Tue
Feb 28 2012 5:00pm
Fiction Affliction: March Releases in Science Fiction

Dear publishers and sci-fi authors: This is just epic sadness. Only eight new SF books hit the shelves in March, and it can’t just be because we sent the steampunks, alt history and weird west over to the “Genre Benders” listings (coming up tomorrow). Where, oh where, has the science fiction gone? On a positive note, C.J. Cherryh and David Weber bring new entries into their long-running (respective) Foreigner and Honor Harrington series’, and John Joseph Adams takes on armored warfare in an interesting new anthology.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.

WEEK ONE

Intruder (Foreigner, Book 13), by C.J. Cherryh (March 6, DAW)

In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization, has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida. But now he is trapped inside Najida—which has been surrounded by enemies—with the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabiniaiji, atevi leader of the Western Association.

Jane Carver of Waar, by Nathan Long (March 6, Night Shade)

Jane Carver is nobody’s idea of a space princess. A hard-ridin’, hard-lovin’ biker chick and ex-Airborne Ranger, Jane is as surprised as anyone else when, on the run from the law, she ducks into the wrong cave at the wrong time—and wakes up naked on an exotic alien planet light-years away from everything she’s known. Waar is a savage world of four-armed tiger-men, sky-pirates, slaves, gladiators, and purple-skinned warriors in thrall to a bloodthirsty code of honor and chivalry. Caught up in a disgraced nobleman’s quest to win back the hand of a sexy alien princess, Jane encounters wonders unlike anything back home. Then again, Waar has never seen anyone like Jane.

A Rising Thunder (Honor Harrington, Book 13), by David Weber (March 6, Baen)

After a brutal attack on the Manticoran home system, Honor Harrington and the Star Kingdom she serves battle back against a new, technologically powerful, and utterly nefarious enemy. And as if that weren’t task enough, Honor must also face down a centuries-old nemesis in the crumbling, but still mighty, Solarian League.

 

WEEK TWO

The Games, by Ted Kosmatka (March 13, Del Rey)

This debut from Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist Ted Kosmatka is a tale of science cut loose from ethics, set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event. Silas Williams is the geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: no human DNA is permitted in the design of the entrants. Silas lives and breathes genetics; his designs have led the United States to the gold in every previous event. But the other countries are catching up. Now, desperate for an edge, Silas’s boss engages an experimental supercomputer to design the genetic code for a gladiator that cannot be beaten. The result is a highly specialized killing machine. Not even Silas, with all his genius and experience, can understand the horror he had a hand in making.

Starters, by Lissa Price (March 13, Delacorte)

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters and fighting off renegades. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for money, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party. First in a new series. Young Adult.

 

WEEK THREE

No releases.

 

WEEK FOUR

Armored, edited by John Joseph Adams (March 27, Baen)

From Starship Troopers and Iron Man to Halo and Mechwarrior, readers and gamers have long been fascinated by the idea of going to battle in suits of personal, powered combat armor or giant mechs. This anthology explores the range of what can be done with the trope, from the near-future powered exoskelton technologies we might be seeing just a few years from now, to the combat armors of Starship Troopers and Halo, to the giant bipedal mechs of Mechwarrior. Includes work by Ian Douglas, Jack Campbell, David Klecha and Tobias S. Buckell, Dan Abnett, Jack McDevitt, Simon R. Green, Michael A. Stackpole, Tanya Huff, Ethan Skarstedt and Brandon Sanderson, Carrie Vaughn, Lauren Beukes, Robert Buettner, and others.

Body, Inc., by Alan Dean Foster (March 27, Del Rey)

In a world wounded by centuries of environmental damage, two unlikely souls join forces: Dr. Ingrid Seastrom has stumbled into a mystery involving quantum-entangled nanoscale implants—a mystery that just may kill her. Whispr is a thief and murderer whose radical body modifications have left him so thin he is all but two-dimensional. Whispr has found a silver data-storage thread, a technology that will make him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. He is also going mad with longing for Dr. Seastrom. Their quest to learn the secrets of the implant and the thread—which may well be the same secret—has led them to the South African Economic Combine, otherwise known as SAEC. Or, less respectfully, SICK. SICK, it seems, has the answers. Unfortunately, SICK has also got Napun Molé, a cold-blooded assassin whose genetic enhancements make him the equivalent of a small army.

