I know what you're saying, gentle-but-overwhelmed readers: "The are so many books being published, I have no idea where to start!" That's true—there are a lot of books being published every month. But fear not! You are hereby armed with the following list of suggested reads to help you find your way through piles of new science fiction, fantasy and horror book releases...
After edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
The subtitle of this anthology describes it perfectly: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia. Between these covers you'll find short fiction stories of devastation caused by plague, floods, World War, meteor strike, alien invasion and more in gripping narratives featuring young protagonists. These tales are expertly delivered by some of the biggest names in young adult fiction, including Richard Bowes, Carol Emshwiller, Jeffrey Ford, Steven Gould, Nalo Hopkinson, N.K. Jemisin, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Matthew Kressel, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Genevieve Valentine and Jane Yolen.
Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven
Science fiction masters Benford and Niven combine their considerable talents in the wonder-filled story about a space expedition that discovers an unbelievable artifact: a massive bowl-shaped structure that half-surrounds a star. The inevitable exploration leads to further discoveries and alien encounters that will change everything we know about the universe and mankind's place within it.
Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Life on a new world is hard enough, but imagine the challenges faced by colonists when they are tethered to an alien that manifests itself in the form of a dead loved one. Psychologist Elizabeth Cole is assigned to work on this world with the stipulation that she shuns the ghosts. Unfortunately for her, she dies en route to the colony world and finds herself tethered to her supervisor—a man to whom she is attracted, but who cannot acknowledge her existence because he too is constrained by the Ghost Protocol.
Luminous Chaos by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Hang on tight for a new entry in the exciting steampunk series The Mysteries of New Venice. Here, the city's liberator, deposed by his rival, is tasked with a diplomatic mission to Paris. But he and his eclectic team find themselves thrown back in time to before their beloved city was founded and become embroiled in intrigue involving dangerous anarchists. And there is, of course, also the small matter of returning home...
Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear
Bear is one of speculative fiction's most gifted authors. She's not only able to write stories that span genre boundaries but she is extremely prolific. More importantly, she achieves both while maintaining a consistently high quality. The proof can be seen in this new appetizing collection. It includes the title story "Shoggoths in Bloom," which inventively builds on a popular horror trope while delivering a thought-provoking treatise on race relations.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
In this follow-up to Valente's acclaimed The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the protagonist known as September returns to Fairyland where she discovers that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows and their magic to an evil queen. What seems like a straightforward fight between good and evil is complicated by the fact that the Hollow Queen (a.k.a. Halloween) is actually September's very own shadow.
The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
If asked to list science fiction's most beloved series, fans will undoubtedly include the Culture series by Banks, a galaxy-spanning space opera in a post-scarcity future. In the latest novel, The Hydrogen Sonata, the Gzilt, one of the Culture's founding species, face extinction. When their High Command is destroyed, Lieutenant Commander Vyr Cossont is blamed. Now, with a price on her head and aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Vyr races to complete the High Command's last mission, one of vital consequence to the survival of her species.
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Cronin's sequel to his hugely successful novel The Passage involves two narratives. One takes place in the present day in the aftermath of the man-made apocalypse; the other is set 100 years into the future and depicts the struggle for humanity's survival from a dark and sinister force. Both threads paint a dire picture of survival and sacrifice.
In this engaging sequel to cult favorite John Dies at the End (the film adaptation will soon arrive in theaters, starring Paul Giamatti), Wong continues the story of two Midwest slackers David and John. This time, the odd pair try to save the world from its own paranoia-induced apocalypse—one triggered by the plethora of zombie stories in books, television and film.
There's plenty more where those came from. The more voracious readers can append the above list with these worthwhile titles:
- The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
- Diverse Energies edited by Joe Monti
- Janus by John Park
- Knights of Breton Court by Maurice Broaddus
- Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
- Only Superhuman by Christopher L. Bennett
- Osama by Lavie Tidhar
- Out for Blood by Kristen Painter
- Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
- Season of Wonder by Elizabeth Hand
- The Very Best of Barry N. Malzberg by Barry N. Malzberg
- When Will You Rise: Stories to End the World by Mira Grant
Even with the titles listed above that include horror elements, you might be asking, "Hey! It's October! Halloween is almost here. Where are all the horror books?" Don't worry... We've got you covered. Stay tuned next week for some solid horror book recommendations.
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also likes bagels.