This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: An Indian Epic, a Return to the Prequel Era, and an Unforgettable Book No One Remembers

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Upon a Burning Throne, by Ashok K. Banker
Ashok Banker is a huge bestseller in his native India, and is making his U.S. debut with this ambitious epic fantasy inspired by the Mahabharata itself. The Burnt Empire exists in a world where demigods and demons walk the earth alongside humans. After the emperor dies, the empire is thrown into chaos, as two heirs each seek to prove their worthiness by sitting on the Burning Throne, whose deep magic destroys the unworthy. Both princes—Adri and Shvate—pass the test, but yet more chaos is unleashed when a third claimant appears: the daughter of the demonlord Jarsun. When his offspring is denied her chance to prove her worthiness as well, Jarsun declares war, vowing to destroy the Burnt Empire in revenge. Adri and Shvate find themselves co-rulers of an empire roiled by sedition and stressed by invasion in this sprawling tale of conspiracies, battles, and demonic magic.

Fire Season, by Stephen Blackmoore 
Your friendly neighborhood necromancer Eric Carter returns in fine, dark form in the fourth installment of Blackmoore’s smart urban fantasy series. As the novel opens, Los Angeles is literally burning with impossible fires. During one of the hottest summers on record, someone is killing off mages with fires that never go out (and shouldn’t be able to burn in the first place. Carter is being framed for the serial killings, and he thinks he knows who’s behind it—not everyone has a vengeful Aztec god in his rear-view mirror, after all. But some parts of his theory don’t quite add up, giving Carter the sinking feeling there’s more going on than he suspects. Which is always a dangerous thing when your day-to-day dealings include magic, the undead, and angry gods.

Winds of Marque: Blackwood & Virtue, by Bennett R. Coles
Coles launches a new series with a story of swashbuckling officers in His Imperial Majesty’s navy chasing down a nest of pirates—in space. The Big Ship Energy is real: these deep space vessels are propelled by solar sails. Second in command Liam Blackwood is still smarting from being passed over for promotion when the HMSS Daring gets a new captain, Lady Sophia Riverton, and new orders to infiltrate and destroy the pirates threatening the empire’s supply lines, even as it gears up for war with an inhuman enemy. Assisted by his petty officer and possible love interest Amelia Virtue, Blackwood is forced to act when his new his captain begins making questionable decisions and laying the grounds for a mutiny. It should go without saying that fans of Aubrey Martin and Temeraire will enjoy sailing acros the stars with the crew of the Daring.

Amnesty, by Laura Elena Donnelly
In the wake of a successful revolution, the once-glittering city of Amberlough struggles to rebuild itself in the final volume of Lara Elena Donnelly’s Nebula Award-nominated decopunk trilogy. Now that the oppressive Ospies have been removed from power, the regime that replaced them is seeking retribution from all who may have betrayed the city. This includes Cyril DePaul, who self-interestedly worked both sides of the conflict in an effort to save his own skin. His only remaining allies are a bitter ex-lover and his distant sister—and even in the wake of drastic change, Amberlough remains a dangerous, decadent place, awash in crime, deception, and—hopefully—a chance at redemption.

No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
If the second book in Dawson and Hearne’s gleefully parodic Tales of Pell series is not the surprise that Kill the Farm Boy was, it is every bit as delightful. As the tidy, cheerful gnomes prepare for war against the well-armed, voracious Halflings, one gnome finds his life upended by a Halfling bomb. Offi Numminen stands apart from others of his kind, incrementally less cheerful, and favoring cardigans with a distinctly goth appeal, but he goes from outcast to last hope when he finds himself the leader of a band of misfits headed off on a journey to the Toot Towers to set the world right again. The quest won’t be easy, but it certainly won’t be harder than pulling his band of malcontents together and making them work as a team. Once again, Dawson and Hearne balance their whimsical, affectionate ribbing of fantasy conventions with a deep love for the genre and the tropes they’re subverting.

Perihelion Summer, by Greg Egan
When twin black holes enter our solar system and knock Earth’s orbit out of whack, Matt Fleming reacts by creating the Mandjet, a floating, self-sustaining environment designed to withstand the climatic disaster that ensues. Struggling against government incompetence and his own family’s reluctance to admit what’s happening even as the summers turn brutally hot and crops fail worldwide, Fleming and the others on the Mandjet chronicle the collapse of civilization and the new reality of a world where all of the rules of nature and survival have been rewritten. With the scientific rigor that is Egan’s forte, this chilling what-if scenario serves as both a thrilling apocalyptic tale and a dire warning about the costs of inaction in the face of looming catastrophe.

Master & Apprentice (Barnes & Nobel Exclusive Edition), by Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray returns to the Star Wars galaxy with a real treat for fans who might feel forgotten in the era of Rey, Kylo Ren, and Finn: an all-new adventure featuring Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. The story opens with the pair at a crossroads: Qui-Gon struggles with worry that he has failed his Padawan, as Obi-Wan frets at Qui-Gon’s consideration of an invitation to join the Jedi Council—thus ending their partnership. In the midst of this doubled-edged doubt, the Jedi are called to a distant planet to assist with a political dispute that quickly spirals into danger. As Qui-Gon experiences visions of disaster, Obi-Wan’s begins to suspect he can no longer trust his Master. The Barnes and Noble Exclusive edition includes a double-sided pull-out poster.

A Time of Blood, by John Gwynne
The sequel to A Time of Dread and the second book in John Gwynne’s Of Blood and Bone trilogy, A Time of Blood continues a richly detail and action-heavy epic saga. Drem and his allies saw terrible things at the battle that ended the last book: men transformed into monsters and a demon returned from the dead. They are now being hunted by the demon’s most loyal priestess, Fritha. Elsewhere, the half-breed Riy hides out in the forest, concealing her identity, and the threat she poses to the pure-blood warrior angels. The dark is rising, and the heroes have to save themselves before they can save the world.

Nest of the Monarch, by Kay Kenyon
The final volume of Kenyon’s crafty alternate history trilogy featuring super-powered spies in World War II-era Europe. Psychic spy Kim Tavistock is in Germany, posing as the wife of a British diplomat, on her first offical assignment for British Intelligence. Kim’s handler—and father—Julian hopes she’ll be able to use her talent to make people “Spill” their secrets to her will reveal valuable intelligence about the weapons the Nazis are developing. But Kim, shocked by the racist and Semitic actions she witnesses in Berlin, winds up helping a Jewish resistance fighter named Hannah Linz. Together, the two become embroiled in a German plot involving vampiric psychics, as Kenyon builds the series to a rousing climax, never losing site of the strong-willed, stout-hearted woman at its center.

Atlas Alone, by Emma Newman
Emma Newman’s fourth book set in the Planetfall universe is another inventive and emotionally wrenching affair. As a passenger onboard the spacefaring vessel Atlas 2, Dee was one of the few who witnessed the nuclear strike that killed millions on Earth. Angry and deeply traumatized, Dee seeks both to uncover who was responsible and to escape her suffering within an immersive game that applies real world physicality to a virtual setting. Invited to test a new build of the game by a mysterious guide, Dee enters a play session unlike any she’s ever experienced. When she kills another player in-game and a man winds up dead in real life—a man with possible ties to the nuclear launch, no less—Dee becomes a suspect. As she doubles down on her investigation, she makes a chilling discovery that changes everything she thought she knew about her life—and the colony planet she’s headed toward. Made up of standalone novels that share a setting and a commitment to delving into their characters’ psyches, the Planetfall series stands with the best science fiction of the last decade.

The Master of Dreams, by Mike Resnick
Genre veteran Mike Resnick delivers the first book in a new trilogy that doubles as a romp through all your favorite stories. A man named Eddie Raven and his girlfriend Lisa wander into a fortune-teller’s shop in New York, and into a violent shooting that leaves Lisa injured. Eddie hears a mysterious voice that orders him to run. He does, and soon finds himself the owner of an all-too-familiar bar in Casablanca—except this one is populated not by Nazis and ne’er do wells, but by monsters. Sooner than he can figure out what’s going on, he’s following a yellow brick road and helping a young Kansan girl find a wizard; then he’s in Camelot with someone named Arthur. As Eddie reels and struggles to adapt to his shifting reality, he must figure out why the Master of Dreams is chasing him through twisted versions of famous stories, and find Lisa before it’s too late.

All My Colors, by David Quantick
This twisting puzzle of a book from Veep and The Thick of It screenwriter David Quantick stars Todd Milstead, a failed writer who could be generously described as a jerk. Todd’s got a great party trick, though; an eidetic memory that allows him to quote chapter and verse from texts he read decades earlier. The ability leads to a mysterious discovery when, at a dinner party, he recites extensive quotes from a bestselling book only he seems to remember—as far as everyone else (from his wife to his local bookseller), the titular All My Colors. was never published. With his marriage and finances in turmoil, desperate Todd hatches a plan, retypes the  the novel from memory, and sees it become a massive hit. Even after all his success, though, Todd is still the same man. He’s obsessed with his now ex-wife, and hires a private investigator stalk her and her new boyfriend—a guy who oddly doesn’t seem to appear in photographs. Things only get stranger from there, as Todd discovers there are consequences to his act of “victimless” forgery.

