New Treasures: Re-Coil by J. T. Nicholas

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Re-Coil J T Nicholas-smallWhen I published my first novel The Robots of Gotham (written under the name Todd McAulty), John Scalzi was enormously kind to me, helping me promote it by featuring me on his blog Whatever, one of the most popular SF sites in the country. I used the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with an ill-fated Sovereign Intelligence machine character, and it was a lot of fun.

Scalzi’s blog is a great way to discover new writers, in fact, and I’ve become a regular reader. It’s how I discovered J.T. Nicholas’ new novel Re-Coil, out this month from Titan. Here’s a snippet from his own guest post at Scalzi’s Whatever, published earlier this month:

The story – the plot – is a whodunnit at its heart, a mystery where the protagonists are trying to hunt down their would-be killers and stop the first truly existential threat to humanity since mankind uncovered the secrets of immortality. It’s part mystery, part space action romp, and part cyberpunk conspiracy tale. But writing those bits was the easy part. For me, the hard part of Re-Coil was creating the world, fleshing out the societies, and answering the questions my agent and editor posed. Big questions on race and sex and gender and identity and power that I hadn’t really intended to write about, but once I set up the basic premise, I couldn’t possibly avoid.

You can read Nicholas’ full article here. Here’s the publisher’s description for Re-Coil.

Carter Langston is murdered whilst salvaging a derelict vessel — a major inconvenience as he’s downloaded into a brand-new body on the space station where he backed up, several weeks’ journey away. But events quickly slip out of control when an assassin breaks into the medbay and tries to finish the job.

Death no longer holds sway over a humanity that has spread across the solar system: consciousness can be placed in a new body, or coil, straight after death, giving people the potential for immortality. Yet Carter’s backups — supposedly secure — have been damaged, his crew are missing, and everything points back to the derelict that should have been a simple salvage mission.

With enemies in hot pursuit, Carter tracks down his last crewmate — re-coiled after death into a body she cannot stand — to delve deeper into a mystery that threatens humanity and identity as they have come to know it.

Re-Coil was published by Titan Books on March 3, 2020. It is 359 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 in digital format. The cover was designed by Vince Haig. Read an excerpt at, and see all our recent New Treasures here.

Future Treasures: Eden by Tim Lebbon

Saturday, March 21st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Tim Lebbon Eden-small

The ivy-cover copy of Tim Lebbon’s Eden,
mailed to me by a creative publicist at Titan Books

Getting review copies never gets old. I get far too many to write about these days, and they pile up on my library floor. When it comes time to crank out a Future Treasures post about an upcoming title, I take the time to select what looks most interesting, or the one I think you lot would most like to hear about.

Unless I’m in a hurry, in which case I grab whatever catches my eye. Then you’re at the mercy of whatever publicist or cover designer is most clever this week, and able to cut through all the clutter and grab my attention.

Today there are more than three dozen review copies and advance proofs piled up in front of my big green chair, but I’m not writing about any of them. Today you’re hearing about Tim Lebbon’s new eco-thriller Eden. Not because Kirkus Reviews calls it “Jurassic Park meets catastrophic climate change in this creepy, cinema-ready story,” or because Publishers Weekly says it’s “wondrous and deeply unsettling.” No, I’m telling you about Eden because a very clever publicist took the time to wrap a copy in plastic ivy before mailing it to me, and it’s that little bit of extra effort that gets attention. (Plus, what the hell are you going to do with an ivy-wrapped book? You can’t just stick it in the pile; the ivy will get crushed.)

It reminds me of the time the Tor publicity team sent me K Arsenault Rivera’s The Tiger’s Daughter with a seed packet that doubled as a bookmark (complete with planting instructions). You better believe I wrote about that one.

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A Masterclass in Dystopian Science Fiction: The Worlds Trilogy by Joe Haldeman

Friday, March 20th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Worlds Joe Haldeman-small Worlds Apart Joe Haldeman-small Worlds Enough and Time-small

Joe Haldeman’s Worlds trilogy, paperback editions from Avon/ AvoNova. Covers by Vincent Di Fate

Are you working from home? Quarantined? Hanging out with a doomsday cult and wondering if the end times have actually arrived? You’re not alone. (Especially if you’re in a doomsday cult — those guys are surprisingly chummy.) But here at Black Gate, our work continues. Classic SF and fantasy isn’t going to promote itself to an increasingly chaotic world. That’s our job.

Today I’m looking at a forgotten trilogy from an author who is very definitely not forgotten. Joe Haldeman became an SFWA Grand Master in 2010, the highest honor one can attain in our field. In 2012 he was inducted as a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and he’s won virtually every major science fiction award. His most famous novels include The Forever War (1974), The Hemingway Hoax (1991) and Forever Peace (1997).

In 1981 he wrote the opening novel in a trilogy about life in an orbital habitat, Worlds. It was followed by Worlds Apart (1983) and Worlds Enough and Time nearly a decade later (1992). All three were shortlisted for the Locus Award. The Portalist calls the trilogy “an epic sci-fi saga… a masterclass in dystopian science fiction,” and last July they published an excerpt from the first novel to help promote the release of digital versions of all three books from Open Road Media. Here’s an excerpt from Xavier Piedra’s helpful recap of the whole series.

