Now that we’re at the halfway mark for the year, I thought it would appropriate to point out all the novels coming out from August-December that strike my fancy. I’ll be breaking my posts down by publisher. Below are the novels coming this Fall and Winter from Night Shade, Angry Robot, Baen, and Pyr that will be must reads for me. I’ll mention that there are likely some books from November and December here that aren’t currently listed on the publisher’s websites that I’ll end up wanting (Anne Lyle’s Merchant of Dreams is an example). Either way, I can’t read them all. So I’ll be looking forward to seeing what interests you.
Here’s what caught my eye:
The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton (NSB – August)
1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex–has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.
Pembroke “Pimm” Hanover is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses his keen powers of observation to assist the police or private individuals–at least when he’s sober enough to do so. Ellie Skyler, who hides her gender behind the byline “E. Skye,” is an intrepid journalist driven by both passion and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.
When Pimm and Skye stumble onto a dark plot that links the city’s most notorious criminal overlord with the Queen’s new consort, famed scientist Sir Bertram Oswald, they soon find the forces of both high and low society arrayed against them. Can they save the city from the arcane machinations of one of history’s most monsters–and uncover the shocking origin of . . . THE CONSTANTINE AFFLICTION.
It seems like Victorian London is the new cat’s pajamas. It’s everywhere — like herpes. What attracts me to this novel, and believe it or not it’s not herpes, is the gender bending conceit. It just feels unique, something Night Shade has become adept at publishing.
The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer (NSB – October)
Dev is a desperate man. After narrowly surviving a smuggling job gone wrong, he’s now a prisoner of the Alathian Council, held hostage to ensure his friend Kiran — former apprentice to one of the most ruthless mages alive — does their bidding.
But Kiran isn’t Dev’s only concern. Back in his home city of Ninavel, the child he once swore to protect faces a terrible fate if he can’t reach her in time, and the days are fast slipping away. So when the Council offers Dev freedom in exchange for his and Kiran’s assistance in a clandestine mission to Ninavel, he can’t refuse, no matter how much he distrusts their motives.
Once in Ninavel the mission proves more treacherous than even Dev could have imagined. Betrayed by allies, forced to aid their enemies, he and Kiran must confront the darkest truths of their pasts if they hope to save those they love and survive their return to the Tainted City.
Schafer’s debut novel, The Whitefire Crossing, was one of my favorite finds of last year. It came out of nowhere as one of the first novels released from Night Shade’s New Voices Program. The story was a pretty straight forward travelogue from one city to another with the author’s passion for mountaineering bleeding through on every page. I really can’t wait to read this one.
Rapture by Kameron Hurley (NSB – November)
After years in exile, Nyxnissa so Dasheem is back in action in service to the bel dames, a sisterhood of elite government assassins tasked with eliminating deserters and traitors. The end of a centuries-long holy war between her country, Nasheen, and neighboring Chenja has flooded the streets of Nasheen with unemployed – and unemployable – soldiers whose frustrations have brought the nation to the brink of civil war.
Not everyone likes this tenuous and unpredictable “peace,” however, and somebody has kidnapped a key politician whose death could trigger a bloody government takeover. With aliens in the sky and revolution on the ground, Nyx assembles a team of mad magicians, torturers, and mutant shape-shifters for an epic journey across a flesh-eating desert in search of a man she’s not actually supposed to kill.
The only problem?
Killing is the only thing Nyx is good at. And she already left this man to die…
Kameron Hurley’s first novel, God’s War, has one of the more fascinating roads to publication. I won’t go into it here, but the takeaway is that it’s an incredibly difficult book to categorize and therefore to market. It’s also fucking incredible. To quote a big-six fantasy author, the ideas in it are “China Miéville level”. Sure, it suffered from some storytelling hiccups, but that wasn’t enough to hold it back from being one of the best first novels of 2011 and maybe one of the best novels period.
Also released last year, was Hurley’s second novel, Infidel, which I actually found even better than the first. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I’m frothing to get my hands on Rapture. You should be too.
After spending most of his life in captivity and solitude, Sarmin now sits upon the Petal Throne of Cerana. But his reign is an uneasy one. Ambitious generals and restless soldiers want war at any cost. An insidious foreign religion stirs fear among the people and the court. And the emperor’s own heart is torn between two very different women: Mesema, a Windreader princess of the northern plains, and Grada, a lowborn untouchable with whom Sarmin shares a unique bond. A natural-born mage, Sarmin also carries within him a throng of bodiless spirits whose conflicting memories and desires force him to wage a private battle for his sanity.