The Unicorn Anthology, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman 
Who better to edit an anthology of unicorn-themed stories and poems than SFF Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle, whose novel The Last Unicorn may be the definitive unicorn story? Following up their World Fantasy Award-winning collection The New Voices of Fantasy, Beagle and co-editor Jacob Weisman bring together 15 tales offering unique and unexpected twists on the unicorn myth. The contributors include heavy-hitters in the world of SFF fiction: Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jane Yolen, Garth Nix, Carrier Vaughn, and Beagle himself, just to name a few. Their stories run the gamut from the gentle, to the horrific, to the surprisingly gritty and realistic.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, Vol. 13, edited by Jonathan Strahan
The thirteenth volume of Jonathan Strahan’s Year’s Best series is also his last with Solaris; next year he launches Year’s Best Science Fiction with Saga Press. He goes out on a high note with a wonderful lineup of contributors, including Elizabeth Bear, Daryl Gregory, and two 2019 Hugo Award nominated novelettes: Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing and Zen Cho’s “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” originally published on this blog.

What are you reading this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: An Indian Epic, a Return to the Prequel Era, and an Unforgettable Book No One Remembers appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Evil Cell Phones, Assassin Nuns, and Game of Thrones Meets Home Alone

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, by Nathan Ballingrud
Nathan Ballingrud has made a name for himself as a writer of disturbing short fiction, and his second collection proves that reputation is well deserved. Six stories—including the brand new novella The Butcher’s Table and the story The Visible Filth, which has already been adapted into the forthcoming film Wounds—explore different ideas of what it means to be a monster across varied settings and time periods. A 19th-century ship carries a crew to the borders of hell, where a terrible sacrifice is planned; in a modern-day bar in New Orleans, a lost cell phone us a portal to horrors beyond imagining. In hauntingly beautiful language, these are modern horror stories explore the darkness that is always around us, whether we’re brave enough to face it or not.

The Scribbly Man: The Children of D’hara, Episode One, by Terry Goodkind
The creator of the seemingly endless Sword of Truth saga returns with a novella-length installment starring fan-favorite characters Richard and Kahlan. The story picks up in the wake of the “end” of their story in Warheart, and chronicles what happens next—to both Richard and Kahlan and their children. This is the first in a planned series of shorter works that will continue one of the most crucial storylines in The Sword of Truth.

Holy Sister, by Mark Lawrence
The final book in Lawrence’s acclaimed Book of the Ancestor trilogy concludes the science fantasy story of Nona Grey, apprentice to a holy order of assassin nuns on the frozen planet of Albeth, where the ice is advancing and the empire is under siege. The emperor’s sister Sherzal knows Nona’s friend Zole holds the legendary shipheart—believed to be a core of one of the vessels that originally brought humanity to Albeth—and she’s determined to reclaim it. Traveling to the Convent of Sweet Mercy to complete her training, Nona is on the verge of taking the nun’s habit in her deadly order, provided an all-out war doesn’t disrupt her plans. But even fully-trained, and with the devious power of a shipheart at hand, Nona isn’t certain she’ll be able save her friends, or even herself, and turn the tide of a disastrous conflict. Struggling against the demons that seek to control her from within, Nona prepares for a final battle that will determine not just her own fate, but the fate of a world. Loaded with wild worldbuilding and dangerous women, this trilogy-ender is a satisfying treat for dark fantasy readers.

We Are Mayhem: A Black Star Renegades Novel, by Michael Moreci
The second book in Moreci’s Black Star Renegades series doesn’t give its heroes much time to bask in the victories that ended the first book. In the style of The Empire Strikes Back, destroying the Praxis ship the War Hammer, commanded by the ruthless Ga Halle, hasn’t done much to make the galaxy safer for Han Solo-esque rogue Cade Sura. He’s still in possession of the fearsome Rokura, the deadliest weapon ever designed… but he has no idea how to use it. As Kira Sen leads a small but determined rebel group into a Praxis city, hoping to strike a blow for freedom, Cade is brought by his former mentor Percival to a mythical world in a search of dangerous knowledge that could prove to be his undoing. Moreci’s second unashamed ode to his love for George Lucas’s galaxy far, far away is even more fun than the first.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K.J. Parker
World Fantasy Award-winning pseudonym K.J. Parker’s (neé Tom Holt) latest is military epic fantasy writ small: an in-depth, sharp-tongued history of one city under siege by invaders, and the immense efforts undertaken by one of its citizens to save the day. With scant supplies and no forces to muster, the city must look to Orhan, an expert… engineer? to deliver them from death. When you’re facing impossible odds, impossible solutions are necessary, and Orhan is the man to deliver them. Via fiendish invention, he may just be able to build himself and his neighbors a bridge across this metaphorical chasm. It’s Game of Thrones meets Home Alone.

Seven Blades in Black, by Sam Sykes
Sykes new Grave of Empires trilogy is built around Sal the Cacophony, a former mage and gunslinger hellbent on revenge against the 33 mages who tore her magic out of her. Arrested and waiting for execution for her crimes, Sal is given a chance to save herself with a confession, but the story she tells is more than just a list of crimes: she served in the Scar, a blasted wasteland caught between two vast empires, but now exists only to locate and kill the mages who betrayed and brutalized her. Sal will cross any line to complete her quest, and Sykes seems to have a similar regard for the rules of epic fantasy in this go-for-broke blend of Kill Bill and Final Fantasy.

The Sundering: Dread Empire’s Fall, by Walter Jon Williams
Amind the current space opera resurgence (seriously, the slate of recent and new high-concept, spacefaring SF books, from the Starfire series, to A Memory Called Empire, to Ancestral Night, is stunning) it’s worth drawing attention to Harper Voyager’s ongoing rereleases of Walter Jon Williams’ Dread Empire’s Fall series—truly one of the best sci-fi trilogies of the 2000s, offering all the action, political complexity, and well-rounded characters of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch novels. As the series continues (a new installment, The Accidental War, arrived last year), it’s a great time to go back and see what you missed—or give them a reread in these slightly revamped, reedited “Author’s Definitive” editions.

What are you reading this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Evil Cell Phones, Assassin Nuns, and Game of Thrones Meets Home Alone appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Dangerous Knowledge, Sci-Fi Horror, and Nanotech Invention

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The War Within, by Stephen R. Donaldson 
The much longer sequel to The Seventh Decimate greatly expands this new series from the author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It picks up the story of former enemy nations Amike and Belleger two decades after the events of the first book, which ended with the revelation that a terrible doom was on the way, and only through unity could either nation survive. Prince Bifalt dutifully married Princess Estie of Amika, but the peace—and their marriage—has been rocky. For one thing, it remains unconsummated, as Bifalt’s conception of duty leaves no room for affection. For another, the Last Repository, the archive of lost magical knowledge that Bifalt discovered 20 years before, has been found by a terrifying enemy. With the prince isolated and indecisive, Estie has acted as the glue holding two old enemies together—but with a crisis upon them, only a true union can offer survival.

Kellanved’s Reach, by Ian C. Esslemont
Ian C. Esslemont concludes the Path to Ascendency series, a three-part prequel to the sprawling Malazan Book of the Fallen, with a rousing novel that will satisfy fans and resist even the most determined newcomers. The wide-ranging storyline and sprawling cast of characters is too much to easily summarize here, needless to say, the chronicle of determined noblewoman Surly, fighting to reclaim her homeland; the magical quest of a mage, Kellanved, and an assassin, Dancer, to find the seat of the Army of Bone; the efforts of a young mason and an apprentice magician to join the Crimson Guard; and more storylines reach suitably epic stopping points, setting the stage for what’s to come.

Perfunctory Affection, by Kim Harrison
Bestselling urban fantasy author Kim Harrison (the Hallows series) has been experimenting with sci-fi of late in novels like The Drafter and The Operator; her latest is more difficult to classify, but filled with the danger, romance, and readability that has attracted her a legion of devoted readers. Artist Meg is on the brink of breakout success, but held back by the anxiety triggered by her boyfriend’s recent serious car accident. At her therapist’s urging, she connects with a woman named Haley, a guest professor at her university who is living a life Meg dreams of. But when Haley’s influence seems to be changing Meg too much, and too fast, her boyfriend Austin attempts to intervene, she attempts to cut him out of her life—but he resists. This thriller is set in a world not quite our own, and asks compelling questions about the effects of trauma on our perception of reality.

Finder, by Suzanne Palmer 
Suzanne Palmer’s zippy space caper stars Fergus Ferguson, a sort of spacefaring repo man with a reputation for chasing down even the most dangerous cargo anywhere in space. His latest target is a heavily armed warship called Venetia’s Sword, currently in the possession of a vicious gangster named Gilger. Fergus isn’t intimidated, even if Gilger is on the brink of war with a dangerous arms dealer. Fergus traces Gilger’s ship to a small colony planet, where he promptly finds himself caught in the middle of a violent civil war. Forced to ally with the enemies of his enemy, Fergus struggles to negotiate a peace, keep tabs on his quarry—and figure out why supposedly legendary aliens—who have turned out to be disturbingly real—are following him around. This debut is a fun, fast-moving jaunt into the zippier, zanier side of space opera.

