I was strolling through the aisles of the bookstore the other night (because that's what I do for fun) looking at all the wonderful book covers and was once again amazed at how many books lined the shelves. They were mostly newer titles given the limited shelf space, but even so, there was a dauntingly huge selection of titles. How is a hungry reader to choose what to read? That's why I'm here.

Here's a selection of the must-read speculative titles being released this month, which includes space pirates, airships, dying alien races, time travel, a rogue artificial intelligence, and Snow White on the Old West.

Shadow of Empire by Jay Allan

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A space pirate who fights equally well with blade and gun aims to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a friend, but is pulled into a civil war conflict in which the planets on the fringes of space attempt to unite against Imperial tyranny.

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WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Space pirates! Also: it's the start of a new series you don't have to wait two more years to finish. The sequels Enemy of the Dark and Funeral Games are being released in December and January, respectively.

Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Trained aboard a flying airship that teaches the fine and deadly art of espionage, young Sophronia must deal with supernatural threats, like the werewolves and vampires wMadetoKillho threaten the citizens of London.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: You don't want to miss how The Finishing School series ends.

Made to Kill by Adam Christopher

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A for-profit robot, who works in a retro-future 1965 Hollywood as a private investigator, is hired to find a missing actor but uncovers a conspiracy.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is a gritty and fun Chandler-esque noir mystery where you'll be itching to know what comes next.

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Sira di Sarc, the leader of an endangered alien race called the Om'ray who left their home to hide among the human population, teams up with a human starship captain to save the Om'ray race.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is the start of a brand new trilogy that concludes the epic Clan Chronicles sequence.

Styx by Bavo Dhooge

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A Belgium cop comes back from the dead to track down the same serial killer who shot him.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: It offers an interesting spin on the zombie idea without being a straight-up horror novel.

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An exiled captain, disgraced after the King died under his protection, is asked to rejoin the palace guard to protect the new king.BazaarBadDreams

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is epic fantasy infused with a rich, realistic culture.

Weighing Shadows by Lisa Goldstein

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Computer repairwoman Ann Decker is hired by a mysterious organization to test their new invention: a time travel machine.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: In addition to the cool idea of travel through time, Ann's inquisitive nature leads her to realize that her dream job may not be all it's cracked up to be.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Stephen King's latest collection includes stories about a man who keeps re-living the same life, an obituary writer who has the power to kill by writing obituaries for people who are still alive, and a husband and wife who try to outwit the devil.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: King includes a behind-the-scenes look at each story's inception.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The evil Queen's stepWinter-SFdaughter defies the Queen and teams up with a cyborg mechanic to launch a revolution.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This genre-bending fairy tale offers a unique blend of fantasy and science fiction.

Planetfall by Emma Newman

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Renata Ghali, a 3D-printing engineer who is part of a group of settlers aiming to colonize a faraway planet, is forced to perpetuate a lie about the colony's founder.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: No lie can go on forever, and the ultimate revelation of the truth may end the colony forever.

Going Dark by Linda Nagata

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: James Shelley, a former Army lieutenant, becomes a black ops sniper working for a suspected rogue artificial intelligence.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is the exciting conclusion to The Red trilogy. You have been reading this, right?

Inherit the Stars by Tony Peak

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Space salvager Kivita Vondir is contracted to hunt down a fabled gemstone that bestows extraordinary abilities on humans—which makes her the target of a galactic manhunt.SixgunSnowWhite

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Adventure and betrayal mark this exciting new series.

The Ark by Patrick S. Tomlinson

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In a future where mankind has left behind a dying Earth and boarded a generation starship called The Ark to find a new home, detective Bryan Benson unravels a conspiracy that threatens the whole of humanity.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The stakes are high is this thrilling debut.

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The story of Snow White is reinvented in the Wild West! The powerful silver baron of a small Nevada town force a couple to give up their daughter, named Gun That Sings, for marriage to him.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is a compelling mash-up of fairy tale and Western.


In addition to the Stephen collection mentioned above, here are some more worthy books offering tasty bits of short fiction:

Dragons, Droids & Doom edited by Iulian Ionescu & Frederick Dott

Mission: Tomorrow edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow

Sword and Sorceress 30 edited by Elisabeth Waters

The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia edited by Jaymee Goh & Joyce Chng

The Time Travel Chronicles edited by Crystal Watanabe

Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal

Happy reading!

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