It’s a third of the way into the year already, and I’m not at all sure where the time went. (A black hole at the centre of the universe? My diminishing capacity for memory? Legends of Tomorrow’s stranger plotlines?) But this week, I want to tell you about some books that are coming out later this year that I’m really looking forward to. This isn’t all the books I’m looking forward to: I’ve decided to—rather arbitrarily—limit my list of Hotly Anticipated Items to six. (Six is enough to feel like a moderately-sized number without tipping over into feeling like I’m slighting anything by leaving it out.)
So, in no particular order, these are the books I’m very eager to read!
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com Publishing, July). A sequel to last year’s excellent Winter Tide, Deep Roots’ cover copy promises:
“Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water, has survived Deep One internment camps and made a grudging peace with the government that destroyed her home and exterminated her people on land. Deep Roots continues Aphra’s journey to rebuild her life and family on land, as she tracks down long-lost relatives. She must repopulate Innsmouth or risk seeing it torn down by greedy developers, but as she searches she discovers that people have been going missing. She will have to unravel the mystery, or risk seeing her way of life slip away.”
Mutiny at Vesta by R.E. Stearns (Saga Press, October). A sequel to last year’s Barbary Station, which I enjoyed very much, it promises continuing pirate and engineering adventures:
“Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir have escaped the murderous AI that was trapping them on Barbary Station, and earned themselves a place on Captain Sloane’s fabled pirate crew. And now that they’ve arrived at Vesta, Sloane’s home base, they can finally start making a living stealing from well-off megacorporations.
Unfortunately, the political situation has deteriorated in Captain Sloane’s absence. Adda and Iridian find themselves trapped in a contract with Oxia Corp., one of the very megacorporations they’d hoped to prey on, forced to rob and intimidate targets they’d never have chosen on their own. If they’re ever going to have the independent life together that they’ve always wanted, they’ll have to free themselves from Oxia Corp. first. Meanwhile, the inhuman allies who followed Adda and Iridian from Barbary Station have plans of their own, which may be more dangerous than the humans involved could imagine. It will take not one but five heists, and every bit of ingenuity Adda and Iridian have to escape from Oxia and find the life they’ve always dreamed of…if they can survive.”
The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera (Tor, October). Sequel to last year’s The Tiger’s Daughter, which was a novel that entirely surprised me with how much I enjoyed it last autumn. I’m not sure how the author’s going to resolve the tensions that her choice of structure imposed upon the previous volume, but this next one promises:
“Since she was a child, the divine empress O Shizuka has believed she was an untouchable god. When her uncle, ruler of the Hokkaran Empire, sends her on a suicide mission as a leader of the Imperial Army, the horrors of war cause her to question everything she knows.
Thousands of miles away, the exiled and cursed warrior Barsalyya Shefali undergoes trials the most superstitious would not believe in order to return to Hokkaran court and claim her rightful place next to O Shizuka.
As the distance between disgraced empress and blighted warrior narrows, a familiar demonic force grows closer to the heart of the empire. Will the two fallen warriors be able to protect their home?”
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss (Saga Press, July). Sequel to last year’s extraordinary (and extraordinarily fun) The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, this book is one where I anticipate an enormous amount of fun. It promises:
“Mary Jekyll and the rest of the daughters of literature’s mad scientists embark on a madcap adventure across Europe to rescue another monstrous girl and stop the Alchemical Society’s nefarious plans once and for all.
Mary Jekyll’s life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary’s sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.
But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, and Justine reach her in time?”
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager, May) is a debut novel, and one that’s received a bit of buzz. It certainly sounds interesting:
“Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation.
Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered; the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains.
War orphan Fang Runin grew up with it. Her adopted family smuggles it throughout the Rooster province, making a living on the misfortune of those addicted to its smoke. But when Rin’s parents force her into an arranged marriage, Rin refuses to accept her fate and fights her way to the prestigious military academy at Sinegard.
There she will learn of drug-fuelled shamanic powers thought to be myth, powers which might defeat the Federation during its third invasion. But the cost of some power is too great to pay, even if it means winning a war that threatens to destroy an entire nation.”
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (Orbit, November) is another debut, and one that’s only recently been announced. The little information that’s available makes it sound pretty damn interesting:
“The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. Unbeknownst to her, she can manipulate the dreams of the gods to alter the face of the world.
When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she is coerced into their service, as they are determined to harness her magic for the glory of the Empire. She must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist the mystics’ cruel agenda—and should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…”
So far, it looks like 2018 will be another very promising year for science fiction and fantasy. What are you guys looking forward to?
Liz Bourke is a cranky queer person who reads books. She holds a Ph.D in Classics from Trinity College, Dublin. Her first book, Sleeping With Monsters, a collection of reviews and criticism, was published in 2017 by Aqueduct Press. Find her at her blog, where she’s been known to talk about even more books thanks to her Patreon supporters. Or find her at her Twitter. She supports the work of the Irish Refugee Council and the Abortion Rights Campaign.