New & Notable Books, January 2017
Lauren Beukes, Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing
(Tachyon Publications Nov 2016)
Beukes’s first collection presents a lively mix of 19 stories, a set of Twitter mash-up stories, a poem, and five non-fiction pieces. ‘‘Beukes writes with passion and a hot immediacy, employing demotic prose that often attains a gritty poetry…. the book can only enhance her reputation in the field.’’ [Paul di Filippo]
Michael Chabon, Moonglow
(Harper Nov 2016)
Acclaimed author Chabon spins a poignant, semi-autobiographical tale in this sprawling associational novel of a man’s deathbed confession to his grandson, telling of war, adventure, marriage, madness, rockets, and much more, told in Chabon’s distinctively crafted style.
James S. A. Corey, Babylon’s Ashes
(Orbit Dec 2016)
The sixth novel in the acclaimed Expanse series (by the pseudonymous team of Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck) finds Earth crippled, and the pirates of the Free Navy now attacking colony ships on their way to the alien ring gates. The scope of the series expands, adding welcome new points of view to this epic space opera series with its thrilling mix of adventure, politics, revolution, and alien mystery.
L. Timmel Duchamp, The Waterdancer’s World
(Aqueduct Press Oct 2016)
Humans struggle for centuries to survive on the colony planet of Frogmore, when a new art-form called waterdancing is created to celebrate the planet’s indigenous life, gaining the support of a fascinated financier – who ironically plans to profit from terraforming the world, eliminating the life that inspires the dance. A thoughtful exploration of the interaction of art, economics, and colonialism.
Warren Ellis, Normal
(FSG Originals Nov 2016)
Comics superstar Ellis brings his unique vision to this near-future SF novella, a techno-thriller following a burnt-out foresight strategist who hopes for a restoring rest at Normal Head in Oregon, and instead gets caught up in the bizarre mystery of a patient gone missing from a locked room. A perceptive, darkly humorous, and chilling gem.
Henry Kuttner, The Early Kuttner, Volume Two: The Watcher at the Door
(Haffner Press Nov 2016)
This second volume of Kuttner’s early works collects 30 pulp stories from 1937-1940, demonstrating Kuttner’s prolific versatility as a writer, with stories ranging from weird tales and Lovecraftian horror to horror-mystery, fantasy, and plenty of SF. A charming foreword by Robert A. Madle offers samples of Kuttner’s fan writing, and Garyn G. Roberts’s introduction to the stories helps track Kuttner’s (and the field’s) development during the period.
Richard A. Lupoff, Where Memory Hides: A Writer’s Life
(Bold Venture Sep 2016)
Veteran SF fan, writer, and raconteur Lupoff’s latest autobiographical book builds on earlier essays from four previous books, plus other anecdotes and interviews, with plenty of new material reflecting on his life from childhood to his shifting career as a writer of SF, mysteries, and non-fiction on pop culture. Frank comments on his fellow writers and editors add extra interest for genre fans. ‘‘It seems like he’s been around forever and remembered everyone he ever met… he makes his opinions clear in ways that alternately make you want to buy him a drink or deliberately spill it on him. Except you probably won’t: such is the power of amiability.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Ken MacLeod, The Corporation Wars: Dissidence
(Orbit Nov 2016)
A robot revolt is seen from the robots’ point-of-view in this far-future SF novel, the first book in the Corporation Wars trilogy. AI exploratory machines working far from Earth develop sentience and take a stand against their warring corporate masters, aided by an idealistic virtual soldier who died 1,000 years in the past.
Kate Milford, The Left-Handed Fate
(Macmillan/Holt Aug 2016)
Teens set out to sea looking for pieces of a mysterious arcane engine that might end the war with Napoleon in this lively middle-grade nautical fantasy novel, sequel to Bluecrowne, set in Milford’s popular Nagspeake world during the War of 1812. It’s a steampunk romp filled with adventure and historical details, inspired by Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.
Brandon Sanderson, Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection
(Tor Nov 2016)
This substantial collection gathers eight stories from the linked worlds of the Cosmere, plus a graphic novel excerpt. A must for fans, this includes a new novella of the Stormlight Archive and a Mistborn novella in print for the first time; Sanderson also provides a preface on the overall series, information on the star systems involved, and notes on each story.
Neal Shusterman, Scythe
(Simon & Schuster Nov 2016)
In a world where death has been almost eliminated, two unwilling teens train to become professional reapers, or scythes, who kill to control population growth – and only one trainee will survive. A thought-provoking young-adult SF novel, the first book in the Arc of a Scythe series.
Bruce Sterling, Pirate Utopia
(Tachyon Publications Nov 2016)
Utopian pirates called the Futurists have taken root in the tiny country of Carnaro just after WWI, when the arrival of American spies Houdini, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard adds a new dimension to the situation in this witty dieselpunk alternate-history novella of art and politics. ‘‘Ultimately, I would call this book Sterling’s Pynchon homage…. But Sterling is no mere Pynchon-wannabe. His voice offers a unique timbre that blends the coolly intellectual Fabianism of Wells with the gonzo absurdity of the Spider pulps.’’ [Paul Di Filippo]
Jonathan Strahan, ed., Bridging Infinity
(Solaris Nov 2016)
The fifth volume in Strahan’s acclaimed Infinity Project original anthology series gathers 15 SF stories by an impressive roster of authors including Alastair Reynolds, Pat Cadigan, Robert Reed, and Ken Liu. ‘‘Probably the strongest original SF anthology of the year.’’ [Gardner Dozois]
Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey
(Tor.com Oct 2016)
A newer writer gaining much acclaim, Wilson returns to the fascinating world of his Crawford Award winning novel The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps for an enchanting fantasy romance novella of a young man, a relative of the royal family, who defies his family and society to become involved with a handsome foreign soldier, while in the background gods and rulers negotiate.
Robert Charles Wilson, Last Year
(Tor Dec 2016)
Wilson constructs an intriguing kind of time travel for this SF novel, set in a version 19th-century Ohio where a wealthy businessman has set up a theme park for visitors from our near-future. But the park is closing and the passage between times will soon shut down forever, and one local in love with a woman from the future is determined to follow her back, regardless of rules and any secrets he might expose.