A Witch in Time, by Wm. Mark Simmons
The fifth and final entry in Simmons’ HalfLife Chronicles brings together elements of weird fiction, gothic atmosphere, and mythical monsters. Half-vampire P.I. Christopher Cséjthe is living with depression brought on by a life spent in the shadows, but after a near-fatal attack, he wakes up in a different world and given a chance at a fresh start. He finds a gig as a bodyguard to a coven of witches seeking to heal the fallout from the atomic attacks of World War II. If Christopher making the right choices, fleeing the problems in one reality to save another? Only time will tell.

The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling
Gyre Price is desperate. Abandoned and alone on a poverty-stricken mining planet, she wants nothing more than to learn of her mother’s fate. Seeking a big paycheck that will allow her to do just that, she fakes her credentials as a caver, assuming that the work, while dangerous, will be organized and supported by the usual safety measures. Her handler on the expedition, Em, turns out to be unpredictable, cruel, and filled with her own secrets—and Em knows that Gyre lied to get the job, and isn’t afraid to use that knowledge to force her into a dangerous, terrifying journey into the darkness. Underground, Gyre must face not only her own inner demons, but plenty of Em’s as well. By the time she begins to understand that the danger may not all be on the inside, however, it may already be too late. This is nail-biting, cinematic sci-fi survival horror.

Edges, by Linda Nagata
Nebula-winner Linda Nagata returns to the universe of the Nanotech Succession (The Bohr Maker, Vast) after 20 years with Edges, the first volume in a new, standalone trilogy. The humans living in the Deception Well system believe they are the last of their species, as humanity has been all but wiped out by the robotic warships of the Chenzeme and the settled systems nearer to Earth have all seem to have been destroyed. Then a man named Urban reappears, centuries after he first left the system, now in command of a captured Chenzeme warship called Dragon. He’s seeking recruits for a dangerous mission to Earth with the intent of discovering what really happened. Reversing and retracing humanity’s path to the stars will be dangerous enough, but when Dragon is invaded by an unknown force, and the humans must fight for control of the ship if they’re going to survive long enough to plumb the mystery of humanity’s downfall. Nagata is immensely skilled at crafting smartly constructed, extremely plausible far-future worlds and technology, and it’s a treat to see her exploring the frontiers of hard SF once again.

What are you reading this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Dangerous Knowledge, Sci-Fi Horror, and Nanotech Invention appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: The Expanse Expands, an Intergalactic Empire Falters, and a Killer Stalks a Fantasy City

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Tiamat’s Wrath, by James S.A. Corey
The eighth book in The Expanse book arrives just as excitement over the continuing television adaptation of the series reaches a fever pitch. As this penultimate entry opens, human space is controlled by the Laconian empire and Winston Duarte, who seeks to make evolution happen on his timeline using the same alien technology that operates in the ring gates humans use to travel between thousands of livable worlds. The survivors of the gunship Rocinante work with the growing rebellion to throw off Duarte’s control. Their best hope might just be Duarte’s own daughter, who doesn’t relish the idea of being part of her father’s ultimate science experiments. Fast-paced, smartly plotted, and nuanced—this is one of the best SF series of the decade.

Miranda in Milan, by Katharine Duckett 
Reinterpreting the Bard through a queer prism, Katharine Duckett’s rich debut novella provides a more complete journey for Miranda from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Arriving in a Milan falling under the control of her father, Miranda is more or less imprisoned in his castle. The servants hate her, and when she is allowed outside—accompanied always by her Agata—she is veiled. A miserable life is lightened when she meets Dorothea, a maid of the castle, who shows Miranda a series of secret tunnels—and much more. The two forge close relationship as Miranda discovers the existence of magic both occult and physical.

Black City Dragon, by Richard A Knaak
Knaak is a frequent author of tie-in novels, contributing books to massive shared worlds like Pathfinder and Warcraft, but his latest is an original—and the third book in a series following Nick Medea, a denizen of 1920s Chicago who has devoted his life to guarding the gate that offers passage between the human and faerie realms. Despite his recent victories, however, more and more malevolent fey are slipping into the Windy City, which has kept Nick and his shapeshifting faerie partner Fetch scrambling. As the duo continues to encounter evidence that suggests Nick’s ancient enemy, a dangerous dragon, has returned, his lover Claryce is dodging attempts on her life… or her most recent one, anyway—she’s the latest incarnation of an immortal, and her past lives may hold the secrets to Nick’s latest troubles.

A Parliament of Bodies, by Marshall Ryan Maresca
For the past four years, Marshall Ryan Maresca has been toiling away at an impressive feat for storytelling and worldbuilding, exploring, in four interlocking series, every facet of a fictional city through the strata of the people who inhabit it: criminals, peacekeepers, political power players, and hapless heroes alike. In A Parliament of Bodies—the third volume in the Maradaine Constabulary sub-series, following police Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling as they attempt to foils the foul schemes of the criminals and killers who would despoil the grand city they serve—Maradaine is plagued by a string of bloody crimes dubbed the Gearbox Murders. A fiend with a penchant for feindish invention is trapping his victims in cruel machines of death, and the poor unfortunate souls so tortured seem to have been chosen at random. With few clues to go one, Rainey and Welling can only wait for the next corpse to appear—but the killings are growing more elaborate, and after a dozen mangled bodies appear on the floor of parliament, the case may be taken out of their hands altogether.

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine 
Martine’s ornate debut space opera constructs a fully realized world. The new ambassador from a small mining Station, Mahit Dzmare, arrives at the court of the ever-expanding Teixcalaanli Empire to find that the previous ambassador is dead. Very likely, she was murdered—though no one will admit that, or the fact that Dzmare is the next most likely victim. Aided by her expertise in the Teixcalaani language and an outdated—and possibly untrustworthy—memory implant from the prior ambassador, Dzmare must negotiate both her own survival and that of the Station in the face of an implacable empire. Meanwhile, the aging emperor seeks to become immortal by any means science can grant him, even as his army plots a coup. In the tradition of Ann Leckie and Iain M. Banks, this is bold, complex space opera with a political bent.

What new SFF is on your radar this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: The Expanse Expands, an Intergalactic Empire Falters, and a Killer Stalks a Fantasy City appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Doctorow’s Dystopian Visions, an Assassin on the Run, and Space Marines Unstuck in Time

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Soulkeeper, by David Dalglish
Dalglish launches a new series set in a world where religion has declared monsters—zombies, spider-wolves, and worse—to be nothing but myth. Devin Eveson is a Soulkeeper, traveling from village to village to preach the scripture and heal the afflicted. But then the black water comes, washing over the world and bringing with it death, destruction—and the return of those mythic monsters, giving the lie to the scripture Devin has devoted his life to spreading. These reemergent creatures are furious that humankind has forgotten them and their creators, known as the five dragons, and the whole world soon erupts into madness and terror. When Soulkeepers start turning up dead, transformed into horrifying sculptures, Devin realizes he must stray from his peaceful path and learn to how to be a monster slayer.

Radicalized, by Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow’s latest takes the form of four sharp-edged novellas, each with a five-minutes-into-the-dystopian-future premise more provocative than the last. In Unauthorized Bread, a refugee in a rigorously controlled “smart apartment” runs afoul of algorithmic control when she figures out how to hack her appliances to make food without used ingredients from “approved” corporate manufacturers. In Model Minority, an alien superhero known as the American Eagle struggles with serving as the symbol of justice for a country that seems to have lost its way. The title story, Radicalized, sees an average couple turn terrorist after one of them is denied life-saving insurance coverage and the other falls in with an underground internet community filled with men angry at the healthcare status quo. And in The Masque of the Red Death, doomsday prepper Martin has prepared everything he needs to ride out the apocalypse, but he failed to anticipate that the biggest threat to the future of humanity might be himself.

The Perfect Assassin, by K. A. Doore
This rich epic fantasy debut is inspired by the mythologies of Egypt and the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. Nineteen-year old Amastan Basbowen has spent most of his life training in the family business of assassination in order to help defend his home city of Ghadid. When his vocation is outlawed, however, he must contemplate a return to the more staid career of historian. His family is targeted by the corrupt Drum Chiefs who run the city, framed for a series of assassinations where the bodies were hidden away, leaving the tortured souls of the murdered to remain as jaani, unquiet spirits who risk eventually devolving into violent, demonic shades. Amastan must work to clear his family’s name and save the city before an army of restless spirits destroys everything.

The Deepest Blue: Tales of Renthia, by Sarah Beth Durst
Durst latest novel to take place in the world of Renthia, the setting for The Queen of Blood and its sequels, is a standalone spinoff that tells the story of the people of the islands of Belene, who face a difficult and uncertain existence thanks to the evil water spirits makes that threaten their homeland. On the eve of her wedding, oyster-diver Mayara averts disaster when, after the spirits send a storm against the islanders, she reveals she has the power to control them. She is arrested as a witch and sent to an island filled with other outcast women—and a horde of hungry spirits. The women must compete against one another using only their magic and their wits, with the last ones standing designated heirs to the queen—but mere survival may cost them everything.

Black Moon: The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Vol. Five, by Seabury Quinn
Night Shade Books concludes its ambitious project to reprint the entire catalogue of one of the forgotten heroes of the pulp era, investigator Jules de Grandin, who often found himself taking on threats both mysterious and supernatural. Author Seabury Quinn, a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft, was incredibly prolific, but had been almost lost to time—though this five-volume series, which reproduces the original tales in chronological order and with new introductions, has gone a long way toward changing that. This hefty final volume includes all of Quinn’s de Grandin stories penned between 1938 and 1951.

