See ya later, Summer. Fall is right around the corner and with it comes a new crop of delicious books. That means a whole new selection of stories are just waiting to be read by anyone looking for a little entertainment or a lot of food for thought. No genres do that better than science fiction, fantasy and horror. Do you want to cozy up with a good book that will also stretch your imagination? If so, then take one of these speculative fiction titles for a spin.
The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade, Sept. 3)
The latest annual collection of short horror fiction by one of the field’s most accomplished and respected editors is here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: short fiction rocks. Datlow’s carefully curated collection is evidence of this. The Best Horror of the Year collects 25 outstanding tales, culled from hundreds of stories that first appeared last year, in a single volume that delivers chill after thrill. Contributors to this year’s edition include Dale Bailey, Laird Barron, Anne Billson, Siobhan Carroll, Kristi DeMeester, Gemma Files, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Joe Hill, Michael Marshall Smith, Robert Shearman and others. Read these stories and feel the pulse of the horror genre.
The Nobody People by Bob Proehl (Del Rey, Sept. 3)
Proehl’s timely and relevant novel depicts an Earth society seemingly hellbent to divide itself into extinction. The so-called Nobody People are ordinary individuals with extraordinary gifts who want nothing more than what the rest of us want: to be treated as equals. The problem is that the government has enacted discriminatory laws, and violence against the Nobody People perpetrated by those that see them as a threat has become increasingly common. Worse: One angry young man uses his emerging power to inflict mass casualties, thereby justifying and escalating society’s fears past the breaking point.
The Institute by Stephen King (Scribner, Sept. 10)
The latest full-length novel by horrormeister King is being compared to his horror classic It, if only because it also features children facing an unspeakable evil. The kids featured here all have special talents (think: telekinesis and telepathy), which is why they have all been abducted and taken to a shadowy institution run by the most ruthless people. They are determined to extract the essence of the children’s supernatural abilities—at any cost. Expect to be emotionally involved with a fast-moving story that will be hard to put down.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor, Sept. 10)
This audacious debut—which combines the best elements of the science fiction, epic fantasy and gothic horror genres—revolves around Gideon, a dead-but-resurrected sword-wielding warrior of the Ninth House. Gideon would love to escape her indentured servitude to the noble necromantic house. Instead, she must appease her master (and enemy since childhood), Reverend Daughter Harrowhark Nonagesimus, by helping her pass the Emperor’s deadly trial of wits and skill. This carefully crafted fusion of multiple genres is not to be missed.
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit, Sept. 17)
Abercrombie, a longtime favorite of fantasy readers known for page-turning and immersive reads, begins a brand-new dark fantasy series with A Little Hatred. This blockbuster series is set in the world of his wildly popular First Law trilogy, where old magic refuses to die even as society sits on the cusp of a new industrial age. Vivid prose marks the simultaneous-but-connected storylines of a brutal battle in the Northern lands waged by invading forces looking for glory, and a working-class revolution manipulated by a scheming socialite who aims to take advantage of it. This is the start of something awesome.
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (Harper Voyager, Sept. 17)
This entertaining space opera features a spaceship captain, Captain Eva Innocente, who is forced to undertake dangerous missions by the nefarious crime syndicate holding her sister hostage in cryostasis. Valdes turns this otherwise-serious premise into a fun romp by taking pop culture to task along the way and populating the story with the smack-talking Captain Innocente, an amorous alien emperor, and psychic cats. Set phasers to “fun.”
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz (Tor, Sept. 24)
Science fiction and fantasy excel at evoking cognitive dissonance in readers by depicting world views contradictory to our own and placing them in an otherworldly setting like a magical land or a faraway planet. Newitz goes one better and uses the entire timestream as the backdrop for her story. The Future of Another Timeline depicts a reality-altering war between Tess, a time traveling feminist from the future who strives for equality, and a cabal of elitist misogynists looking to ensure the world is forever changed to adhere to their more conservative ways. There’s no way anyone is coming out of this one unchanged.
Science Fiction/Fantasy correspondent John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning blog. Follow him on Twitter @sfsignal.