New & Notable Books, August 2017
Callie Bates, The Waking Land
(Del Rey Jul 2017)
This fantasy first novel by a promising new talent begins a new trilogy, following teenage Lady Elanna, who flees her home after being accused of murdering the king, discovers her own wild nature magic, and joins a rebellion.
Curtis C. Chen, Kangaroo Too
(St. Martin’s/Dunne Jun 2017)
This sequel to funny SF novel Waypoint Kangaroo continues the tale of the title character, who has the ability to hide items in a small pocket universe, making him an ideal thief and spy. ‘‘This is a caper novel reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake at his best: things start small, then escalate, then turn sideways and escalate again, and then the unexpected ambushes everybody. It’s all about character and pacing and character: Chen is a master of both. If you like good old-fashioned plot-driven SF, you will like this book; if you like slightly absurd humorous SF, you’ll like it even more.’’ [Tom Whitmore]
John Crowley, Totalitopia
(PM Press Jun 2017)
The 19th installment in the ‘‘Outspoken Authors’’ series ‘‘of wine-flight samplers of some of the most interesting political and speculative writers’’ (Gary K. Wolfe) features one of our most celebrated authors of literary SF, and includes a rare original story, ‘‘This Is Our Town’’, along with four short fiction reprints, three erudite essays, and an irreverent interview conducted as usual by Terry Bisson.
Nicky Drayden, The Prey of Gods
(Harper Voyager Jun 2017)
This debut novel deftly mingles the science fictional and the fantastical in a tale set in a future South Africa where sweeping changes are altering the fabric of a country and its intermingled cultures. ‘‘A complex and ambitious novel…. I’m looking forward to seeing what Drayden does next: this is a very promising first novel, and I hope it portends an equally interesting career.’’ [Liz Bourke]
Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
(Simon & Schuster/Saga Press Jun 2017)
This long-awaited first novel from the acclaimed fantastic expands short story ‘‘The Mad Scientist’s Daughter’’ (2010) to explore a historical fantasy world populated by the fictional heroes and monsters – and their daughters, notably Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, who join forces to stand against the villainous Sociéte des Alchimistes and other threats. ‘‘Infectious fun.’’ [Gary K. Wolfe]
Stephen Graham Jones, Mapping the Interior
(Tor.com Publishing Jun 2017)
The renowned horror writer has penned an emotionally engaging literary ghost story rooted in the experiences of contemporary Native Americans, about a teenager who is haunted by a figure in Blackfeet regalia that resembles his dead father, and who discovers impossible secret depths in his own house.
Yoon Ha Lee, Raven Stratagem
(Solaris Jun 2017)
The sequel to Lee’s debut Ninefox Gambit (a finalist for Hugo and Nebula awards) exceeds expectations. Captain Kel Cheris is still playing host to the consciousness of gifted but unpredictable General Shuos Jedao, the hexarchate is in danger, and new viewpoint characters provide fresh perspectives on this strange future society. The novel ‘‘rewards attention. It feels intricate, like a piece of clockwork in which every cog and gear has a job: it feels deeply thought, and powerful…. This is a really great sequel, and an excellent novel in its own right. I recommend it wholeheartedly.’’ [Liz Bourke]
Seanan McGuire, Down Among the Sticks and Bones
(Tor.com Jun 2017)
This prequel novella to last year’s Hugo Award finalist Every Heart a Doorway explores the history of enigmatic twins Jack and Jill before they came to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, detailing their harrowing experiences in a Gothic otherworld of the Moors, home to vampiric nobles and mad scientists. This ‘‘has the voice and rhythm of a fairy tale, appropriately enough. It is vividly characterised, as so much of Seanan McGuire’s work is, and has the kind of prose that carries you along to find out what happens next. Its thematic concerns – in family, in autonomy, in choices, and in the nature of monsters – are interesting.’’ [Liz Bourke]
Frank M. Robinson, Not So Good a Gay Man
(Tor Jun 2017)
The late Frank M. Robinson (1926-2014) left us this deeply personal autobiography, styled as a letter to a friend, discussing his experiences as an author, an activist, a speechwriter for Harvey Milk, and a gay man through decades of social change in the United States. His keen eye for detail and his insightful sense of character inform this memoir as fully as they did his novels.
Nat Segaloff, A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison
(NESFA Press Mar 2017)
Grand Master Harlan Ellison is a living legend with a colorful past, and in 2011 he asked biographer Nat Segaloff to write his life story, giving him full access and control. The resulting work is a fascinating tapestry woven from interviews with Ellison and his friends and colleagues conducted over five years, celebrating Ellison’s achievements without shying away from the controversies. Includes a foreword by David Gerrold, 32 pages of color photos, and appendices including an interview, selected bibliography, and notes.
Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland, The Rise and Fall of D. O. D. O.
(HarperCollins/Morrow Jun 2017)
SF powerhouse Stephenson and literary star Galland join forces for a dense, complex, adventurous novel of science, magic, and time-travel: linguist Melisande Stokes and military intelligence operative Tristan Lyons join forces to discover why magic stopped working as part of the department of Diachronic Operations – ultimately traveling back in time to make magic work again (and to tweak history along the way).
Tad Williams, The Witchwood Crown
(DAW Jun 2017)
Williams returns to the world of the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn series with this new trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard: the young protagonists of the first series are now established royalty – and grandparents – on a twilight-of-their-lives tour of their kingdom…. which is beset by myriad threats, from the deadly magic of the Norn Queen to the bad attitude of their grandson and heir. ‘‘An engrossing epic, mixing adventure, intrigue, magic, and some fascinating new characters – even a lost prince and princess.’’ [Carolyn Cushman]