Omega Point (Richards & Klein, Book 2), by Guy Haley (March 27, Angry Robot)

The powerful artificial intelligence designated k52 has a plan to take over the world. If it were to create an artificial reality based on our own universe it could theoretically gain enough data to be able to alter reality itself, turning k52 into the ultimate arbiter of mankind’s fate. It’s down to Richards and Klein to stop k52—even though the alternative could be worse.


 

Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street on April 10 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.

35 comments
Suzanne Johnson
2. SuzanneJohnson
@PrinceJvstin...Yeah, it was a seriously light month. Lots of the "genre-bender" titles that will run on tomorrow's list, though--the alt histories and dystopians.
JDK
3. JDK
Is SF going the way of the Western?

Sad. Very sad.
JDK
4. Petar Belic
If SF has never been about 'predicting' the future, it sure as hell is about extrapolation of current science and trends into the future.

The problem with this, for science fiction writers, is that getting a gestalt at least for the present level of technological development - and then building from there - is a lot of hard work.

Research, then thinking, then inspiration. Or the other way around. It used to be easier. Look at what SF authors could get away with in the fifties and sixties!

I think writing good SF is now harder, and I only have sales figures and the paucity of good SF to back up my claim. Writers who were never scientists have given up and turn to just writing fantasy. Writers who were scientists, or at least leaning that way are writing less fiction because to be honest, the reality - right now - is more interesting than what is being written by SF's 'futurists'.

And if you have devoted your life to having a better understanding about science or tech, its not necessarily going to make you a good writer.

For the last few years now I have been interested in the 3D printing tech and grassroots community. Devoting hours to this new tech, experimenting, researching has all taken up time. Time that I could have spent writing. But without experience in the cutting edge, could I write about it? Without understanding current trends and 'state of the art' am I in a position to extrapolate? But the time taken gaining that knowledge and experience may have an inverse effect on my writing skills or motivation to write. It's a paradox that's increasingly difficult to break through. But it may be one aspect of a broader malaise.

Look at the Nebula awards. I think they are pretty indicative that SF is turning inwards, and failing to engage with the broader public.

The hunger for SF is still there. This is self-evident in a number of enterainment channels we have today; gaming, movies, series, etc. It's just that the SF 'literary' establishment - including writers - has simply failed to keep up.

Once being an SF writer often meant you were ahead of the curve. When Gibson et al loudly proclaimed with a somewhat shrill voice that they don't use a computer/email/substitute other new technology here, there is a disconnect from the promise of SF and public experience and expectation with what SF is about.

Work and research needs to be done. Risks need to be taken. Then comes the writing. I think it's just getting harder and harder.
Suzanne Johnson
5. SuzanneJohnson
@Petar...Really, really excellent points. I think the reality of science and technology is barreling along at such a fast pace, it's hard for a writer to keep up with the changes and extrapolate what might happen. By the time a book makes it to print, "reality" may have zoomed past. It might be one reason steampunk and dystopians have become so popular--one reimagines the past and the other can only imagine a future where we've pretty much eaten ourselves alive. Then again, I might be reading too much Dark Tower these days :-)
JDK
6. Nathan Long
Yes, but what there is, is choice. Especially that second one....
JDK
7. Tehanu
In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization, has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida. But now he is trapped inside Najida—which has been surrounded by enemies—with the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabiniaiji, atevi leader of the Western Association.
? Are you sure this is the right description of the new book? Because this is what happened several books back. Or is it happening again with different enemies?
Suzanne Johnson
8. SuzanneJohnson
@Tehanu...Um...I haven't read this series, but that's the blurb copy released by DAW. I double-checked both Amazon and Goodreads, who have this copy. But B&N doesn't have any book descriptions, so maybe that was filler copy that never got changed? Her website hasn't been updated in a couple of years.