In times past, a royal assassin known as the Emperor’s Knife served as the keen edge of justice, defending the throne from any and all menaces, but the last Knife has perished and his successor has yet to be named. For his own safety, and that of the empire, Sarmin must choose his own loyal death-dealer . . . .but upon whom can be he bestow the bloody burden of the Knife-Sworn?
Three sequels in a row from Night Shade! They really had a tremendous 2011. I haven’t been as impressed with their 2012 debuts, a fact that should take nothing away from what they’re doing as a publisher. Knife Sworn picks up where The Emperor’s Knife left off.
In my read through of the first novel, I discovered that Mazarkis Williams writes an understated style that layers tension. My main criticism of it related to that subtleness in the lack of foreshadowing for the major reveal. I’m hoping Williams cranks up the volume a bit in this one.
Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura – a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.
When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be…
Superheroes seem to be en vogue this year, with Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin and Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennett also on the shelves.
Marius dos Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.
And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.
Just as soon as he stops running away.
The blurb seems to be leaving some things out because immediately I’m asking, why don’t they just keep the King they already have? I suppose it’s possible Marius tells them he’s not a King, but then why would he be able to find a King for them? I might be over analyzing this.
The idea of casting battlefield looters as main characters is great. These guys show up in every fantasy novel to one degree or another and it’s time they got their due. I’m looking forward to seeing what Battersby does with it.
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen – November)
Captain Ivan Vorpatril is happy with his relatively uneventful bachelor’s life of a staff officer to a Barrayaran admiral. Ivan, cousin to Imperial troubleshooter Miles Vorkosigan, is not far down the hereditary list for the emperorship. Thankfully, new heirs have directed that headache elsewhere, leaving Ivan to enjoy his life on Komarr, far from the Byzantine court politics of his home system. But when an old friend in Barrayaran intelligence asks Ivan to protect an attractive young woman who may be on the hit list of a criminal syndicate, Ivan’s chivalrous nature takes over. It seems danger and adventure have once more found Captain Vorpatril.
Tej Arqua and her half-sister and servant Rish are fleeing the violent overthrow of their clan on free-for-all planet Jackson’s Whole. Now it seems Tej may possess a hidden secret of which even she may not be aware. It’s a secret that could corrupt the heart of a highly regarded Barayarran family and provide the final advantage for the thugs who seek to overthrow Tej’s homeworld.
But none of Tej’s formidable adversaries have counted on Ivan Vorpatril. For behind Ivan’s facade of wry and self-effacing humor lies a true and cunning protector who will never leave a distressed lady in the lurch–up to and including making the ultimate sacrifice to keep her from harm: the treasured and hard-won freedom from his own fate as a scion of Barrayar.
My first, and only, Miles book was CryoBurn. I only read it because it was nominated for the Hugo. It impressed me with Bujold’s deft use of drama and humor. Given the huge back story associated with Miles I’ve been hesitant to pick up any of the other books in the series. I’m excited that this new one appears to be departing from that main arc. Sign me up.
London Eye by Tim Lebbon (Pyr – October)
Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. the rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.
But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. at great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.
Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.
Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside london, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. the toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends . . . and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.
The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper (Pyr – November)
Nothing can match the power of a single voice. . . .
Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peacekeeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship the Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a shipwide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a fabulous voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness. Complicating it all—an unreliable AI and an enigmatic man she met—and kissed—exactly once—who may hold the key to her success. If ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.
Like the historical evita Peron, ruby rises from the dregs of society to hold incredible popularity and power. Her story is about love and lust and need and a thirst for knowledge and influence so deep that it burns.
I first encountered Brenda Cooper’s work in Lou Anders’s first Fast Forward anthology. From what I understand her fiction always connects to music in some way. It’s an interesting point of view and something I’d like to explore a little bit more. I can’t say for sure that I’m going to enjoy Creative Fire. It doesn’t really seem like my bag, but I’m intrigued enough by the concept to find out.
The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley (Pyr – November)
An alternate 1895. . . a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.
It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.
But all is not well. . .
A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.
When tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.
What?! Victorian London, again? It seems like a combination of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, The Prestige, and Guy Fawkes. If it’s solely a pastiche of those things, it can’t be bad, right?
Anything catch your eye? Anything else from these imprints that I didn’t mention for the second half of the year?