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  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 pm on 2019/12/02 Permalink
    Tags: anyone, book launches, catherynne m. valente, charles soule, , dead astronauts, fortuna, jeff vandermeer, k.s. merbeth, kristyn merbeth, minecraft: the end, , , pablo hidalgo, , star wars: the rise of skywalker, wicked hour   

    December’s Fantastic New Releases in Science Fiction & Fantasy 

    December brings a diffuse slate of new science fiction and fantasy releases, from a new space opera saga that will delight fans of Firefly to a deeply strange new novel by the author of the Nebula Award-winning Annihilation. Read on, and explore new worlds.

    Wicked Hour, by Chloe Neill
    Shifters and vampires come together in the second installment of Chloe Neill’s bestselling urban fantasy series the Heirs of Chicagoland. Elisa Sullivan—the only vampire ever born, not made—has been running from her true nature all her life, even as she was forced to embrace her supernatural abilities in order to keep the Windy City safe. But after saving Chicago from a terrible threat—with a little help from shapeshifter and potential romantic interest Connor Keene—Elisa is forced to confront her past: while attending a wedding between two members of the shifter Pack, held in the remote north woods of Minnesota, Elisa bears witness to a brutal killing, as the Pack whispers about monsters in the woods…

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—The Visual Dictionary, by Pablo Hidalgo
    This is it: on December 20, the final chapter of the Skywalker saga arrives, and Star Wars will never be the same. Luckily, we’ve got one more beautiful, comprehensive Star Wars Visual Dictionary to soften the blow. This must-have companion to the film includes information on the new characters we’ll meet in the movie, a look into what the heroes of the Resistance have been up to since The Last Jedi, and detailed cross-sections of key vehicles that we’ll soon see blasting off on the big screen.

    Spear of the Emperor: Warhammer 40K, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
    The latest entry in the sprawling novel series based on the popular role playing universe of Warhammer 40K, Spear of the Emperor opens in the waning days of the Emperor’s Spears, a group of warriors tasked with protecting Elara’s Veil nebula. The worlds accessed via the nebula were once protected by three Chapters of soldiers; two of them have already fallen to fate and treachery, putting countless lives at risk. Only the Emperor’s Spears still stand against the forces of the Outer Dark—but as a new conflict arises, even they may soon fall…

    Fortuna, by Kristyn Merbeth
    A gritty new space opera saga for Firefly fans begins in the first volume of a new sci-fi trilogy from Kristyn Merbeth (who previously published the Wastelanders series under the name K.S. Merbeth). Scorpia Kaiser has always lived in the shadow of her brother Corvus, and does nothing to distinguish herself when she takes over her mother’s galactic smuggling operation—and the controls of the cargo ship Fortuna—after Corvus leaves to go to war. After a botched smuggling run is made worse by her brother’s unexpected return from the front, Scorpia faces a new challenge related to revelations about her family’s dark past. This is an engaging start to a series that blends crime family drama with the sort of character-focused sci-fi that made Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series an award-winning favorite.

    Anyone, by Charles Soule
    Award-winning comics writer Charles Soule (Curse Words) returns to prose with a second novel every bit as fiendishly inventive as 2018’s The Oracle Year. While researching a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, scientist Gabrielle White inadvertently develops a procedure that allows for a consciousness to be transported into the body of another human. Twenty-five years later, “flash” technology has changed the world, and not necessarily for the better: it allows people to legally move their minds into other bodies for limited periods of time, a process overseen by a mega-corporation known as Anyone, resulting in benefits to commerce, entertainment, and the environment. But there’s a dark side to this strange future—a black market for illegal flash runs wild, the government regulations can only do so much, and not even Anyone can truly be trusted. As digital surveillance and ever-expanding social media infect our own world, the future of Soule’s dark imagination seems only too plausible.

    Minecraft: The End, by Catherynne M. Valente
    Yes, this one’s aimed at kids, but we figured you’d want to know about it: Hugo Award-nominated author Catherynne M. Valente (Space Opera) ventures into the world of the Minecraft video game for this middle grade adventure set in the End, the strange city on the far edges of the world. Endermen twins Fin and Mo have always lived there, exploring ancient ruins and dodging dragons, and they think they have life all figured out—until visitors from another dimension drop into their midst. These creatures, known as “humans,” plan to steal the End’s riches and slay its dragons, and only Fin and Mo can stop them.

