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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, , k.s. merbeth, kristyn merbeth, minecraft: the end, , , pablo hidalgo, Science Fiction & Fantasy, 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.

     
  • Amanda Diehl 4:00 pm on 2017/08/17 Permalink
    Tags: , ashwin, born of night, cutlass, ellis leaigh, games of command, Kit Rocha, , linnea sinclair, radio silence, , Science Fiction & Fantasy, she blinded me with science, , Undercover   

    6 Sci-Fi Romances that will Get You Hooked 

    If you’re looking to try something new in your romance reading, why not give science fiction romance a shot! There’s fantastic world-building as authors create their own cultures on far away planets. The plots often come with intense situations, like the end of the world or spaceship battles. And most importantly, there are all sorts of strong characters finding love in the midst of danger and adventure. Whether you prefer your sci-fi on the lighter side or want a full-on space opera, these romances are out of this world.

    Games of Command, by Linnea Sinclair
    Linnea Sinclair is the queen of sci-fi romance with impeccable world-building, technology, and character development. Games of Command is packed with two romances between members of a spaceship. Biocybe (think human with cyborg parts) Admiral Branden Kel-Paten and Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian were enemies, now forced to work together. Sass is also desperately trying to hide her past as a smuggler from Braden. To make matters worse, the ship picks up an injured mercenary, Jace Serafino, who knows Sass’ secrets rather well. Throw in empathetic Dr. Eden Fynn to care for Jace and four is way more than a crowd.

    Radio Silence, by Alyssa Cole
    Science fiction-lite with Earth on the verge of a post-apocalyptic meltdown, Radio Silence doesn’t fall into the category with far away galaxies and spaceships. Instead, a group of people find solace in a cabin after everything seems to shut down. Arden Highmore and her roommate John team up together, but when a band of scavengers attack their sanctuary, it’s John’s brother, Gabriel, who comes to the rescue. With Arden and Gabriel adopting an antagonistic relationship fraught with sexual tension, it’s hard to tell if they’ll survive or kill each other first.

    Ashwin, by Kit Rocha
    Ashwin is a sci-fi dystopian romance between a super-soldier designed not to feel emotions and a doctor helping the enemy. Lieutenant Ashwin Malhotra and Dr. Kora Bellamy have a history. Kora was the handler who cared for him, until she left for Sector One and joined Gideon’s Riders, a band of Robin Hood-esque warriors. Ashwin is sent to infiltrate the Riders, sending a shock to Kora. She never expected to see him again. As Ashwin begins to realize he’s not as emotionless as he was created to be, there’s no way he can betray the one woman who finally made him see that he has a heart.

    Undercover, by Lauren Dane
    For readers who prefer their science fiction romance more on the erotic side, Undercover can scratch that itch with a menage romance between three complicated individuals. Lieutenant Sera Ayers has been called to join Ash Walker’s covert operations team. Unfortunately, he’s also her former lover, a romance that ended badly when Ash submitted to a political marriage and Sera refused to become his mistress. Brandt Pela is another integral addition to the team since Brandt and Sera have to go undercover as lovers. And of course, the three’s mission becomes more complicated once feelings get involved.

    Cutlass, by Ellis Leigh
    Want a sci-fi romance that’s a whole lot of fun? How about a book with an intergalactic dating agency? After, admittedly, a bit too much wine, Chloe signs up for a new dating agency that specializing in matching mail order brides from around the universe to applicable partners. Cutlass is a warrior from another planet and he’s more than a little irritated at being stranded on Earth. However, he doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon once he realizes this little “backwoods planet” he dislikes so much holds a woman that could be his well-matched mate.

    Born of Night, by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    Nykyrian Quikiades has a complicated relationship with the League Assassins. He used to be one of them, but not anymore. However, that doesn’t stop the powers-that-be from putting a price on his head. To make things even more dangerous, he’s tasked with protecting Kiara Zamir, a young woman with a target on her head due to her father’s political dealings. A high-octane space adventure between an assassin and a princess, what’s not to love?

    Which sci-fi romances would you recommend?

    The post 6 Sci-Fi Romances that will Get You Hooked appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:53 pm on 2015/06/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , magic tree house, , Science Fiction & Fantasy, the terminator, , timey wimey   

    10 Times Time Travel Saved the World 

    Time travel is always a complicated proposition. It’s easy to imagine the chaos that would result if someone was able to just flit back into the past and change things, or soar into the future and return with stock tips or laser weapons. That’s why most time travel stories focus on the challenges—should you kill Hitler? What happens if you fall in love with your own grandmother by accident? What’s the rule on repeating a first date 600 times in order to get it right?

    In the ten stories below, all the complications are overcome, and time travel not only works, it actually saves the world. (Warning: spoilers throughout!)

