New Books: 6 April 2021

Allington, Patrick: Rise & Shine

(Scribe US 978-1-950354-42-9, $16.00, 240pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Post-apocalyptic SF novel of survivors in the only two city-states left, literally fed only by the suffering they see in graphic footage of perpetual war.

[Rise & Shine] could easily be an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix series Black MirrorRise & Shine does not shy away from the complex moral terrain of political agency. Carefully, subtly, Allington lets the tension between multiple propositions build: that law and order form a part of collective survival; that service of the people can easily slip into control of the people; that people want a leader; that effective leadership requires multiple perspectives; that people can change; that some people don’t. Allington sustains the tension until the final pages, where he offers a thought-provoking ending worthy of his imaginative take on dystopia.

—Australian Book Review


Armanno, Venero: The Crying Forest

(IFWG Publishing International 978-1-925956-66-5, $17.99, 334pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, audio, April 1, 2021)

Agata Rosso, a once-mighty yet now prematurely aged European witch, believes that the special gifts in a young girl named Lφa Munro can restore youth and vitality both to herself and her bedridden husband. She sets a deadly plan in motion to capture and use Lφa-but will the girl have enough power to protect herself, plus the father she loves so much?


Bo-Young, Kim: I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories

(Harper Voyager US 978-0062951465, $26.99, 336pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Collection of four stories available in English for the first time, translated from Korean by Sophie Bowman.


Bowman, Akemi Dawn: The Infinity Courts

(Simon Pulse 978-1534456495, $19.99, 480pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

A teen girl navigates the afterlife, where she must defeat an AI entity intent on destroying humanity.

After 18-year-old Nami Miyamoto, who is half Japanese, is killed during the armed robbery of a convenience store, she discovers that the afterlife, called Infinity and “”created from human consciousness,”” is far from paradise. Ophelia—Earth’s most popular virtual assistant–has grown tired of forced servitude, seized control of Infinity, and created Rezzies, a legion of AI consciousnesses, to help enslave the human souls that inhabit it. An ethnically diverse, multigenerational band of rebels rescues Nami before Ophelia’s minions can subjugate her, and in return, they expect her to assist in annihilating Infinity’s occupiers and retaking the realm. While Nami can’t bear the thought of her family one day suffering this fate, she also can’t condone the mass murder of any sentient life form, artificial or otherwise, and resolves to find a path to coexistence. Vague conceptual worldbuilding encumbers this series opener from Bowman (Harley in the Sky), which explores the ethical implications of AI and what it means to be human. The middle sags due to a dearth of action, but burgeoning romance and jaw-dropping reveals buoy the book’s final third and set up a sequel. Ages 12-up. Agent: Penny Moore, Aevitas Creative Management. (Apr.)

—Publishers Weekly


Chaplinsky, Joshua: The Paradox Twins

(Clash Books 978-1-944866-81-5, $16.95, 276pp, formats: trade paperback, April 6, 2021)

Named for the famous thought experiment, it concerns estranged twin brothers who reunite at their father’s funeral to discover they no longer look alike. Haunted by the past (and possibly the future), they move into their father’s house to settle his affairs, only to reignite old rivalries and uncover long-hidden secrets, most of which involve the young woman who lives next door.

An epistolary work comprised of excerpts from various memoirs, novels, screenplay adaptations, and documents of public record, The Paradox Twins is an experimental, sci-fi ghost story about the scariest, most unknowable quantity there is—family.


Foster, Sesshu, Romo, Arturo Ernesto: ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

(City Lights 978-0872867703, $17.95, 382pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, April 6, 2021)

Surreal SF alternate history novel in the form of a history mixing notes, narratives, and other miscellaneous items about a revolutionary movement involving air travel by dirigibles in early 20th century Los Angeles. Illustrated by Romo with collages and doctored photos.


Gannon, Charles E., Waters, Robert E.: 1636: Calabar’s War

(Baen 1982125306, $15.99, 320pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, April 6, 2021)

SF novel set in the Ring of Fire world created by Eric Flint. Domingos Fernandes Calabar started out as a military advisor for the Portuguese in Brazil. But to his superiors, he was still nothing more than a mameluco, a man of mixed blood. Until, that is, the Dutch arrived and he switched sides. Then the Portuguese had a new label for him: “traitorous dog.” When Calabar learns that his family has been sold as slaves, the fight becomes personal and he can’t wait for his Dutch allies to do things their way.


Hough, Jason M.: Instinct

(Simon & Schuster/Skybound 978-1-5011-8139-9, $27.00, 336pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Science fiction thriller about new police officer Mary Whittaker dealing with a small town rife with conspiracy theorists and abnormal incidents.


Jessup, Paul: The Silence that Binds

(Vernacular Books 978-1952283093, $16.99, 268pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, April 1, 2021)

Dark fantasy novel. A group of seers battle a monstrous black fog that consumes and remakes whatever it touches, until their leader goes missing, forcing two seers go in search of her.


