Twenty new releases appear on the science fiction shelves this month, with dystopians edging out aliens and what seems like a healthy number of new titles… unless, of course, one is looking for science fiction aimed at adult readers. (Missing a favorite? Check tomorrow’s “Genre-Bender” column.)
Look for new series releases from, among others, Jeff VanderMeer (Southern Reach Trilogy), Jody Lynn Nye (Imperium), Steven Gould (Jumper), Kass Morgan (The Hundred), Richard Paul Evans (Michael Vey), Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave), and Robison Wells (Blackout).
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown, navigating new terrain and new challenges, the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. The mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound, or terrifying.
Lieutenant Lord Thomas Kinago sets out from the Imperium homeworld for the Autocracy of the Uctu, a galactic region with an overlord known, eponymously, as the Autocrat. Thomas is on a mission for Mr. Frank, the head of the secret service. His crew’s assignment is to find out why shippers are being detained at checkpoints. It is all his trusted aid Parsons can do to keep his leader on course. Thomas’s newest interest is superstitions. While the Autocrat, a new and young Uctu female, finds Thomas a curious diplomat, she also likes him. Thomas needs free passage within the Uctu home system to investigate the illegal contraband trade. The smuggling ring is determined to cancel Thomas’s visit before he can cancel them. It’s up to Parsons to find a way to lead his master to victory, or at least keep him from getting himself killed by a determined enemy.
For decades, mankind has been locked in a war with an alien enemy that resembles the human race so closely they are known as the Sims. Both sides battle for control of habitable planets across the galaxies. Lieutenant Jander Mortas is fresh out of officer training and new to the war zone but eager to prove himself. Disaster strikes while he’s traveling to his first assignment. He wakes to find himself marooned on a planet that appears deserted, with the only other survivors: a psychoanalyst, a conscientious objector, and a bitter veteran of a brutal slave-scout detachment. As the group struggles to reach safety on a nearby base, Glory Main, they discover a Sim colony. They must fight the harsh elements, an ever-present enemy, and possibly each other. (Digital)
The New Las Vegas Sunfield will be one of many enormous solar farms to supply energy to the United States. The Sunfield generates an electromagnetic field so volatile that ordinary machinery and the simplest electronic devices must be kept miles away from it. The men who guard the power station do so on horseback. They are the Outriders. Though the power supplied by the Sunfield is widespread, access to that power comes with total deference to the iron-fisted will of New Las Vegas’s ruthless mayor, Franklin Dreg. Crisis erupts when Dreg’s secretary, Timothy Hale, discovers someone has been stealing energy, siphoning it out of the New Las Vegas grid under cover of darkness. With a potential crisis looming, the mysterious goal of the “Drainers” finally comes into focus. Only then do the Outriders realize how dangerous the situation really is.
Dr. Mackenzie “Mac” Connor’s goal in life is to be left in peace to study her salmon and their migration. She has no interest in the Interspecies Union, space travel, or the mysterious Chasm, an expanse of dead worlds filled with the ruins of alien civilizations. The only cloud on Mac’s horizon is having to meet with the Oversight Committee to defend any research intrusions into the protected zones on shore. There’s another, darker, migration underway, this time across space. What created the Chasm has awakened once more, to follow its imperative to feed on living worlds. Aliens have asked Mac to find that answer. She knows it may mean sacrificing all she loves, including Earth itself. The Chasm of the past was only a trial run, for this species intent on replacing all life with its own. And they’ve learned her name.
Duisberg is one of thousands of planets plunged into darkness and chaos by the collapse of the galactic republic. The people of Duisberg have a god: Zentrum, a supercomputer from the ancient past. Zentrum has decided to avoid another collapse by preventing civilization from rising from where it is. This is known as the Stasis. Zentrum has another tool: every few centuries the barbarians sweep in from the desert, slaughtering the educated classes and cowing the peasants back into submission. These are the Blood Winds. Abel Dashian has received into his mind the spirit of Raj Whitehall and of Center, the supercomputer which enabled Raj to shatter his planet’s barbarians. Abel must conquer the land of his origin and destroy the computer A.I. “god” who has doomed his world to an everlasting Dark Age. Abel is a heretic, but now he must go beyond and become, THE SAVIOR.
Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be, sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it’s hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you’re a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics. But Cent isn’t easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She’s going to make some changes in the world.
Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future—edited by Neal Stephenson, Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer (September 9, William Morrow)
An anthology of stories, set in the near future, from some of today’s leading writers, thinkers, and visionaries that reignites the iconic and optimistic visions of the golden age of science fiction. In his 2011 article “Innovation Starvation,” Neal Stephenson advanced the Hieroglyph Theory which illuminates the power of science fiction to inspire the inventive imagination. This anthology uniting twenty of today’s thinkers, writers, and visionaries, among them Cory Doctorow, Gregory Benford, Elizabeth Bear, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson, to contribute works of “techno-optimism” that challenge us to dream and do Big Stuff. Hieroglyph offers a forward-thinking approach to the intersection of art and technology that has the power to change our world.
Nature Futures 2: Science Fiction from the Leading Science Journal—edited by Colin Sullivan and Henry Gee (September 9, Tor)
One-hundred writers, including Neal Asher, Elizabeth Bear, Gregory Benford, Tobias Buckell, Brenda Cooper, Kathryn Cramer, David Langford, Tanith Lee, Ken Liu, Nick Mamatas, Norman Spinrad, Ian Stewart, Rachel Swirsky, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Ian Watson, offer their take on what the future will look like in this anthology of sci-fi short stories from the award-winning Futures column in the science journal Nature. (Digital)
Aliens have landed in New York. A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure? Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered. Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction, and not everyone is willing to wait.
Young Adult. No one has set foot on Earth in centuries, until now. It’s been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries, or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself. Secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can, together.
When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality, by cloning them at birth, which means this new Violet has the same smile, the same face. She even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced. She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school. That’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.
Young Adult. Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s, and Ostin’s. But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children. The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time.
Young Adult. How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity. Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race. Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
Young Adult. The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What’s worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding, and what it truly means to dream there.
Young Adult. It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite. Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources, and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?
Young Adult. In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race. Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. There are also the Skaldi. Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts. No one knows where they came from or what they are. If they’re not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity. Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi, and now he can’t remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi. If he can’t, he’s their next victim.
Young Adult. Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction? The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she’ll need the help of the teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that’s blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why.
They call it Company Town, a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes. Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats, seemingly from another timeline. Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability. Serial killer? Or something much, much worse?
Young Adult. It began with a virus. Then a series of attacks erupted across the nation. Now America is at war, and a handful of teens with impossible powers are its only defense. The invasion has begun, and a group of teens are caught in the crossfire. I volunteered to be a spy, not an assassin. I know this is war, but I just want to do what’s right. If you ask me, none of us should be here, but no one gave me a choice. And I won’t blindly follow orders. I am essential to the plan. And I will be a hero for my country. If I were normal, I wouldn’t be old enough to join the army. But I’m not normal. I’m a weapon. We’re a perfect match, on and off the battlefield. I hope that means we’ll both survive.