012)

Acclaimed story writer Ahmed makes his novel-length debut with this rousing adventure about an aging ghul-hunter, his zealous apprentice, and a formidable tribeswoman bent on revenge, set in an unusual fantasy world reminiscent of the tales of The Arabian Nights.


Robert Jackson Bennett, The Troupe
(Orbit US Feb 2012)

A very strange vaudeville troupe is the centerpiece of this fascinating dark fantasy novel about a teen trying to track down his father. ‘‘Bennett tells his tale well… telling us a story about grief and letting go that is lightly draped with the trapppings of vaudeville, and [his] imagination.’’ [Adrienne Martini]


Paula Brandon, The Ruined City
(Ballantine Spectra Mar 2012)

Supernatural catastrophe looms in the city of Vitrisi, part of an Italianate land where magic has become unstable, in this second novel in the fantasy trilogy begun in The Traitors Daughter, a tale kept thrilling by ‘‘forceful personalities and equally strong plotlines.’’ [Faren Miller] Brandon is a pen for Paula Volsky.


Tobias S. Buckell, Arctic Rising
(Tor Feb 2012)

The author of the far-future Xenowealth series switches his focus to the near-future of Earth in this SF thriller set after the Arctic ice cap has almost entirely melted. United Nations Polar Guard airship pilot Anika Duncan runs afould a military-industrial-complex conspiracy to stop the Gaia Corporation, an organization devoted to ‘‘terraforming’’ the Earth to save the planet from ecological catastrophe.


Elspeth Cooper, Songs of the Earth
(Tor Feb 2012)

The medieval fantasy plot may sound familiar – a young man facing execution as a witch escapes and learns to use his powers – but this first novel (the first book of the Wild Hunt trilogy) has been getting considerable acclaim. ‘‘With Cooper’s gifts, the burnt-out dross of uninspired medievalesque fantasy genuinely thrives again.’’ [Faren Miller] Originally published in the UK by Gollancz (6/11).


Stephen Deas, The Order of the Scales
(Roc Feb 2012)

The Memory of Flames trilogy comes to a fiery conclusion as dragons wake from the spells that held them and fly to avenge their enslavement by humans. Originally published in the UK by Gollancz (5/11).


Ted Kosmatka, The Games
(Ballantine Del Rey Mar 2012)

This SF thriller involving the use of genetic engineering to create non-human gladiators is the first novel from ‘‘One of the most intriguing short fiction writers to emerge in the last few years… an efficient thriller that does what it sets out to do, and promises a good deal more in the future.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Stina Leicht, And Blue Skies from Pain
(Night Shade Books Mar 2012)

This follow-up to debut novel Of Blood and Honey continues the Fey and the Fallen series, set in a magic-infused version of 1970s Ireland. Half-Fey former Irish Republican Army wheelman Liam wrestles with his magical heritage and attempts to convince the special branch of the Catholic church devoted to fighting supernatural creatures that Fey aren’t the same as demons. ‘‘The promising, unconventional mix of rebellion, punk rock and Faerie in her debut… was no fluke.’’ [Faren Miller]


Naomi Novik, Crucible of Gold
(Ballantine Del Rey Mar 2012)

The seventh book in the Temeraire series sees Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire recalled from their retirement in Australia and sent to broker a peace in Brazil, suffering mishaps along the way that land them in the midst of the hostile Incan empire.


Melanie Rawn, Touchstone
(Tor Feb 2012)

This inventive, atmospheric novel’s eponymous acting troupe boasts a playwright who’s part elf, part fae, and part wizard, and performers adept at conjuring magical effects on stage and enchanting their audiences – but the group’s ascent into the realm of high society is shadowed by prophetic visions of dark futures.


James Renner, The Man from Primrose Lane
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux Mar 2012)

This new writer makes his ambitious debut with a book that mingles murder mystery with literary inventiveness and dizzying temporal loops. ‘‘This is more than a new fiction writer juggling with time, persona, and possibilities as a form of self-assertion. Renner moves beyond the mundane because he sees things that way.’’ [Faren Miller]


Karl Schroeder, Ashes of Candesce
(Tor Feb 2012)

The fifth and final volume in the Virga series of post-singularity steampunk SF novels abounds with Nifty Ideas and political theorizing, ‘‘But this is still a grand flying-pirate-ship-chases-and-escapes-and-meetings-with-monsters adventure, and it ends not with a debate or a seminar but with a gigantic zero-gee battle around Candesce, a climactic unmasking and showdown, just desserts, and other satisfying stuff.’’ [Russell Letson]


Jonathan Strahan, ed., The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Six
(Night Shade Books Mar 2012)

Strahan comes through again with the first collection of the best SF/F from 2011, gathering 31 stories by authors including Stephen Baxter, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Nalo Hopkinson, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Kelly Link, Bruce Sterling, and many more.


Peter Straub, The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine
(Subterranean Press Jan 2012)

Straub is at his disquieting, enigmatic best in this novella about two lovers on a series of luxurious Amazon river voyages over the course of 25 years, their journeys punctuated by mysteries, strangeness, and impossible revelations. ‘‘Genuine hypnotic power.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]


Walter Jon Williams, The Fourth Wall
(Orbit US Feb 2012)

The third novel about alternate reality gaming impresario Dagmar Shaw (after This Is Not a Game and Deep State) moves into Hollywood territory, with Shaw hiring an aging child star who suffers from pedomorphosis to star in a serialized SF movie, the production of which is soon plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and murders. The Fourth Wall ‘‘isn’t fundamentally science-fictional, but it’s as exotic and wonderful and textured and operationally detailed as any nifty-skiffy creation.’’ [Russell Letson]


Connie Willis, All About Emily
(Subterranean Press Jan 2012)

Willis pens another classic SF Christmas tale in this novella about an aging Broadway star who befriends a young woman – actually an android – who dreams of becoming a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. Willis’s story ‘‘is slyly funny, which comes as no surprise to those familiar with her comic stories, but is also deceptively light, raising some real and very serious issues about the kind of relationships that might develop between humans and their own artificial ‘children.’’’ [Gardner Dozois]