The number of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books published in any given month never ceases to amaze me. With such a huge selection, readers are likely to find the perfect read to suit their reading mood, or discover some new treasure waiting to be devoured. But where's the roadmap to steer you toward the best reads out there? As it turns out, you're reading it right now.
Here's a selection of the must-read speculative titles being released this month, with books that include uplifted elephants, star gates, robots fighting for their freedom and psychic ranch hands in the Old West.
Want to know more? Read on!
A Daughter of No Nation by A. M. Dellamonica
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Sophie Hansa returns to her birth world—the magical, seafaring world of Stormwrack—to set up an investigative "forensic institute" and fight for legal justice.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This imaginative world adds depth to a fun fantasy adventure.
A Dream of Ice by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara, who obtained strange new powers after uncovering a mystical link to the ancient civilization, is on the run from strangers connected with a newly discovered ancient city in Antarctica.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This riveting story by Rovin and X-Files star Anderson is the perfect read for X-Files fans.
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In the far, far future, after humanity is gone and forgotten, genetically engineered ("uplifted") elephants develop a drug that allows them to interact with the recently deceased, around which a struggle for power emerges.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Because of everything evoked by the book's tag line: The Sixth Sense meets Planet of the Apes.
Rhythm of the Imperium by Jody Lynn Nye
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Lieutenant Lord Thomas Kinago and his trusty sidekick, Parsons, aim to save Earth from being destroyed by enemies of the Imperium.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Nye's View from the Imperium series is infused with enough humor to keep you entertained and enough action to make you turn the pages.
Slavemakers by Joseph Wallace
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Twenty years after venomous parasitic wasps called "thieves" all but eradicated mankind, a handful of survivors try to fight back while not falling under the thieves' control.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is a post-apocalyptic thriller of the best kind: gripping and fun.
Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A 15th-century painting sparks a mystery that touches the lives of a present-day painter and a 22nd-century art historian.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The centuries-spanning story gives the mystery an epic feel.
The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In the Old West, a psychic ranch hand who sees ghosts (for starters) does the bidding of a mysterious woman in the hopes of understanding his abilities.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Messinger's appealing weird Western is swift-moving and engrossing, to the point where it becomes hard to put down.
The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A mercenary and an ex-assassin are hired to foil the murder of the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Sullivan's Riyria Chronicles is a perennial crowd-pleaser, with engaging characters and storytelling that will immerse you in its well-imagined world.
The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Your guess is as good as mine. The plot for this novelization of the film event of the year (the new Star Wars film, in case you were living in a rock instead of your parents' basement) is under the same tight-lipped security as the film itself.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Well, besides the chances of getting your hands on the book being better than obtaining tickets to the film during opening week, the novelizations of the Star Wars films have almost always offered plots with more depth than the films, allowing them to get inside characters heads, and see "deleted scenes" that never made it to the film.
The Rising by Ian Tregillis
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Jax, a rogue Clakker, begins life anew as a free robot, but war with the Clockmakers Guild's threatens to end that freedom.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The Alchemy Wars trilogy is a terrific tale of liberation and war.
The V'Dan: First Salik War by Jean Johnson
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: War is initiated by the treacherous amphibious alien race known as the Salik against the V’Dan, who believe they are the chosen race destined rule the galaxy.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: You can get in on the ground floor of a new prequel trilogy to the enjoyable military sci-fi series Theirs Is Not to Reason Why.
Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A working star gate—allowing nearly instantaneous travel to other parts of the universe—is discovered on Earth. But is it an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research and space travel, or a huge security risk by entities who might use it to travel to Earth?
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: McDevitt's science fiction is not only peopled with realistic and flawed characters, it's also accessible and plausible.
X's For Eyes by Laird Barron
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Two brothers, heirs to a ridiculously rich and powerful corporate empire, deal with life as usual: a boarding school for assassins, the possibility of dad being a supervillain, a murderous uncle who kills his nieces and nephews for sport, and a company space probe that may have made contact with an alien god.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This gonzo book-of-everything is delivered by the very capable hands of Laird Barron.
Your Brother's Blood by David Towsey
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland set centuries into the future, where humanity is increasingly overrun by the undead (called the Walkin'), a 32-year-old conscripted soldier (who happens to be one of the Walkin') tries to reunite with his family.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The book's unconventional premise—as told from the point of view of the undead—ensures a unique reading experience.
Meeting Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An anthology of 16 pieces of short fiction about quests for eternal youth, dark age barbarian princesses, networked intellects, machines bent on human destruction, and more.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Strahan's keen sense of the genre means that this anthology has something for everyone.
Warrior Women edited by Paula Guran
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A themed anthology of two dozen stories featuring strong female protagonists.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The lineup. Contributors include Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Gentle, Nalo Hopkinson, Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee, Ken Liu, George R.R. Martin, Robert Reed, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jane Yolen and more.
MORE SHORT FICTION TO DEVOUR...
In addition to the short fiction books mentioned above, here are some more worthy a offering tasty bits of bite-size fiction:
o A Fantasy Medley 3 edited by Yanni Kuznia
o Can & Can'tankerous by Harlan Ellison
o Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction by Leena Krohn
o Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 edited by Greg Bear
o The Gods of HP Lovecraft edited by Aaron J. French
o The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List edited by David Steffen
o Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton