Here I am only half way through my short summer TBR list, and already I have 10 great SFF books lined up for the late summer and fall. This list includes mostly new volumes of some of the heavy hitter series of the last decade as well as a couple of stand-alones from writers who have been on my must-read list for far too long.
Ada Palmer‘s concluding volume of her Terra Ignota series, Perhaps the Stars is coming up in September. This is a truly unique world, that began with Too Like the Lightning, of dazzling 25th century changes told in 18th century prose. The author refers to it as “Future Historical Fiction” in which she mixes real historical events with those from her imagined future. The language alone is a great achievement, but the stories of Mycroft Canner, condemned to forced altruism in a highly competitive world, and the many other characters are compelling and full of action.
Then comes a stand alone from Cat Rambo, You Sexy Thing. It’s about a retired Admiral of the Hive Mind fleet who lives in a station at the edge of the known universe. He and his friends run a restaurant but suddenly find themselves forced onto a sentient ship pursued by a pirate king. This promises to be a unique space adventure from a wonderful writer (and teacher).
Naomi Novik is bringing out the second volume of her Scholomanse series, The Last Graduate. Welcome to the strange school that tries to devour its students. The intrepid narrator is determined to survive, and their dark humor is a great match for the school’s dark magic. It’s a strange survival story continuing on from A Deadly Education.
Charles Stross’ Invisible Sun is the third volume of his Empire Games trilogy, and it promises to be another brilliant ride through multiple timelines that are in danger of becoming so entangled that they threaten the survival of humanity. There is a coup d’etat across timelines, a robotic invasion through a wormhole to threaten the USA, and a lot more action in this techno-thriller.
In October, there are two special titles that I can’t wait to get hold of. One is Iain M. Banks, The Culture: Notes and Drawings. I can’t find a lot of information about this title, except that it includes Banks’ own drawings and his notes about the Culture philosophy, technology and language. There will be commentary by Banks’ close friend Ken MacLeod and excerpts from the novels. The Culture novels are one of my all-time favorite series, and I tend to grab any new book that offers more insight about Banks’ ideas.
Also in October is a book I’ve been waiting impatiently for, The Quantum War, the third volume of Derek Künsken’s series, The Quantum Evolution. Künsken’s wild imagination probes the fugue state of mind of Belisarius, one of a designed race known as Homo Quantus. An incredibly gifted rebel, Belisarius took the lead in the first two books in organizing a complex heist and then embarking on a dangerous exploration into a timeline to solve a mystery about his past. The series combines great adventure and wild characters with intellectually intriguing ideas about time and the limits of cognition.
Aside from a second Prefect novel in 2018, it’s been a long wait for a new Revelation Space book from Alastair Reynolds, but the new one, Inhibitor Phase, is scheduled for October release in the USA. This story takes us to the planet Michaelmas where a surviving group of humans is hiding from the mysterious cybernetic entity that is rooting out human life from the universe. When an errant space ship with more human survivors arrives at Michaelmas, Miguel de Ruyter, who has guided the small planet this far, has to embark on a near suicidal mission to prevent disaster. This adds a new dimension to the Inhibitor sequence in the Revelation Space universe, and for me it’s one of those can’t-miss books.
We get further into heavy-hitter world in November with the concluding volumes of two great series. Leviathan Falls is the ninth major volume of the Expanse series, not counting the many novellas that the James S.A. Corey team has produced. The fall of Winston Duarte’s Laconian Empire seems to have unleashed further threats to humanity’s future. It’s up to Holden and the crew of the Rocinante to help create a safe future, along with the help of one of my favorite characters, the scientist Elvi Okoye. She is trying to understand who the gate builders were as well as the force that destroyed them. This promises to be an exciting conclusion to a remarkable series.
Jade Legacy, the third volume in the Green Bone Saga, is also due in November. Fonda Lee created one of the great fantasy worlds in Jade City and Jade War that instantly drew me into its dark, cuthroat adventure dominated by the power of jade. The coveted mineral confers special powers on those with the training and discipline to master its force. Though once controlled by a few clans in one nation, now the whole world is fighting for control of jade, and the Kekonese clans with their ancient traditions struggle to maintain their place.
Multiple prize winner Nnedi Okorafor, author of Who Fears Death, the Binti and Akata Witch series, among many others, is coming out with a new stand-alone, called Noor. The title character, regarded as an aberration by her family, is disabled and augmented in multiple ways, an outcast in her village. But a trip to the market place sets off an incredible series of events as Noor and a herdsman named DNA have to go on the run across the deserts of northern Nigeria.
This is a remarkable group of books, and I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the dozens of compelling new titles coming out in just the next few months. I can’t hope to keep up with this torrent of great fiction, but the ones I’ve mentioned here are at the top of my fall list. What are your favorites coming up?