November's books are bursting with excitement! There's futuristic pulp fiction, swashbuckling excitement, reimagined fairytales... and the return of Miles Vorkosigan. Wild adventures and amazing cleverness await, and you don't want to miss out on all the conversations the cool people will be having about these shiny new books.
Here are 16 books that you absolutely shouldn't miss in November!
(Sorry this is a bit late — we got thrown off our stride by Hurricane Sandy and World Fantasy, and then I forgot we never posted this. Better late than never though!)
This long-awaited book, set a few years before the last Miles Vorkosigan novel, has already gotten a starred review from Booklist. This time around, we focus on Miles' long-suffering cousin Ivan Vorpatril, who's trying to maintain his happy bachelor lifestyle and stay out of trouble — until he hits on the wrong woman and stumbles on a huge conspiracy. The only thing he can do to save the day? Get married.
A new Dresden Files novel is always a cause for celebration — but especially now that everybody's waiting to see how Harry Dresden's new status quo plays out, it's going to be pretty fascinating. The good news? Harry's not dead any more. The bad news? He's got a new boss, and she's asking for the near impossible. (Actually, not really asking.)
The cover blurb from Geek Love author Katherine Dunn might be your first clue that this is something special. Elizabeth Hand has long been one of speculative fiction's great treasures, and here she's delving into the strangeness of ordinary with a collection of short stories that are bound to be unsettling and disturbingly recognizeable.
Remember when there were new space opera anthologies coming out every few months? It's slowed down a bit lately — but luckily, the editor of the amazing Eclipse anthologies (and magazine) is back with a new anthology — featuring stories by Paul McAuley, Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Bruce Sterling, Gwyneth Jones, Pat Cadigan, Hannu Rajaniemi and many others. It's set in a future before humans have left the solar system, so prepare for lots of seat-of-the-spacesuit adventures on Jupiter, Mars and Venus.
This looks like a ridiculously fun space adventure, about a teenage girl who just wants to hide out in the back corridors of her generation ship and repair robots, without tangling with the dangerous Peacekeeping Forces. Too bad there are terrible things afoot, and it's up to Ruby to step up and lead a revolution. As the synopsis says, "Her weapons are a fabulous voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness." Nothing wrong with a revolution on a generation ship.
Forget Steampunk — what about Ice Age punk, or Bronzepunk? Baxter has moved from space operas to a really interesting alt-history, with a trilogy about the rise of civilization in the land of Doggerland, a real land mass that ceased to exist long ago. In Baxter's version of history, Doggerland continues to exist, including a land bridge linking Britain and the rest of Europe, thanks to a huge wall keeping the sea at bay — a piece of primitive geo-engineering that changes everything.
Jane Yolen returns to the territory of fairytales and folklore — but this isn't actually a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, exactly. Rather, it's the story explaining why that one fairy was late to Sleeping Beauty's christening. Gorse, the "13th fey," is allergic to magic, and thus when the rest of her family is summoned to that christening, she's feeling ill. And then rushing to the baby's side, she falls down a hole with a prince and his companion, and gets swept up in trying to help the prince escape.
The long-awaited followup to The Quantum Thief. This time around, Jean de Flambeur is trying to sort of a Schrodinger's Cat-themed puzzle, while coping with hostile artificial intelligences and virtual realities that have been infected by viruses. Once again, the prose is lovely if sometimes a bit impenetrable, and the science fiction is as hard as titanium, with no hand-holding or clunky exposition. At its center is some deeply clever philosophy and some dazzling futurism.
This collection of linked stories, set on a floating city over an uninhabitable planet, caught my attention because it has a foreword by Alastair Reynolds. But it also sounds fascinating in its own right. For one thing, I love the idea of Kesh City being a "democracy by assassination," where state-sponsored killers remove the losing or unworthy candidates. Those state-sponsored assassins, the Angels, are at the center of most of these stories — one character spills her drink on an Angel, which could lead to instant death but instead spawns a great friendship. Another character gets tied up in a "removal" by an Angel. And a talented musician starts to lose her musical abilities after witnessing an Angel at work. Sounds fascinating and perhaps a bit topical.
The His Dark Materials guy is back, and this time he's presenting a brand new version of the foundational fairytale text. Notably, though, this isn't a new translation of the Grimm stories — it's a retelling, where Pullman creates his own versions of some of the classic tales. Says Pullman in a recent interview, "Oral stories are not a text in the way that a great poem like Paradise Lost is a text. It exists as words on paper. ... But an oral story is something told, and these stories in Grimm are a sort of snapshot of something in movement. They're freezing something that was in motion. So I thought I was entitled to ... alter them again and tell them as I would ... if I'd heard the story and wanted to pass it on to somebody else."
The award-winning SF author is back, this time with a young adult novel that targets reality TV. Kind of late on the bandwagon? Maybe, but it sounds pretty nuts, in an entertaining way. It's set in the near future, after the Collapse of America, when everybody is desperate for money — and Amy is lucky enough to get signed up to be on a reality TV program where audiences can win money by predicting her actions in different situations. The only trouble is, every time the ratings go down, the reality TV show gets more deadly. According to Bookloversity Reviews, it's "off the bat crazy" and not at all similar to Hunger Games. Really.
In a nutshell, a thriller about swarming killer ants. Are you excited yet? According to the synopsis, it's about "a supercolony of ants: an army of one trillion soldiers with razor sharp claws and flesh-eating venom." They devour people from the inside out. These ants are twice the size of normal ants and have no recognizeable DNA. Ant expert Paul O'Keefe is forced to turn to the one person who scares him more than giant carnivorous ants — his entomologist ex-wife Kendra. Can they get it together before the army decides to use nukes?
Swedish author Karin Tidbeck is getting her first exposure to American audiences with this collection of dark, surreal stories, and it's already gotten love from NPR's All Things Considered. And Gary K. Wolfe called it the most significant debut since Margo Lanagan in Locus. The title story, "Jagannath" is about a biological ark in the distant future, while other stories deal with strange Swedish mythological creatures or growing a strange creature in a tin can.
Another YA book set in the distant future — this one takes place on a Russian colony on a planet whose surface is almost entirely water. Katya joins the crew of her uncle's submarine and is sent on a routine mission to one of the underwater domes... which turns out not to be so routine after all. SFFWorld calls this "a well-paced novel that examines freedom, the lessons of history, coming-of-age, the long-term effects of war, and life with very little land." And apparently it's chock full of sense of wonder and a fair bit of swashbuckling. Including pirates!
If you enjoyed Cassie Alexander's first book Nightshifted, then you'll be excited to return to the world of Edie Spence, the nurse who takes care of paranormal creatures and occasionally hooks up with zombies. By all accounts, this new book increases the stakes and danger quite a bit, while keeping the zany humor and well-grounded details about life in a hospital that made the first novel such a fun ride. This time around — Edie's looking after a werewolf who got himself in a traffic accident, and lands in the middle of an all-out were war. As Angie-Ville.com says, "This is urban fantasy of the highest order."
And from urban fantasy to epic fantasy — served very, very bloody. Abercrombie's name has come to be associated with a certain type of ultra-violent, super-gritty hard fantasy, and this time around he's merging it with the tropes of Westerns — a gold rush, prospectors, and mercenaries, all in a high-fantasy Wild West setting. The protagonist this time is Shy South, whose house was burned down and her brother and sister stolen. So she's out for revenge and to save her family. Abercrombie is at his bleakest and most cynical here. Still, says Adam Whitehead in The Wertzone, Red Country is "Joe Abercrombie doing what he does best, writing a story of violence, mayhem and vengeance and the effect it has on all-too-human characters."