The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley
The latest novel from Hugo-winner Kameron Hurley is both her most trope-y and traditional, and as fiery and in-your-face as her incendiary last, The Stars Are Legion, which was itself a brutal reimagining of ideas of an all-female society and the worldship into a barely controlled attack on the systems that have exploited women’s bodies and identities for thousands of years. Her targets this time are corporations, unbridled capitalism, and the military industrial complex that supports them, and her tools are the stuff of classic SF adventures: time travel, advanced weaponry, and battle-hardened boots-on-the-ground grunts. Young recruit Dietz was born a non-citizen, forced to grow up without access to not just the wonders of a future world, but without access to the essentials: enough food, adequate medical care, a sense of security. Her only chance to beat the system is to sign up to fight for the corporate cause—a battle against Mars in which soldiers are transformed into light waves and zapped across space and directly into the line of fire. But no sooner than she has completed training, Dietz’s missions begin to go sideways, as her trips with the so-called Light Brigade seem to be sending her pinging back and forth on the timeline of a war that seems to promise humanity’s end. This is military science fiction, Kameron Hurley style—a story about the life of an infantry grunt and the corporate future of warfare, with shades of Robert Heinlein and Joe Haldeman, and a touch of the bizarre that could only come from the author of God’s War.

Luna: Moon Rising, by Ian McDonald
The third volume of Ian McDonald’s sprawling mob epic on the moon brings to a close a story that began in 2015’s Luna: New Moon and continued in 2017’s Luna: Wolf Moon, and you might want to revisit those volumes before diving into the climactic installment, because the author doesn’t even pause for breath as he rejoins a series of complex schemes already in progress. In the near future, the moon is controlled by five feuding families who each seek a stranglehold on the satellite’s vital energy resources. Much of the drama moves into the courtroom in this installment, as two members of the powerful Cortas family air their differences at a trial with huge consequences that will shape the course of Luna’s future: will a massive terraforming project be implemented?  Will the Moon become a socialist paradise, where settlers are given guaranteed incomes? With a cheeky sense of humor and an eye for political intrigue, McDonald wraps up an ambitious trilogy in fine style—though again, if you haven’t already read the first two volumes, we must reiterate: don’t start here.

The Witch’s Kind, by Louisa Morgan
Witches are often metaphors for women distrusted by society, and Morgan (A Secret History of Witches) uses that tension to great effect in this World War II-era family story. Barrie Anne and her aunt Charlotte live alone in a small Pacific Northwest town that views them with suspicion, and when they take in an abandoned baby who appears to share their supernatural powers, they feel a fierce need to protect the child. Then Barrie Anne’s abusive husband shows up, and the women must determine the lengths they’re willing to go to for autonomy and self-determination.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea: Stories, by Sarah Pinsker
Anyone who pays attentions to the ballots for various high-profile science fiction and fantasy awards will recognize the name Sarah Pinsker; her stories have recently been nominated for (or won) the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and Hugo awards, among others. Naturally, then, the publication of her first collection is something of an event, particularly coming as it does from Small Beer Press, which has provided a home for some of the best emerging authors to hit the genre scene in recent years (among them Andy Duncan, Abbey Mei Otis, and Sofia Samatar). The 13 stories collected here vary in length, from the almost-micro-fiction of “The Sewell Home for the Temporarily Displaced,” to the novella-length And Then There Were (n-1), a nominee for both the Hugo and Nebula last year that posits what might happen if an author (Sarah Pinsker) attended a convention for her alternate selves from alternate dimensions, and then one of them started murdering the others. The collection is worth the cover price for that story alone, to be honest; that there are a dozen others, including the moving “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” which deals with a woman’s grief at the loss she feels after her husband’s stroke leaves him unable to talk (also a Nebula finalist), is frankly more than we deserve.

Permafrost, by Alastair Reynolds
Reynolds combines cli-fi and time-travel with a brilliantly twisty story that begins at the tail end of the 21st century. A group of desperate scientists gather at the Arctic Circle to implement a dangerous experiment they believe is the final chance to avert climate disaster. They intend to reach back in time and make a small change—something so tiny that recorded history will remain intact, but so vital, it will change the fate of the planet. They require one person to make it work: a schoolteacher whose mother was the greatest mind in the field of paradox. Five decades earlier, a woman undergoes brain surgery and wakes up with not just a voice but a sentient will in her head—a will that seems to serve a purpose all its own.

The Chaos Function, by Jack Skillingstead
Strange and ancient technology threatens the future (and the past) in the new book from Locus and Philip K. Dick award nominee Skillingstead (Harbinger, Life on the Preservation). Wartime journalist Olivia Nikitas loses her lover, a humanitarian worker named Brian, while both are on the front lines of a conflict in Aleppo. She is overwhelmed with grief—and then she isn’t, because impossibly, Brian is alive, despite the fact that Olivia remembers holding him as he died. Back in the states, she is abducted by a group known as Society that claims to have the power to control the course of the future through charting the course of all probable futures, and they quickly recruit Olivia to serve as one of their “Shepherds.” Unfortunately, whatever she did to save Brian’s life appears to have doomed the rest of the world to nuclear war. Now, Olivia is on the run from Society, trying to save the world without killing the man she loves—again.

Unfettered III: New Tales by Masters of Fantasy, edited by Shawn Speakman
When Shawn Speakman was facing a cancer and without medical insurance a few years ago, he asked writers to donate stories to the first volume of Unfettered to help him pay his medical bills. Subsequent entries in what has become an impressive anthology series pay it forward, with proceeds donated to allay the medical debts of other writers. Considering the lineup of talent, this may be the easiest donation you make this month. It includes stories by Delilah S. Dawson, Lev Grossman, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, and Tad Williams, but the biggest draw for many will be the new stories in the Dune milieu, from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and in the world of The Wheel of Time, co-written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

What new books are on your list this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Doctorow’s Dystopian Visions, an Assassin on the Run, and Space Marines Unstuck in Time appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: A Regathering of Shadows, Urban Fantasy-Meets-Chinatown, and Quakers in Space

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The True Queen, by Zen Cho
Cho’s long-awaited sequel to Sorcerer to the Crown offers a delightful twist on the naif-studies-magic premise, as sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on a deserted beach on the island of Janda Baik without any memory. They know they are sisters, but everything else is gone, taken from them by an enchantment. Worse, Sakti begins to slowly fade away, disappearing bit by bit. Their only hope is for Muna to travel to Britain and somehow gain entrance to the Sorceress Royal’s academy of magic—a task that will require her to pretend to be a prodigy while navigating the dangerous tides of British society and politics. Muna begins to learn the secrets of their past as she works towards a solution and becomes embroiled in plots that threaten to unravel her carefully-woven illusion—and with them, all hope for Sakti.

If, Then,by Kate Hope Day
The choices not made and the paths not taken are laid bare to the characters in Kate Hope Day’s moving debut novel. Three everyday people ina small town in Oregon begin to see glimpses of parallel realities—work-obsessed surgeon Ginny McDonnell sees a flash of another women in her husband’s bed; Samara Mehta, whose mother recently died on Ginny’s operating table, sees her mom alive and well; stressed-out grad student Cass, already overwhelmed by her workload and her newborn, has a vision of herself pregnant again. As alternate realities continue to bleed into one another, the strange events seem to be in some way connected to the stirring of a nearby volcano, which may not be entirely dormant, Day explores the idea that every choice we make destroys—and creates—a new world.

Ruin’s Wake, by Patrick Edwards
Edwards’ dystopian novel follows the lives of three different characters struggling to find a small parcel of freedom in a rigidly controlled world right out of Orwell—where the government is all-powerful, and has ensured that history is forgotten and that free will is a fiction. A former soldier emerges from a self-imposed exile in search of his missing child; a woman who has too long submitted to an abusive relationship with a powerful man seeks a better life in a forbidden love affair; and a scientist discovers a technology that might change the world, or destroy it. All of these character’s fates are intertwined—though they don’t know it yet.

The Dazzle of Day, by Molly Gloss 
A generation ship filled with Quakers flees a collapsing Earth in this reissue of Molly Gloss’s acclaimed 1997 sci-fi novel, a Locus Award nominee and a New York Times Notable Book upon its initial release. As the novel opens, the ship’s crew of Friends, drawn from all over the world, is finally arriving at a potential new home planet after a 140-year journey by solar sail. The years have taken a toll, and suicide has become a near-epidemic, and their destination, dubbed New World, is hardly inspiring: it’s cold and treacherous, and immediately claims two lives and leaves a third changed in disturbing ways. The crew is divided between making a go of it on a harsh planet and pushing on in hopes of finding someplace better, but the matter becomes academic as they find themselves in the grip of a new disease, possibly brought back from New World in the wake of that disastrous first mission. Gloss delves into the physical and psychological toll of diaspora and finds a deep humanity in a story of a journey into the unknown.This is the third of Gloss’s long-neglected works now back in print thanks to Saga Press; later this year there follows Unforeseen, her first collection of short fiction.