    Doctor Who
    The Doctor has been freewheeling through time since he stole a TARDIS more than 2,000 (subjective) years ago, and he’s saved the earth plenty of times since. Exhibit A: the Season Five finale, “The Big Bang,” wherein the Doctor moves back and forth across thousands of years and literally erases himself from reality in a bid to save the entire universe from destruction (don’t worry, he comes back via the power of Amy Pond).

    Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne
    This magical series has seen its young protagonists Jack and Annie travel from their humble home in Pennsylvania across millions of years, meeting dinosaurs, medieval knights, Egyptian mummies, and soldiers invading Normandy on D-Day, to name a few. What makes this series so special is that it respects children and their capabilities, telling stories of time travel that saves the day over and over again without condescending or doubting for one moment that kids are able to understand complex and occasionally disturbing history lessons—and remaining certain they would rise to the occasion if they were to stumble upon their own magic tree house.

    Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    There’s no clear threat to the world at large in Gabaldon’s fantastic, romantic, adventurous series, but the magic of a time travel story is that you can’t actually say that definitively. After all, Claire and Jamie are embroiled directly in major historical events on several occasions in their adventures. Who’s to say it wasn’t Claire’s presence (or the presence of any number of others who have traveled from the future) who ensured the world’s survival via some unforeseen consequence? That’s a little something called the Power of Love, friends.

    Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu
    Where most time travel stories insist the ability to move through time must be a secret, in Chu’s exciting novel, time travel is the key to humanity’s survival after a disaster drives people off Earth and onto other planets and moons. Traveling to the past to recover necessary resources without altering history too severely, Chronman James Griffin-Mars is stressed to the breaking point, and haunted by the people he has abandoned to the past to die. When he breaks the most fundamental rule of his job by bringing a woman with him into the future, the unintended consequences of his action spur an epic chain of events that ultimately might save the human race.

    The Terminator
    With every new entry in the Terminator film series, the timeline gets more jumbled and convoluted, but one constant remains: people keep traveling back in time to stop Skynet from gaining sentience and trying to destroy humanity…and the robots keep sending back increasingly spiffy Terminators to ensure it does. Since Skynet hasn’t yet launched a genocidal war against us, we have to assume the apparently endless loop of time travel is working so far.

    Donnie Darko
    No one actually understands this film completely, but the fundamental takeaway is that Donnie Darko, by (spoiler alert!) choosing to close his personal time loop and die, saves the world from complete destruction owing to temporal paradox. And you thought your high school years were confusing and difficult.

    Looper
    This underrated film’s internal logic doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny, but up until the final surprise ending it rolls along as one of the best-conceived time travel stories in recent memory, centering on the ultimate personal sacrifice of its protagonist, who realizes at the crucial moment that the only way to prevent his horrifying future is to sacrifice it entirely, thus saving the world from a bloodthirsty madman.

    All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurasaka
    The novel on which the film Edge of Tomorrow is based is one of the best science fiction novels of recent years, telling the story of a futuristic soldier who dies on the battlefield fighting an alien invader—and awakes at the beginning of a stable time loop, doomed to repeat the battle over and over. As in video games, the time loop allows him to hone his skills, learn to avoid deadly mistakes, and slowly figure out how to defeat the alien Mimics who have killed him over and over again. An inventive, modern take on time travel that saves humanity, this is an exciting story that’s equal parts military sci-fi, time travel story, and mystery.

    Lest Darkness Fall, by L. Sprague De Camp
    One of the most influential stories in science fiction history, Lest Darkness Fall is a more subtle example of time travel saving the world. Archaeologist Martin Padway is swept into the 6th century, right before the Eastern Roman empire invades Ostrogothic Italy, unintentionally ushering in the “dark ages.” Using the technological and strategic knowledge of the 20th century, Padway rewrites history, saving Italy and Europe from the ravages of war and saving the world from the Dark Ages altogether—with incredible potential impact on the future.

    11/22/63, by Stephen King
    Another subversion, as King’s story of a time portal to 1958 and one man’s quest to stop the Kennedy assassination ultimately sees him having to save the world from the timey-wimey damage of his own actions in the past. After stopping the assassination, Jake Epping returns to his own time to discover the law of unintended consequences has left the world he knew in ruins—and he must use time travel to save the world by undoing all of his work.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 5:45 pm on 2015/05/15 Permalink
    Tags: , Science Fiction & Fantasy, seveneves   

    7 Reasons to Read Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves 

    Neal Stephenson has been one of the defining voices in speculative fiction ever since he disassembled and rebuilt the cyberpunk thriller with his instant-classic breakthrough Snow Crash. These days, the release of a new Stephenson novel is a special event, to be anticipated and cherished. His latest lengthy future epic, Seveneves, arrives this month. Here are, appropriately, seven reasons we can’t wait to read it.

    1) The explosive opening
    Seveneves‘ opening sentence is one of the all-time great attention-grabbers in sci-fi: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” If you can stop reading there (or even after the brief prologue, which ends with the chilling image of a massive cloud of debris reflecting oddly in the night sky), you have far more willpower than I do.

