New & Notable Books, April 2019

Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night (Tor 2/19) Charlie Jane Anders’s new SF novel about humans who colonize the narrow temperate zone of a tidally locked planet is a change of pace from her Nebula Award winning debut, All the Birds in the Sky, but still showcases one of Anders’s main strengths – complex characterization. “The real energy of the novel derives from the sharply rendered loyalties, loves, and perceived betrayals of the main characters. [Gary K. Wolfe]

Gardner Dozois, ed., The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction (St. Martin’s Griffin 2/19) Gardner Dozois’s influential Year’s Best Science Fiction Series had reached 35 volumes at the time of his death in 2018, and this collection contains 38 short stories selected by Dozois from his annual anthologies. Includes work by Elizabeth Bear, Pat Cadigan, James S.A. Corey, Aliette de Bodard, Daryl Gregory, Nancy Kress, Ken Liu, Ian McDonald, Charles Stross, Lavie Tidhar, and more.

Jasper Fforde, Early Riser (Viking 2/19; Hodder & Stoughton 8/18) From the author of the Thursday Next series, a standalone novel in which humanity hibernates four months of every year. Charlie Worthing, one of the caretakers who stays awake through winter, investigates an outbreak of viral dreams among the hibernators. Fforde is interviewed in this issue, with more discussion about the novel.

Charlie N. Holmberg, Smoke & Summons (47North 2/19) The first in a new fantasy series by the author of the Paper Magician novels. Slave-girl Sandis is a vessel for an ancient and powerful spirit that can transform her into a monster against her will. Fleeing her master, she allies with a thief named Rone and his immortality device in order to win her freedom. “You want transparent prose and a cracking plot. Holmberg delivers these in Smoke & Summons.” [Katharine Coldiron]

Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan (Tachyon 2/19) Collection of 20 stories from the World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and James Tiptree, Jr. Award winner, with an introduction by Richard Kadrey. Includes “The Maltese Unicorn”, about a mystical, cursed dildo made of unicorn horn. “Kiernan, who has been consistently maturing as an author since the ’90s, really found her voice and her strongest themes in the early years of this century.” [Gary K. Wolfe]

Victor LaValle & John Joseph Adams, eds., A People’s Future of the United States (One World 2/19) Inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, this anthology explores “new forms of freedom, love, and justice” with 25 stories from Charlie Jane Anders, Justina Ireland, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, G. Willow Wilson, and others. “An impressively diverse group of contributors, not only in cultural terms but in terms of their relationships to genre.” [Gary K. Wolfe]

Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home (Library of America 2/19) This is the Author’s Expanded Edition of Le Guin’s 1985 novel set in post-apocalyptic Napa Valley CA. Edited by Brian Attebery, the expanded edition includes more than 65 pages of new material, artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine’s original illustrations, Le Guin’s hand-drawn maps, a complete novel-within-a-novel, and an appendix with essays.

Ken Liu, ed., Broken Stars (Tor 2/19) A collection of 16 stories and novellas of translated Chinese science fiction, including pieces by Hugo Award winners Cixin Liu and Hao Jingfang. Fourteen of the stories were translated by Ken Liu, and two by Liu with Carmen Yiling Yan. Also contains three essays on Chinese science fiction from Chinese SF scholars.

Jenn Lyons, The Ruin of Kings (Tor 2/19) An epic fantasy novel following the story of Kihrin, a thief who is actually the long-lost son of a prince, as he’s drawn into his family’s politics, prophecies, and power plays. “With sharp prose, fascinating characters, a narrative that never ceases to interest, and a deep and well-thought setting, The Ruin of Kings is a promising opening to a projected five-book series.” [Liz Bourke]

George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass, eds., Texas Hold’em (Tor 11/18) Part of the long-running Wild Cards series about an alien virus that mutates humans and gives them extraordinary powers. This “mosaic novel,” set in San Antonio, features writing by David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Victor Milán, Diana Rowland, Walton Simons, Caroline Spector, and William F. Wu.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Endgames (Tor 2/19) The 12th and final book in the Imager Portfolio, starting with Imager (2009) and continuing through Assassin’s Price (2017), in which “Imagers” have the magical ability to visualize objects into existence.

Shaun Tan, Cicada (Arthur A. Levine 2/19; Lothian ’18) A picture storybook by Australian artist Shaun Tan, about a cicada who wears a suit and tie to work in a dreary office building among humans. Tan “displays his considerable skill in a melancholic-yet- hopeful children’s book which adults will also enjoy.” [Karen Haber]

This more like it in the April 2019 issue of Locus.

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