A Gathering of Shadows (B&N Exclusive Edition), by V. E. Schwab 
This collector’s edition of the second novel in V.E. Schwab’s smashing Shades of Magic series sits nicely beside last year’s spiffy reissue of A Darker Shade of Magic. Featuring a new short story, a gorgeous metallic cover, fan art, and an updated glossary, it’s a must for the Schwab superfan. This sequel goes deeper into the parallel universe of multiple Londons—shying away from Georgian Grey London, and more firmly into Red London, home of the Arnesian Empire, Prince Rhy Maresh, and Kell, the last of the Travelers, whose blood magic allows for journeys between the the parallel cities. Four months after the downfall of White London, the brothers are still reeling their losses, and trying to plan a cross-empire magical tournament to prove the might of the Maresh Throne in the face of turmoil. Meanwhile, ex-Grey London thief Lilah Bard has taken to the high seas and the pirate’s life she always dreamed of—only to discover her particular set of skills might best be put to use in a more magical arena.

The Near Witch (B&N Exclusive Edition), by V. E. Schwab
When V.E. Schwab published The Near Witch in 2011, the YA world wasn’t yet ready for her particular blend of dark fantasy and richly passionate characters, and the book slipped quietly out of print. Now, we’re ready for it to come roaring back. It’s set in the town of Near, a severe place guided by a few simple rules: the legendary Near Witch is just a nearly forgotten fairy tale, children must never listen to the wind at night when it begs for company, and there are no strangers in Near. One night, a strong-minded girl named Lexi sees a strange boy outside her house—a boy who fades away like mist— just as children begin disappearing from their beds. The strange boy, who Lexi dubs Cole, is the obvious suspect, but she finds herself listening not to the town’s stern leaders. but to the wind, which seems to be telling her to trust him—and to fear instead the dark legacy of the Near Witch, who might not be so forgotten after all. The B&N exclusive edition includes a variant cover, a unique map of Near, and a prequel short story, “The Ash-Born Boy,” which dives into the tragic backstory of Near’s mysterious visitor.

Titanshade, by Dan Stout 
Stout’s debut combines the cynical tone and twisting mystery of noir detective fiction with a vivid, fantastical setting—the titular Titanshade, a city built over an imprisoned demigod whose endless suffering provides heat in the midst of a frozen wasteland. With the magical substance called manna growing scarce, Titanshade has enjoyed a sudden industrial revolution fueled by oil—but as the oil wells are now also drying up, corrupt forces scramble to protect their investments, by any means necessary. Enter detective Carter and his less-than-stellar reputation. He’s assigned to investigate the messy murder of a diplomat from the frog-like race known as the Squibs, as greed, politics, and prejudice collide in an inventive Chinatown-meets-urban fantasy mashup.

The Rosewater Insurrection, by Tade Thompson
The second book in the Wormwood trilogy opens with deceptive calm as the city of Rosewater continues to apparently thrive alongside the alien entity known as Wormwood. The Homians plan to replace humanity by bioengineering the world around them, but those who know the nature of their plan keep it secret, triggering a quiet cold war between humanity and the aliens’ soft invasion. Yet as Rosewater’s mayor struggles to assert his city’s new independence, a much more heated conflict seems inevitable. As both sides maneuver for position, Aminat, an agent for the government, is ordered to find a woman who holds the key to the survival of the entire human race. Non-linear, challenging, and beautifully told, this novel represents the chilling, gorgeous future of 21st-century sci-fi.

The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson (March 12, Grove/Atlantic—Hardcover)
This literary fantasy from comics writer and novelist G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Alif the Unseen) is a fast-paced adventure set in Granad, the last emirate of Muslim Spain. Fatima is the sultan’s favorite concubine, but her only true friend is Hassan, the royal mapmaker, who possesses the ability to open portals to other rooms, and even other worlds, at will. When Fatima accidentally reveals Hassan’s power to Luz, a lay sister working for the Inquisition, they flee, accompanied by a rogue’s gallery of companions and allies, including a vampire-jinn in the form of a dog and his sister, who takes the form of a cat. Inspired by a bit of verse they’ve known since childhood, Fatima and Hassan seek the island of Qaf, where the legendary Bird King resides, and where they believe they might be safe from the intolerant Inquisition. Wilson’s imagination overflows from each page as she crafts a fantasy quite unlike any other you’ll encounter this year.

What new SFF books are in your cart this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: A Regathering of Shadows, Urban Fantasy-Meets-Chinatown, and Quakers in Space appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Deep Space Salvagers, an Internet Apocalypse, and Telepathic Weapons

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Ancestral Night, by Elizabeth Bear 
After a decade spent exploring worlds of fantasy and steampunk, Elizabeth Bear launches a new series with a seriously epic space opera flavor. Halmey Dz is an engineer on a slightly sketchy salvage ship, part of a crew that stays just clear of the law in their quest to eke out a living. While exploring a derelict ship, Halmey is infected by something alien, and finds she has a whole new level of perception that grants her understanding of the fundamental structure of the universe—which makes her an incredibly valuable prize for those with the will to exploit her abilities. Halmey is pursued by the government and a group of ruthless pirates, all of whom want to control her and her new power. She and her crewmates make a run for it—but the pursuit leads them into an even bigger mystery involving an alien ship trapped in a black hole at the center of the galaxy. And that’s just the beginning. The first book in the White Space saga may be Bear’s best science fiction novel yet, and that’s certainly saying something.

Wild Country, by Anne Bishop
Ann Bishop returns to the World of the Other with this standalone followup to Lake Silence. Jana Paniccia is hired on as deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff in Bennett, a ghost town in which all the humans were killed in retaliation for a strike against the terra indigene. Bennett is being resettled as a place where both humans and Others will co-exist. As stores are reopened and a functioning government is established, the activity attracts the attention of the Blackstone Clan, a group of outlaw humans who seek only profit for themselves. Unfortunately, that means the resolve and bonds of friendship in Bennett will be tested much sooner than anyone expected. Bishop’s Others marks a high point in the urban fantasy genre, and this sequence of self-contained followups is a brilliant way of allowing readers to spend more time in that world without diluting the ending of the original series.

Famous Men Who Never Lived, by K. Chess
Time travel, metafiction, and the post-apocalyptic collide in K. Chess’s debut novel, an exploration of racism and the plight of immigrant communities with a Philip K. Dickian twist. In the near future, a nuclear disaster ravages an alternate version of the United States, and 156,000 people are given the chance to flee the chaos through a dimensional gate that allows them to travel into a parallel universe—ours—carrying only the few scant possessions they were able to cram into a backpack. The refugees must attempt to adjust to a world that is almost, but crucially not exactly, like the one they left. One of them, Vikram, most treasures the only copy of a book that doesn’t exist in our world, which he brought with him across dimensions. When it is stolen, his friend (and fellow “universally displaced person”) Hel is willing to do whatever it takes to recover it, fearing its loss represents more than the erasure of a single book, but of the entire world she once knew. With excerpts of the fictional text, The Pyronauts, scattered throughout and a setting that viscerally recreates modern, gentrifying NYC, this is an intriguing debut from a new writer worth watching.

The Women’s War, by Jenna Glass
Jenna Glass’s debut is the first in a planned series set in a world in which women are treated as inconvenient necessities. The “disgraced” women of the Kingdom of Aaltah are sent away to the Abbey of the Unwanted, led by Abbess Alysoon Rai-Brynna. The women of the Abbey survive by selling both magical potions and themselves. Their bitter existence swells into a resistance led by Rai-Brynna—a mother, a widow, and the shunned daughter of a king. Rai-Brynna leads a ritual that shifts the balance of power in the world, granting women the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies—and to protect themselves from rape with violent magic. As the male population of Aaltah boils over in angry retaliation, Alysoon explores the limits of this new magic, as the personal and political plots intertwine in subtle ways, and society reacts to the new world order. It’s a compelling fantasy epic for the #MeToo era.

Alice Payne Rides, by Kate Heartfield
The followup to last year’s Alice Payne Arrives, a 2018 Nebula nominee for Best Novella continues this time-twisting feminist adventure series. Returning from a jaunt to the 13th century, ex-highwaywoman turned time-hopping problem-solver Alice Payne and her team discover they have accidentally brought a deadly strain of smallpox home to the 1780s, and introduced a new front in a temporal war being aged across centuries. Filled with delightful anachronism and delivered in a witty, knowing narrative voice, this series is proving to be historically entertaining.

The Wall, by John Lanchester
A wall that acts as both a means of both protection and a force of control lies at the center of this post-apocalyptic literary novel, set on an island nation in a ravaged, flooded future. Joseph Kavanagh is a defender on the wall that surrounds his coastal community, ostensibly keeping it safe from the drowning hordes without. Should he fail at his duties during his mandatory two years of service, he risks being cast out himself, but that knowledge doesn’t do anything to combat the tedium of defending a wall that never seems to suffer an attack. Joseph takes part in war games and considers starting a family with one of his fellow defenders (as parents are exempted from service), trying to ignore whispers and rumors that the “others” outside the wall are coordinating a massive attack with the aide of traitors on the inside. The striking resonance of the various plot threads—xenophobia and the unrest caused by climate change among them—lends the novel additional weight.

