There’s a lot of Mars in this month’s science fiction crop, but if the red planet isn’t your jam, never fear: You could learn the fates of those aboard the ship Australia in J.P. Smythe’s Long Dark Dusk; experience some of the best science fiction of the year courtesy of the latest anthology from Neil Clarke; revisit Sylvia Engdahl’s beloved Enchantress from the Stars; find out what Han and Lando got up to after the events of the original trilogy in Last Shot; or experience space rock (and other genres) in Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera. Readers, start your hyperdrives, and may the best book (for you) land at the top of your TBR stack!
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
The City Where We Once Lived—Eric Barnes (April 3, Arcade Publishing)
In a near future where climate change has severely affected weather and agriculture, the North End of an unnamed city has long been abandoned in favor of the neighboring South End. Aside from the scavengers steadily stripping the empty city to its bones, only a few thousand people remain. Many, like the narrator, are there to try to escape the demons of their past. He spends his time observing and recording the decay around him, attempting to bury memories of what he has lost. But it eventually becomes clear that things are unraveling elsewhere as well, as strangers, violent and desperate alike, begin to appear in the North End, spreading word of social and political deterioration in the South End and beyond. Faced with a growing disruption to his isolated life, the narrator discovers within himself a surprising need to resist losing the home he has created in this empty place. He and the rest of the citizens of the North End must choose whether to face outsiders as invaders or welcome them as neighbors.
The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Vol. 3—Neil Clarke, editor (April 3, Night Shade)
Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a new yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy award-winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers. The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor in chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year’s writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome “sensawunda” that the genre has to offer.
Unraveled (Perfected #3)—Kate Jarvik Birch (April 3, Entangled Teen)
Young adult. Ella isn’t anyone’s pet anymore, but she’s certainly not free. After exposing the dark secrets about NuPet’s breeding program, forcing them to repeal the law that allowed genetically modified girls to be kept as pets, she thought girls like her would finally be free. She never dreamed that it would backfire. NuPet may have convinced the public of their intentions to assimilate pets back into society, but Ella knows it’s a lie. They aren’t planning mass rehabilitation … they’re planning a mass extermination. Now, with the help of a small group of rebels, Ella and Penn, the boy she’d give up her life for, set out to bring down NuPet for good. But when her group gets implicated in a string of bombings, no one is safe. If she can’t untangle the web of blackmail and lies that extends far beyond NuPet’s reach, she won’t just lose her chance at freedom, she’ll lose everyone she loves.
Though Hell Should Bar the Way (RCN #12)—David Drake (April 3, Baen Books)
Roy Olfetrie planned to be an officer in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy, but when his father was unmasked as a white-collar criminal he had to take whatever he was offered. What is offered turns out to be a chance to accompany Captain Daniel Leary and Lady Adele Mundy as they go off to start a war that will put Roy at the sharp end. Duty snatches Roy from the harem of a pirate chief to a world of monsters, from interstellar reaches in a half-wrecked starship to assassination attempts at posh houses. Roy has the choice of making friends or dying friendless; of meeting betrayal and responding to it; of breaking his faith or keeping it at the risk of his life. Pirates, politics, and spies—and waiting for Roy if he survives all the rest, a powerful warship.
Defy the Worlds—Claudia Gray (April 3, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people … if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap. On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said goodbye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them … or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost. But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.
Long Dark Dusk (Australia Trilogy #2)—J.P. Smythe (April 3, Quercus)
Young adult. As soon as teenaged Chan Aitch learned the horrible truth about life on Australia and its fateful mission, she vowed to save everyone she could from the gangs and cultists fighting for control of the ship’s limited resources. Now that Australia has crashed back to Earth, though, her efforts seem to have been in vain: everyone she cares about is dead or in prison. As one of the few to have survived the ship’s return, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city, on a planet she’s never known but always dreamed of. She’s barely mustering the will to survive when she learns that Mae, the little girl she once rescued on Australia, could be alive. But she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. In addition to being alone in an unfamiliar city, Chan has never felt more helpless. But she’ll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself to track the girl down. After all, she’s broken out of prison before—how hard could it be to do it on Earth?
