Is your bookshelf feeling lonely? Here are 27 titles that will make it happy again! This month's batch of tantalizing science fiction and fantasy includes stories about guilt-ridden robots, witches, magic hair, designer drugs, time travel and cloud cities.
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham
Brad Abraham serves up a cocktail of magic and intrigue in this fast-paced debut. Twenty-something bartender Jason Bishop discovers that his father was secretly an agent in the employ of the Invisible Hand, an ancient organization that is waging a centuries-spanning war using magic. The deaths of both of Jason's parents are tied to the Golden Dawn, another shadowy cabal of witches and warlocks. When they next target Jason, he will have to tap into long-dormant magical abilities to survive.
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
This book had me at "post-apocalyptic robot western." Humanity has been destroyed by a robot uprising and the world is now controlled by One World Intelligence, the shared consciousness of millions of robots. But not all robots have joined the collective. One lonely scavenger robot named Brittle wanders the territory that was once known as the Midwest United States, the so-called Sea of Rust, existing as an outcast of this new society and trying to come to terms with the terrible crimes the robot population perpetrated on humanity.
Retrograde by Peter Cawdron
Most stories about colonization of other planets focus on the trials to that mission. Can the colonists survive the journey to their new home? Can they adapt to the harsh realities of a new planet? In Retrograde, those priorities are certainly on the minds of the 120 members of the Mars Endeavour colony. With their base buried deep underground, they're protected from the brutal environment and seem to be prepared for any disaster. Except this one: What happens when disaster strikes Earth itself?
Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
If you're looking to escape the small town you've lived in all your life, there are worse ways to do it than playing sidekick to a time-traveling adventuress. In this unconventional time travel story, Eli Teague meets this mysterious woman three times: once when he is 8 years old, once at 13 and again at 29. It's this final meeting when Eli learns that this woman surfs the waves of time. She whisks Eli away to join the fight to literally save the American Dream (an incarnation of the values of the country's Founding Fathers) as they are pursued across two hundred years of history by the "faceless men".
Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
The chrome-plated Captain Phasma was one of the most mysteriously intriguing characters from 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now she finally gets a thrilling backstory. One of Phasma's rivals in the First Order, the Cardinal, aims to take down his powerful adversary by torturing a captured rebel spy to learn about Phasma's secret past. By uncovering her hidden history, he will uncover Phasma's weakness.
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
A secret group of privileged magicians compete for control of New York City in this new fantasy thriller from Kat Howard. The Turning is fast approaching – that's the time when control of the city can be contested by other magic houses – and a new ruler must be chosen soon, especially since a new darkness is forming in the city. The only hope for keeping control may lie with a new magician with incredible power, except she may want to destroy the system altogether.
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
In the near-future, China's One Child policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have resulted in a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. Wei-guo is one of these leftovers, seeking to better his life the old-fashioned way: through hard work to better his country. When he saves up enough to buy the right to become a third husband (the legal limit a woman can have), he finds a new family, much to his father's delight. But it will test his idea of patriotism when his loving family – which is harboring an illegal male -- is being watched by the State.
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King
Horrormeister Stephen King teams up with his son to write this harrowing supernatural horror story which, even before its release, was optioned for a television series. One night, the women of the world go to sleep and enter a trance-like state while becoming shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If their sleep is disturbed, the become like savage, feral beasts. The men, left to fend for themselves, separate into factions split on how to handle Evie, the one woman who appears to be immune to the sleeping disease.
The Hainish Novels and Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin
This box set from Library of America, comprised of two physical volumes, contains all of Le Guin's Hainish novels, short stories and related material that make up her universe-spanning future history. The set includes her award-winning novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. There's a lot more to say about this gem. Bookmark this title now and stay tuned later this month for a closer look at all it has to offer.
Provenance by Ann Leckie
Continuing the multiple-award-winning Imperial Radch series, Provenance is about a woman named Netano and her attempt to help shame her mother's political rival. Netano's plan involves breaking a thief out of a seemingly impenetrable prison planet and convincing the thief to steal back priceless cultural artifacts. What already sounds unlikely becomes nearly impossible when you factor in a tenacious ambassador with a close eye on Netano and a conspiracy to frame someone for murder.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
A Secret History of Witches separates itself from other witch stories by sheer scope of its vision. It's a sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of a family of witches and their constant struggles. For decades, the mothers and daughters of the Orchiére family fought to hide their gifts rather than face prejudice and fear from witch-hunters, priests and angry locals. Now, as World War II looms near, it may be the witches' magic that determines the direction of history.
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
In the corporate-controlled future of 2144, a genetics engineer named Judith "Jack" Chen becomes a drug pirate, acting as a medical Robin Hood dispensing cheap medications to the poor. She's been distributing a lot of her own version of Zacuity, a drug that makes people like their jobs. Unfortunately, Jack's version causes an unhealthy addiction to repetitive tasks that drives people towards insanity. She wants to produce an antidote, but she's on the run from two International Property Coalition agents – one human and one robot – who are partners in more ways than one.
Norma by Sofi Oksanen
In this offbeat fantasy set in present-day Helsinki, a woman named Norma has magical hair that is sensitive to her mood and can detect lies. She uses this bizarre ability to investigate her mother's mysterious death. The investigation leads Norma to learn that secret of her magical hair is not-so-secret after all and that there are those who wish to use it to gain power and control. Using this unsuspectingly benign premise, Oksanen explores the exploitation of women, particularly in the beauty industry.
The Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
Cyberpunk is back with a vengeance in the near future of The Uploaded, where the elderly achieve immortality by having their minds uploaded into a vast computer network. For better or worse, their digital heaven allows them to communicate to the younger generation and interfere in their lives, much of which is spent taking care of the servers that house the posthumans. Is that any way for a young person to live, as caretakers for the digitized elderly? One orphan thinks life for him and his sister would be better if they did a hard reset.
Infinity Wars edited by Jonathan Strahan
I love reading short fiction for the quick hits and variety of stories I always find. A perfect example of that discovery available in September is Jonathan Strahan's Infinity Wars. This short fiction anthology offers fifteen different views of what the future of war looks like. Within its pages you will find stories from Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Bear, Nancy Kress, Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn, Peter Watts and many more. (See below for even more short fiction goodness!)
The Man in the Treeby Sage Walker
This hard science fiction mystery revolves around mankind's first venture into space colonization. The Earth is slowly dying and the last hope for humanity lies among the stars. The people of the world come together and fund a generation starship that can carry colonists to a faraway planet. The mission is endangered when someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the scheduled launch date. Panic and suspicion surrounding the death grows, thus putting the entire mission in jeopardy.
Horizon by Fran Wilde
In this exciting finale to the wonderful Bone Universe trilogy, the sky-city of living bone towers is on the brink of destruction in the aftermath of a rebellion. Kirit Densira and Nat Brokenwings, once siblings before the revolution tore them apart, have lost everything and thus have nothing to lose in trying to reunite their community. If you haven't read the previous books, do! They're a treat. This finale brings the series to a satisfying conclusion.
…AND FOR READERS OF SHORT FICTION…
Do you read short fiction? In addition to Infinity War, listed above, here are some more short fiction anthologies and collections being released this month that will surprise you:
¨ Iraq + 100: The First Anthology of Science Fiction to Have Emerged from Iraq edited by Hassan Blasim
¨ River's Edge by James P. Blaylock
¨ Visionary Tongue edited by Storm Constantine
¨ Witches Brew: Stories for the Season edited by Paula Guran
¨ The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2017 Edition edited by Rich Horton
¨ Imaginarium 5: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing edited by Sandra Kasturi & Samantha Beiko
¨ New Fears edited by Mark Morris
¨ The Emperor and the Maula by Robert Silverberg
¨ Frankenstein Dreams: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Science Fiction by Michael Sims
¨ Forged in Blood edited by Michael Z. Williamson