Infinite Detail, by Tim Maughan
Maughan offers a biting vision of the future after in the wake of a techno-apocalypse, unfolding both sides of a story set before and after the fall. Before: hacker and activist Rushdi Manaan establishes the Croft, an island voluntarily cut off from the internet and the corporate surveillance culture. Populated by a group of artists and rebels, The Core is soon falling apart due to internal strife—but then a group of terrorists unleash an attack that destroys the internet and every device connected to it. After: the world economy has collapsed, and the Croft has morphed into the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, where a girl named Mary sees visions of ghosts and others trade the ancient remnants of analog pre-Internet tech to survive. When a newcomer named Anika arrives bearing secrets the crash, the puzzle of what happened to the world—and why—begins to come into focus. As he explores the contrast between the mad, cyberpunk decadence of Before and the desolate wasteland of After, Maughan will change the way you look at the modern world—and the future we’re rushing into.

That Ain’t Witchcraft, by Seanan McGuire
The eighth book in the InCryptids urban fantasy series, which follows the Prices, a family of cryptozoologists who defy centuries of monster-slaying tradition, choosing instead to try to keep the peace between the modern world and the magical creatures of legend who live hidden alongside it. The youngest member of the Price family, Antimony, is in a bind: wanted by the Covenant of St. George (the group that would rather cryptids be put down, not coddled) and in debt to supernatural forces, she is hiding out in the the tiny town of New Gravesend, Maine and trying to avoid the fact that she’s been ordered to kill a man who has run afoul of the crossroads. Antimony doesn’t usually kill humans, but if she’s able to pay off her debt, she’ll be able to rejoin her family. McGuire continues to prove there’s a lot of life left in urban fantasy with another fast and fun installment of the Hugo-nominated series.

Mahimata, by Rati Mehrotra
The followup to last year’s Markswoman returns to a post-apocalyptic Asia (known in-world as Asiana) whose history has been totally rewritten—as its population vastly reduced—by a terrible war. Justice in this world is brutal, with judicial executions carried out by an order of specially trained female assassins who have psychic powers that link them to their daggers (the explanation for these and other elements of the worldbuilding threaten to push the quasi-fantasy series into outright sci-fi). In the wake of the events of the first novel, Markswoman Kyra Veer is one of the surviving members of the Order of Kali, which suffered a brutal massacre carried out by the rebel Kai Tau and his army of followers wielding telepathically controlled firearms. Seeking revenge, Kyra forges alliances where she can, including with a man named Rustan, from a counterpart Order of male assassins, who is still recovering from his shame at having killed an innocent person. Together, the two will delve into the secrets of the ancient alien technology that has shaped their world as they try to defeat Kai Tau and chart a course toward a better future.

The Bayern Agenda, by Dan Moren
Star Trek meets Mission: Impossible in the first novel of Dan Moren’s Galactic Cold War series, which takes place in the same universe as his debut The Caldonian Gambit. Simon Kovalic, an agent of the Commonwealth of Independent Systems, is tasked with an undercover mission to determine the motives of the massive Bayern Corporation in seeking a relationship with the Illyrican Empire, foe to the Commonwealth. An unfortunate injury forces him to hand off that responsibility to his ex-wife, Natalie Taylor, and her team. As that mission quickly goes sideways and upside down, flashbacks reveal the secrets of Simon’s past. Chase sequences, science fiction spycraft, and sharp-tongued characters take the spotlight in this satisfyingly light, fast-moving adventure.

Gingerbread, by Helen Oyeyemi
Though Helen Oyeyemi’s lyrical works hew closer to the traditionally “literary” side of fantasy, she’s also the type of writer who proves that genre snobbery can cut both ways, and really shouldn’t matter; there is enough strange magic in them to satisfy fans of the fantastical, and enough grounded richnesses of character and emotion to please those who look to those elements first and foremost. Certainly any type of reader will be bewitched by her prose, which draws you with a comforting embrace in this story of a British schoolgirl name Perdita Lee, who is blessed with the family talent of baking an oddly alluring variety of gingerbread that supposedly has been passed down through generations from their ancestral home country of Druhástrana—which doesn’t seem to exist in the modern world. After her mother attempts suicide, Harriet is prompted to delve into her past and discover the tragic secrets baked into her DNA like so much cinnamon and cloves.

Pure Chocolate, by Amber Royer
The sequel to Free Chocolate returns to a nearish-future Earth transformed by its introduction to a wider galaxy teeming with alien life—and cut down to size by the fact that we have nothing to offer other worlds save for delicious, delicious chocolate—for another space opera-meets-soap opera adventure. Having already uncovered one conspiracy against her homeworld, Earth’s premiere celebrity chef Bo Bonitez is on a goodwill tour of Zant, a planet filled with the carniverous aliens who recently were trying to make a meal out of her. But when she leans Earth has been delivering a corrupt supply of cocoa to its many non-human customers, she’s faced with a difficult decision: expose the plot to prevent further harm, and bring down a galaxy’s worth of wrath on her planet; or keep mum and pretend she doesn’t know anything. That she’s dealing with her own (literal) chocolate addiction isn’t helping matters.

Today I Am Carey, by Martin L. Shoemaker 
This expanded version of Shoemaker’s short story ‛Today I Am Paul” (a 2015 Nebula nominee) tells the story of an android named Carey, and its years of varying interactions with the Owens family. Brought in to care for the elderly Mildred, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, Carey unexpectedly attains sentience—the first android to do so. When Mildred dies, Carey stays on with the Owens’, caring for the young Millie. As Carey bonds with Millie, it struggles with the passage of time, and the way the Owens’ change, evolve, and die. Carey doesn’t age, but it also changes and evolves as its experiences alter the very core of its being. This is a moving, richly-detailed story of an intelligence coming into an understanding of itself.

If This Goes On: The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, edited by Cat Rambo
From a Kickstarter to bookstores everywhere: Award-winning author and editor Cat Rambo has assembled a impressive lineup of 30 established and up-and-coming authors for this anthology of stories inspired by the upheaval of modern politics. What will the world of tomorrow look like if we can’t get the tumult of today under control? Is there any cause for hope, or are we a lost cause? Oft-award-nominated, much-anthologized authors like E. Lily Yu, Steven Barnes, Nisi Shawl, Andy Duncan, Nick Mamatas, and Sarah Pinsker pepper the table of contents,and each story includes a brief afterward from the editor.

What new sci-fi & fantasy books are on your list this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Deep Space Salvagers, an Internet Apocalypse, and Telepathic Weapons appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Unforgettable Short Stories, Raven Gods, and a Dragon Apocalypse

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Phoenix Falling, by Laura Bickle
Things get off to a reliably strange start in the third volume of Laura Bickle’s weird western Wildlands series (the fifth to feature the supernatural Wyoming town of Temperance). Temperence’s resident monster hunter, geologist Petra Dee Manget, is already busy enough battling the wildfires threatening Yellowstone National Park, which she suspects are supernatural in origin (note the word “phoenix” in the title). But then she and her no-longer-human husband Gabe begin to suspect an old foe is still lurking out in the Wildlands, causing mischief as he seeks immortality. As Western-flavored contemporary fantasy goes, Bickle’s novels are tops—the blend of folklore, alchemy, and endearing animal companions (Petra’s coyote Sig will make you long for one of your very own) will keep readers coming back again and again.

The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois
Every serious sci-fi and fantasy fan knows the name of the late, great Gardner Dozois, who for 35 years edited one of the genres’ standout anthology series. His work assembling nearly three dozen volumes of The Year’s Best Science Fiction (from 1984 through 2018, the year of his death) was of course just one aspect of his amazing career in SFF, but a defining one. This remarkable volume—the last he completed in his lifetime—sees Dozois going back through a selection of those past volumes (the name is something of a misnomer; this volume follows two earlier Best of the Bests, and covers the years 2002 through 2017) to highlight 38 stories he thinks represent the cream of the crop from the last decade-and-a-half. The result is more than just a collection of remarkable stories; it’s also a snapshot of the genre’s recent history, highlighting the rise of new voices and diverse new ideas. Contributors include familiar names like Charles Stross, Pat Cadigan, Allen M. Steele, Elizabeth Bear and so, so many others. It’s a book built to satisfy SF readers of all sorts.

The Blackest Heart, by Bryan Lee Dufree
This sequel to 2016’s The Forgetting Moon (first in The Five Warrior Angels series) is every bit as overpowered, action-packed, and relentless as its forebear. Princess Jondralyn of Gul Kana has seen her people devastated and her faith in prophecy misplaced. As the Angel Prince Aeros Raijael gathers his forces against her, Jondralyn’s devout sister Tala defies those who would try to manipulate her. Faith plays a big role in the series—whose conflict driven by the schism between three monotheistic religions that bear a passing resemblance to real-world counterparts—as does the doubt and inner turmoil of its expansive cast of characters. With nearly 1,000 pages to film, Dufree indulges in all the genre has to offer—fantastical creatures, immersive worldbuilding, brutal action, and massive adventure. Fans of gloriously over-the-top epics will find this one earns that substantial page count.

Circle of the Moon, by Faith Hunter
The fourth in Hunter’s Soulwood series, which takes place in the same universe as her Jane Yellowrock books, Circle of the Moon finds Nell receiving a distress call from Rick LaFleur, head agent at the Psy-Law Enforcement Division, a group charged with investigating paranormal crimes. LeFleur, who can shift into the form of a panther when the moon calls to him, has awoken by a river, naked, with no memory of how he got there. Next to him is a black cat that’s been sacrificed in a rite of black magic. It soon becomes clear that a blood-witch is on the rampage, but with their leader implicated in the growing list of crimes, Nell might not be able to hold her team of fellow PsyLED agents together.