Anyone out there know if there's a different blurb floating around for this book?
Liz J
9. Ellisande
re: Intruder

I had to go look because I could've sworn I'd read more to it than that! That's just the first part of the blurb, so as Tehanu says, it describes what happened in the first book of this .. cycle? I'm not quite sure how many are supposed to make up this arc. (It's book 13, but that's broken into separate trilogies/arcs)

But anyway the rest of the blurb according to the description at Amazon should read:
-----------
Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, is not inclined to be passive and sends Bren
into enemy territory, to the palace of the leader of the rebels.

Bren's mission is to negotiate with Machigi-a young atevi lord who has never actually seen a human-and somehow persuade him to cease his hostile actions against the west. Is Bren a shrewd enough negotiator to stay alive, and not alienate Ilisidi or Tabini, while also representing the interests of their enemy?
----------------
I hope there is poisoning and gunfire as well as negotiations.
Peter Hollo
10. raven
Petar, broadly agree, but not sure what you mean about Gibson et al. You mean the Gibson who's @GreatDismal, had a blog for a long time, has written about humourously and illuminating about his early eBay addiction etc? Sure, he once said he didn't use the internet - a long time ago...
Andrew Liptak
11. JediTrilobite
Hm, I think you missed a couple: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/blog/science-fiction-and-fantasy/10-sci-fi-and-fantasy-books-march/
Suzanne Johnson
12. SuzanneJohnson
@JediTrilobite--Thanks for the link! I missed one or two--most of them are going to show up on the genre-benders list later today, or urban fantasy, or were on the fantasy list. But that's a great resource--will have to remember to cross-check the Kirkus list.
JDK
13. Petar Belic
Raven, I am aware that Gibson has embraced his lovely 'net'! And how! I remember reading his blogs from Singapore back in the day.

However, when he, and other writers in the 80s, seemed to be rejecting the very technology they were commenting on, I felt something was very wrong with contemporary SF.

I am not saying direct engagement is always necessary for comment. But without the experience, without being immersed, I feel it becomes increasingly difficult to be relevant.
JDK
14. jlassen
Jonathan Strahan's Best SF and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 7 is a March Book from Night Shade.

Definately SF.
Suzanne Johnson
15. SuzanneJohnson
@jlassen. Yes, it's a March 6 release, I think. I stuck it under "genre-benders" (which just posted) since it contains both SF and fantasy. Ah, these genre labels :-)
JDK
16. -dsr-
Also worth noting that the Weber doesn't end -- it just stops. Cut in the middle (or thirds?) by publisher fiat and auctorial wordiness.
JDK
17. James Davis Nicoll
What are your primary sources for upcoming SF? I know I've never noticed a Haikasoru book go by and some of those are defintely SF. If that's not just me being inattentive it suggests there are SF books you are missing.
Suzanne Johnson
18. SuzanneJohnson
@James Davis Nicoll...I'm know I do miss some, so please toss 'em out here when you see them. I cross-reference Locus, Amazon releases for the month in question, Goodreads, RT Book Reviews, and Barnes & Noble releases for the month in question. I try to avoid reprints, digital-only editions, graphic novels, most media-tie-ins, though I'm starting to include some omnibus editions. I don't include very small publishers (i.e., the last Haikasoru book I can find was released in August 2011 by VIZ Media, which is not a publisher I generally cover since they do mostly graphic/manga releases).

Unfortunately, these columns get turned in well ahead of when they run and release dates change, which means things fall through the cracks (if what I have as an April 1 release moves to March 25, for example, after the March columns have already run). If there are other sources you think would yield more complete results, I'm all ears!
JDK
19. James Davis Nicoll
The last Haikasoru book I can find was released in August 2011 by VIZ
Media, which is not a publisher I generally cover since they do mostly
graphic/manga releases

See, this is why when I reviewed all the Haikasoru books then in print last year , my introductory bit came to include this line:

Added note: these are not manga but novels.

This is because the Haikasoru line is for Japanese fantasy and SF novels translated into English and yet people insisted on perceiving them as manga. This is a point I've seen bookstores - specifically Chapters-Indigo, Canada's nigh-monopolistic book chain - miss (and it doesn't help that their catalog lumps the Haikasoru novels in with Viz's manga).

