Just fourteen books on February’s science fiction list—but it’s a list that includes a new Cordelia Vorkosigan adventure and the conclusion of both Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series. New stories from Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, and Michael R. Underwood round out the month!
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
The Best of Bova—Ben Bova (February 2, Baen)
Volume #1 of 3 of the very best of Ben Bova. These stories span the five decades of Bova’s incandescent career. Here are tales of star-faring adventure, peril, and drama, and journeys into the mind-bending landscapes of virtual worlds and alternate realities. Here you’ll also find stories of humanity’s astounding future on Earth, on Mars, and in the Solar System beyond—stories that always get the science right. And Bova’s gathering of deeply realized, totally human characters are the heroic, brave, tricky, sometimes dastardly engineers, astronauts, corporate magnates, politicians, and scientists who will make these futures possible—and those who often find that the problems of tomorrow are always linked to human values, and human failings, that are as timeless as the stars.
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen—Lois McMaster Bujold (February 2, Baen)
Three years after her famous husband’s death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he’d never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his career. Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor’s key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry, into a mystery he never anticipated – his own mother. Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science-fiction social comedy, as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects, neither is the past.
Graft—Matt Hill (February 2, Angry Robot)
Manchester, 2025. Local mechanic Sol steals old vehicles to meet the demand for spares. But when Sol’s partner impulsively jacks a luxury model, Sol finds himself caught up in a nightmarish trans-dimensional human trafficking conspiracy. Hidden in the stolen car is a voiceless, three-armed woman called Y. She’s had her memory removed and undertaken a harrowing journey into a world she only vaguely recognises. And someone waiting in the UK expects her delivery at all costs. Now Sol and Y are on the run from both Y’s traffickers and the organisation’s faithful products. With the help of a dangerous triggerman and Sol’s ex, they must uncover the true, terrifying extent of the trafficking operation, or it’s all over. Not that there was much hope to start with.
Starflight—Melissa Landers (February 2, Hyperion)
Young adult. Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but it’s not like the law has ever been on her side. Still, off-world travel doesn’t come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school. The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara’s heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe. It’s been a long time since Solara has believed in anyone, and Doran is the last person she expected to trust. But when the Banshee’s dangerous enemies catch up with them, Solara and Doran must come together to protect the ship that has become their home-and the eccentric crew that feels like family.
Isaac Asimov’s I Robot: To Preserve—Mickey Zucker Reichert (February 2, Roc)
In 2037, robotic technology has evolved into the realm of self-aware, sentient mechanical entities. But despite the safeguards programmed into the very core of a robot’s artificial intelligence, humanity’s most brilliant creation can still fall prey to those who believe the Three Laws of Robotics were made to be broken. N8-C, better known as Nate, has been Manhattan Hasbro Hospital’s resident robot for more than twenty years. A prototype, humanoid in appearance, he was created to interact with people. While some staff accepted working alongside an anthropomorphic robot, Nate’s very existence terrified most people, leaving the robot utilized for menial tasks and generally ignored. Until one of the hospital’s physicians is found brutally murdered with Nate standing over the corpse, a blood-smeared utility bar clutched in his hand. As designer and programmer of Nate’s positronic brain, Lawrence Robertson is responsible for his creation’s actions and arrested for the crime. Susan Calvin knows the Three Laws of Robotics make it impossible for Nate to harm a human being. But to prove both Nate’s and Lawrence’s innocence, she has to consider the possibility that someone somehow manipulated the laws to commit murder…
Poseidon’s Wake—Alastair Reynolds (February 2, Ace)
“Send Ndege…” The cryptic message originated seventy light-years away from the planet Crucible, where Ndege Akinya lives under permanent house arrest for her role in the catastrophe that killed 417,000 people. Could it be from her mother, Chiku, who vanished during a space expedition decades earlier? Ndege’s daughter Goma, a biologist, joins the crew of the Travertine dispatched to Gliese 163 to uncover the source behind the enigmatic message. Goma’s odyssey will take her not only into the farthest reaches of space, but centuries into her family’s past where the answers to the universe’s greatest mysteries await…
Morning Star—Pierce Brown (February 9, Del Rey)
Born a lowly Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow lost his beloved wife to the treacherous Gold overlords. Vowing to fight for the future that his wife believed in, Darrow joins a secret revolutionary group and is remade into a Gold so that he can infiltrate the ruling class and bring them down from the inside. Now, after years of hiding amongst the Golds, Darrow is finally ready to declare open revolution and throw off the chains of oppression. Nothing in Darrow’s world has been easily won, and this final fight will be the most harrowing of all.
