We don’t know where to start this month. Truly. Do we go to Canto Bight, the casino planet that’s both a new book and a new location in The Last Jedi? Do we get back on the Rocinante for the seventh Expanse book, Persepolis Rising? Do we hang out with the Wild Cards? Venture into Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series? Or pick up the newly reissued second book in Joan Vinge’s Snow Queen series, World’s End? Clearly we need the month off to read them all.
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
(There will not be a Genre Benders list this month due to lack of titles.)
Star Wars: Canto Bight—Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, John Jackson Miller (December 5, Del Rey)
Welcome to the casino city of Canto Bight, a place where exotic aliens, captivating creatures, and other would-be high rollers are willing to risk everything to make their fortunes. Set across one fateful evening, these four interconnected stories explore the deception and danger of the lavish city. An honest salesman meets a career criminal as a dream vacation turns into the worst nightmare imaginable, in a story by Saladin Ahmed. Dreams and schemes collide when a deal over a priceless bottle of wine becomes a struggle for survival, as told by Mira Grant. Old habits die hard when a servant is forced into a mad struggle for power among Canto Bight’s elite, in a tale by Rae Carson. A deadbeat gambler has one last chance to turn his luck around; all he has to do is survive one wild night, as told by John Jackson Miller. In Canto Bight, one is free to revel in excess, untouched by the problems of a galaxy once again descending into chaos and war. Dreams can become reality, but the stakes have never been higher—for there is a darkness obscured by all the glamour and luxury.
Defiant (Lightship Chronicles #3)—Dave Bara (December 5, DAW)
Peter Cochrane and his new wife, Karina, have been married less than a year. And although things have been quiet in relation to the old Empire during that time, they’re about to get a lot hotter. Peter and Karina have embarked on a diplomatic mission to Sandosa, an old ally of Pendax, the newest member of the Union. But during their mission the government of Sandosa attacks Peter’s new command, Defiant, and tries to assassinate Karina and him. Peter responds the only way he can, with all the power at his disposal to protect both his wife and Defiant. Then suddenly Defiant is called away to Skondar, where Peter’s old flame Dobrina Kierkopf and her new ship ImpulseII have come under attack by the Butcher of Carinthia, Prince Arin. Though Defiant chases away the prince, it is not before some pretty devastating events have occurred. And soon Peter finds himself racing toward the mysterious world of Altos, where he discovers an unpleasant truth about the Union’s allies, the Historians of Earth. Each encounter with Arin and his allies leaves Peter and the Union Navy fleet reeling, even as they continue to pursue this elusive enemy. But all of this can only have one conclusion, a final confrontation in which Peter and Arin will battle over the future of humanity—Union or Empire.
The Chaos of Luck (Felicia Sevigny #2)—Catherine Cerveny (December 5, Orbit)
Mars, the terraformed jewel of the TriSystem, is the playground for the rich and powerful. A marvel of scientific engineering, the newly colonized world offers every luxury. For the first time in human history, the picture perfect life is possible. Felicia Sevigny’s come to the Red Planet for a fresh start. She’s brought the tarot cards that have been her family’s trade for generations but is hoping to leave the rest of her troubled past behind. Felicia wants to believe that Mars will also be a clean slate for her and Alexei Petriv, notorious leader of the Tsarist Consortium, but her cards keep predicting something even darker and more insidious is ahead. Something that could mean the end, not just for her and Alexei, but for the entire TriSystem — and all of humanity.
Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7)—James S.A. Corey (December 5, Orbit)
In the thousand-sun network of humanity’s expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace. In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it. New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity—and of the Rocinante—unexpectedly and forever…
1636: The Vatican Sanctions (Ring of Fire #24)—Eric Flint & Charles E. Gannon (December 5, Baen Books)
It’s spring in Burgundy. The flowers are out and so are the cardinals—of Pope Urban’s renegade papacy, now on the run from the Vatican’s would-be usurper Borja. Most of the Church’s senior leaders have converged upon the city of Besancon, where the Pope plans to offer an ecumenical olive branch to the other Christian denominations with which Rome has been at war. Fortunately, Urban has up-time help. He can rely upon Cardinal-Protector Larry Mazzare’s theological savvy, Sharon Nichols’ medical skills, and her husband Ruy Sanchez’s keen-eyed experience as a body-guard-in-chief. And even though Urban has a new Papal Guard in the form of Owen Rowe O’Neill’s Wild Geese, Mike Stearns has loaned the Pope a small contingent of the Hibernian Battalion—just in case. Which is prudent, since Urban and his peace initiative are not merely at risk from Borja’s assassins. There is another, more deadly, team of professional killers in town, directed by the man who almost killed the Pope before: lethal Spanish mastermind Pedro Dolor. Dolor hasn’t come to confess murder—he’s come to commit it.
