When you read a lot, you begin to notice certain patterns because writers often revisit the same tropes that have already been visited by other writers. That's not necessarily a bad thing—there are many different ways to tell a story. But if you're looking for something different anyway, you could do a lot worse than to pick up any of the following unique-sounding books which are out this month:

Crooked by Austin Grossman

I don't think many would argue that the years that Richard Milhous Nixon led the United States are not our proudest. But, come on, give the man some credit. He established a peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, he ushered in a new era of diplomatic relations with China, and let's not forget that time he faced off against supernatural beings from another reality. Oh, you hadn't heard about that part? Then you should check out Austin Grossman's Lovecraftian alternate history novel Crooked. In it, a young Richard Nixon stumbles on a terrifying supernatural secret that paints the president we know in a whole new light. What if there was a secret truth behind the Cold War? Do you want to know the real story behind the Watergate cover-up? What if the man who some call the country's worst president was, in reality, the nation's greatest hero? Here's your chance to find out.

Continue reading >


The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

If I told you there was a world called paradise, you would rightfully think that it was a land of untold beauty and peace, where you wouldn't be left wanting for anything. But in Victor Milán'Dinosaur Lords weird new novel The Dinosaur Lords, the name of the world of Paradise belies the dangers that lurk everywhere. Made by the Eight Creators for mankind to settle their differences, Paradise is populated by all manner of garden-variety creatures, like cats, dogs, horses and goats. But the predominant life form is the dinosaur. There are massive plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus, meat-eating creatures like the Allosaurus, and of course, the most dreaded of all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. So how is mankind supposed to settle their differences on such a world? Simple. Paradise is a world where vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engage if fierce battles that will shake dynasties. Is that not enticing enough for you? How about this: this is the book George R.R. Martin himself calls as cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner

While parents are turning the pages of The Dinosaur Lords, what are their like-minded kids supposed to do? Brian Falkner's Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo is a great page-turner aimed at younger reading audiences. In this alternate historical novel, dinosaurs never became extinct. In fact, some have learned how to harness their ferocity. The story is set in 1815, right before the battle of Waterloo, in which Napoleon himself uses dinosaurs as weapons to help him win that battle. It would seem that nothing could stop Napoleon's bid for world domination, until a young man defeats the dinosaur that is terrorizing a small village. That makes him the most knowledgeable person to foil Napoleon's advancing army, and that makes him Napolean's greatest threat, and thus a direct target.  

H.G. Wells, Secret Agent by Alex Shvartsman

H.G. Wells is one of science fiction's most notable authors. As creator of dozens of novels and short stories, he invented many of the tropes still in use today and has filled readers' mind with countless images that evoke sense of wonder. In H.G. Wells, Secret Agent, author Alex Shvartsman puts the author in a new role: that of a Victorian-era James Bond wZombieUnicornho must defend England against a variety of other-worldly threats like time travelers and invading aliens. (Maybe that's where he gets the idea for his classic novels The Time Machine and War of the Worlds?) This humorous steampunk story is also filled with numerous British pop-culture references and Easter eggs, as well as appearances by notable historical figures like Arthur Conan Doyle and Marie Curie.

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

The "Which is Better?" Internet war between zombies and unicorns is older than the cat-pic meme and that question still is left unanswered. Finally, this anthology of all-original stories aims to settle the question once and for all. Two esteemed editors, Holly Black (representing Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalestier (representing Team Zombie) have assembled a fine group of authors (including Cassandra Clare, Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan) to present the case for both sides. Half the stories show how zombies rule while the other half show the mighty power of unicorns. All that's left for you to do is sit back and enjoy the fun.

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, the Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal