November is a great month to read science fiction, fantasy and horror, whether you are a longtime fan or just looking to expand your reading horizons. This month's lineup of new sf/f/h includes time loops, aliens, a modern take on Jekyll and Hyde, a Cold War fantasy, and a magical bomb squad. Read on and discover more!
Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape by Gregory Benford
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Billed as a thematic sequel to the author's 1980 award-winning bestselling novel Timescape, Rewrite is about a down-and-out history professor who wakes up after an car accident to find himself in the body of his sixteen-year-old self in 1962. Armed with the knowledge of things to come, Charlie becomes a successful screenwriter…until a life of excess leads to his early demise. Then, poof! He wakes up again as his sixteen-year-old self again. Charlie, it seems, is stuck in a time loop.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Who doesn't want a second chance at life?
City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In this fantasy adventure, magic is real…but it's threatened by an infestation that consumes magic and anything else it touches. Enter the Sweepers, a group of non-magical humans who act as a magical bomb squad, disposing of infestations before they spread.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The fight for magic hangs in the balance because a sweeper named Laura is the last one left.
The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A series of murders shocks a small religious community. This is extra alarming because, in this near-future, criminal "Subjugates" are neutrally edited to be more peaceful "Serenes." Despite that, the two troubled detectives assigned to the case find themselves in a town full of suspects.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This hard-boiled near-future SF thriller moves quickly and presents some thought-provoking ideas.
Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Poor David Botham. All he really wants is a quiet and ordinary life. He's quite content with his girlfriend and his job at the travel agency. But then he saw a blog that's suspiciously named after a title he came up with even though he has nothing to do with it. He has no idea who is writing it, but they seem to be focused on a series of murders in the area. However, David soon finds out that something in his past does connect him with these grisly deaths.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Campbell's horror is simultaneously familiar, cozy and terrifying.
Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This modernized version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about a woman named Liz. She's a good mother to her two children and a kind-hearted soul. And yet, there's another Liz who is a much, much darker person and she'll stop at nothing to get what she wants, no matter how extreme it may be.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Filmmakers thought this was so good, they purchased the rights to Carey's chilling story even before it was published.
Not One of Us: Stories of Aliens on Earth edited by Neil Clarke
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Science fiction often uses aliens as a stand-in for "The Other," an effective way to actually see ourselves from a new perspective. In this themed anthology, Clarke rounds up twenty-one stories about aliens that brilliantly show the true face of human nature. The impressive table of contents boasts names like Ted Chiang, A.M. Dellamonica, Liu Cixin, Alaya Dawn Johnson, James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Kress, Ken Liu, Ian McDonald, Robert Reed, Kelly Robson, Molly Tanzer and more.
Vita Nostra by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Sasha, a sixteen-year-old girl on Summer vacation, meets a mysterious stranger who gives her gold coins when she does what he says. When she has enough coins, the man (who is actually a supernatural recruiter), directs Sasha to attend an even more mysterious university. There, Sasha and other students are forced to do strange tasks whose meaning is unclear. If they don't, their loved ones will come to harm. This is the definitive English language translation (by Julia Meitov Hersey) of the internationally bestselling Russian novel.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Vivid and suspenseful, this philosophical dark fantasy will renew (or spark) your love of fantasy fiction.
Breach by W.L. Goodwater
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: After the war, Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall made entirely of magic to blockade occupied Berlin. Now, the wall is failing and, as refugees and soldiers gather along the border, operatives from both side swarm the city. Some want to fix the breach, others want o take advantage of it. Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to see if the wall can be fixed.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: What's not to like about a Cold War fantasy series?
How Long 'til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This is award-winning author N. K. Jemisin's first collection of short fiction, and it will show you why she is one of literature's brightest stars. Her stories include dragons and hateful spirits haunting the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; a parallel universe in which a utopian society watches our world; a black mother in the Jim Crow South trying to save her daughter from a fey offering an impossible promise, and a young street kid fighting to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.
Terran Tomorrow by Nancy Kress
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: First contact with aliens didn't go as well as it could have; Earth was plagued with an alien spore that threatened its inhabitants. A small team of scientists went to the aliens' home world to extract a cure and now they're back home. Years have passed and the Earth is now unrecognizable. Humanity has been reduced to only a scant few million isolated survivors and the returning scientists may hold the key to turning the tide.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is the satisfying conclusion to the marvelous science fiction trilogy Yesterday's Kin (following Tomorrow's Kin and If Tomorrow Comes).
Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In a dystopian near-future, a young idealistic woman named Adriane dares to question those in power. She is found guilty of treason and punished by being sent back in time eighty years to an idyllic Midwestern town for rehabilitation and re-education. There, she falls in love with another exile and, rather than be the Good Girl she is supposed to be, continues to question the oppressive ways of society.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: It may make you realize that sometimes Dystopias are not that far off from our current reality.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A colony world of mankind is in a continual war with aliens, and the brave pilots who arm the skies are heroes. Young Spensa longs to be one of them, just like her father was. Unfortunately, her father was disgraced for cowardice and now Spensa is banned from flight school. Despite being a long shot, Spensa aims to break the family stigma and get into flight school to become the hero her world needs.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Younger readers can get in on the ground floor of an epic new series by one of science fictions most successful storytellers.
Fine. You want more proof that short fiction rocks? Check out any of these collections, anthologies and short novels:
- The Last Unicorn: The Lost Journey by Peter S. Beagle
- Space Pioneers edited by Hank Davis
- An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories by Andy Duncan
- A Cathedral of Myth and Bone: Stories by Kat Howard
- Choices edited by Mercedes Lackey
- Texas Hold'em edited by George R. R. Martin
- Cabaret of Monsters by Tansy Rayner Roberts
- Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson
- Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good edited by Joanne Merriam
- Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp
- How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen