Welcome to another post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. Today it’s time for my Science Fiction and Horror picks. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Pierce Brown – Red Rising (Hodder & Stoughton)
Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars, generations of people who spend their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that, one day, people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.
Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.
Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games in this, the first in an extraordinary trilogy from an incredible new voice.
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius’.
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century.
Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them.
A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner.
Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, before New York became a burnt-out shell. Now the wealthy spend their days tapped into virtual reality; the rest have to fend for themselves in the streets. Now there’s nothing but garbage.
So he became a hit man. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box-cutter.
When he’s hired to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, Spademan’s life is upended. He will have to navigate two worlds – both the slick fantasy and the wasteland reality – to finish the job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.
Rachel Bach – Fortune’s Pawn (Orbit)
Fans of Firefly and Elizabeth Moon will lap up this action-packed military science fiction series. Welcome to the start of a thrilling new space adventure, starring female mercenary Deviana Morris . . .
Deviana Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. One of those is going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.
Not when she just got a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble. And with a reputation for bad luck that makes one year as security detail on this ship equal to five years everywhere else – Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year might be more than even Devi can handle.
(Followed by Honour’s Knight in late February and Heaven’s Queen in April)
Naomi Foyle – Astra (Jo Fletcher Books)
Like every child in Is-Land, all Astra Ordott wants is to have her Security Shot, do her National Service and defend her Gaian homeland from Non-Lander ‘infiltrators’. But when one of her Shelter mothers, the formidable Dr Hokma Blesser, tells her the shot will limit her chances of becoming a scientist and offers her an alternative, Astra agrees to her plan.
When the orphaned Lil arrives to share Astra’s home, Astra is torn between jealousy and fascination. Lil’s father taught her some alarming ideas about Is-Land and the world, but when she pushes Astra too far, the heartache that results goes far beyond the loss of a friend.
If she is to survive, Astra must learn to deal with devastating truths about Is-Land, Non-Land and the secret web of adult relationships that surrounds her.
Dave Hutchinson – Europe in Autumn (Solaris Books)
Rudi is a cook in a Kraków restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career – partspy, part people-smuggler – begins.
Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. Recruited by the shadowy organisation Les Coureurs des Bois, Rudi is schooled in espionage, but when a training mission to The Line, a sovereign nation consisting of a trans-Europe railway line, goes wrong, he is arrested, beaten and Coureur Central must attempt a rescue.
With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him.
With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws, Rudi begins to realise that underneath his daily round of plot and counter plot, behind the conflicting territories, another entirely different reality might be pulling the strings…
Retired Colonel Ray Longknife and Marine Captain Terrence “Trouble” Tordon come to Savannah via different routes, but what they find is the same. One bully strongman is intent on keeping power no matter what the new rules are for peace. He’s got the population cowered by thugs, and tanks at the ready. He expects to win the coming elections handily.
He doesn’t expect trouble. Or, in this case, Mrs. Trouble—aka Ruth Tordon—a Marine wife on a mission to find the drug lords that almost killed her and her husband and put them out of business—and she’s not about to be stopped by some barely trained roughnecks.
Abandoned by their strongman and desperate in defeat, the heavy armor get ready to roll into town over anybody in their way. But Ray Longknife, Trouble and Ruth are standing in their way…and nothing is going to flatten them.
Peter Higgins’ Vlast is a superbly imagined ‘other’ Russia, an epic land of trackless forest, sentient rain and deep powers in the Earth. It’s capital Mirgorod is home both to a brutal dictatorship centuries old and fleeting glimpses of the houses and streets of another city. Compared to the works of of both China Mieville and John Le Carre Wolfhound Century was a hugely original creation. Now Peter Higgins returns to that world.
Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air-raids are a daily occurrance and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defence of the city.
But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.
But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?
David Ramirez – The Forever watch (Hodder & Stoughton)
The truth is only the beginning.
The Noah: a city-sized ship, half-way through an eight-hundred year voyage to another planet. In a world where deeds, and even thoughts, cannot be kept secret, a man is murdered; his body so ruined that his identity must be established from DNA evidence. Within hours, all trace of the crime is swept away, hidden as though it never happened. Hana Dempsey, a mid-level bureaucrat genetically modified to use the Noah’s telepathic internet, begins to investigate. Her search for the truth will uncover the impossible: a serial killer who has been operating on board for a lifetime… if not longer.
And behind the killer lies a conspiracy centuries in the making.
Karl Schroeder – Lockstep (Tor)
When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still–that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.
Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own. Toby’s brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant.
Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.
Ivo Stourton – The Happier Dead (Solaris Books)
In the very near future the rich are able to extend their lives indefinitely, but the price of eternal youth is one that they can get others to pay. A political thriller, crime novel and stunning SF story.
The Great Spa sits on the edge of London, a structure visible from space. The power of Britain on the world stage rests in its monopoly on “The Treatment”, a medical procedure which can transform the richest and most powerful into a state of permanent physical youth. The Great Spa is the place where the newly young immortals go to revitalise their aged souls. In this most important and secure of facilities, a murder of one of the guests threatens to destabilise the new order, and DCI Oates of the Metrolpolitan police is called in to investigate. In a single day Oates must unravel the secrets behind the Treatment and the long ago disappearance of its creator, passing through a London riven with disorder and corruption, where adverts are transmitted directly into the imagination. As a night of widespread rioting takes hold of the city he moves towards a final climax which could lead to the destruction of the Great Spa, his own ruin, and the loss of everything he holds most dear.
