Andrew Liptak on 20 Sci-fi and Fantasy Books to Check Out in August

Sunday, August 30th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar-small Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May-small The Mother Code-small

Cover art: uncredited, Dan dos Santos, and Anthony Ramondo (click to embiggen)

I’ve grown to rely on Andrew Liptak’s newsletter to keep me up-to-date on the latest releases, especially during the era of the pandemic. He’s got a keen eye, and roves far and wide to compile a list of the best new books every month. His list of August’s most noteworthy titles does not disappoint, with new releases from Carrie Vaughn, Tamsyn Muir, Seth Dickinson, L. Penelope, Lavie Tidhar, Lisbeth Campbell, Marina J. Lostetter, Emily Tesh, Gardner Dozois and Michael Swanwick, Karen Osborne, Carole Stivers, and Ashley Blooms. Here’s a few of the highlights.

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar (Tor Books, 416 pages, $27.99/$14.99 digital, August 11, 2020)

Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed Lavie Tidhar’s work — particularly The Violent Century and Unholy Land. (I still need to read Central Station). He likes to play with tropes, upending conventional characters and stories, and his next is an intriguing-sounding take on the King Arthur mythos.

Tidhar puts a gritty edge to the Arthurian legend, portraying Arthur and his companions as gangsters and criminals running drugs and weapons through a London that’s been abandoned by Rome. Writing for Locus, Ian Mond writes that “For all its foul language and radical deconstruc­tion, of which I’ve provided only a taste (you should see what Tidhar does with the Holy Grail), By Force Alone isn’t a desecration of the Arthurian romances. Instead, he pays homage to the writers and poets who took their turn in adapting and refining Monmouth’s text.”

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Andrew Liptak on 22 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books in June

Sunday, June 28th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Stormblood-small We Ride the Storm-small Devolution A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre-small

Covers by Larry Rostant

Polygon has discontinued Andrew Liptak’s excellent monthly new SF book column, which is a shame. John DeNardo’s column seems to have vanished from Kirkus as well, and since the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog folded up shop at the end of last year, that leave us with no regular new columns at any of the major sites.

Fortunately, Andrew hasn’t given up. At least according to this notice in his bi-weekly newsletter:

My regular column with Polygon has been put on hiatus for a while, presumably because of the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic puts on editorial resources and budgets. I enjoy putting these together, so I’ll be publishing it here in the meantime.

That’s great news. And true to his word, Andrew has continued to issue his monthly new books column in his Newsletter. The latest one includes “Space westerns, fantastic kingdoms, and more,” with new books by Max Brooks, David Gerrold, Kim Harrison, Carrie Vaughn, Katherine Addison, Zen Cho, S.A. Chakraborty, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, and the last new book from Gene Wolfe. Here’s a few of the highlights.

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Andrew Liptak on 15 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Check Out in May

Friday, May 29th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Westside Saints-small Out of Body Jeffrey Ford-small Sea Change Nancy Kress-small

I don’t know where John DeNardo vanished to this month. Ever since The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog shut down, taking their excellent monthly summary with tbem, I’ve grown to rely on John’s monthly SF book survey at Kirkus Reviews pretty heavily. It didn’t appear in May — but fortunately Andrew Liptak at Polygon came through, so I don’t have to wrap up the month dangerously uninformed. What does Andrew recommend for us in May? Let’s have a look.

Westside Saints by W.M Akers (Harper Voyager, 304 pages, $27.99 hardcover/$14.99 digital, May 5, 2020)

W.M. Akers follows up his debut novel Westside with Westside Saints, a mystery set in an alternate, Jazz-era New York City. The city has been split into two zones, where the east side is a prosperous metropolis and the west an overgrown wasteland. In Westside, Akers introduced readers to Gilda Carr, a detective who specializes in “small mysteries,” and who ended up trying to solve the mystery of her missing father.