Miss Violet and the Great War, by Leanna Renne Hieber
Hieber makes a return visit to the gaslamp fantasy world of the Strangely Beautiful series for a fourth installment. Haunted by visions of bloodshed since childhood, ghost whisperer Violet—daughter to a former member of the Guard, an organization that once protected London from supernatural threats—travels to the front lines of the Great War. Pretending to be a nurse, she hopes to peacefully guide the souls of slain soldiers into the afterlife, while back home, her mother attempts to reassemble the Guard while her best friend Will battles with a dark force haunting him. It’s lovely to revisit the heightened Victorian atmosphere of this reliably entertaining series.

The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie 
Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice is one of the most daring, most-awarded science fiction novels ever written. Now, she throws herself into the fantasy side of the genre fray with equal ambition. Her first epic fantasy delivers the same experimentation with form and her sharp ideas that made her a space opera game-changer. The story is told in varying first- and second-person by a god called the Strength and Patience of the Hill, who is speaking to Eolo, a transgender warrior in service to a prince named Mawat, recently cheated out of his throne. The Strength and the Hill mingles its own complex, ancient history with the account of Eolo’s attempts to defend and protect the prince, and reveals the waning power of Eolo and Mawat’s patron god, the Raven, and the rising incursions of foreign gods who seek to take advantage of that weakness. This is dense, challenging, affecting fantasy storytelling at its finest.

No Way, by Simon Morden
The followup to last year’s prisoners-on-Mars thriller One Way (The Martian meets Escape from New York) is every bit as satisfying. Former architect-turned-convicted murderer Frank Kitteridge has been stranded and abandoned on Mars by the corporate overlords who brought him and a handful of other criminals there to help build a human colony, only to betray them once the job was done. But Frank finds he isn’t the only one left alive—there’s a second out-of-control colony site, and those who control it are desperate to take advantage of Frank’s skills. Getting off Mars just got that much harder.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season author Samantha Shannon’s latest eschews the series format, packing an entire trilogy’s worth of story into a standalone epic following three remarkable women whose fate is bound to the survival of an entire world. Sabran IX is Queen of Inys, last of an ancient magical bloodline whose very existence binds the Nameless One, a terrible dragon that could end the world, at the bottom of the ocean. Ead Duryan is one of Sabran’s ladies-in-waiting—but she is actually a secret agent, serving a hidden cabal of mages protecting the queen with magic. And across the ocean, Tané is a dragonrider about to break a societal taboo, with unforeseen consequences that will reverberate all the back to Inys. As Sabran discovers she isn’t who she thinks she is, she must reckon with the fact that her family’s bloodline may not be what’s keeping the Nameless One slumbering after all.

Praxis: Dread Empire’s Fall—Author’s Definitive Edition, by Walter Jon Williams
This one is just a head’s-up to readers who may have only encountered Walter Jon William’s satisfying military/political sci-fi Praxis novels via last year’s The Accidental War, which marked the author’s return to the universe after more than a decade. This trade paperback reissue of the first novel in the series should be your next stop if you enjoyed what you encountered there—and even if you’ve already read the trilogy, this edition is Williams’ “definitive” version, featuring slightly revised text. Though they were published years after the Praxis trilogy, fans of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch books will find much to admire here.

What new sci-fi and fantasy books are on your to-read list right now?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Unforgettable Short Stories, Raven Gods, and a Dragon Apocalypse appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Chinese Sci-Fi in Translation, a Haunting in Cairo, and Weirdness After Hours

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Collision: Stories, by J.S. Breukelaar
A collection of 12 dark speculative stories from J.S. Breukelaar (Aurealis Award nominee Aletheia), including four appearing here for the first time. From the off-kilter (the strange, touching story of an armless piano player in “Union Falls”), to the unsettling (“Glow,” inspired by the author’s experience of the 2016 U.S. presidential election), to the alien (“Rogues Bay 3013”), to the heartfelt and haunting (in “Fairy Tale,” a veteran soldier is convinced the orphan that shows up at his door is the child soldier that shot him during the war), to the downright bizarre, these stories jump genres with wild abandon. Collision proves J.S. Breukelaar is an author to watch—likely we’ll be hearing her name a lot more in the future.

Alita: Battle Angel, by Pat Cadigan
James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’ film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga Battle Angel Alita is adapted in turn by award-winning sci-fi writer Pat Cadigan, who has penned a number of high-profile novelizations in-between writing her own award-winning cyberpunk books. Found and repaired by a good-hearted scientist living in a post-apocalyptic future in which Earth has become a trash-strewn wasteland, the cyborg Alita comes of age, discovers her destiny, and gets really good at fighting.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark
The second novella from Clark, after last year’s The Black God’s Drums, returns to the alternate early 20th century Cairo the author first explored in the short story “A Dead Djinn in Cairo.” In a world filled with magic, automatons, strange spirits, and powerful djinn, Hamed Nasr is an agent with the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investing minor cases of the misuse of magic. His latest job—a tram car that seems to be possessed by a malevolent djinn—turns out to be much more complex than it first seemed… perhaps more than Hamed and his stuff-shirted new partner Onsi can handle. The amount of worldbuilding packed into this slim book is remarkable—gender politics (the case unfolds against the backdrop of the Egyptian suffrage movement), class conflicts, machine sentience, commerce, and more—and the narrative voice is a delight; imagine the sensibility of Agatha Christie crossed with the magic of Saladin Ahmed.

Trump Sky Alpha, by Mark Doten
Mark Doten (The Infernal) delivers what may be the first major sci-fi novel of the post-Trump era. Certainly he’s gunning for that distinction from the premise on: the book begins one year after Trump’s Twitter rantings have triggered a nuclear war. A journalist hiding out in the Twin Cities Metro Containment Zone searches for her missing wife and daughter while ostensibly working on a story exploring internet humor amid the apocalypse. But as she dives deeper into a world of metatextual references and nested memes, Rachel finds hints of a conspiracy that may change her understanding of the past and give shape to the world’s increasingly strange future.

Where Oblivion Lives, by T. Frohock 
Fans of Frohock’s Los Nefilim novellas will be thrilled with this full-length novel, which a deep dive into a historical fantasy world. In 1932, in an alt-history version of Spain and Germany, vying forces of angels and daimons are gearing up for a civil war that threatens humanity’s existence. Los Nefilim are the respective offspring of the warring species, able to either sing like the angles or hear like the daimons; they monitor the conflict and seek to avert disaster. Diago is special even among the Nefilim, born of both angel and daimon and thus able to both sing and hear. Tormented by the sound of his lost Stradivarius, Diago slips over the Rhine and searches for the source of the music that torments his demonic hearing. Along the way, he and his allies uncover evidence of terrible betrayals and a plot that would mean the end of Los Nefilim—and the world.

The Rising, by Mira Grant
Seanan McGuire, writing as Mira Grant, delivered a pitch-perfect postmodern zombie story with her Newsflesh trilogy, combining a hard look at the dirty truth of politics with the shambling dread of the undead apocalypse. The Rising collects all three Hugo-nominated volumes of the trilogy, set decades after separate cures for cancer and the common cold mutated into a virus that turned carriers into zombies and changed the balance of power the world over. Though the contagion has been contained and the zombie threat is under control, the healthy must live in secured areas and stay ever-vigilant. Blogging journalists following the presidential campaign of a Republican senator slowly stumble (no pun intended) upon a grim conspiracy using the hordes of undead to manipulate public opinion and the upcoming election. It’s smart, fast-paced sci-fi horror, and now you can rip through the whole thing without stopping.

The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Polymath Caitlin R. Kiernan is well established as one of SFF’s best short story writers, but until now, much of her work has only been available in print in limited-edition publications. Finally, here is a freely available collection of her best work: 20 incredible stories that will remind fans (and prove to new readers) just how unnaturally good she is at this. Her stories dive headlong into dark emotional currents, as when a daughter must close a gate to the past opened by her father; treat in doom and despair, as when a cult leader leads his followers into the ocean; and explore the uncanny, as when a film scholar reviews a disturbing movie about the most prolific female serial killer in history. Any one of them would alone be worth the cover price. It’s hard to imagine this collection won’t rank with the very best speculative books of 2019.

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, edited and translated by Ken Liu
Anyone paying attention to science fiction trends in recent years knows that Chinese literature is becoming an increasingly vital part of the landscape in the English-speaking world, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Liu, who translated Cixin Liu’s Hugo-winning novel The Three-Body Problem, and edited the excellent anthology Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation. Now, he returns with a second anthology, another amazing collection of first-rate stories, featuring authors both familiar to attentive Western readers (including Hugo-winners Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang) and newly imported but no less wonderful. With stories that treat in classic sci-fi tropes as filtered through the lenses of Chinese culture and history, and other that explore ideas that are entirely new, this is another essential exploration of an entire universe of speculative fiction heretofore inaccessible to many Western readers.

Gates of Stone, by Angus Macallan
The first book in Macallan’s Lord of the Islands series introduces the gritty, richly detailed world of the Laut Besar, where three lives are set on a collision course that might save—or destroy—a civilization. A princess is denied the throne solely because she’s a woman, and embarks on a violent quest to raise the money and power she’ll need to seize power by force. An arrogant prince is shocked into action when his kingdom is invaded by a sorcerer seeking one of seven powerful talismans that keep the Seven Hells at bay. If the sorcerer locates and possess all seven, all manner of chaos will be unleashed upon the world. Inspired by the overlapping cultures of China and India, this is a story filled with magic, epic battles, and complex characters.

