Let’s kick off 2018 with one heck of a range of genre-bending books—many of which are guaranteed not to comfort you in the dark winter months. From alternate-history wars to a scary school to a future society full of frightful “transparency,” there’s a lot to be creeped out by in these new books, which include releases from Nick Harkaway, Leni Zumas, Brooke Bolander, and Jo Walton. Where will you start? (If you need something a bit more fun, maybe look to Saga’s latest face-off anthology, Robots vs. Fairies.)
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
Gunslinger Girl—Lyndsay Ely (January 2, jimmy patterson)
Young adult. Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great. In this debut, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.
The Wolves of Winter—Tyrell Johnson (January 2, Scribner)
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. She’s been forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter. But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.
Before I Let Go—Marieke Nijkamp (January 2, Sourcebooks)
Young adult. Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return. Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated—and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger. Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets—chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…
Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America—Damien Lincoln Ober (January 2, Night Shade Books)
It is 1777, in a colonial America where the internet, social media, and ubiquitous electronic communications are fully woven into the fabric of society. Hours after a top-secret Congressional sub-committee uploads the Articles of Confederation, a mysterious internet plague breaks loose, killing any user who accesses a networked device. Seizing the moment, the British take control of New York and Philadelphia. Just when all seems lost, George Washington reappears to pin the British army at Yorktown. Independence is won, but the former colonies teeter on the brink of collapse. A faction of the Founding Fathers code a new error-proof operating system designed to stabilize the cloud and ensure everlasting American prosperity. Believing the draconian regulations of the new OS a betrayal of the hard-fought revolution, Thomas Jefferson organizes a feisty, small-government opposition to fight the overreach of Washington’s Federalist administration. Their most valuable weapon is Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America, a new open-source social networking portal which will revolutionize representative government, return power to the people, and make Congress and the Presidency irrelevant.
The God Gene—F. Paul Wilson (January 2, Forge)
Rick’s brother, Keith, a prominent zoologist, walks out of his office one day and disappears. The only clue they have is a book which mentions “the God Gene.” A million or so years ago, a gene designated hsa-mir-3998 appeared as if by magic from the junk DNA of the hominids who eventually evolved into Homo sapiens. It became a key player in brain development—specifically creativity—and laymen started calling it “the God Gene.” Keith had been tracking this gene through the evolutionary tree, and was excited by an odd blue-eyed primate he brought back from East Africa. But immediately after running the creature’s genetic code, he destroyed all the results and vanished. Rick and Laura’s search takes them to an uncharted island in the Mozambique Channel, home of the dapis—blue-eyed primates whose DNA hides a world-shattering secret.
Gnomon—Nick Harkaway (January 9, Knopf)
In the world of Gnomon, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of “transparency.” Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories—all in the name of providing the safest society in history. When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game, and a sociopathic disembodied intelligence from the distant future. Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. In the static between these stories, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter—and, alarmingly, of herself. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.
The Transition—Luke Kennard (January 9, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Do you or your partner spend more than you earn? Have your credit card debts evolved into collection letters? Has either of you received a court summons? Has either of you considered turning to a life of a crime? You are not alone. We know. We can help. Welcome to the Transition. While taking part in the Transition, you and your partner will spend six months living under the supervision of your mentors, two successful adults of a slightly older generation. Freed from your financial responsibilities, you will be coached through the key areas of the scheme—Employment, Nutrition, Responsibility, Relationship, Finances, and Self-respect—until you are ready to be reintegrated into adult society. At the end of your six months, who knows what discoveries you’ll have made about yourself? The “friends” you no longer need. The talents you’ll have found time to nurture. The business you might have kick-started. Who knows where you’ll be?
Robots vs. Fairies—Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, editors (January 9, Saga Press)
Robots vs. Fairies is an anthology that pitches genre against genre, science fiction against fantasy, through an epic battle of two icons. On one side, robots continue to be the classic sci-fi phenomenon in literature and media, from Asimov to WALL-E, from Philip K. Dick to Terminator. On the other, fairies are the beloved icons and unquestionable rulers of fantastic fiction, from Tinkerbell to Tam Lin, from True Blood to Once Upon a Time. Both have proven to be infinitely fun, flexible, and challenging. But when you pit them against each other, which side will triumph as the greatest genre symbol of all time? There can only be one…or can there? Featuring an incredible line-up of authors including John Scalzi, Catherynne M. Valente, Ken Liu, Max Gladstone, Kat Howard, Jonathan Maberry, and more, Robots vs. Fairies will take you on a glitterbombed journey of a techno-fantasy mash-up across genres.
Sinless—Sarah Tarkoff (January 9, Harper Voyager)
In Grace Luther’s world, those who are “good” are blessed with beauty, while those who are not suffer horrifying consequences—disfigurement or even death. The daughter of a cleric, Grace has always had faith in the higher power that governs her world. But when she stumbles onto information that leaves her questioning whether there are more complicated—and dangerous—forces manipulating the people around her, she finds herself at the center of an epic battle, where good and evil are not easily distinguished. Despite all her efforts to live a normal teenage life, Grace is faced with a series of decisions that will risk the lives of everyone she loves—and, ultimately, her own.