Jonathan Wood – No Hero (Titan Books)
“What would Kurt Russell do?” Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He’s a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals. But then, secretive government agency MI37 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO! Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?
Rjurik Davidson – Unwrapped Sky (Tor)
Caeli-Amur: an ancient city perched on white cliffs overlooking the sea; a city ruled by three Houses, fighting internecine wars; a city which harbours ancient technology and hidden mysteries. But things are changing in Caeli-Amur. Ancient minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun. The slightly built New-Men bring their technology from their homeland. Wastelanders stream into the city hideously changed by the chemical streams to the north. Strikes break out in the factory district.
In a hideout beneath the city, a small group of seditionists debate ways to overthrow the Houses. How can they rouse the citizens of the city? Should they begin a campaign of terror? Is there a way to uncover the thaumaturgical knowledge that the Houses guard so jealously? As the Houses scramble to maintain their rule, it becomes clear that things will change forever in Caeli-Amur.
Nnedi Okorafor – Lagoon (Hodder & Stoughton)
Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before.
But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways never imagined. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves.
‘There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.
Stephanie Saulter – Binary (Jo Fletcher Books)
Zavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.
Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.
Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after – not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…
Jared Shurin (ed) – The Rite of Spring (Jurassic London)
1913 was a year of violent change. Around the world there were revolutions, strikes, assassinations and civil war. The Rite of Spring features stories in a world that’s coming of age – entering a tumultuous adolescence on the way to its terrifying maturity.
The stories of The Rite of Spring take place in the same shared setting as 1853, A Town Called Pandemonium, Ash and the forthcoming The Streets of Pandemonium. The Rite of Spring can be read on its own or part of the series.
Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres (Angry Robot Books)
Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller.
When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter.
Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path…
Morningside Fall by Jay Posey (Angry Robot Books)
The lone gunman Three is gone, and Wren is the new governor of the devastated settlement of Morningside, but there is turmoil in the city. When his life is put in danger, Wren is forced to flee Morningside until he and his retinue can determine who can be trusted.
They arrive at the border outpost, Ninestory, only to find it has been infested with Weir in greater numbers than anyone has ever seen. These lost, dangerous creatures are harbouring a terrible secret – one that will have consequences not just for Wren and his comrades, but for the future of what remains of the world.
Jonathan Strahan – The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eight (Solaris Books)
The best of the year’s Science Fiction and Fantasy stories as selected by the multiple award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan. The series moves to its new publishing home, Solaris, with this eighth annual volume of the celebrated and popular series.
DISTANT WORLDS, TIME TRAVEL, EPIC ADVENTURE, UNSEEN WONDERS AND MUCH MORE!
The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multiple award winning editor Jonathan Strahan. This highly popular series now reaches volume eight and will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents.
Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Robets, Ellen Klages, and many many more.
With this volume the series comes to a new home at Solaris, publishers of Jonathan Strahan’s award-winning original Infinities SF anthologies and the and Fearsome fantasy anthologies.
Karen Lord – The Galaxy Game (Jo Fletcher Books)
For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning – and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite.
But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution – involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.
A fast-paced, droll and disturbing novel, Barricade is a savage road trip across the dystopian landscape of post-apocalypse Britain; narrated by the cold-blooded yet magnetic antihero, Kenstibec, who is set to be the new Takeshi Kovacs.
Christopher Golden – Snowblind (Horror, Headline)
Snowblind is a thrilling contemporary ghost story with both horror and heart. The small New England town of Coventry is haunted by its memories of a deadly winter… in which loved ones were lost, families torn apart, and a town buried in a terrible blizzard. Now, twelve years later, the people plagued by their memories of that storm are haunted once again as a new storm approaches, promising to wreak new havoc. Old ghosts trickle back, and this storm will prove even more terrifying and deadly than the last. With richly textured characters, scarred and haunted by the ghosts of those they loved most, Snowblind reinvents the ghost story for today’s world. Spellbinding in scope and rooted deeply in classic storytelling, Christopher Golden has wrintten a chilling masterpiece that is the best work of his career and a standout supernatural thriller.
For the scouts of Troop 52, three days of camping, hiking and survival lessons on Falstaff Island is as close as they’ll get to a proper holiday.
Which was when he saw it.
But when an emaciated figure stumbles into their camp asking for food, the trip takes a horrifying turn. The man is not just hungry, he’s sick. Sick in a way they have never seen before.
Which was when he screamed.
Cut off from the mainland, the troop face a terror far worse than anything they could have made up around a campfire. To survive they will have to fight their fears, the elements … and eventually each other.
Alison Littlewood – The Unquiet House (Jo Fletcher Books)
Mire House is dreary, dark, cold and infested with midges. But when Emma Dean inherits it from a distant relation, she immediately feels a sense of belonging.
It isn’t long before Charlie Mitchell, grandson of the original owner, appears claiming that he wants to seek out his family. But Emma suspects he’s more interested in the house than his long-lost relations.
And when she starts seeing ghostly figures, Emma begins to wonder: is Charlie trying to scare her away, or are there darker secrets lurking in the corners of Mire House?
But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.
It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.