For over a decade, Barnes & Noble buyer Jim Killen has been a driving force behind Barnes & Noble’s science fiction and fantasy sections. Each month on Tor.com, Mr. Killen curates a list of science fiction & fantasy titles, sometimes focused on upcoming titles and sometimes focused on a theme.
Here’s the Barnes & Noble science fiction and fantasy picks for May.
Darth Vader & Son by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle, 4/18)
What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if Luke, I am your father was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith. Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist.
2312: A Novel by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 5/22)
The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.
Deadlocked: A Sookie Stachouse Novel by Charlaine Harris (Penguin Group, 5/1)
It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart. Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.
Gears of War: The Slab by Karen Traviss (Simon & Schuster, 5/8)
Marcus Fenix does the unthinkable: he defies orders and abandons his post during a critical battle in a bid to rescue his father, weapons scientist Adam Fenix. But Adam is buried in the rubble during a ferocious assault on the Fenix mansion, and Ephyra falls to the enemy. Marcus, grieving for a father everyone believes is dead, is court-martialed for dereliction of duty and sentenced to forty years in the Coalition of Ordered Government’s brutal maximum security prison, known simply as the Slab.
The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Obilvion by Walter Mosley (Tor, 5/8)
New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley delivers two speculative tales — in one volume — of everyday people exposed to life-altering truths. What if Prometheus walked among us? What if actors were obsolete? Versatile author Walter Mosley explores these SF concepts in two new short novels.
Invincible: Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier Series #2 by Jack Campbell (Penguin Group 5/1)
Continuing the deep-space adventures of Admiral John “Black Jack” Geary and company (Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught, 2011, etc.). Having defeated—or at least fought to a standstill—the alien “enigmas” in the previous book, Geary has taken his battered fleet through hyperspace only to run headlong into a second hostile alien race. While attempting to unravel the politics behind the Alliance’s orders that has brought him here, Geary must contend with a race that numbers in the tens of billions; worse, they have super-battleships vastly larger than anything he can bring to bear—and they have technology that can divert kinetic energy weapons.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow Paperback, 5/15)
The black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, former draft dodger and successful marijuana smuggler Richard Forthrast amassed a small fortune over the years—and then increased it a thousandfold when he created T’Rain. A massive, multibillion-dollar, multiplayer online role-playing game, T’Rain now has millions of obsessed fans from the U.S. to China. But a small group of ingenious Asian hackers has just unleashed Reamde—a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom—which has unwittingly triggered a war that’s creating chaos not only in the virtual universe but in the real one as well. Its repercussions will be felt all around the globe—setting in motion a devastating series of events involving Russian mobsters, computer geeks, secret agents, and Islamic terrorists—with Forthrast standing at ground zero and his loved ones caught in the crossfire.
Star Wars: Scourge by Jeff Grubb (Del Rey, 4/24)
While trying to obtain the coordinates of a secret, peril-packed, but potentially beneficial trade route, a novice Jedi is killed—and the motive for his murder remains shrouded in mystery. Now his former Master, Jedi archivist Mander Zuma, wants answers, even as he fights to erase doubts about his own abilities as a Jedi. What Mander gets is immersion into the perilous underworld of the Hutts as he struggles to stay one step ahead in a game of smugglers, killers, and crime lords bent on total control.
Acacia: The Acacia Trilogy, Book One by David Anthony Durham (Knopf, 4/12)
Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, has inherited generations of apparent peace and prosperity, won ages ago by his ancestors. A widower of high intelligence, he presides over an empire called Acacia, after the idyllic island from which he rules. He dotes on his four children and hides from them the dark realities of traffic in drugs and human lives on which their prosperity depends. He hopes that he might change this, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then a deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan in the heart of Acacia while they unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their own destiny.
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Tor, 4/24 Paperback)
It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him. When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.
Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird, and its practitioners include some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities. You won’t find any elves or wizards here...but you will find the biggest, boldest, and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.
Check back with us at the beginning of June for next month’s B&N Picks!