The Job of the Wasp—Colin Winnette (January 9, Soft Skull)
The sign out front describes the building as a school for orphaned boys. But when our young narrator arrives there, the Headmaster tells him, “This is not a school.” He is given an ill-fitting uniform; he is insulted, then ignored, then attacked by other children. He hears voices whispering outside his window; he finds a note in his pocket that reads If you have something to confess, any time is a good time to do so. Soon enough, bodies start turning up: buried in the garden, hidden in closets, sunk to the bottom of the lake. What on earth is going on? Where exactly are we?
Sleep Over—H.G. Bells (January 16, Talos Press)
Remember what it’s like to go an entire night without sleep? What if sleep didn’t come the following night? Or the night after? What might happen if you, your friends, your family, your coworkers, and the strangers you pass on the street, all slowly began to realize that rest might not ever come again? How slowly might the world fall apart? How long would it take for a society without sleep to descend into chaos? Sleep Over is a collection of waking nightmares, a scrapbook collection of haunting and poignant stories from those trapped in a world where the pillars of society are crumbling, and madness is slowly descending on a planet without rest. Online vigilantism transforms social media into a blame game with deadly consequences. A freelance journalist grapples with the ethics of turning in footage of mass suicide. Scientists turn to horrifying experiments as they grow more desperate in their race for a cure.
Palaces—Simon Jacobs (January 16, Two Dollar Radio)
John and Joey are a young couple immersed in their local midwestern punk scene, who after graduating college sever all ties and move to a perverse and nameless northeastern coastal city. They drift in and out of art museums, basement shows, and derelict squats seemingly unfazed as the city slowly slides into chaos around them. Late one night, forced out of their living space, John and Joey are driven to take shelter in a chain pharmacy before emerging to a city in full-scale riot. They find themselves the only passengers on a commuter train headed north, and exit at the final stop to discover the area entirely devoid of people. As John and Joey negotiate their future through bizarre, troubling manifestations of the landscape and a succession of abandoned mansions housing only scant clues to their owners’ strange and sudden disappearance, they’re also forced to confront the resurgent violence and buried memories of their shared past.
The Night Market—Jonathan Moore (January 16, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The dead man on the floor is covered by an unknown substance that’s eating through his skin. Before Inspector Ross Carver can identify it, six FBI agents burst in and remove him from the premises. He’s pushed into a disinfectant trailer, forced to drink a liquid that sends him into seizures, and is shocked unconscious. On Sunday he wakes in his bed to find his neighbor, Mia—who he’s barely ever spoken to—reading aloud to him. He can’t remember the crime scene or how he got home; he has no idea two days have passed. Mia says she saw him being carried into their building by plainclothes police officers, who told her he’d been poisoned. Carver doesn’t really know this woman and has no way of disproving her, but his gut says to keep her close. Carver soon realizes he’s entangled in a web of conspiracy that spans the nation. And that Mia may know a lot more than she lets on.
The Beauty—Aliya Whiteley (January 16, Titan)
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, in the Valley of the Rocks, a society of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their history recounted by Nate, the storyteller. Requested most often by the group is the tale of the death of all women. They are the last generation. One night, Nate brings back new secrets from the woods; peculiar mushrooms are growing from the ground where the women’s bodies lie buried. These are the first signs of a strange and insidious presence unlike anything ever known before.
Blood and Sand—C.V. Wyk (January 16, Tor Teen)
Young adult. Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire—an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves. Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation. Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end—and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…
Red Clocks—Leni Zumas (January 16, Little, Brown)
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom. Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling herbalist, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
The Only Harmless Great Thing—Brooke Bolander (January 23, Tor.com Publishing)
In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey, slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island. These are the facts. Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.
Eternal Life—Dara Horn (January 23, W.W. Norton)
Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever. But as the 21st century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.
Smoke City—Keith Rosson (January 23, Meerkat)
Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week. Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been … but how will he find her? When Marvin heads to L.A. to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.
Frankenstein in Baghdad—Ahmed Saadawi (January 23, Penguin Books)
From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi—a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café—collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive—first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.
The Sky is Yours—Chandler Klang Smith (January 23, Hogarth)
In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis’ last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash, are forced to flee everything they’ve ever known. As they wander toward the scalded heart of the city, they face fire, conspiracy, mayhem, unholy drugs, dragon-worshippers, and the monsters lurking inside themselves. In this bombshell of a novel, Chandler Klang Smith has imagined an unimaginable world, scathingly clever and gorgeously strange.
Starlings—Jo Walton (January 30, Tachyon Publications)
A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats. With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.