This month, spend some time in Victorian steampunk England, hunt down lost artifacts on Mars, or get to know Batman a little better. You could also grab a drink in post-apocalyptic Wales. All that and more, in July books.
High Bloods, John Farris (Tor)
It's the near future, and LA is overrun with werewolves. An International Lycan Control force is set up to keep tabs on the "high bloods," those that can keep their werewolfish nature under control. But then something goes terribly wrong, and the book becomes a hard boiled crime novel. With werewolves.
Wireless, Charles Stross (Ace)
Notorious future-forward sci-fi author Charles Stross has collected the strands of some of his short fiction into this compilation. Stories feature everything from relocating the cold war in deep space to a Lovecraftian take on the Iran-Contra scandal. The collection showcases Stross's short works that have never found their way into any of his longer pieces.
Songs of the Dying Earth, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Subterranean)
Dozois and Martin have gathered a crop of modern sci fi writers to write their own stories exploring Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" universe. The "Dying Earth" series is a cornerstone of its very own sub-genre of dystopian sci fi, and these stories give some other writers a chance to lend their voice to this seminal canon.
Metatropolis,edited by John Scalzi (Subterranean)
Five sci fi writers collaborated on their own urban future, and then each took a turn writing stories set in their collectively imagined universe. The result is a portrait of a possible future of cities. From the io9 review:
These feel like cities where anything can happen, from getting your skull cracked to discovering your life purpose. And most important of all, when I was done reading about this future dys/utopia, I wanted to spend a lot more time there.
The Osiris Ritual, George Mann (Snowbooks)
George Mann's well-received "The Affinity Bridge" created a steam-punk Victorian London landscape for his intrepid mystery solvers. Now his steam-punk Sherlock Holmes is back to solve another mystery, interacting with some distinct characters along the way. This one is for fans of clockwork robots, airships, and good old fashion mysteries.
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Neil Gaiman (DC)
This hardcover volume collects a few of Gaiman's Batman pieces, focusing on his canon-spanning final story, "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" This story stretches from one end of the Bat's career to the other, offering a new angle on the Batman mythos.
Purple and Black, K.J. Parker (Subterranean)
"Purple and Black" is an epistolary novel, or one told only in letters. In this case, the letters are between a reluctant intellectual emperor and his best friend on the front lines of combat. The result is an exploration of the duty of leadership, of war, and of friendship. It's also printed in two colors, purple for the official empire business between the two friends, and black for the less formal, more personal letters.
The Stars Blue Yonder, Sandra McDonald (Tor)
A military commander dies, but then comes back to life on a mission to save all of humanity. This mission takes him all over space and time, where he meets his yet-non-existent grandchildren and his descendants from thousands of years in the future. He also manages to thoroughly confuse his grieving wife with resurrection and stories of far-flung time travel. The two work together to save everything they've ever known.
Bar None, Tim Lebbon (Night Shade)
After the world ends, a group of tenacious survivors hole up in a giant home in Wales, but supplies start to get thin, and they learn from a supernatural stranger of a haven a few days away. It's the Bar None, and it's maybe the last bar on Earth. The survivors then decide to do probably what anyone would do in their situation: against all odds, braving corpse-strewn countryside, they try to track down a cold beer. From the io9 review:
In the end this is a deeply sentimental and intimate look at memory, loss, and those perfect days barbecuing and tossing a few back with good friends. And flesh-eating monsters.
The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, Stephen Hunt (Tor)
Amelia Harsh, a sort of steam-punk female Indiana Jones, and a cast of adventurers sets out in an ancient U-boat to discover the sunken "perfect society" of Camlantis. Also on board are a band of female mercenaries, escapees from an underwater prison, and an insane guide. Sounds good to me.
Blood Red Sphere, Lawrence Barker (Swimming Kangaroo)
A recovering "cactus juice" addict passes his days scavenging ancient artifacts from the surface of mars and selling them. Then one such object, the "blood red sphere," attracts attention from pretty much everyone on Mars and the rest of the solar system. It's like the "Maltese Falcon" on Mars, which is something I can definitely get behind.
The House of Lost Souls, F.G. Cottam (Thomas Dunne)
After a psychic trauma visits itself on four students (causing one to commit suicide), a journalist investigates a home haunted by madness and strange occult happenings. The novel touches on many different eras of the house's history, eventually leading to a confrontation between our protagonist and an ancient evil.