It's probably unfair to describe the Haikasoru books as "Nick Mamatas's selection of the best of the Seiun Award". Anyway, they range across genres, from the hard SF of THE NEXT CONTINENT to the horror of Otsuichi and actually not all of them are novels (some are collections) but they are all prose.

I got hooked on them when I flipped through THE NEXT CONTINENT and found A: a discussion of space flight and orbital mechanics that didn't make me want to book a flight to Japan to beat the author with a text on orbital mechanics, and B: this line:

As Sohya gazed out on the sparkling waters, he was struck by how bright the future seemed. Yes, life was good.

Bear in mind that US SF is very unlikely to have a line like that (unless it is ironic contrast just before the zombies attack). When I was sent Partials to read, Partials having a blurb that reads in part

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.


not only was that not the most depressing sounding book I'd gotten in the previous year, it was not even in the top three most depressing sounding book I'd read in the previous four days. At least it didn't have any plucky and sympathetic transsexuals tortured, eaten and killed - in that order - by cannibalistic Koreans, which by the way is my new baseline for how off-putting an SF book is. "Well," I say to myself, "the author may have the grasp of astronomy a kindergartener would be failed for, their politics may be so conservative Bishop Strachan would have been embarassed to be associated with them, the list of crimes against humanity the protagonists commit would make Lucas Trask pale and roughly 72% of the book consists of lists of things in the protagonist's desk but at least it didn't have any plucky and sympathetic transsexuals tortured, eaten and killed - in that order - by cannibalistic Koreans."

Admittedly not all of the Haikasoru books are upbeat - the adults in Loups Garous are useless, the course schedule in Battle Royale is of dubious utility at best, the health care system in Harmony can occasionally be a bit intrusive - any book at all where people are presented with non-military problems that that they then overcome with careful thought and effort without the solution involving, oh, brains on the ceiling or a glorious return to feudalism is a charming novelty and apparently enough to get me to collect the entire line.




1: Will I remember to actually include the link?
http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/?skip=20&tag=haikasoru

2: What's even more funny is when an author who probably prides themselves on being a progressive, open-minded sort of fellow expresses in their fiction views on the naturally tinted populations of the world that would fit right in with anything Cecil Rhodes would have approved of. Entertain yourselves by speculating about which Hugo-nominated author I mean.
JDK
20. James Davis Nicoll
By the way, I also have an unsolicited rant about mysteries which includes the line "Please, when you have your DA go for and get the death penalty in every case where the defendent inexplicably lives long enough for the trial to end, check to make sure you have not set your story in a court system that has not handed down a death sentence since the days when Bobby Darin was winning Grammys."
JDK
21. Shellywb
Oh, this is funny. I just mentioned Haikasoru on the fantasy thread. They did actually have a release in January, and ones coming in March and May that look exciting. I personally just bought 4 of them and am really enjoying the variety. And I'm also enjoying the fact that they're not exactly written in the Western tradition, which for me at least ties into sf and the idea of new worlds and cultures.
JDK
22. James Davis Nicoll
Hmmm. Two Noriko Ogiwara novels and two Miyuki Miyabe novels, by any chance?
JDK
23. Elsewhen Press
You also missed Awakenings, an anthology of new speculative fiction. 15 short stories from 7 (mostly new) authors, including science fiction and fantasy. The new science fiction authors included are clearly destined for great things. Check it out at http://bit.ly/ReAwakenings
Suzanne Johnson
24. SuzanneJohnson
Thanks for the additions, guys! I'm probably never going to catch the small-press offerings, so feel free to add them.
JDK
25. lavanya
hi suzanne,
i agree.. this month's sf releases are pathetic. but there's still CJ cherryh. btw, the ARC for a Rising Thunder (Weber; Honor Harrington) has been up for ages now on Baen Books, so it's not really a "new" release for die-hard Honor fans. that said, it's SO much better than the last few Honor books.
I'm sure you know this, but just in case, here's a very useful list -
http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.in/p/upcoming-releases.html
Lavanya
PS: Any chance of getting my sweaty paws on an ARC of your book? or do i have to wait (pout, pout) till april? I swears to review it on good-reads or amazon, whatever works!
Suzanne Johnson
26. SuzanneJohnson
@lavanya....Thanks for the link--I'll have to cross-check that with my lists each month. I don't have any more ARCs of Royal Street, but I think it's still up on NetGalley! Only four more weeks till launch... :-)
JDK
27. Shellywb
@James, I was actually bringing up their March release which falls under fantasy, The Navidad Incident by Natsuki Ikezawa. I haven't yet read the ones you mentioned, though they're on my list to buy. I'm currently reading Usurper of the Sun by Housuke Nojiri because I wanted some old-fashioned hard sf.
JDK
28. James Davis Nicoll
Oh, Usurper would have been my first Haikasoru if I had not left my wallet at home that day. It's the one with this disclaimer:

