Just like movie-going audiences enjoy seeing trailers for upcoming films, as a reader I like to see what books are coming out soon. That's why I often sneak peeks at upcoming book listings, and that's why I've come up with a year-long look ahead at the science-fiction and fantasy books to look forward to in the coming year.
A few notes: Publishing schedules are still being sorted out. We have a much clearer view of the short-term publishing landscape than we do the end of 2016. As always, publishing dates are subject to change, too. With those caveats in mind, let's start making our reading lists!
We've already seen some terrific speculative fiction choices for January, and February is no less exciting for discovering new worlds. On the science-fiction side of the shelf, you'll find Morning Star by Pierce Brown, which concludes the Red Rising trilogy and the war between the Haves and the Have-Nots. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold is a new entry in the Vorkosigan Saga, where Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan returns to the planet that changed her destiny. Alastair Reynolds concludes the Poseidon’s Children saga with Poseidon's Wake, in which the influential Akinya family receives an invitation from across the stars. Time itself is malleable in Version Control by Dexter Palmer, which focuses on a couple experiencing personal tragedy. The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer is a space adventure where mankind is at war with aliens. Two superhero-themed novels hit shelves this month: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab and Ex-Isle by Peter Clines. Arcadia by Iain Pears interweaves the lives of four individuals across three interlocking worlds.
February fantasy has a treat for mainstream readers: The Life of Pi author Yann Martel takes to magical realism in his book The High Mountains of Portugal, in which an extraordinary artifact could change history. Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip is a coming-of-age story in a family of secrets and transformative magic. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky takes place in a magical version of Manhattan. Jacey Bedford's Winterwood puts magic on a pirate ship in an alternate 19th century. A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelley features a world where magic is not only real, it's illegal. Mixing genres is Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country, in which a road trip across 1950s New England is a chance to mix historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror.
February's not-to-miss short fiction lineup includes some much-anticipated collections, including Masters of Science Fiction: Fritz Leiber, Masters of Science Fiction: James Patrick Kelly; and The Best of Bova.
In March, look for Arkwright by Allen Steele, which is about the establishment of a colony on an Earth-like planet located several light-years away. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer uses science as a way of exploring the fuzzy line between good and evil. In Transgalactic by James Gunn, two very powerful posthumans try to reunite after being separated. The Courier by Gerald Brandt features a tough, female motorcycle courier in a futuristic city run by corporations. United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas is billed as "a spiritual sequel to [Philip K. Dick's] The Man in the High Castle" and focuses on the New Japanese Empire. Military sci-fi fans will want to check out The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel, which is a space-based science-fiction murder mystery. There's also Gav Thorpe's The Emperor Expects, which features a space navy's mission to stop the deadly onslaught of alien ork ships. Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series continues with Javelin Rain, which combines military sci-fi with magic. Short fiction readers will want to scoop up The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, a master of the short form.
March fantasies are numerous! The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar paints an engaging fantasy in which four women are caught up on different sides of a violent rebellion. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham, meanwhile, concludes the author's epic The Dagger and the Coin series. The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon features a princess on a quest for a tiny stolen lyre containing the essence of the God of Music. Adrian Selby's fantasy Snakewood features a manhunt for a band of ex-mercenaries. A man embarks on a search for the demon who destroyed his city in The Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes. The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley, the final book in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series, sees war engulf the Annurian Empire. Patricia Briggs delivers another fast-moving Mercy Thompson novel with Fire Touched. The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R. S. Belcher is a unique urban fantasy about a mysterious society of truckers. Finally, in Marked In Flesh by Anne Bishop, the uneasy peace between the Others and humankind is tested when humans overstep their boundaries.
April's genre fiction promises a tasty variety of topics. Visitor by C. J. Cherryh, the latest in the prolific Foreigner universe, sees the peace of an alien Atevi world threatened by something unexpected. In reV: The Third Machine Dynastyby Madeline Ashby, the fate of the Von Neumann species will finally be determined. In Sylvain Neuvel's Sleeping Giants, the astounding discovery of a giant metal hand triggers a decades-long search into its origin and what it might mean for humanity. Scott Sigler continues his dystopian sci-fi adventure started in Alive with Alight. Arena by Holly Jennings is a near-future thriller set in the world of televised completive gaming. Steve Toutonghi's Join asks: what if you could live multiple lives simultaneously and never die?
On the fantasy side of April releases, there's The Story of Kullervo, a previously unknown work of fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien, which features a young orphan who possesses supernatural powers. The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells continues the imaginative storytelling set in the world of Raksura, which features flying shape-shifters. Fellside by M.R. Carey is a literary thriller that takes place at a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. Marie Brennan's In the Labyrinth of Drakes sees Lady Trent taking her adventurous scientific explorations into dragon naturalism to the deserts of Akhia. Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway introduces magic at a home for wayward children. If whimsical urban fantasy is your thing, check out Richard Kadrey's The Everything Box, which features a thief and a doomsday device. Thomas Olde Heuvelt's dark fantasy Hex takes place in a small town cursed and haunted by a witch. The House of Daniel by Harry Turtledove bills itself as a novel of miracles, magic, and minor league ball.
Short fiction readers looking for something to read in April should seek out The People in the Castle by Joan Aiken, The Complete Short Fiction of Greg Bear (Volume 1 is Just Over the Horizon. Two other volumes are also released this month), Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran, and Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie.
What else does 2016 have in store? Stay tuned next week to find out!