After leaving The Verve, Andrew Liptak has landed at Polygon. Or at least his monthly New Science Fiction and Fantasy column did, anyway. He’s in top form in September as he looks at 13 New science fiction and fantasy books to check out this September, including new books by Becky Chambers, Margaret Atwood, Tamsyn Muir, and Stan Lee and Kat Rosenfield.
I was going to feature some of Andrew’s suggestions, but then I checked out Jeff Somer’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of September 2019 list at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, which features a whopping 32 titles, and it won me over. Sorry Andrew, we’ll get you next time. Here’s a few of the highlights from Jeff’s list.
The Harp of Kings, by Juliet Marillier (Ace, 464 pages, $16 trade paperback/$7.99 digital, September 3)
Liobhan and her brother Brocc are talented musicians and singers training as warriors on Swan Island in the kingdom of Breifne. When the sacred Harp of Kings — vital to the successful coronation of a new king — goes missing just weeks before the Midsummer Day ceremony, they are drafted to pose as traveling musicians on a quest to retrieve the harp before disaster strikes. Soaked in gorgeous Celtic imagery and mythology, this standalone fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels offers a perfect entry point for readers of Naomi Novik and Anne Bishop eager for a book that offers similar pleasures.
The Harp of Kings is Book 1 of Warrior Bards. Our previous coverage of Juliet Marillier includes The Blackthorn & Grim Trilogy.
[Click the images for September-sized versions.]
The Bone Ships, by R.J. Barker (Orbit, 512 pages, $15.99 paperback/$9.99 digital, September 24)
In this first book of a new trilogy, R.J. Barker (Age of Assassins) paints a world where island kingdoms wage a war via ships built from dragon bones, the only material strong enough to withstand the ocean’s fury. But dragons have been extinct for a long time, and as the old ships wear out, an end to the war is in sight. But then, a living dragon is sighted, prompting a scramble to capture it in order to build new ships — or destroy it before someone else can. Meas Gilbryn — once a powerful noble, now a pacifist — takes control of the ship Tide Child, crewed by the condemned, and sets off to find the dragon before anyone else, and maybe stop a war in the process.
The Bone Ships is Book 1 of The Tide Child Trilogy. Not sure we’ve covered anything by R.J. Barker before? Don’t think so.
The Monster of Elendhaven, by Jennifer Giesbrecht (Tor.com, 160 pages, $16.99 in hardcover/$9.99 digital, September 24)
Jennifer Giesbrecht’s grimdark debut is set in Elendhaven, a sooty, grimy place still reeling from a devastating plague. Florian Leickenbloom’s family lost everything, and so the sorcerer summons a supernatural being, Johann, to assist him in a horrifying plan to bring on another plague in a twisted attempt at revenge against those who profited from the original disaster. Unluckily for Johann and Florian, the Mage Hunter has been charged with stopping Florian by any means necessary, even as Johann is twisted into a monstrous form and sent forth to strangle and terrify. This dark fantasy novella brings horror to the fore, and signals the appearance of a fearsome new talent.
Don’t know much about Jennifer Giesbrecht, but her first novel is getting a lot of advance buzz.
A Song for a New Day, by Sarah Pinsker (Ace, 384 pages, $16 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, September 10)
Sarah Pinsker’s debut novel is a lovely ode to the power of emotion and music, set in a near future where a desire for security and safety has led almost everyone to live isolated lives, and where connections to others are mostly virtual. Luce Cannon is a rock musician who defies the law against public gatherings to perform live for tiny audiences. Her music awakens something in Rosemary Laws, who has been raised in emotionless solitude and works for the StageHolo corporation recruiting musicians like Luce to be reality stars — a gig that requires her to actually go out into the world, and possibly connect with someone on a dangerously personal level. This is an unusual, heartfelt take on dystopian themes from a celebrated author of short fiction.
Now Sarah Pinsker — her, we know. She’s incredible. Her novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2015) won the 2016 Nebula Award; she’s been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula (four times) and World Fantasy Awards. Her first novel has been much anticipated (and it has a main character named “Luce Cannon” — how awesome is that?)
The Imaginary Corpse, by Tyler Hayes (Angry Robot, 312 pages, $12.99 paperback/$9.99 digital, September 10)
We all have cherished ideas that we eventually must let go. In his delightfully odd debut, Hayes asks a simple question: what happens to ideas that are too real to truly die? For an idea like imaginary friend Tippy the triceratops, who once helped a little girl make sense of her world, what awaits is the Stillreal, a place where once deeply held, now abandoned ideas continue to exist. Tippy makes a living in the Stillreal by solving crimes for his fellow ideas until one day he encounters the impossible — the Man in the Coat, who can somehow kill an idea permanently. It’s up to Tippy to confront his loss and save his fellow ideas from oblivion in the most unusual SFF-mystery mashup you’ll read this year.
Every new book list has to feature at least one title by Angry Robot. Check out Jeff’s complete list at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog here.
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog is a great resource for folks who can’t read every book every month. Here’s a few of our selections from their recent articles.
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of August 2019 by Jeff Somers
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July 2019 by Jeff Somers
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of May 2019 by Jeff Somers
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of September 2018 by Jeff Somers
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of July 2018 by Jeff Somers
The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of June 2018 by Jeff Somers
See all our recent New Treasures here.