For over a decade, Jim Killen has served as the science fiction and fantasy book buyer for Barnes & Noble. Every month on The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog and Tor.com, Jim shares his curated list of the month’s can’t-miss new SF/F releases.
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi—Kevin Hearne
(March 3, LucasBooks—Hardcover)
Travel back with Luke Skywalker to the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back with the first Star Wars novel ever to be told from the future Jedi master’s first person point of view (and considering how many novels populate the Star Wars Expanded Universe, that’s really saying something). Hearne, author of the addictive urban fantasy series The Iron Druid Chronicles, perfectly captures the voice of the impulsive young farm boy who has suddenly been thrust onto the galactic stage (and shot right to the top of the Empire’s most wanted list). Tasked by Princess Leia to deliver a potentially valuable Imperial code-breaker to safety, Luke quickly finds himself on his own and over his head in an adventure of space-faring spycraft.
Dead Heat—Patricia Briggs
(March 3, Penguin Publishing Group—Hardcover)
The fourth entry in the electric Alpha and Omega urban fantasy series (a spinoff of the Mercy Thompson books), focused on Charles and Anna, a pair of werewolf lovers who represent the dual halves of the shapeshifting world. Charles is an Alpha, a pack leader, and Anna, his mate, is a rare Omega, a wolf with the ability to exert a calming influence over her violent brethren. In this volume, what begins as a rare vacation for the powerful duo turns deadly when they uncover a plot by the Fae to replace the children of an Arizona town with changelings. Human in appearance, and anything but, these creatures will be at the forefront of an all-out attack by the Folk—unless Charles and Anna can put a stop to their plans.
The Skull Throne—Peter V. Brett
(March 31, Del Rey—Hardcover)
With the first three novels in the Demon Cycle, about a world where unspeakable creatures hunt in the night and only powerful shamans covered in magical tattoos dare to venture out after dark, Peter V. Brett built a reputation as one of the most exciting new voices in epic fantasy. The long-awaited fourth volume raises the stakes in every way. Events of the previous books have left the Skull Throne of Krasia empty, and its widowed queen, Inevera, must keep the peace between he sons (and potentials heirs), lest their squabbling erupt into an all-out civil war. To the north, two heroes attempt to unite disparate cities against Krasia before it can gather its strength. And all the while, the night-stalking corelings are growing ever more numerous, and ever more powerful. Filled with visceral action and characters who exist in shades of grey, this is mature, modern epic fantasy.
The Darkside War—Zachary Brown
(March 17, Saga Press—Paperback)
Saga Press is keeping the identity of the author of this pseudonymously published military sc-fi novel hush hush, but we do know that he or she is a New York Times best-seller and former Nebula and World Fantasy Award finalist, so get cracking on those Venn diagrams. Better yet, just pick up the book, the first in a new series about a hardened band of human rebels working together to throw off the yolk of alien oppression. Forced to enlist in an alien-run military to battle another, even worse extraterrestrial threat, Devin heads to boot camp on the moon, where he begins to uncover the truth about the dangers Earth is facing.
Dark Debt: Chicagoland Vampires—Chloe Neill
(March 3, NAL—Paperback)
In the 11th installment of the enduring Chicagoland Vampires urban fantasy series, reluctant vampire Merit, sentinel of Cadogan House, must contend with Balthasar, the long-presumed-dead sire of her lover (and Master) Ethan. It’s not the best time for an old friend to show up, on the run from (and deeply in debt to) a brutal Chicago crime syndicate.
Pocket Apocalypse: An Incryptid Novel—Seanan Maguire
(March 3, DAW—Paperback)
Maguire continues her prolific streak with the publication of the first of at least three novels this year. The latest chapter in the UF trope-skewering Incryptid series sends cryptozoologist Alexander Price off to Australia for a holiday with his girlfriend. There, he encounters even weirder creatures than the ones he left back at home, not to mention would-be colleagues from Down Under who don’t appreciate his “expert” opinions. And then there are the werewolves plotting to overthrow the whole continent…
Vision in Silver—Anne Bishop
(March 3, Roc—Hardcover)
In The Others series, humans are but pawns—and prey—in a world ruled over by supernatural beings. Meg Corbyn is a human gifted with the ability, when cut, to see the future. Hunted by her own kind, she went into hiding in the world of the Others, finding unexpected allies among the terra indigene. But what does it mean to live among your enemies? In this third volume, a war between humans and Others is brewing, and seers like Meg are highly valued by both sides. But looking into the future has consequences, and Meg finds herself addicted to the magical charge of blood prophecy. A unique setting and mythology sets this ambitious series apart.