Beacon 23—Hugh Howey (February 9, John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books)
For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job, and a thankless one for the most part. Until something goes wrong. Until a ship is in distress. In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail. At least, they aren’t supposed to.
The Orion Plan—Mark Alpert (February 16, St. Martin’s)
Scientists thought that Earth was safe from invasion. The distance between stars is so great that it seemed impossible for even the most advanced civilizations to send a large spaceship from one star system to another. But now, an alien species—from a planet hundreds of light-years from Earth—has found a way. A small, spherical probe lands in an empty corner of New York City. It soon drills into the ground underneath, drawing electricity from the power lines to jumpstart its automated expansion and prepare for alien colonization. When the government proves slow to react, NASA scientist Dr. Sarah Pooley realizes she must lead the effort to stop the probe before it becomes too powerful. Meanwhile, the first people who encounter the alien device are discovering just how insidious this interstellar intruder can be.
The Medusa Chronicles—Alastair Reynolds & Stephen Baxter (February 18, Gollancz)
Following an accident that almost cost him his life, Howard Falcon was not so much saved as he was converted, through the use of prosthetics, into something faster, stronger and smarter …but also slightly less human and more machine than he was. And with this change came an opportunity—that of piloting a mission into Jupiter’s atmosphere, and ultimately of making first contact with the life forms he discovers there. Picking up the threads of humanity versus artificial intelligences and machines, and of encounters with the alien, this collaborative novel between two superb writers is a sequel to Howard Falcon’s adventures.
Calamity (Reckoners #3)—Brandon Sanderson (February 16, Delacorte)
Young adult. When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy. David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.
Bluescreen—Dan Wells (February 16, Balzer + Bray)
Young adult. Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it. Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, nonchemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.
Alliance—S.K. Dunstall (February 23, Ace)
The lines. The soul of every ship. It was once thought there were only ten, but that was before an alien vessel appeared at the edge of space—before Ean Lambert heard more lines singing. Ean’s ways of communicating with lines is strange. But his abilities make him a valuable tool—or weapon—to command. Captain Selma Kari Wang has lost everything—her ship, her crew, her legs. But the New Alliance of Worlds is not done with her yet. After they rebuild her broken body, they send her to captain one of the new alien ships, teaming her up with Ean, the only one who can understand the alien lines. Kari Wang and Ean are poised on the threshold of discoveries that could change the world. But not everyone wants the New Alliance to control the secrets they uncover—and those who oppose won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to stop them…
The Absconded Ambassador (Genrenauts #2)—Michael R. Underwood (February 23, Tor.com Publishing)
Fiction is more important than you think. When stories go wrong, the Genrenauts step in to prevent the consequences from rippling into our so-called real world. When a breach is discovered in Science Fiction World, rookie genrenaut Leah Tang gets her first taste of space flight. A peace treaty is about to be signed on space station Ahura-3, guaranteeing the end of hostilities between some of the galaxy’s most ferocious races, but when the head architect of the treaty is unexpectedly kidnapped, it’s up to Leah and her new colleagues to save the day. At any cost.
Just a quick update, for those who follow Fiction Affliction each month: the wonderful Suzanne Johnson, who has done such a fantastic job of curating the column up to this point, has had to bow out (although she’ll hopefully continue to contribute to Tor.com on other fronts!) Moving forward, Fiction Affliction will be composed of three groupings instead of five: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Genre-Benders, covering major releases for each month. They are not intended to be completely exhaustive lists, however, so please add any other upcoming titles of note in the comment section and let us know which new releases are on your radar in the coming months!