It’s good to see Andrew Liptak back in the saddle, doing what he does best — telling the world about great SF books. Liptak left The Verge last August, but it wasn’t long before he landed at Polygon, and his book column doesn’t seem to have suffered for it. His list of the best books for April includes nine we’ve already discussed here — such as Titan’s Day by Dan Stout, Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang, and Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett — but more than a few tantalizing titles we somehow managed to overlook. Here’s three of the most interesting.
Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (Del Rey, 320 pages, $27 in hardcover, $11.99 in digital formats, April 7, 2020)
Bonds of Brass is the first installment of Emily Skrutskie’s Bloodright trilogy. Set in the far future, the book introduces 10-year-old Ettian Nassun, whose life was turned upside-down when the oppressive Umber Empire invaded his homeworld as it fought against the Archon Empire. Years later, Ettian enters the Empire’s military academy — a way for a war orphan like himself to move up in society. There he meets and befriends Gal Veres, the heir to the empire that irrevocably changed his life. When their classmates try to assassinate Gal, Ettian comes to his aid, then is forced to make a devastating choice: side with the man who stands to inherit the system that killed his parents, or join the growing rebellion to take it down.
Kirkus Reviews says that Skrutskie’s “thoughtful SF portrayal of children navigating war, displacement, and PTSD while finding love and friendship in unimaginable circumstances is very much worth the read.”
Read an excerpt.
The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron (Orbit, 528 pages, $15.99 in trade paperback/$9.99 digital, April 21, 2020)
For years, Sonya Portinari has trained to join the legendary Rangers of Marzanna, an ancient order that was forced into hiding by the Auremuian Empire, while her brother has shown talent as a magician. Their father had worked to keep them away from the Empire, but when he’s murdered by Imperial soldiers, Sebastian is conscripted into its ranks.
Sonya sets out to get revenge, venturing out into the frontier to try and raise an army to fight back, something that will pit the two siblings against one another.
Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “Skovron does an admirable job balancing large-scale and interpersonal conflicts, and strong supporting characters and cultural specificity add texture. This is epic fantasy done right.”
Repo Virtual by Corey J. White (Tor.com, 352 pages, $26.99 in hardcover/$13.99 digital, April 21, 2020)
Julius Dax is a thief and virtual repo man who lives in Neo Songdo — a smart city that’s a mix of augmented and virtual spaces in Korea. He often takes on weird jobs, but when a woman named Kali Magdalene hires him to steal a virus from a reclusive billionaire named Zero Lee, he discovers that he’s in way over his head.
The book follows JD’s heist, the prize of which turns out to be a sentient AI, and the private security forces that are sent off to retrieve it.
Kirkus Reviews says that “White hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but it’s fun to read and more relevant to the present day than similar works in the canon, combining plausible technology with that age-old question of what it means to be human.”
Read an excerpt.
Corey J. White’s previous work includes The Voidwitch Saga., a trilogy of novellas for Tor.com.
Killing Gravity (2017)
Void Black Shadow (2018)
Static Ruin (2018)
Our coverage of the best books of April overlaps nicely with Andrew’s. Here’s a few of the other books on his list.
Eden by Tim Lebbon
Titan’s Day by Dan Stout
The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang
Bone Silence by Alastair Reynolds
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence
Creatures of Charm and Hunger by Molly Tanzer
See all our recent New Treasures here.