Upcoming: THE COMPANIONS by Katie M. Flynn (Scout Press/Gallery)

FlynnKM-CompanionsUSI stumbled across The Companions by Katie M. Flynn while browsing a Simon & Schuster catalogue. Pitched as “Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go“, I thought it sounded really intriguing and also rather unsettling. Naturally, this means I really want to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

An unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.

In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in — and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people — a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.

Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.

Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view — some human, some companion — that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

The Companions is due to be published by Scout Press/Gallery in North America, on March 3rd, 2020. (I couldn’t find any information about a UK publisher or release.)

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Upcoming: THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey (St. Martin’s Press/Gollancz)

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In January, St. Martin’s Press and Gollancz are due to publish a new novel by Danny Tobey that has caught my attention: The God Game. Based on the synopsis (below), it looks like it should appeal to fans of novels like Ready Player One and You, as well as fans of techno-thrillers. Looking forward to this one.

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life — does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

The God Game is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America (January 7th) and Gollancz in the UK (January 9th).

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Upcoming: AGENCY by William Gibson (Berkley/Viking)

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William Gibson needs no introduction. But, just in case: he is one of the father’s of Cyberpunk, and author of the acclaimed Neuromancer (among many other classics). Next year, he returns with a new novel, Agency. (Two very different covers, up there.) Here’s the synopsis:

A science fiction thriller heavily influenced by our most current events.

Verity Jane, gifted app whisperer, takes a job as the beta tester for a new product: a digital assistant, accessed through a pair of ordinary-looking glasses. “Eunice,” the disarmingly human AI in the glasses, manifests a face, a fragmentary past, and a canny grasp of combat strategy. Realizing that her cryptic new employers don’t yet know how powerful and valuable Eunice is, Verity instinctively decides that it’s best they don’t.

Meanwhile, a century ahead in London, in a different time line entirely, Wilf Netherton works amid plutocrats and plunderers, survivors of the slow and steady apocalypse known as the jackpot. His boss, the enigmatic Ainsley Lowbeer, can look into alternate pasts and nudge their ultimate directions. Verity and Eunice are her current project. Wilf can see what Verity and Eunice can’t: their own version of the jackpot, just around the corner, and the roles they both may play in it.

I’m really looking forward to this. Agency is due to be published in January 2020 by Berkley (North America) and Viking (UK).

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Upcoming: UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

GaileyS-UprightWomenWantedI enjoyed Sarah Gailey‘s American Hippo novellas — a fun, interesting and imaginative take on the alternate history western genre. (If you haven’t tried them, yet, I’d highly recommend giving them a try.) Next February, the author returns with Upright Women Wanted, another pulpy western:

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Upright Women Wanted is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on February 4th, 2020. Gailey’s latest novel, Magic For Liars, is also out now.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Gailey (2017); Review of River of Teeth

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Upcoming: PROSPER’S DEMON by K.J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-ProspersDemonJust a quite post to draw your attention to this, the latest novella by master of the form K.J. ParkerProsper’s Demon is out in late January 2020, and is easily one of my most-anticipated books of next year. Here’s the synopsis:

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out — he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

Parker’s novellas are among some of my favourite reads of the past few years. The Devil You Know, in particular, cemented his place among the ranks of my favourite authors.

Prosper’s Demon is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on January 28th, 2020.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

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Upcoming: SIXTEENTH WATCH by Myke Cole (Angry Robot)

ColeM-SixteenthWatchMyke Cole, the acclaimed author of the Shadow Ops and Sacred Throne series, is back with new novel next year: Sixteenth Watch! Here’s the synopsis:

A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

Sixteenth Watch is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in North America and in the UK, in March 2020. It’s unclear if this is the first in a planned series, or a stand-alone. Myke is also the author of the acclaimed Legion Versus Phalanx history book, which I would also highly recommend.

Seems like March 2020 is going to be “Coast Guard… in Space!” month. (See also: K.B. Wagers’s A Pale Light in the Black.)

Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole (2011); Guest Post on “Influences & Inspirations”; Review of Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone, and The Armored Saint

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Upcoming: A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK by K.B. Wagers (Voyager)

WagersKB-NeoG1-APaleLightInTheBlackUSK.B. Wagers is the author of the acclaimed Indranan War and Farian War series, published by Orbit (the latter is still ongoing). Next year, the author launches a new series — NeoG — which will be published by Voyager. A Pale Light in the Black is a “rollicking” first entry in the NeoG series, that introduces readers to the Near-Earth Orbital Guard: a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard. Here’s the synopsis for the upcoming novel:

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback — until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own — away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option — and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core… a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

There seems to be a trend in sci-fi at the moment: plucky bands of adventurers venturing out into space and getting up to shenanigans. Personally, I am very much on board for this trend.

A Pale Light in the Black is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in March 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with K.B. Wagers (2016)

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