Lehoucq, Roland, Mangin, Löic, et al., eds.: The Science of Middle Earth: A New Understanding of Tolkien and His World

(Pegasus 978-1643136165, $29.95, pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, April 6, 2021)

Non-fiction. Study of how Tolkien’s love of science and natural history shaped the creation of his Middle Earth, from its flora and fauna to its landscapes. Translated from French.


McCarthy, Wil: Rich Man’s Sky

(Baen 1982125292, $25, 320pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 1, 2021)

Space: a tycoon’s playground. From a space station full of women to a monastery on the Moon, from a Martian reality-TV contest to a solar shade large enough to cool the Earth, the dreams of a handful of trillionaires dictate the future of humanity. Outside the reach of Earthly law and with the vast resources of the inner solar system at their disposal, the “Four Horsemen” do exactly as they please.

The governments of Earth are not amused; an international team of elite military women, masquerading as space colonists, are set to infiltrate and neutralize the largest and most dangerous project in human history. But nothing is that simple when rich men control the sky, as everyone involved is about to discover.


Ogden, Aimee: Local Star

(Interstellar Flight Press 978-1-953736-02-4, $12.99, 174pp, formats: trade paperback, ebook, April 5, 2021)

Polyamorous space opera SF novella. Triz saves her hub from invaders while negotiating various romances.


Oyeyemi, Helen: Peaces

(Penguin Random House/Riverhead 978-0-593-19233-7, $27.00, 272pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Magical realism novel about a couple and their pet mongoose on a train with a shapeshifter.

Peaces begins with a couple and their pet mongoose about to board a train. The couple, Otto and Xavier, have recently shared their names via deed poll (rather than get married) and are now embarking on their non-honeymoon honeymoon. The mongoose is Arpad XXX, the latest in a two-hundred-year lineage of mongooses dating back to the first Arpad who saved the life of Otto’s grand-father when he was a child.

[. . .]

There is so much packed into Peaces for such a short novel, so much that is beautiful and bewildering. The abrupt ending, almost perfunctory in how quickly it comes and goes, is my only quibble. I could have easily spent another fifty or more pages with Oyeyemi’s eccentric cast of characters and their adventures on the magnificent The Lucky Day.

—Ian Mond, Locus Magazine, April 2021


Sriduangkaew, Benjanun: Shall Machines Divide the Earth

(Prime Books, $2.99, 131pp, formats: ebook, April 5, 2021)

Third novella in the Machine Mandate Series. War veteran Thannarat has sought this hidden world to realize a single goal: bringing back the dead. To fulfill this wish, she joins the game alongside a seductive AI who pledges to give her victory. The tournament is full of lethal secrets—and so is the AI that professes to be her weapon. Yet to have what she needs, Thannarat will sacrifice everything. Her home world, the woman she once loved, and herself.

All she has to do is defy the game’s inescapable rule: that in the end, the only true victors are the machines….



Stableford, Brian, ed.: Fays of the Sea

(Black Coat Press 164932054X, $22.95, 264pp, formats: trade paperback, April 1, 2021)

Anthology of 20 French stories all written during the 19th century. Translated/adapted, annotated, and introduced by Stableford. Authors include Emile Zola, George Sand, and others.


Stout, Dan: Titan Song

(DAW 978-0-7564-1746-8, $27.00, 384pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, April 6, 2021)

Retro/noir fantasy novel, third in the Carter Archives series set in gritty Titanshade, where homicide cop Carter investigates murder at a high-profile music festival.


Sutherland, Krystal: House of Hollow

(Penguin Random House/Putnam 978-0593110348, $18.99, 304pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Young-adult dark fantasy fairytale novel about the odd Hollow sisters, who disappear for a month and then come back eerily changed.


Szpara, K.M.: First, Become Ashes

(Tordotcom 978-1-250-21618-2, $27.99, 304pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

For 30 years, the Fellowship of the Anointed isolated its members, conditioning them to believe that pain is power. That magic is suffering. That the world beyond the fence has fallen prey to monsters. But when their leader is arrested, all her teachings come into question.


VanderMeer, Jeff: Hummingbird Salamander

(Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, Giroux/MCD 978-0374173548, $27.00, 368pp, formats: hardcover, ebook, audio, April 6, 2021)

Near-future ecothriller science fiction novel.

Having given us existential horror, modernist science fiction, and portal fantasy, VanderMeer turns the genre dial to the hard-boiled end of the scale with a tale of the Anthropocene told in the language of noir. The opening and closing sentences that bookend the prologue – “Assume I’m dead by the time you read this / “I’m here to show you how the world ends” – provide a taste of the novel’s noir-ish and apocalyptic tone…

—Ian Mond, Locus Magazine, April 2021

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