(March 17, Orbit—Hardcover)
Across the five books of The Parasol Protectorate, Carriger told the story of Alexia Tarabotti, a soulless preternatural agent to the crown in a steampunk Victorian London ripe with werewolves, vampires, and other assorted beasties. Prudence picks up a generation later, focusing on Alexia’s daughter, who is following in her mother’s footsteps, taking on missions for queen and country from the deck of her dirigible the Spotted Custard. Carriger’s fans know what to expect from The Custard Files, but if you’re just jumping onboard the steam engine, be on the lookout for rip-roaring adventure, romantic entanglements, snarky banter, and a whole lot of fun.
(March 10, Saga Press—Hardcover)
This of-the-minute political thriller feels so terrifyingly true, it hardly reads like science fiction at all. Just a few years from now in Paris, Suyana Sapacki is a representative on the International Assembly, a replacement for the U.N. whose members have celebrity status, and all the trappings that entails: power, influence, problems with paparazzi, and threats of assassination. After surviving one attempt on her life, Suyana goes into hiding within a group of environmental terrorists, pulling unwitting photographer Daniel along with her. As they struggle to find out who wants Suyana dead, the two must battle conflicting loyalties and disparate political agendas in this cutting-edge, character-focused political thriller.
Edge of Dark—Brenda Cooper
(March 3, Prometheus Books—Paperback)
The start of an ambitious sci-fi duology spun off from the world of the author’s Ruby’s Song series, Edge of Dark begins with the reemergence of a problem humanity had long thought taken care of: the sudden return of a group of human/machine hybrids previously banished to the outer depths of space for their technological perversions. They’ve evolved, they’re pissed, and they’re hungry. Nona Hall, in charge of a starship she is barely capable of captaining, is one of the only things standing in their way. A sure bet for fans of post-singularity shenanigans and A.I.s run amok.
A Blink of the Screen—Terry Pratchett
(March 17, Doubleday—Hardcover)
Fantastical humorist Terry Pratchett is an institution in his native England and beloved the world over; across more than 40 books in the Discworld series, he has imagined one of the weirdest and most fully-realized fantasy worlds in all of literature. This volume collects some of his less expansive work: short stories that run the gamut from his schoolboy scribblings, to snippets of the larger Discworld universe, to wholly original tales. No matter what he’s writing, you can count on Pratchett to deliver inimitable wit and a clear-eyed skewering of the more ridiculous aspects of the human (or dwarf, or dragon, or witch, or…) condition.
Deadpool’s Art of War—Peter David and Scott Koblish (illustrator)
(March 31, Marvel Comics—Paperback)
Everyone has head of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, but once he realizes it’s in the public domain, the Merc with the Mouth reasons he can do it one better (and become a publishing sensation in the bargain). So what if making sure his volume of military strategy goes down in history means starting a global war?
Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet—Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, and Ty Templeton (illustrator)
(March 24, D.C. Comics—Hardcover)
The delightful Batman ’66 series, set in the wacky world of the camp classic TV show, gets even better when the Dynamic Duo hooks up with another pair colorful television icons: the Green Hornet and Kato. Longtime Hornet superfan Kevin Smith (who once planned to direct a big budget film starring the emerald hero) teams up with standup comedian Ralph Garman to pen a caper that pits the costumed quartet against pink-loving General Gumm.
Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther?—Reginald Hudlin and John Romita (illustrator)
(March 10, Marvel Comics—Paperback)
Who is the Black Panther? Marvel sure as hell wants to make sure you can answer that question by July 6, 2018, when a film starring the lesser-known masked avenger hits theaters. That’s likely why they are reissuing this decade-old, 8-issue collection penned by film director Reginald Hudlin, which sees the Black Panther fighting to protect his home country of Wakanda from invaders who seek to plunder its resources.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why—G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt (illustrator), and Adrian Alphona (illustrator)
(March 24, Marvel Comics—Paperback)
Teenaged Kamala is still getting used to her role as the new Ms. Marvel. It’s such a confusing thing, being a superhero. First, someone named the Inventor comes after her, then she meets Wolverine, then an adorable mutant puppy named Lockjaw arrives on her doorstep… It’s all she can do to keep plugging away at discovering the truth about her own hidden past.