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 are the Barnes & Noble science fiction and fantasy picks for July!
Vicky Peterwald: Target—Mike Shepherd
(June 24, Ace—Paperback)
Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Victoria Maria Teresa Inez Smythe-Peterwald, daughter of wealth and power, was raised to do little except be attractive and marry well. Then everything changed—her brother, her father’s favorite and the heir apparent, was killed in battle by Lieutenant Kris Longknife, daughter of the Peterwald’s longtime enemies. Vicky vowed revenge, but her skill set was more suitable for seduction than assassination, and she failed. Angry and disappointed, her father decided she needed military training and forced her to join the Navy.
Now Ensign Vicky Peterwald is part of a whole new world, where use of her ample charms will not lead to advancement. But her father is the Emperor, and what he wants he gets. What he wants is for Vicky to learn to be efficiently ruthless and deadly. Though the lessons are hard learned, Vicky masters them—with help from an unexpected source: Kris Longknife.
(July 1, Roc—Paperback)
Two million dollars… It’s the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of—enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.
The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting—and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you’re in business with him, there’s no backing out.
Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It’s a piece of something larger. Something sinister. Karyn’s crew and even Sobell himself are about to find out just how powerful it is…and how powerful it may yet become.
Monster Hunter Nemesis—Larry Correia
(July 1, Baen—Hardcover)
Agent Franks of the U.S. Monster Control Bureau is a man of many parts—parts from other people, that is. Franks is nearly seven feet tall and all muscle. He’s nearly indestructible. Plus he’s animated by a powerful alchemical substance and inhabited by a super-intelligent spirit more ancient than humanity itself. Sworn to serve and protect the United States of America from all monsters by one of the country’s founding fathers, Franks has only one condition to the agreement: no matter what the government learns of him, no matter what is discovered concerning his odd physiology or the alchemy behind the elixir that made him, the government is neverallowed to try and make more like him. Unfortunately, he has learned about Project Nemesis…
Now all bets are off, and Hell hath no fury like a monster betrayed. Particularly if that monster happens to be an undying killing machine capable of taking out vampires and werewolves with one hand tied behind his back.
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For—Frank Miller, Lynn Varley (Illustrator)
(July 8, Dark Horse Comics—Hardcover)
Dwight McCarthy should have known better, but he just couldn’t turn his back on Ava Lord. Once before, this sexy opportunity-seeker ditched him for a richer man, but when she calls him for a rendezvous at the seedy Kadie’s Club Pecos bar, he can’t resist, even if it means a beating and the promise of things much worse. Frank Miller’s second Sin City graphic novel conveys its hyper-noir reality with shadowy black-and-white, crisp dialogue, and intermittent violence.
The perfect accompaniment to the August 22nd release Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For film starring Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Stacy Keach, Eva Green, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Lady Gaga, and a host of other stars.
The Executioner’s Heart—George Mann
(July 8, Tor—Paperback)
It’s normal for Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, to be called to the scene of a crime, but this is the third murder in quick succession where the victim’s chest has been cracked open and their heart torn out. Bainbridge suspects there’s a symbolic reason for the stolen hearts, so he sends for supernatural specialist Sir Maurice Newbury and his determined assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes. Unfortunately, neither of them are in much shape to take the case. Hobbes has been hunting for some way to alleviate the mysterious forces that have been hounding her family of late, and Newbury has been retained by a private client: Edward, Prince of Wales, who’s concerned that his mother, the Queen of England, is losing her grip on the nation.
However, the two detectives pull together long enough to determine that the killings may be the work of a mercenary known as the Executioner. French, uncannily beautiful, her flesh covered in tattoos and inlaid with precious metals, the Executioner is famed throughout Europe, with legends going back for hundreds of years. Who is the Executioner targeting, and who hired her? Why has Veronica stopped trusting Bainbridge? What does the Prince of Wales really want? These are just some of the mysteries that Newbury and Hobbes will confront on the way to unearthing the secret of the Executioner’s Heart.
The Queen of the Tearling—Erika Johansen
(July 8, HarperCollins—Hardcover)
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend… if she can survive.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow—Thomas Sweterlitsch
(July 10, Putnam—Hardcover)
A decade has passed since the city of Pittsburgh was reduced to ash.
While the rest of the world has moved on, losing itself in the noise of a media-glutted future, survivor John Dominic Blaxton remains obsessed with the past. Grieving for his wife and unborn child who perished in the blast, Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the Archive—a fully interactive digital reconstruction of Pittsburgh, accessible to anyone who wants to visit the places they remember and the people they loved. Dominic investigates deaths recorded in the Archive to help close cases long since grown cold, but when he discovers glitches in the code surrounding a crime scene—the body of a beautiful woman abandoned in a muddy park that he’s convinced someone tried to delete from the Archive—his cycle of grief is shattered.
With nothing left to lose, Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the ruins of the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.
Half a King—Joe Abercrombie
(July 15, Del Rey—Hardcover)
“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge. Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could. But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds that his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.
Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin Series #11)—Jennifer Estep
(July 22, Pocket Books—Paperback)
Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target.
There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight…
Kill City Blues (Sandman Slim Series #5)—Richard Kadrey
(July 30, Harper Voy—Hardcover)
Another day, another apocalypse
James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in L.A. But he also lost the Qomrama Om Ya, an all-powerful weapon from the banished older gods. Older gods who are returning and searching for their lost power.
The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall—a global shopping paradise infested with Lurkers and wretched bottom-feeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of retail wasteland. Somewhere in this kill zone is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, recover the artifact, and outwit and outrun the angry old gods—and natural-born killers—on his tail.
But not even Sandman Slim is infallible, and any mistakes will cost him dearly.
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection—Gardner Dozois (Editor)
(July 15, Griffin—Hardcover)
In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self evident? The world of science fiction has long been a porthole into the realities of tomorrow, blurring the line between life and art. Now, in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection compiled by esteemed editor Gardner Dozois, the very best SF authors explore ideas of a new world in the year’s best short stories. This venerable collection brings together award winning authors and masters of the field such as Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Damien Broderick, Elizabeth Bear, Paul McAuley and John Barnes. And with an extensive recommended reading guide and a summation of the year in science fiction, this annual compilation has become the definitive must-read anthology for all science fiction fans and readers interested in breaking into the genre.
Traitor’s Blade—Sebastien de Castell
(July 15, Quercus—Hardcover)
With swashbuckling action that recall Dumas’ Three Musketeers Sebastien de Castell has created a dynamic new fantasy series. In Traitor’s Blade a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.
The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.
Seconds—Bryan Lee O’Malley
(July 15, Ballantine—Hardcover)
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over: 1. Write your mistake; 2. Ingest one mushroom; 3. Go to sleep; 4. Wake anew.
And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.
Also available: the Seconds Barnes and Noble Exclusive Edition, with special art by Bryan Lee O’Malley!
The Strain TV Tie-in Edition—Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan
(June 24, HarperCollins—Paperback)
In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months… the world.
At New York’s JFK Airport an arriving Boeing 777 taxiing along a runway suddenly stops dead. All the shades have been drawn, all communication channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of a CDC rapid-response team investigating biological threats, boards the darkened plane, and what he finds makes his blood run cold.
A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city, an unstoppable plague that will spread like an all-consuming wildfire—lethal, merciless, hungry… vampiric.
And in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem an aged Holocaust survivor knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here…
The House of the Four Winds: Book One of One Dozen Daughters—Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
(Aug 5, Tor—Hardcover)
The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain. Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.
Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.