    Dead Astronauts, by Jeff VanderMeer
    The creator of the Southern Reach trilogy—the inspiration for the film Annihilation—delivers an unclassifiable new novel set in the same world as his 2017 bestseller Borne, revealing the origins of the titular trio of doomed space explorers who appeared in the pages of that earlier book. The plot is diffuse—following by turns a space-faring blue fox, a demon-haunted homeless woman, three rebels fighting an omnipresent corporation, a prophet who wanders an endless desert, and a monster whose origins are a mystery even to himself—and the prose verges on the poetic; the end result is a reading experience like no other. This is a book you want to own in print: beneath the vivid dust jacket, there are words embossed directly into the cover; experimental typography and graphic elements demand to be absorbed on paper.

    Down Among the Dead, by K.B. Wagers
    Hail Bristol—a character we’ve previously dubbed “the fiercest princess this side of Westeros”—is back in the followup to There Before the Chaos, set in the same universe as the Indranan War trilogy. The explosive climax of the last book has left for dead almost everyone who mattered to Hail, who has been captured by fearsome enemy aliens the Shen. It seems the Shen want her help to defeat their own fearsome foes, and to try to convince her, they show her terrifying visions of a grim possible future. Torn between the pain she already feels and a future she fears, Hail’s only choice is to go down fighting—which is easier said than done. Wagers excels at balancing the high-stakes action with the tumultuous inner life of her protagonist, whose swaggering confidence has been cracked by terrible trauma.

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

    The post December’s Fantastic New Releases in Science Fiction & Fantasy appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:06 pm on 2014/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: alan bennett, , christopher morley, , , , jeff vandermeer, , short books, , ,   

    5 Great Stocking Stuffer Books 

    Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the LaneSelecting the stocking stuffer is an art. Fill a stocking with purely candy and tiny treats, and it’s Halloween. At the same time, I’ve yet to discover the oversized sock that can remain aloft when saddled with a hardcover version of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. But never fear, noble shoppers, for this is why slim, trim, teensy paperbacks were invented. So clear a hole between the Snickers and the miniscule bendy reading light for some of these small beauties, sure to please.

    We Are All Completely Fine, by Daryl Gregory
    This book is more than fine. It’s twisted, odd, touching, and stupendous. When a mysterious psychiatrist gathers together survivors of supernatural trauma for a support group, things are going to get bumpy. And they do it quickly when you have a monster hunter in the room alongside a cranky elder who survived life as a cannibal buffet item. As you might expect, the disparate stories these souls have to tell aren’t so unrelated after all.

    Smut, by Alan Bennett
    Two triumphant tragicomedies in one itty bitty living space. In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, Bennett introduces Mrs. Donaldson, a recent widow who decides to supplement her income—and subsequently spice up her life—by volunteering as a test patient for medical students, and also renting out a spare room. In doing both, she finds two titillating new hobbies: role-playing and voyeurism. In The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, we find a complicated web of family deception in which nobody knows who knows what. All of that in 160 pages.

    Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
    The first entry in VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy introduces Area X, an overgrown unknown land cut off from the outside world. That is, until the expeditions begin. Previous expeditions have not fared well, with the members of the 11th all dying quickly after their return of an aggressive cancer. Annihilation focuses on the 12th expedition, composed entirely of women, and like them, readers should expect the unexpected.

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
    At his finest—which is usually where he operates—Gaiman makes magic. This short reflection on the wonderment and bewilderment of childhood is sad, sweet, poignant, and yes, magical. When a man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, he begins to ruminate about events from his seventh year. It all centers on a farm down the road and a girl named Lettie Hempstock. His memories seem too strange to be true, but you can bet they are.

    Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley
    Sometimes the best strategy is to kick it with a classic, and Morley’s pint-sized yarn about a most epic road trip—on a book caravan!—certainly fits the bill. Christmas requires a certain amount of whimsy, and it’s here in these pages in droves. There’s an enigmatic and delightful bookseller, a no-nonsense farm woman, and a traveling bookstore called Parnassus. It’s a simple adventure of their life on the road, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 3:30 pm on 2014/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: acceptance, , , , exo, , golden princess, jeff vandermeer, jonathan jackson miller, karen miller, , , martha wells, , s.m. stirling, , , , star wars new dawn, , stephen gould, , stories of the raksura, the falcon throne, ,   

    September Sci-Fi/Fantasy Roundup: Solving for Area X, a Bloody Battle for the Throne, and Performing Shakespeare in the End Times 

    sffroundup9-14Golden Princess: A Novel of The Change, by S.M. Stirling
    Stirling has now written 11 novels in the Emberverse, his sci-fi/fantasy mashup series that explores an alternate timeline in which a mysterious event in 1998 caused all electricity, gunpowder, and advanced machinery to simply stop working, leaving the U.S. as we know it in shambles. The books focus on survival, political infighting, and epic quests. If you’re a fan, you’re picking this one up; if you aren’t (yet), you’ll want to start with Dies the Fire.

