Come February, will it be the frigid cold of the dark side of January (the planet, not the month), or will the sun burn us in its unforgiving light? There’s no way to know, but Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night will tell you how to find the happy medium between both! This month’s science fiction releases also includes the Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy collected in omnibus form, contemporary Chinese SF in translation, and a most ambitious undertaking that honors the memory of the late Gardner Dozois—the very best of the very best SF of the year! With so many short stories, novellas, and new novels, there’s something for everyone.
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
Always Coming Home—Ursula K. Le Guin (February 5, Library of America)
This fourth volume in the authoritative Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work presents perhaps her finest achievement, Always Coming Home (1985), a lush novel in the form of an anthropologist’s report of the Kesh society, a people who “might be going to have lived a long, long time from now” in a future California. An utterly original combination of fables and poems, songs and sketches, the original text of the novel is supplemented in this definitive new edition with never-before-published additional texts Le Guin “translated” from the Kesh just before her death, including for the first time the complete text of the short novel-within-a-novel, Dangerous People. Also here are 100 pages of Le Guin’s essays on the extraordinary composition of Always Coming Home, and all 100 of Margaret Chodos’s original drawings. Set in a future Napa Valley, California, after an apocalypse caused by industrialization and environmental exploitation, the book concerns a matrilineal people who have learned to live in balance not only with their environment but between genders. Comprising interwoven stories, poems, histories, myths, and artwork, the book is—more even than Tolkien’s Silmarillion—a complete imagining of a world, down to an alphabet and glossary of the Kesh language, recipes, and music.
Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion #1)—Jessie Mihalik (February 5, Harper Voyager)
In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars. Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head. When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape. But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for…
Binti: The Complete Trilogy—Nnedi Okorafor (February 5, DAW)
Omnibus including a brand-new Binti story! In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family’s concerns, Binti’s talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey. But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti’s spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination. There is more to the history of the Medusae—and their war with the Khoush—than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.
Man-Kzin Wars XV—Larry Niven, editor (February 5, Baen)
The predatory catlike warrior race known as the Kzin never had a hard time dealing with all those they encountered, conquering alien worlds with little effort. That is until they came face to face with the leaf-eaters known as humans. Small of stature and lacking both claws and fangs, the humans should have been easy prey. But for years now the humans and the Kzin have been engaged in a series of wars, with neither side able to declare decisive victory once and for all. A new collection of short stories set in the Man-Kzin Wars shared universe created by multiple New York Times best-seller, incomparable tale-spinner, and Nebula- and five-time Hugo-Award-winner, Larry Niven. With stories by Brad R. Torgersen, Brendan DuBois, Martin L. Shoemaker, Hal Colebach, Jessica Q. Fox, and Jason Fregeau.
10,000 Bones—Joe Ollinger (February 5, Diversion Books)
On the planet Brink, calcium is cash. The element’s scarcity led the world’s government to declare it the official currency. In the decades since, the governments of other colonized worlds have suppressed shipments of calcium in order to maintain favorable exchange rates, while Brink’s Commerce Board has struggled to negotiate importation quotas to keep the population alive and growing. Taryn Dare is a Collections Agent, a specialized detective tasked with finding black market calcium and recovering it, so that the Commerce Board can recycle it and distribute it as currency. Taryn is fueled by one goal: to save up enough currency units for a one-way ticket to a better world. But when a job recovering a human corpse uncovers a deadly conspiracy in the system, Taryn is drawn into an investigation that may threaten her life, and the very fabric of her society.
The City in the Middle of the Night—Charlie Jane Anders (February 12, Tor Books)
January is a dying planet, where the tidal-locked sun never sets, incurring a frigid darkness anywhere the burning light fails to touch. The human race clings to life in two great cities in the dim space between extremes—but the cities themselves have begun to crumble, and society is becoming as unforgiving and hostile as the environment around them. Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, becomes suddenly a pariah, sacrificed to the night, saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice. But her fate is not yet written, and Sophie’s ensuing journey will not only lead her to her true purpose, but change the entire world.
Terminal Uprising (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse #2)—Jim C. Hines (February 12, DAW)
The Krakau came to Earth in the year 2104. By 2105, humanity had been reduced to shambling, feral monsters. In the Krakau’s defense, it was an accident, and a century later, they did come back and try to fix us. Sort of. It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth of that accident. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago. Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full. Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans… or drown the galaxy in chaos. To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it. Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.
The Revenant Express (Newbury & Hobbes #5)—George Mann (February 12, Tor Books)
Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersburg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Faberge to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo. No sooner do they take off then sinister goings-on start to plague the train, and it is discovered that an old villain, thought dead, is also on board and seeking revenge. Can Newbury and Amelia defeat him and get the clockwork organ back to the Fixer in time to save Veronica? And can they do so without Newbury going so far into the dark side of occult magic that he can never return Meanwhile, Sir Charles Bainbridge is the only one of their team left in London to struggle with a case involving a series of horrific crimes. Someone is kidnapping prominent men and infecting them with the Revenant plague, leaving them chained in various locations around the city. But why? It’s a rousing chase to save both London and Veronica. Will these brave detectives be up to the task?
The Test—Sylvain Neuvel (February 12, Tor.com Publishing)
Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?