In this new adventure, Carr stumbles upon a new mystery when she’s hired by a group of street preachers from the Electric Church to recover the severed finger of a lost saint. They believe that this digit will bring about a resurrection, and Carr drawn in when her dead mother unexpectedly returns…

We covered the first book in the series, Westside, right here almost exactly a year ago. Read an excerpt from Westside Saints here.

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Andrew Liptak on 18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Read in February

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Tarnished City Vic James-small The Gone World Tom Sweterlitsch-small Echoes of Understorey by Thoraiya Dyer-small

Andrew Liptak’s February book selections give you a nice opportunity to be an armchair tourist in some pretty exotic locales (“Visit distant planets, conspiracies, and galactic conflicts!”)

Just as important for diligent book fans, Andrew catches us up with some of the more intriguing ongoing fantasy series. So without further ado, let’s see what he has for us this month.

Tarnished City by Vic James ( Del Rey, 416 pages, $25 in hardcover/$10.99 digital, February 6, 2018)

Vic James began her career last year with The Gilded Cage, in which the world belongs to a class of gifted magical aristocrats. In the next installment of her Dark Gifts trilogy, an uprising has been crushed, and protagonist Abi Hadley’s brother Luke has been framed for the murder of Parliament’s Chancellor Zelston. She goes into hiding, and after her brother is condemned to a remote estate, she hatches a plan to save him. Publisher’s Weekly says that readers will “appreciate the multifaceted complexity of James’s world and its lively, determined characters.”

We covered the opening volume, Gilded Cage, back in April.

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Andrew Liptak on 18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Read this January

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci-small Apart in the Dark Ania Ahlborn-small Frankenstein in Baghdad Ahmed Saadawi-small

Holy cats, it’s the last few hours of January. I’m already a month behind on my 2018 reading plan. How the heck did that happen??

In cases like this I’ve learned (through long experience) that it’s best to distract myself with books until the problem goes away. To do that I turn to the always reliable Andrew Liptak at The Verge, and his monthly recommended reading column. Let’s dig in and see what Andrew has for us this month.

First up is the debut novel from Michael Moreci, author of the comic series Roche Limit and Burning Fields. Kirkus Reviews calls Black Star Renegades “A propulsive space opera that is also an unapologetic love letter to Star Wars… Impossible not to love.”

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci (St. Martin’s Press, 384 pages, $27.99 in hardcover, January 2, 2018)

A young man named Cade Sura reluctantly controls the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, and it puts him into the path of the evil Praxis Kingdom. Michael Moreci is known for his comic books, but his debut novel is a mashup of familiar tropes from space operas like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy. Kirkus Reviews says that he’s assembled all of these tropes “with such devotion and style that it’s impossible not to love this strange mashup for its own sake.”

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Andrew Liptak on 16 SF, Fantasy, and Horror Books to Read in July

Saturday, July 29th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Harbors of the Sun Martha Wells-small Tomorrow's Kin Nancy Kress-small Bannerless Carrie Vaughn small

By my count, there are two days left in July. If I don’t sleep for the next two days, and ignore e-mail and the phone, I may be able salvage some of my July reading plan.

Of course, that assumes I don’t discover a new batch of enticing July titles. And with Andrew Liptak on the job, chances of that are slim. Over at The Verge, he’s compiled a list of 16 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books to read this July, featuring space operas, superheroes, and fantasies. It includes a new novel from one of the most popular authors to appear in Black Gate, the marvelous Martha Wells, a Nazi superhero thriller from Kay Kenyon, the opening novel in a new trilogy from Nancy Kress, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery from the brilliant Carrie Vaughn, and the saga of a San Francisco superheroine by Sarah Kuhn.

Let’s see what Andrew has for us.

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Andrew Liptak on 39 SF, Fantasy, and Horror Books to Read in June

Monday, June 12th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Rebellion's Last Traitor-small Slaves of the Switchboard FINA FINAL.indd The Witch Who Came In From The Cold-small

Last January, over at The Verge, Andrew Liptak combed through publisher catalogs and countless press releases to produce 16 SF and fantasy books worth noting. He did the same thing in March and came up with 23 titles. His June report includes a whopping 39 books. I can see this month is going to take some serious reading time if I even want to pretend to keep up.

Andrew’s list includes new titles by Tanya Huff, Catherynne M. Valente, Terry Brooks, Brenda Cooper, Victor LaValle, Yoon Ha Lee, Seanan McGuire, Cindy Pon, Lilith Saintcrow, Victoria Schwab, Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, Theodora Goss, James Gunn, Stephen Graham Jones, Linda Nagata, Will McIntosh, Rachel Dunne, Daryl Gregory, Jason M. Hough, Karin Tidbeck, Tad Williams, and others. Here’s some of his selections that I found most interesting.

The Rebellion’s Last Traitor by Nik Korpon — Angry Robot (352 pages, $7.99 in paperback, June 6, 2017)

Decades of war has shattered Eitan City, and to help restore order, the Tathadann Party rewrites history by outlawing the past. One man, Henraek, is a memory thief, stealing memories from civilians, until he harvests a memory of his own wife’s death. Now, he’s going to do whatever it takes to discover the truth about her killing, even if it means turning on the people he was most loyal to.

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Andrew Liptak on 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels to Read this March

Monday, March 20th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Lotus Blue-small sins type5 The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories-small

Over at The Verge, our man Andrew Liptak faithfully executes his duty to highlight the most intriguing books of the month. And what a fine selection he’s lined up for March! He starts with Lotus Blue by Cat Spars, published in paperback by Talos on March 7.

Star and Nene are orphans who are part of a caravan of traders in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters. When their caravan sees a satellite crash to Earth, Star ends up on a journey that takes her far from home. Aided by Quarrel, an ancient super-soldier, she has to learn to trust her unlikely allies as a long-sleeping war machine awakens in the desert, and threatens all of humanity.

Also in the spotlight is the latest from Brian McClellan (the Powder Mage series). Sins of Empire, the opening volume in a new series, was published in hardcover by Orbit March 7, 2017.

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Andrew Liptak on 33 SF and Fantasy Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2017

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Collapsing Empire John Scalzi-small Luna Wolf Moon-small The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter Theodora Goss-small

I don’t know about you, but given the choice between reading the best books of 2017 and the ones everyone’s talking about…. I think I’d go with the latter. Because books that aren’t talked about are soon forgotten, and forgotten books are irrelevant books. And who wants to waste their time on irrelevant books?

Fortunately, we’re here to talk about the 2017 books that are already generating a lot of buzz. Today’s arbiter of excellence is Andrew Liptak who, in an article for The Verge, has compiled a list of 33 SF & fantasy titles that will dominate the conversation over the next year. His list includes novels by Mur Lafferty, Nnedi Okorafor, Kameron Hurley, Chuck Wendig, V. E. Schwab, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ada Palmer, Allen Steele, Timothy Zahn, Cory Doctorow, Brian Staveley, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Yoon Ha Lee, Max Gladstone, Peter V. Brett, N.K. Jemisin, Ann Leckie, and many others.

Here’s a look at some of the most interesting titles on Andrew’s list, starting with The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi.

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Andrew Liptak on 16 SF and Fantasy Novels You Don’t Want to Miss in January

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Fortress at the End of Time Joe M. McDermott-small Defiant Dave Bara-small Binti Home Nnedi Okorafor-small

Good golly, we’re more than halfway through January already. How the heck did that happen? I still have over a dozen January new releases to cover!

Well, no use complaining about it… especially when I could use that energy to cheat, instead. Rather than tell you about the best new books in January myself, I could just let the distinguished Andrew Liptak do it. Over at The Verge, Andrew has jotted down his thoughts on 16 science fiction and fantasy novels you don’t want to miss in January — including new books by Carrie Vaughn, Laura Anne Gilman, Annie Bellet, Seanan McGuire, Tad Williams, Katherine Arden, Neil Clarke, and many more.

Perhaps the most intriguing book on his list is The Fortress at the End of Time, published this week by In a feature review published January 17th, Andrew calls it “a brilliant throwback to classic science fiction.”

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