Rebellion’s Fury (Flames of Rebellion #2)—Jay Allan (April 10, Harper Voyager)
Damian Ward thought he was done fighting. But the retired veteran and war hero is now leading the revolution against the oppressive Federal America. Failure means living under the yoke of tyranny—a price Ward and the people of Haven refuse to pay. Federal America cannot allow Haven to break away. If rebellion is successful on one colony, it will spread, and threaten the flow of wealth and raw materials the government needs. With its superior troops and weaponry, it will crush the traitorous rebellion, and retain the empire’s standing and power. The colonists have won the first battle, and driven the government forces from the planet. But the Federals are by no means defeated. For just months after the brutal Colonel Semmes and his defeated troops return to Earth, a new force is gathering, larger, better-equipped, and augmented with front line units, veterans of the last war, ready to take back the planet and end the threat of rebellion once and for all.
Enchantress from the Stars—Sylvia Engdahl (April 10, Bloomsbury)
Reissue. Rediscover this beloved Newbery Honor-winning classic, featuring a brand-new cover and a foreword by Lois Lowry! Elana, a member of an interstellar civilization on a mission to a medieval planet, becomes the key to a dangerous plan to turn back an invasion. How can she help the Andrecians, who still believe in magic and superstition, without revealing her own alien powers? At the same time, Georyn, the son of an Andrecian woodcutter, knows only that there is a dragon in the enchanted forest, and he must defeat it. He sees Elana as the Enchantress from the Stars who has come to test him, to prove he is worthy.
Exodus—Alex Lamb (April 10, Gollancz)
The Photurians—a hivemind of sentient AIs and machines—were awakened by humanity as part of a complex political trap. But they broke free, evolved, and now the human race is almost finished. Once we spanned dozens of star systems; now only four remain, and Earth is being evacuated. But the Photes can infect us, and among the thousands rescued from our home world may be enemy agents. Tiny colonies struggle to house the displaced. Our warships are failing. The end of humanity has come. But on a distant planet shielded from both humanity and the Photurians, one hope may still live. The only person who might be able to intervene. The roboteer. He is trapped in a hell of his own making, and does not know he is needed. And so a desperate rescue mission is begun. But can he be reached in time? Or will he be the last remnant of humanity in the universe?
One Way—S.J. Morden (April 10, Orbit)
It’s the dawn of a new era—and we’re ready to colonize Mars. But the company that’s been contracted to construct a new Mars base has made promises they can’t fulfill and is desperate enough to cut corners. The first thing to go is the automation … the next thing they’ll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they’ll send to Mars, when there aren’t supposed to be any at all. Frank—father, architect, murderer—is recruited for the mission to Mars with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. But as his crew sets to work on the red wasteland of Mars, the accidents mount up, and Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all. As the list of suspect grows shorter, it’s up to Frank to uncover the terrible truth before it’s too late.
From Darkest Skies—Sam Peters (April 10, Gollancz)
After a five year sabbatical following the tragic death of his wife and fellow agent Alysha, Keon Rause returns to the distant colony world of Magenta to resume service with the Magentan Intelligence Service. With him he brings an artificial recreation of his wife’s personality, a simulacrum built from every digital trace she left behind. She has been constructed with one purpose—to discover the truth behind her own death—but Keon’s relationship with her has grown into something more, something frighteningly dependent, something that verges on love. Cashing in old favours, Keon uses his return to the Service to take on a series of cases that allow him and the artificial Alysha to piece together his wife’s last days. His investigations lead him inexorably along the same paths Alysha followed five years earlier, to a sinister and deadly group with an unhealthy fascination for the unknowable alien Masters; but as the wider world of Magenta is threatened with an imminent crisis, Keon finds himself in a dilemma: do his duty and stand with his team to expose a villainous crime, or sacrifice them all for the truth about his wife?
Space Opera—Catherynne M. Valente (April 10, Saga Press)
A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding. Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species. This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing. Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.
The Viridian Convict (Blue Dominion #1)—Sam York (April 10, North Star)
The Godfather meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this crazy-ass adventure set on Viridian, a prison planet full of aliens … who want to eat you. Tig, the only human, is thrust into a lose/lose/lose situation when the mob boss he works for asks him to pick up and deliver a package that the Fed—the governing body of the known universe—also wants. To make matters worse, the “package” has curves for days, an attitude to match, and her own agenda for how this is all going down.
Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction—Bill Campbell & Francesco Verso, editors (April 17, Rosarium)
In its brief existence, Rosarium Publishing has worked hard in “introducing the world to itself” through groundbreaking, award-winning science fiction and comics. In combing the planet to find the best in each field, Rosarium’s own Bill Campbell has found a fellow spirit in Italian publisher, Francesco Verso. Borrowing from the fine tradition of American underground dance labels introducing international labels’ music to the people back home, Rosarium brings to you Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction, a collection of innovative science fiction originally published by Francesco Verso’s Italian company, Future Fiction. Here you will find thirteen incredible tales from all around the globe that will not only introduce you to worlds you may not be familiar with but also expand your horizons and the horizons of the science fiction field itself.
The Long Sunset (Academy #8)—Jack McDevitt (April 17, Saga Press)
Hutch has been the Academy’s best pilot for decades. She’s had numerous first contact encounters and even became a minor celebrity. But world politics have shifted from exploration to a growing fear that the program will run into an extraterrestrial race more advanced than humanity and war. Despite taking part in the recent scientific breakthrough that rejuvenates the human body and expands one’s lifespan, Hutch finds herself as a famous interstellar pilot with little to do, until a message from an alien race arrives. The message is a piece of music from an unexplored area. Despite the fact that this alien race could pose a great danger and that this message could have taken several thousand years to travel, the program prepares the last interstellar ship for the journey. As the paranoia grows, Hutch and her crew make an early escape—but what they find at the other end of the galaxy is completely unexpected.
Shadow Call—Michael Miller & AdriAnne Strickland (April 17, Delacorte Press)
Young adult. Qole is the youngest starship captain in living memory on her homeworld of Alaxak and has spent her life hunting a dangerous energy source called Shadow. Alaxans distrust and evade the galaxy’s royalty as a rule, but Qole is now harboring the exiled Prince Nevarian Dracorte, along with some very conflicting feelings about it—and him. Nev’s feelings are just as complicated, but not towards her. When it comes to Qole, he knows one thing: he’d do anything to stay with her. But when Alaxak is attacked and Nev finds himself framed for murder, he realizes the only way to help Qole and her people is to fight for the throne that should be his. To become the royal she might hate. As for Qole, she would never have imagined herself as the leader of a rebellion. Despite that, she soon realizes that hiding from her power is no longer an option. It’s time to answer the call, even if it kills her.
Before Mars (Planetfall #3)—Emma Newman (April 17, Ace)
After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist in residence—and already she feels she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth. In her room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note, painted in her own hand, warning her not to trust the colony psychiatrist. A note she can’t remember painting. When she finds a footprint in a place that the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that she is caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy. Or is she losing her grip on reality? Anna must find the truth, regardless of what horrors she might discover or what they might do to her mind.
Star Wars: Last Shot: A Han & Lando Novel—Daniel José Older (April 17, Del Rey)
It’s one of the galaxy’s most dangerous secrets: a mysterious transmitter with unknown power and a reward for its discovery that most could only dream of claiming. But those who fly the Millennium Falcon throughout its infamous history aren’t your average scoundrels. Not once, but twice, the crew of the Falcon tries to claim the elusive prize—first, Lando Calrissian and the droid L3-37 at the dawn of an ambitious career, and later, a young and hungry Han Solo with the help of his copilot, Chewbacca. But the device’s creator, the volatile criminal Fyzen Gor, isn’t interested in sharing. And Gor knows how to hold a grudge. Now, it’s been ten years since the Rebel hero Han Solo last encountered Fyzen Gor. After mounting a successful rebellion against the Empire and starting a family with an Alderaanian princess, Han hasn’t given much thought to the mad inventor. But when Lando turns up at Han’s doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s Fyzen’s assassins that he’s running from. And without Han’s help, Lando—and all life on Cloud City—will be annihilated. With the assistance of a young hotshot pilot, an Ewok slicer prodigy, the woman who might be the love of Lando’s life, and Han’s best and furriest friend, the two most notorious scoundrels in the New Republic are working together once more. They’ll have to journey across the stars—and into the past—before Gor uses the device’s power to reshape the galaxy.
Head On—John Scalzi (April 17, Tor Books)
Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth—and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.
Time Was—Ian McDonald (April 24, Tor.com Publishing)
In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found. Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.