    City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
    Robert Jackson Bennett continues to march his way through a list of fantasy subgenres, from fantasy horror (Mr. Shivers), to sci-fi (The Company Man), to, now, epic fantasy, albeit in a highly original vein. In a fantasy realm that retains many modern world trappings (from trains to telegrams), a low-level diplomat is pulled into a conspiracy involving murder, magic, and a plot to resurrect a god.

    The Witch with No Name, by Kim Harrison
    This is the can’t-miss final installment in The Hollows, the series that, in large part, helped define what we think of when we say “urban fantasy.” Harrison’s Rachel Morgan is the quintessential UF protagonist, and this book ends her story. Read about why we’re so sad to bid farewell to this series here.

    The Falcon Throne, by Karen Miller
    Australian author Karen Miller (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, the Godspeaker Trilogy) launches her new epic fantasy series with a mammoth first installment packed with political intrigue and widescreen action. A battle for the throne. Scheming potential successors to the crown. Meddling princes. Despotic dukes. And one unfortunate young pawn trapped between both sides.

    Stories of the Raksura: Vol. I, by Martha Wells
    Though a she’s a former Nebula Award nominee, I’d argue Martha Wells deserves to be much more well-known, particularly for her strikingly original Books of the Raksura trilogy (The Cloud RoadsThe Serpent SeaThe Siren Depths), set in an entirely new world and featuring zero familiar tropes: no pseudo-European feudal system, no kings, no knights, no humans at all. In the first three books, she developed an entire anatomy and culture for her strange, bipedal, shape-shifting gargoyle creatures, and now she’s come back to it with the first of two planned volumes of short stories that revisit favorite characters, introduce new ones, and explore the rich history of her invented world.

    Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer
    I like the whole “let’s release the entire trilogy in a year” experiment that the publisher went with for VanderMeer’s astonishing Southern Reach trilogy. It’s only been six months since the debut of Annihilation, which charted the terrible fate of the twelfth expedition into the mysterious, ecologically mutated Area X. Book two, Authority, went inside the Southern Reach, the shadowy organization that oversees the ill-fated research missions. Acceptance shifts the focus again, and answers all your lingering questions in a deeply unsettling manner. (Available Sept. 2 in paperback and NOOK.)

    Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood
    Though you’ll find her shelved with literary fiction, there’s no question that much of Atwood’s work appeals heavily to genre fans, and her latest collection of short stories is no different. From a story about a man who bids on an auctioned storage unit and finds a sinister surprise inside (“The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom”), to one in which a woman born with a genetic disorder is mistaken for a vampire (“Lusus Naturae”), these nine tales twist the real world in unexpected ways. (Available Sept. 16 in hardcover and NOOK.)

    Star Wars: New Dawn, by Jonathan Jackson Miller
    Whether you’ve followed the Star Wars Expanded Universe since elementary school or don’t know the Solo twins from Hope Solo, this is the book all Jedi Padawans need to read. Disney has totally rebooted the franchise, reclassifying dozens of previous books as “Star Wars Legends,” and is relaunching the continuity with this novel from a frequent writer of Star Wars comics. From now on, what happens in the books will line up with the new movies and vice versa. (Available Sept. 2 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

    Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfield
    Don’t let this title pass you by just because it’s classified as YA. Westerfield goes metafictional with the story of a young woman who moves to New York to pursue a dream in publishing, interspersing the narrative with chapters from the genre novel she’s writing about a girl who slips into an alternate reality to escape from terrorists. Soon, reality and fiction begin to intersect on multiple levels, creating a narrative puzzle you’ll love teasing out. (Available Sept. 23 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

    Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
    Published as literary fiction, this novel does the postapocalyptic thing to near perfection. Years after a global cataclysm, much of culture has been washed away in the ensuing tides of upheaval. A dedicated group of survivors struggles to keep the flame burning through roving performances of Shakespeare plays. Harrowing, haunting, and elegiac, this is one crossover novel you don’t want to miss. (Available Sept. 9 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

    Exo, by Stephen Gould
    The author returns to his popular Jumper series with another story about troubled teleporting teens getting into mischief. Blending YA tropes with well-considered sci-fi elements, the book offers a perfect mix of popcorn fun and hard science. The focal point this time is Cent, the daughter of original jumpers Davy and Millie, who appeared in Jumper and Impulse.

    Which sci-fi and fantasy novels are you excited about this month?

     
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