The Forever Ship (Fire Sermon #3)—Francesca Haig (December 5, Gallery Books)
Book three in the critically acclaimed The Fire Sermon trilogy—The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined post-apocalyptic series by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.
Mississippi Roll (Wild Cards #15)—George R.R. Martin, editor (December 5, Tor Books)
Now on its final voyage, the historical steamboat Natchez is known for her super-powered guest entertainers. But after the suspicious death of a crewmember, retired NY police detective Leo Storgman decides to make this incident his personal case. His findings only lead to a growing number of questions. Is there some truth behind the ghostly sightings of the steamboat’s first captain Wilbur Leathers? What secret does the current captain seem to be hiding? And could the Natchez be ferrying mysterious—and possibly dangerous—cargo onboard? Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin, Mississippi Roll features the writing talents of Stephen Leigh, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Carrie Vaughn (Martians Abroad), Hugo-Award winning author David D. Levine (Arabella of Mars), and Hugo and Nebula Award finalist Cherie Priest (Boneshaker).
Plague Land—Alex Scarrow (December 5, Sourcebooks Fire)
Young adult. Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumors of an unidentified plague in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week, the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere, the virus has wiped out most of the population. Desperate to stay alive, Leon and Grace are reluctantly taken in by a tight-knit group of survivors. But as they struggle to win their trust, the siblings realize that the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step…
Hymn (Psalms of Isaak #5)—Ken Scholes (December 5, Tor Books)
Ken Scholes completes his five-book epic that began with his acclaimed first novel Lamentation. The battle for control of The Named Lands has captivated readers as they have learned, alongside the characters, the true nature of world called Lasthome. Now the struggle between the Andro-Francine Order of the Named Lands and the Y’Zirite Empire has reached a terrible turning point. Believing that his son is dead, Rudolfo has pretended to join with the triumphant Y’zirite forces—but his plan is to destroy them all with a poison that is targeted only to the enemy. In Y’Zir, Rudolfo’s wife Jin Li Tam is fighting a war with her own father which will bring that Empire to ruin. And on the Moon, Neb, revealed as one of the Younger Gods, takes the power of the Last Home Temple for his own.
No new titles.
The Will to Battle (Terra Ignota #3)—Ada Palmer (December 19, Tor Books)
The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held. The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that façade is slipping away. Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone—Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints—scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.
Survival (Star Quest #3)—Ben Bova (December 26, Tor Books)
Ben Bova continues his hard SF Star Quest series which began with Death Wave and Apes and Angels. In Survival, a human team sent to scout a few hundred lightyears in front of the death wave encounters a civilization far in advance of our own, a civilization of machine intelligences. These sentient, intelligent machines have existed for eons, and have survived earlier “death waves,” gamma ray bursts from the core of the galaxy. They are totally self-sufficient, completely certain that the death wave cannot harm them, and utterly uninterested in helping to save other civilizations, organic or machine. But now that the humans have discovered them, they refuse to allow them to leave their planet, reasoning that other humans will inevitably follow if they learn of their existence.
The Mind Virus (Unplugged #3)—Donna Freitas (December 26, HarperTeen)
Young adult. Skylar Cruz has managed to shut down the body market that her sister Jude opened, and to create a door to allow App World citizens reentry into the Real World. But as tensions between the newly mingling people escalate, she’s not sure if it was the right decision after all. Still reeling from Kit’s betrayal, she’s not sure of anything anymore. And for those who are still in the App World, a new danger looms. A virus, set in motion by Jude’s actions, is killing off the bodies of those who remained plugged in—and no one knows how to stop it. It’s up to Skylar to once again save the worlds—and only time will tell who will be standing alongside her in the end.
Nemo Rising—C. Courtney Joyner (December 26, Tor Books)
Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution. Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…
World’s End (Snow Queen #2)—Joan D. Vinge (December 26, Tor Books)
Reissue. When BZ Gundhalinu’s irresponsible older brothers go missing in World’s End, a badlands rumored to drive people mad, he begrudgingly goes after them. The further in he travels, the stranger things get.
Count to Infinity (Eschaton Sequence #6)—John C. Wright (December 26, Tor Books)
An epic space opera finale worthy of the scope and wonder of The Eschaton Sequence: Menelaus Montrose is locked in a final battle of wits, bullets, and posthuman intelligence with Ximen del Azarchel for the fate of humanity in the far future. The alien monstrosities of Ain at long last are revealed, their hidden past laid bare, along with the reason for their brutal treatment of Man and all the species seeded throughout the galaxy. And they have still one more secret that could upend everything Montrose has fought for and lived so long to achieve.