So, the other day we told you about some of the books coming your way in July. But that wasn’t even half of the books we’ve got our eyes on for the hot summer month. So here are more books to look forward to.
Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine
David Levine’s first novel, Arabella of Mars, has just won the Andre Norton Award, and now here’s the sequel. The swashbuckling Lady Arabella Ashby must make her way to Venus, where her fiance has been captured by the French and held in a prisoner of war camp. But once on Venus, she discovers that Napoleon has a secret weapon, and unless she can stop him there will be nothing to prevent him taking over the entire galaxy.
Raid by K.S. Merbeth
This is high-octane adventure where the pace never lets up, set in a future wasteland where there is no law, no guarantees, and crime pays. Clementine is a bounty hunter who has the biggest crime lord in the wastelands bound and gagged in her car, and she can’t do anything with him. So the two set off on a high speed journey across a Mad Max-type landscape, while fending off all the desperate, dangerous bandits who are out to get them. Meanwhile, there are even bigger forces emerging, making their situation more desperate than either of them realise.
Sungrazer by Jay Posey
Book two of the Outriders series brings us yet more pulse-racing adventure. As the cold war between Earth and Mars threatens to heat up, a terrible weapon goes missing. Its a fully autonomous orbital strike vehicle, and it’s untrackable. That’s why the Outriders team of cloned super-soldiers is called in. But when the trail leads them to a powerful Martian republic, everything becomes more complicated. The first book in this military sf series was praised for its twisty plot and vivid creation of a crack black-ops outfit, and the new book looks like its more of the same.
Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe
Ten years ago, Christopher Rowe’s story, “The Voluntary State”, really captured the imagination of everyone who read it. Now that story is included in this new collection, along with a never-before-published sequel, “The Border State”, where Tennessee has cut itself off from the rest of the United States. Southern settings and dystopian images abound in the other eight stories in this collection also. It is a debut collection that makes it obvious why Christopher Rowe is recognised as one of the most inventive and interesting short story writers working today.
Afterlife by Marcus Sakey
FBI agent Will Brody is caught in a terrorist explosion. When he wakes up, he seems to be unharmed, until he looks around and realises that this Chicago is not the same place that he remembers. Meanwhile, the head of the FBI task force, and Will’s lover, is determined to get back together with him, even if he is dead. It’s not even been published yet, but the movie version of this book is already in the works. So it looks likely that this will be a major best seller, certainly one to catch up with early.
Best of British Science Fiction 2016 edited by Donna Scott
There have been periodic attempts in the past to produce a British best of the year anthology, none of which have lasted very long. But when you consider that this latest variation on a theme has managed to amass 24 stories in total, by authors including Peter F. Hamilton, Gwyneth Jones, Adam Roberts, Tricia Sullivan, Eric Brown and E.J. Swift, you realise that there is unquestionably the talent out there to make such an enterprise worth while. Be that as it may, this looks to be another best of the year volume that is worth your attention.
The Hole in the Moon by Margaret St Clair
It’s easy to get the impression that Golden Age science fiction was exclusively masculine, and that until Ursula K. Le Guin came on the scene there were hardly any women writers. That’s a myth that is easy to disprove, and one of the key sf writers, particularly of the 1950s and 60s, was Margaret St Clair. Under her own name she wrote a string of stories that often looked like colourful pulp adventures but which subtly undermined the traditions, usually generating a sense of claustrophobia, a narrowing of options, a feeling of entrapment. She also wrote stories under the name Idris Seabright, though these tended to veer towards fantasy. This splendid book is, apparently, the only collection of St Clair’s short stories now in print, so you really owe it to yourself to snap it up right away.
Armistice: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
For pretty much his entire career, Harry Turtledove has been rewriting American History, whether it is the South winning the Civil War or aliens invading in the middle of World War II. His latest historical reinvention sees the Cold War as being very far from cold. It is the early 1950s; tensions between America and the Soviet Union are worsening when President Harry Trumen launches a nuclear attack on Omsk, killing Stalin in the process. The result is anarchy throughout the Soviet empire, with rebellion in Poland and the Baltic states, while the Red Army descends into anarchy. But, in a narrative that ranges from Los Angeles to Korea, from Siberia to the centres of world power, the question remains: has Truman’s attack brought peace or increased chaos.
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn
A century after the environmental and economic collapse that destroyed the United States, the Coast Road region seems to be thriving. Here, birth control is mandatory, and each household earns the right to bear children only by proving that they are able to support them. Households are presented with banners to symbolise the fact that they have earned this privilege. A young investigator, still new to the job, is called on to look into the suspicious death of an outcast. What she finds will open up cracks in her world.
An Oath of Dogs by Wendy N. Wagner
Huginn is a densely forested world where the small community of farmers and mill workers is mostly concerned by the threat of eco-terrorism and the menace of Huginn’s sentient dogs. But within a week of her arrival on the planet, Kate Standish is convinced that the company she now works for murdered her boss. Not that anyone else is particularly bothered by this, until her persistent investigations uncover a conspiracy that could threaten them all.
An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton
In her previous collection of non-fiction, What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton gathered together a series of posts she had written for Tor.com, which together provided an engaged, accessible and entertaining guide to the wealth of science fiction that had inspired her. This second collection brings together the Tor.com posts she wrote between 2010 and 2013 which surveyed all of the winners and finalists for the Hugo Award from its inception in 1953 up to the year 2000. Informed and opinionated, these posts provide a vivid history of science fiction over the last half of the 20th century.
Finally, here’s something of an oddity. Flame Tree Publishing seems to make something of a habit of producing expensive-looking volumes, all embossed covers and gold foil, though at fairly common hardcover prices. Their latest (as usual, with no editor credited) is a collection of time travel stories. In the words of the publisher, this brings you “a constellation of tales, new and old, in a dazzling mix of classic and brand new writing with authors from around the world”. Though, given the rich history of time travel stories, it seems somewhat surprising that we have not heard of any one of the 16 contributing authors listed on their web site. Still, it is hard to make a complete mess of time travel, so the collection may still be worth looking at.
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.