It’s been a while since I wrote a post like this, but I feel a number of publishers have really great summer and autumn schedules, so I thought I’d bring this feature back. I’ll post a few over the course of this week, I expect.
First up, let’s take a look at Saga Press, a new(ish) imprint of Simon & Schuster, and some of their upcoming SFF novels (alphabetical by author). Each of the title here has caught my attention (sometimes it’s because of the cover), and I’m either very interested in reading them or intrigued to give them a try.
It’s the epic battle of brains against manes. Which side are you on?
It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? This all-original anthology edited by Holly Black (Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie) makes strong arguments for both sides in the form of spectacular short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths — for good and evil — of unicorns, and half show the good (and really, really badass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan.
This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union meets The Windup Girl when a female PI goes up against a ruthless gangster — just as both humans and robots agitate for independence in an Argentinian colony in Antarctica.
In Argentine Antarctica, Eliana Gomez is the only female PI in Hope City — a domed colony dependent on electricity (and maintenance robots) for heat, light, and survival in the icy deserts of the continent. At the center is an old amusement park — now home only to the androids once programmed to entertain — but Hope City’s days as a tourist destination are long over. Now the City produces atomic power for the mainland while local factions agitate for independence and a local mobster, Ignacio Cabrera, runs a brisk black-market trade in illegally imported food. Eliana doesn’t care about politics. She doesn’t even care — much — that her boyfriend, Diego, works as muscle for Cabrera. She just wants to save enough money to escape Hope City. But when an aristocrat hires Eliana to protect an explosive personal secret, Eliana finds herself caught up in the political tensions threatening to tear Hope City apart. In the clash of backstabbing politicians, violent freedom fighters, a gangster who will stop at nothing to protect his interests, and a newly sentient robot underclass intent on a very different independence, Eliana finds her job coming into deadly conflict with Diego’s, just as the electricity that keeps Hope City from freezing begins to fail… From the inner workings of the mob to the story of a revolution to the amazing settings, this story has got it all. Ultimately, however, Our Lady of the Ice questions what it means to be human, what it means to be free, and whether we’re ever able to transcend our pasts and our programming to find true independence.
Nancy Farmer, SEA OF TROLLS Trilogy (June-August)
Jack is kidnapped by berserkers from his Saxon village in the year A.D. 793, an occurrence forewarned by his mentor the Bard. Captured by Viking chief Olaf One-Brow, Jack and his sister, Lucy, are swiftly taken to the court of Ivar the Boneless.
Ivar is married to a half-troll named Frith, an evil and unpredictable queen with a strange power over her husband’s court. Jack mistakenly casts a charm on her — and is banished to the kingdom of the trolls to find the magic that will undo the charm. Accompanied by Thorgill, a shield maiden who wants to be a berserker, and by the mysterious crow called Bold Heart, Jack sets out on a harrowing and exciting quest for the ages.
Fraternal twins Nels and Suvi move beyond their royal heritage and into military and magical dominion in this flintlock epic fantasy debut from a two-time Campbell Award finalist.
Prince Nels is the scholarly runt of the ancient Kainen royal family of Eledore, disregarded as flawed by the king and many others. Only Suvi, his fraternal twin sister, supports him. When Nels is ambushed by an Acrasian scouting party, he does the forbidden for a member of the ruling family: He picks up a fallen sword and defends himself.
Disowned and dismissed to the military, Nels establishes himself as a leader as Eledore begins to shatter under the attack of the Acrasians, who the Kainen had previously dismissed as barbarians. But Nels knows differently, and with the aid of Suvi, who has allied with pirates, he mounts a military offensive with sword, canon, and what little magic is left in the world.
Addison Schact and his best friend Digger become obsessed with investigating the murder of a classmate as they travel through Washington DC’s underworld.
High school senior Addison Schacht is taking the prompt for his college entry essay to the University of Chicago to heart: What are your best and worst qualities? He begins to look back on his life so far and considers what getting into college, selling some pot to his classmates, his relationship with his best friend — not girlfriend — Digger, Virgil’s Aeneid, and his growing obsession with the murder of a classmate, Kevin Broadus, all mean. The more he digs into his own past, the farther he stumbles into the middle of the murder investigation.
Linda Nagata, THE RED Trilogy (June, August, November)
Reality TV and advanced technology make for high drama in this political thriller that combines the military action of Zero Dark Thirty with the classic science fiction of The Forever War.
Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay — and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality TV show.
When an airstrike almost destroys their outpost, a plot begins to unravel that’s worthy of Crichton and Clancy’s best. The conflict soon involves rogue defense contractors, corrupt US politicians, and homegrown terrorists who possess nuclear bombs. Soon Shelley must accept that the helpful warnings in his head could be AI. But what is the cost of serving its agenda?
It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador — and prevent mass extinction — in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.
After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.