Doctor Who: Scratchman—Tom Baker (February 12, BBC Books)
In his first-ever Doctor Who novel, Tom Baker’s incredible imagination is given free rein. A story so epic it was originally intended for the big screen, Scratchman is a gripping, white-knuckle thriller almost forty years in the making. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island, when their holiday is cut short by the appearance of strange creatures—hideous scarecrows, who are preying on the local population. The islanders are living in fear, and the Doctor vows to save them all. But it doesn’t go to plan—the time travellers have fallen into a trap, and Scratchman is coming for them. With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be the Devil. Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of. And the Doctor’s worst nightmares are coming out to play…
Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation—Ken Liu, translator (February 19, Tor Books)
Broken Stars, edited by multi award-winning writer Ken Liu—translator of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem by acclaimed Chinese author Cixin Liu—is his second thought-provoking anthology of Chinese short speculative fiction. Following Invisible Planets, Liu has now assembled the most comprehensive collection yet available in the English language, sure to thrill and gratify readers developing a taste and excitement for Chinese SF. Some of the included authors are already familiar to readers in the West (Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang, both Hugo winners); some are publishing in English for the first time. Because of the growing interest in newer SFF from China, virtually every story here was first published in Chinese in the 2010s. The stories span the range from short-shorts to novellas, and evoke every hue on the emotional spectrum. Besides stories firmly entrenched in subgenres familiar to Western SFF readers such as hard SF, cyberpunk, science fantasy, and space opera, the anthology also includes stories that showcase deeper ties to Chinese culture: alternate Chinese history, chuanyue time travel, satire with historical and contemporary allusions that are likely unknown to the average Western reader. While the anthology makes no claim or attempt to be “representative” or “comprehensive,” it demonstrates the vibrancy and diversity of science fiction being written in China at this moment. In addition, three essays at the end of the book explore the history of Chinese science fiction publishing, the state of contemporary Chinese fandom, and how the growing interest in science fiction in China has impacted writers who had long labored in obscurity.
The Knife at Your Back (Chronin #1)—Alison Wilgus (February 19, Tor Books)
Her name is Mirai Yoshida. She was not born in Japan. She is not supposed to be in 1864. But, through a time-travel mishap, Mirai is stuck with no way out. Help may be found when she befriends Hatsu, a humble tea mistress harboring a dangerous secret. Yet time is running short for the entire nation, because Mirai knows that the shogunate is about to fall. Learning the way of the sword might be her only path towards survival.
Fleet of Knives (Embers of War #2)—Gareth L. Powell (February 19, Titan Books)
The former warship Trouble Dog and her crew of misfits is called upon by the House of Reclamation to investigate a distress call from the human starship the Lucy’s Ghost. Her crew abandon their crippled ship and seek refuge abroad an abandoned, slower-than-light generation ship launched ten thousand years before by an alien race. However, the enormous ship contains deadly secrets of its own. Recovered war criminal, Ona Sudak, faces a firing squad for her actions in the Archipelago War. But, at the last moment, she is smuggled out of her high security prison. The Marble Armada has called for her to accompany its ships as observer and liaison, as it spreads itself across the human Generality, enforcing the peace at all costs. The alien ships will not tolerate resistance, and all dissenters are met with overwhelming and implacable force. Then her vessel intercepts messages from the House of Reclamation and decides the Trouble Dog has a capacity for violence which cannot be allowed to endure. As the Trouble Dog and her crew fight to save the crew of the Lucy’s Ghost, the ship finds herself caught between chaotic alien monsters on one side, and on the other, destruction at the hands of the Marble Armada.
Halo: Renegades—Kelly Gay (February 19, Gallery Books)
Find. Claim. Profit. In a post-Covenant War galaxy littered with scrap, it’s the salvager’s motto—and Rion Forge certainly made her mark on the trade. All she wanted was to grow her business and continue the search for her long-lost father, but her recent discovery of a Forerunner debris field at the edge of human-occupied space has now put her squarely in the crosshairs of the Office of Naval Intelligence and the violent remains of the Covenant. Each faction has a desire to lay claim to the spoils of ancient technology, whatever the cost, sending Rion and the crew of the Ace of Spades on a perilous venture—one that unexpectedly leads them straight into danger far greater than anything they’ve ever encountered…
Alita: Battle Angel – The Official Movie Novelization—Pat Cadigan (February 19, Titan Books)
In the twenty-sixth century, a female cyborg is rescued from the scrap heap by a scientist… The official novelization to the highly anticipated science fiction film Alita: Battle Angel, based on Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita manga, set to be released on February 14, 2019. The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez, written and produced by James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) and stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Mahershala Ali.
No Way—S.J. Morden (February 26, Orbit Books)
They were sent to build a utopia, but all they found on Mars was death. Frank Kitteridge has been abandoned. But XO, the greedy—and ultimately murderous—corporate architects of humanity’s first Mars base made a costly mistake when they left him there: they left him alive. Using his skills and his wits, he’s going to find a way back home even if it kills him. Little does he know that Mars isn’t completely empty. Just over the mountain, there’s another XO base where things are going terribly, catastrophically wrong. And when the survivors of that mission find Frank, they’re going to want to take even the little he has away from him. If there’s anything in Frank’s favor, it’s this: he’s always been prepared to go to the extremes to get the job done. That’s how he ended up on Mars in the first place. It just might be his ticket back.
The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction—Gardner Dozois, editor (February 26, St. Martin’s Press)
For decades, the Year’s Best Science Fiction has been the most widely read short science fiction anthology of its kind. Now, after thirty-five annual collections comes the ultimate in science fiction anthologies. In The Very Best of the Best, the late legendary editor Gardner Dozois has selected the finest short stories for this landmark collection.