September is shaping up to be a month for the big names, with new books from Ann Leckie, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Dave Hutchinson among others. And that’s not counting the oddities of international publishing, which sees Adam Roberts’s new novel, The Real-Town Murders out in the UK this month, but not out in America until next Spring, or James Bradley’s highly acclaimed 2015 novel, Clade, which finally sees an American paperback edition.
Anyway, we’ve noticed so many books coming out this month that we’ve divided our list in two. The first 13 titles today, with another 13 to come in our next post.
Ember by Brock Adams
This is a really intriguing-looking debut novel (it won the South Carolina First Novel Prize). The sun is dying, and the United States, along with every other nuclear power on earth, fires its entire nuclear arsenal at the sun in the hope of rekindling it. While the world waits, it gets colder and colder, and when terrorists knock out the power grids, a freezing United States is also plunged into permanent darkness. As refugees make their way across an American South swathed in snow even at the height of summer, survival is in the balance.
The Bronze Skies by Catherine Asaro
The second volume in Asaro’s latest series set in the world of her Skolian Empire series is the story of Major Bhaajan, once an officer of the elite Imperial Space Command, now retired and working as a private investigator. She is hired to solve a murder that shouldn’t have been possible, because the murderer has an implant that should have prevented such a crime. But it happened, and the murderer could strike again, and so Bhaajan must return to the crushing poverty of the Undercity slums below the City of Cries.
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Fifteen years ago, the last human was killed, and now robots rule the world. Most of the robots are connected to the One World Intelligence, a shared consciousness that links them and controls them. But there are still rogue robots, unwilling to give up their individuality like this. One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot operating in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that was once the Midwest. An outcast whose mind and body are deteriorating, Brittle is haunted by horrifying memories of the war that wiped out humanity.
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
There have been a bunch of novels over the last few years in which women experience multiple versions of their lives. This is the latest variation on a theme that has so far produced some wonderful work. In this novel, Jane leads an ordinary, directionless life, until she receives an invitation to the glamorous mansion of Tu Reviens. But at Tu Reviens, her life takes a number of very different turns. She faces choices that could determine the course of her life, but each choice comes at a price.
Retrograde by Peter Cawdron
It is humanity’s greatest adventure: the establishment of a colony on Mars. A small, carefully selected group of scientists and doctors, engineers and astronauts have set up home deep under the surface of the red planet, safe from the harsh radiation that makes the surface uninhabitable. They are prepared for every eventuality, except one. What do they do when disaster strikes back home, on Earth?
Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
Here’s another reliable sf thriller from Peter Clines. It starts in a small town where nothing ever changes. Eli Teague stays because, twice before, the town had been visited by a mysterious stranger, a stranger who is armed with a flintlock rifle and drives a Model A Ford. Eli is hoping she will return, because maybe then he will solve the tantalising clues she offers. But when she does come back, he finds himself swept into a hell-for-leather chase that takes him across two centuries of American history; and the prize could be America’s future.
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
And another time travel adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Farway is the son of a time traveller from 2354AD and a gladiator from ancient Rome. He doesn’t belong anywhere in time, but when he fails the entrance exam for the government time travel programme, he has no alternative but to join a band of time travelling pirates stealing valuable from the past. Then, during a routine heist on the Titanic, he runs into a girl called Eliot, who leads Farway on a race to put time right.
Acadie by Dave Hutchinson
Hell, this is Dave Hutchinson, and we’ve got a year to wait before the final volume of his Fractured Europe series, so why wouldn’t you want to grab this novella? And he’s turned his attention to space opera, The Colony left Earth far behind to find a new paradise where they could conduct their genetic experiments unhampered by the old restrictions. But unaltered humans have tracked them across space, determined to wipe out the abomination that the genetic experiments hae produced.
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
This dystopia is already attracting comparisons with Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which is quite a lot to live up to. It’s set in a future where deadly, disease-bearing ticks have proliferated. What’s left of the United States has retreated behind a salt line that keeps the ticks out. But it’s a narrow, limited existence, so there are always adrenaline junkies who want to cross the salt line and experience life in the raw. But the latest such expedition finds itself held hostage by a bunch of hardy survivalists, and they then have to decide how far they will go to get back to the right side of the salt line.
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
There’s a different type of dystopia in this novel of near-future China. When the Chinese government imposed a One Child policy, most couples wanted to have a boy, for cultural reasons. As a result, by 2030 the state is overrun with unmarried men, and women are now allowed to take up to three husbands at a time. Wei-guo works hard to earn the dowry he needs to get a chance to become a third husband; but in a world where men are disposable, the state itself becomes the biggest threat to the family and the happiness he hopes to find.
Apex by Mercedes Lackey
This is the third and final volume in Lackey’s Hunter trilogy. Hunter Command are the chief defenders of Apex City against the monstrous Outsiders, but the powerful PsiCorp is trying to usurp their role. Joy the Hunter finds herself caught up in a deadly political game in which her only ally turns out to be the most cunning and treacherous of the Outsiders. But can she end the war and defeat the corrupt and evil PsiCorp at the same time?
Hainish Novels and Stories, Volume 1 by Ursula K. Le Guin
Hainish Novels and Stories, Volume 2 by Ursula K. Le Guin
How better to end this first selection of September’s book with the Library of America’s two latest volumes by Ursula K. Le Guin. Frankly, if you don’t have them already, these are absolutely essential books. Le Guin has returned to the story of the human colonisation of space again and again throughout her career, and the Hainish novels include the multi-award winning The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, undoubtedly among her very best work. Volume 1 includes the first five Hainish novels: Rocannon’s World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, along with four short stories. Volume 2 consists of the final two Hainish novels, The Word for World is Forest and The Telling, the collection Five Ways to Forgiveness, plus seven other stories. There are new introductions by Le Guin, plus a full colour chart of the known worlds of Hainish descent.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.