    2) The sheer scope
    You can always count on Neal Stephenson to deliver a doorstopper that’s worth its considerable weight in hardcover. At nearly 900 fast-moving pages, Seveneves joins the ranks of Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Anathem, and Reamde as a genre epic that will envelop you for days at a time.

    3) The audacity of the storytelling
    It’s no spoiler to say that, at a critical point in the novel, many characters have died, along with much of the human race (this is an end-of-the-world tale, after all). As if that wasn’t gutsy enough, then you turn the page and are greeted with the words “5,000 years later.” It takes a special sort of writerly confidence—in ability, in the audience—to pull off a stunt like that. Stephenson makes it look easy.

    4) The real science 
    Heaven forbid we ever have to deal with the reality of the moon unexpectedly exploding, its fragmented chunks entering Earth’s orbit and slowly creeping toward crashdown over the course of two years. But if it ever happens, it will likely happen a lot like it does in this book. Stephenson is an autodidactic and obsessive researcher, and the astrophysics of this tale never seem less than terrifyingly plausible.

    5) The characters
    It’s a tough thing to take in, the end of all life on Earth. It’s difficult to feel much more than numb at the idea of seven billion deaths. Stephenson provides a widow to the end of days through the eyes of a disparate group of scientists, politicians, and geeks, many of them smart, strong women (take another look at that title). Their determination in the face of blind panic, their resilience in the face of stomach-clenching fear—it will make you care whether any of us get out of this alive. 

    6) The big ideas
    You’ve got to give Neal Stephenson credit: he packs these nearly 900 pages with impossibly huge sci-fi concepts, from apocalyptic disasters, to genetic manipulation, to interstellar voyages, to orbiting cities and anti-gravity trains—and that’s just scratching the surface.

    7) The writing
    Stephenson stands with the ranks of genre writers with true literary chops. His wry, wandering, information-packed prose has drawn comparisons to stylists no less revered than Thomas Pynchon. That’s not to suggest reading him requires  a Master’s in comp lit—this is a book in which the moon explodes, remember—but neither is it one to keep half an eye on while you try to stay awake on the train. It’s writing that demands, and earns, your full attention.

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  • Joel Cunningham 8:39 pm on 2015/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Science Fiction & Fantasy   

    Books That Take You Deeper Inside the World of Game of Thrones 

    Over the past five years, our friends have had to learn a hard truth, lest they face our dragon-fire rage: don’t call us when a new episode of Game of Thrones is on. The show presents an immersive fantasy world that envelops you like no other, and the last thing we want is to be unexpectedly jolted out of it and back into the modern world. But what to do after the episode ends? Here are books from the world of Westeros that will help you stay under the spell a little bit longer.

    A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin
    If you haven’t read the books because you’ve been following the show, now is the time to jump in. The fifth season of the HBO series is ostensibly based on A Dance with Dragons, the fifth entry in George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire. Most major plot points match up: Tyrion Lannister is on the run and wanted for murder, young Arya Stark sheds the last of her childhood innocence as she trains to be a ruthless assassin, Jon Snow holds wavering command over the men of the Night’s Watch at the Wall, and across the sea, Daenerys sits uneasily upon the throne in the newly freed slave city of Meereen. But more than ever before, the show has started to depart from (and even move beyond) the novels. If you want to experience everything, you really need to experience both.

    The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros, by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia, and Linda Antonsson
    On screen and on the page, Martin’s fictional world is darkly beautiful, intricate, and deep. In this lavish compendium, the author cranks up the backstory to 11, providing the most comprehensive (and illustrated) view yet of the history of the Seven Kingdoms. Produced with the founders of the fan site Westeros.org, this is the battle-filled, rivalry-stuffed, usurper-heavy hardcover your coffee table has been waiting for, revealing secrets that can’t be found in the books or on the show.

    The Lands of Ice & Fire, by George R.R. Martin
    With a story that spans the Seven Kingdoms and multiple other continents besides, A Song of Ice and Fire puts the “epic” in “epic fantasy.” This collection of lavishly illustrated maps goes way beyond the famous 3-D cartography of the opening sequence of the HBO adaptation, and will help readers and viewers alike orient themselves in a rich invented world. From tundra to desert, the lands of Westeros (and beyond) are vast, and here is a passport to it all.

    A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, by George R.R. Martin and Gary Gianni (illustrator)
    So you’ve caught up on the show and read through five fat novels. What next? This collection of three novellas, set 100 years before the start of the series, is exactly what you’re looking for. In following the adventures of knight-for-hire Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire (and unlikely future king) Aegon V “Egg” Targaryen traipsing through the Westeros countryside, Martin provides a glimpse at a (slightly) happier time in the history of the war-torn nation, while doling out essential revelations that remind us, yes,winter is coming. This new edition collects all three stories for the first time, along with over 160 new illustrations.

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