Every year now, the Arthur C. Clarke Award receives well over 100 submissions. That’s a reasonable guide to the number of science fiction novels that are published in any year, isn’t it? Well, no; it barely scratches the surface. The number of sf books published in any one year now numbers in the thousands (when you factor in short story collections, new or reprint anthologies, stand-alone novellas, self-published books and so on, the figure just soars). Let’s just say, in the 1950s and possibly in the 1960s, a reasonably determined sf fan could read every novel and most of the short stories published in a year. Now it’s impossible. Now, if you read one book a day and keep that rate up for all 366 days of this leap year, you will still not even read a third of the books published in the year. Now, I guarantee that every one of us will miss out on major writers, on major books, on books we would love. If, as most of us do, you want to read other kinds of fiction from time to time, or non-fiction, or books you missed from earlier years, or re-read an old favourite, that just compounds the problem.
So we thought we would point out a few of the books we are looking forward to this year. These are books due to be published over the next few months that we are going to make an effort not to miss. September in particular looks like it is going to be an epic month for brilliant new sf.
Just Over the Horizon – Greg Bear (Open Road)
The first volume in the complete short fiction of Greg Bear, who is a master of the sf short story.
Azanian Bridges – Nick Wood (NewCon)
A first novel from a small press, but it’s already collecting enthusiastic praise from people like Ursula K. Le Guin, so it’s worth taking notice. It’s an alternate history set in a South Africa still under the control of apartheid, but one Bantu boy held in a psychiatric hospital suddenly acquires information that could change things radically.
The Corporation Wars: Dissidence – Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The first volume in a new trilogy which features sentient machines, interstellar exploration, and competing mining corporations. (The second volume is due in November.)
The Sudden Appearance of Hope – Claire North (Orbit)
After The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and Touch, Claire North has become one of the essential writers of sf, and this new novel ploughs the same sort of psychological territory with the story of a woman that we see all the time but never notice.
The Medusa Chronicles – Alastair Reynolds & Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
Okay, the two best hard sf writers working today come together to write a sequel to one of the best stories Arthur C. Clarke ever published, what’s not to like?
Babylon’s Ashes – James S.A. Corey (Orbit)
The latest in the ongoing Expanse series.
Time Siege – Wesley Chu (Tor)
We enjoyed Time Salvager, a glorious mash-up of future space adventure with time travel paradoxes, so we’re looking forward to seeing where this sequel takes us.
The Last Days of New Paris – China Mieville (DelRey)
Mieville’s second book of the year (after The Census Taker in February) is set in Paris where Nazis and resistance fighters are trapped in an unending surreal war.
Luna: Wolf Moon – Ian McDonald (Tor)
The sequel to Luna: New Moon, where corporate wars on the moon turn really nasty.
The Gradual – Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
A new Dream Archipelago novel. Priest has just been getting better and better with his recent novels so this has to be a must-read!
Revenger – Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
No details as yet, but this is Alastair Reynolds, so you know what to expect, and you know you want to read it.
Crosstalk – Connie Willis (Gollancz)
A new romantic comedy featuring high tech developments and a radical new procedure that lets you share the emotions of your lover.
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.