While I tried to keep the science of space travel in the story as realistic as possible, I admit there are a few spots that require the readers to stretch their imaginations. One examples would be the accelerations and speeds achieved by the ships in the story, which are nearly impossible even for a nuclear-powered propulsion system.

He's talking about delta-vees in the tens of kilometers per second. How limiting it is for an SF author to languish under a comprehension of how rockets, even very good ones, work.

If you like Usurper, try Nojiri's comedic Rocket Girls series - part of the on-going effort by Japanese authors to demonstrate that there are few important human activities that could not be made even more awesome by the addition of one or more high-schoolgirls, and Ogawa's The Next Continent, a diamond-hard SF novel about building a facility on the Moon.
JDK
29. James Davis Nicoll
Over at John Scalzi's blog, he just had a Big Idea from Chris Gerrib about Gerrib's book Pirates of Mars, which appears to be a March 2012 release.

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/03/02/the-big-idea-chris-gerrib/

I have not read it myself but it's SF and a March book.
Suzanne Johnson
30. SuzanneJohnson
@James Davis Nicoll...Good catch! Looks like Pirates of Mars released digitally in February by a small publisher, Hadley Rille Books, but did become available in print on March 1. Here's the publisher's info: Lieutenant Peter Grant of the Volunteer Space Rescue Service is taken hostage by pirates, who are holding him for ransom. The Rescue Service can't afford to pay a ransom and is not equipped for an armed rescue. Fellow Rescueman, Jack Williams, unwilling to violate Rescue tradition and leave a person behind, decides to improvise a rescue.
JDK
31. James Davis Nicoll
We seem to be in a golden age of interplanetary adventure stories. Just off the top of my head, in the last couple of years I have run into Pirates of Mars, The Quiet War, The Moon Maze Game, The Highest Frontier,
Rocket Girls, Rocket Girls: the Last Planet, The Next Continent, The Ouroboros Wave, Platinum Moon, Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Back to the Moon, The Quantum Thief, Gardens of the Sun, Up Against It, Usurper of the Sun, Winning Mars and Threshold. Oh, and Blue Remembered Earth. And 2312. And I am sure I forgot some.
JDK
32. lavanya
that's fine suzanne. i checked amazon - what, no ebook??? i'll have to wait a little longer than april then as i'm in india. these geographical restrictions make absolutely no sense to me ...does it still take six months for the publisher to swim all the way across the atlantic and assorted oceans? you might want to let your publishers know that there is a market for fantasy/sf/urban fantasy in india.
Suzanne Johnson
33. SuzanneJohnson
@lavanya...Aw, sorry. It's available via ebook for Kindle and Nook in the U.S., but looks like only the trade paperback's available elsewhere. I didn't realize the ebooks were so geographically limited.
JDK
34. James Davis Nicoll
I forgot Cage of Zeus.
JDK
35. PhilJ
I don't think this month's releases are that bad. Also, I am pretty satisfied with the current state of SF. As a matter of fact, I am reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline right now and it is BRILLAINT. If you are a child of the 80s geek then it hits all the right spots! :-)

As for this month's releases; an anthology by John Joseph Adams always makes for a good month!

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