The Outcast Hours, by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin 
A great anthology is more than the sum of its parts, and Murad and Shurin proved their ability to curate something truly special with their first effort, the delightful The Dijinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. Here they bring together more than two dozen stories centered on the portion of society that lives by night, bathed in neon and shrinking from the morning. In other words: the outcasts. It’s a rich vein from which to mine incredible and incredibly strange stories, and the stellar cast of contributing writers certainly delivers. The anthology features works by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Marina Warner, Sami Shah, and Jeffrey Alan Love, among many others (including China Miéville, who hasn’t been writing nearly enough fiction as of late, delivers a smattering of deeply weird page-long micro-fictions). For fans of surprising speculative fiction, it is sure to be a treat.

Fleet of Knives, by Gareth L. Powell
Powell continues the Embers of War series in fine space opera style, finding the crew of the sentient ex-warship Trouble Dog responding to a distress call in the midst of the fallout of the Archipelago War. Trouble Dog tracks down the abandoned ship Lucy’s Ghost only to find that its human crew took refuge on a centuries-old generation ship launched by an alien species. Their efforts to save the humans pits them against beings that appear to them as dangerous monsters. Meanwhile, war criminal Ona Sudak leads the ships of the Marble Armada in an effort to enforce the peace at all costs—and believing that the Trouble Dog is a danger to that peace, she quickly takes steps to eliminate them, trapping the vessel and its crew between two violent enemies. Embers of War was one of our favorite reads of 2018—a space opera foregrounding the emotional journeys of its protagonists (both human and machine) without sacrificing the action or suspense—and the sequel lives up to its predecessor, and then some.

Firstborn, by Michelle West
The seventh entry in West’s House War epic fantasy series. The back cover summary is extensive—you can read it here—and likely won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t kept up with the series so far. Perhaps it is more interesting, then, to state that this is the first half of what West intended to be the final novel in the series. What she wrote was so extensive, it had to be split into two volumes; this is the first part, and War will follow later this year. So if you love epics, know both that this is a truly epic series… and that it will be finished come June, and ready for a binge read.

What new sci-fi and fantasy is on your list this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Chinese Sci-Fi in Translation, a Haunting in Cairo, and Weirdness After Hours appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

The Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Citizenship Testing, Viral Dreams, and Coming of Age on a Planet of Ice and Fire

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders
Charlie Jane Anders’ followup to the Nebula Award-winning All the Birds in the Sky seems, at first glance, a complete departure from that fitfully whimsical, apocalyptic bildungsroman, but both novels share a powerful emotional through line, examining the inner lives and grand destinies of outsiders in societies in which they are never sure they truly belong. It leaves Earth behind entirely, delivering us to the hostile planet January, a tidally locked world split between the frozen wastes on its dark side and the searing eternal day of its light side. In the small sliver between these two extremes, the city of Xiosphant barely supports a dwindling human population. Sophie, who comes from an unremarkable family, willingly takes the blame for a petty crime committed by her fellow student, best friend, shining star Bianca, and is condemned to death via exile into the frigid darkness as an example of the cost of even a small act of rebellion. Sophie is saved by one of the strange animal life forms native to the planet, and discovers that the so-called “crocodiles” are no simple beasts, but an advanced race of telepaths whose existence is threatened by the corrosive presence of human settlers in their midst. Sophie’s ultimate fate parallels not just that of Bianca and her fellow citizens of Xiosphant, but all life on January, and the very future of humanity. It’s a richly compassionate, thoughtful work, packing powerful messages of anti-violence, political theory, and environmentalism alongside a story of growing up and growing into yourself that never strikes a false note.

Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, by Tom Baker 
Fans of Doctor Who know Tom Baker best as the iconic Fourth Doctor, lover of Jelly Babies and very cool winter scarves. But did they know he also imagined himself an author of the Doctor’s exploits? In the 1970s, Baker and Ian Marter, who played Harry Sullivan, worked up a treatment for a Doctor Whofeature film—and at one point, it seemed like it might actually be made, with Vincent Price attached to star. But the script was lost in the shuffle, Baker regenerated into Peter Davison, and decades passed. Now, Baker has dusted off the idea and regenerated it into a novel, which sees The Doctor (along with Harry and Sarah Jane Smith) arriving at a remote Scottish island for a bit of a rest. Instead, they find the isolated village under attack by hideous scarecrows. The Doctor takes on the challenge of protecting the innocent, but it’s all an elaborate trap set by an otherworldly force known as the Scratchman—who might be the devil himself. For Who-vians, this is a glimpse into an alternate timeline where the Doctor became the next film franchise—or just another delightful Fourth Doctor romp.

Early Riser, by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde takes a break from the metafictional nuttiness of his Thursday Next novels to travel to an alternate future in which the entire population of England hibernates during the frigid, harsh winter months. Getting through four months of suspended animation isn’t guaranteed—although the rich, able to afford special drugs, fare better than the poor, who often wind up Dead in Sleep—but the Winter Consuls work hard to ensure that everyone makes it. Charlie Worthing has just joined this group of slightly unhinged guardians, and has been tasked with investigating a viral dream that’s been killing people in their sleep. Initially dubious, Charlie begins to believe when he starts experiencing the dreams too—and they start coming true. Fforde’s track record at wacky, wonky worldbuilding is second to none, and this standalone is both a fast-moving romp and a thoughtful slice of social commentary.

Terminal Uprising, by Jim C. Hines
The second volume of Hines’ tongue-in-cheek sci-fi series the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, which follows a band of hapless humans who serve as the cleanup crew on an alien vessel in the wake of a plague that has destroyed nearly all of our civilization. Having stolen a starship, uncovered the secret that led to humanity’s downfall, and stopped a genocidal attack against the alien Krakau (see the events of Terminal Alliance), Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her team of fellow hygeine and sanitation specialists have been trying to help the Krakau tamp down an uprising by the isolationist species the Prodyans, a mission that will require her to return to an Earth gone to seed in search of a killer superweapon that could restore humanity’s place in the galaxy… or bring the whole thing crashing down. But, you know, not actually down, because there’s no gravity in space. But things could certainly get messy.

The Revenant Express, by George Mann
Steampunk virtuoso George Mann returns with another volume in the Newbury & Hobbes series, which stars a mystery-solving Victorian era special agent Si Maurice Newbury and his assistant Veronica Hobbes, who, as the novel opens, lies dying. Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia take a train cross country to secure a mechanical heart that can replace Veronica’s ailing one. But it can’t be so simple as that, and along the way they run into an old enemy who is onboard the train seeking revenge. Meanwhile, back in London, the other member of their team, Sir Charles Bainbridge, investigates a series of bizarre killings, as prominent citizens are kidnapped and expsed to a deadly plague. It’s up to Newbury and Co. to save both Veronica and London itself before time runs out.

The Test, by Sylvain Neuvel
Another dark satire of the future-present arrives from Publishing just weeks after the release of Robert Jackson Benett’s Vigilance, which examines America’s gun obsession. Sylvain Neuvel’s The Test takes a different tack, moving through the questions on a mandatory British Citizenship Test as it is undertaken by an immigrant named Idir who just wants his family to be welcomed into their new home country. He has 25 questions—25 chances—to impress the test committee and prove his worth. But when the test goes wrong and circumstances are flipped on their head, Idir faces much harder choices.

The Beast’s Heart: A Novel of Beauty and the Beast, by Leife Shallcross
In the tradition of John Gardner’s Grendel, Shallcross retells the story of Beauty and the Beast from the perspective of the titular monster—claws, horns, and all. Trapped under a curse for centuries, Julien Courseilles first glimpses the beautiful Isabeau de la Noue in a dream and realizes she might be able to free him from his lonely bondage. He lures her to his enchanted chateau, where she agrees to stay for a year in exchange for her father’s life. Julien spends those short months proposing marriage and spying on her and her family in an attempt to force a love affair to blossom, but as he comes to terms with the dark fairy tale that is his cursed life, he realizes that even if Isabeau agrees to marry him, that is only the first step on his unlikely journey to redemption. Shallcross’s debut reveals new facets of one of the most retold and best-loved stories of all time.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
Katherine Addison’s beloved standalone fantasy—a Best Novel Nebula finalist—returns in a new trade paperback edition. If you haven’t read it yet, you must: it is as much about real-world problems (like self-doubt and the intractable nature of politics) as it is about the fantasy elements. The main character is the half-goblin heir to the throne of an elven empire. Maia, who has spent his 18 years living in exile, returns home to not only the burden of ruling a land that does not respect him, but the disconcerting news that his father and brothers weren’t killed in an accident, but by intentional sabotage. What makes all of this more spellbinding is the fact that, at a time when many modern fantasy heroes  are, well, flawed—Maia is a genuinely good person. Watching him navigate the halls of power without sacrificing his ideals is deeply moving. Would that reality were so fantastical.

What new SFF are you reading this week?

The post The Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Citizenship Testing, Viral Dreams, and Coming of Age on a Planet of Ice and Fire appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.