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Stories the Dogs Tell: Clifford D. Simak’s City

Thursday, March 19th, 2020 | Posted by Mark R. Kelly


City by Clifford D. Simak. First Edition: Gnome Books, 1952.
Cover by Frank Kelly Freas (click to enlarge)

by Clifford D. Simak
Gnome Press (224 pages, $2.75 in hardcover, May 1952)

Clifford D. Simak was a Midwestern US newspaperman who wrote science fiction on the side, and published stories beginning in the 1930s in magazines like Wonder Stories until finding a home in John W. Campbell’s Astounding in the 1940s (and later Galaxy in the 1950s). City was his earliest significant work, published in 1952 but composed of stories published mostly in Astounding from 1944 onward. An enduring work, it won one of the very earliest awards for SF or fantasy, the International Fantasy Award, in 1953 (two years after Stewart’s Earth Abides, which I reviewed here in January, won the same award). It’s Simak’s most popular book along with his Way Station, published a decade later.


The book tells the future of humanity as it abandons cities for country estates and then moves off Earth to settle other planets, and in parallel the rise of an artificially created Dog civilization. By the end, humans have largely propagated outward to other planets, and Earth is left to the intelligent dog civilization, to whom these stories are myths.

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New Treasures: Made To Order: Robots and Revolution edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Made To Order Robots and Revolution-small Made To Order Robots and Revolution-back-small

Cover by Blacksheep UK

A new anthology by Jonathan Strahan is always an event. He’s been editing Year’s Best volumes since 2003, for ibooks, the Science Fiction Book Club, Night Shade, and Solaris, and just announced the contents of the first volume of The Year’s Best Science Fiction from Saga Press (if that Facebook link doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it; I’ll cover it in an upcoming Future Treasures post). He also edited the groundbreaking Infinity series for Solaris, seven volumes starting with Engineering Infinity (2010) and ending with Infinity’s End (2018), perhaps the most acclaimed original anthology series of the last decade.

His latest is Made To Order: Robots and Revolution, released yesterday by Solaris. Published on the 100th anniversary of the word “Robot” entering our modern lexicon, Made To Order contains brand new stories by Sofia Samatar, Peter Watts, Ken Liu, Sarah Pinsker, Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton, Annalee Newitz, Suzanne Palmer, Ian R. MacLeod, Rich Larson, and others. (To get a sense of the spirit of this anthology, read the first story “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad, complete and completely free, at It’s a hilarious tale of two robot pals who couldn’t be more different, and it’s well worth your time.)

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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John DeNardo on the 7 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Books of March

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

A Pale Light in the Black-small The House in the Cerulean Sea-small The Gobblin’ Society by James P. Blaylock-small

Covers by Vadim Sadovski, Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio, and Jon Foster

Good friends recommend good books. And that makes John DeNardo just about the best friend we have in this business. I’ve come to rely on his regular columns for Kirkus Reviews to point me towards the best new releases each month, in articles like “Sex Robots, the Future of Racism, and Cthulhu Vacations” [Jan 21] and “The Definitive List of the Top Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2019” [Dec 2019].

He also does regular monthly round-ups of the best novels — while not neglecting short fiction, which is one of the things I like about him. For March he looks at new novels by Katie M. Flynn, K. B. Wagers, Myke Cole (Sixteenth Watch), TJ Klune, N. K. Jemisin (The City We Became), Zack Jordan, and Menna van Praag, and new short fiction and collections from Tor (including Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights, and Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson), Titan Books (including Cursed edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane), Undertow Publications, the British Library, and Black Library, not to mention James P. Blaylock, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and many others.

As always, there’s plenty of great stuff on John’s list. Here’s a few of the highlights.

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Future Treasures: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Monday, March 16th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The City We Became-small

Cover design by Lauren Panepinto

There is no hotter writer in the field right now than N.K. Jemisin. She’s the first writer in history to win back-to-back-to-back Hugo awards, with all three novels in her Broken Earth trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky). Last year she started working for DC Comics, producing the science fiction comic Far Sector with Jamal Campbell.

She has a new book coming out next week, and it looks like a winner. It’s an expanded version of her short story “The City Born Great,” originally published at (and which you can read online right here). Set in an eldritch New York City, the story followed a supernatural talented graffiti artist, NYC’s self-dubbed “midwife,” as he tried to paint the city’s song. What’s the novel about, then? Best to let N.K. explain it. Here’s what she told EW in a recent interview.

This story is my chance to have a little monstrous fun after the weight of the Broken Earth saga, so I’m hoping readers will enjoy it, too… The city of New York comes to life — literally, as in, the city has developed sentience and an ability to act on its own. And because there’s a dangerous otherworldly tourist lurking about, trying to supernaturally gentrify the city to death, New York chooses five human champions to fight for it. Problem: they don’t know they’ve been recruited for a magical, interdimensional battle, although they figure it out pretty quickly when possessed toilet stalls attack, backyard pools turn into portals to monsterville, and traffic on the FDR becomes a literal, tentacled, killer.

Yeah, that sounds adequately funky and pretty darn great. The City We Became will be published by Orbit on March 24, 2020. It is 448 pages, priced at $28 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Lauren Panepinto. It is the first novel in The Great Cities Trilogy. See all our coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.

Sword-and-Sorcery and the Problem of Genre

Sunday, March 15th, 2020 | Posted by Brian Murphy

Flame and Crimson-small Flame and Crimson-back-small

Cover by Tom Barber

Among the many challenges I had when I sat down to write Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery was the problem of genre itself.

Many of the genres we know, and love, and live in — mystery, horror, historical fiction — are old, in a relative sense, culturally ubiquitous, and therefore intensely familiar. We’ve enjoyed them for so long that we typically don’t bother to question who set them down, or when, or why. Their conventions are widely accepted. Everyone knows what fantasy is for example, and can conjure up a reasonably accurate description without expending too much effort — elves, dragons, heroes, princesses, magic, set in other worlds beyond our own. Boom, done.

But if you start poking under the hood you will find that genres are full of contradictions, exceptions, uncertain beginnings, and open-ended futures. They don’t coalesce until after art has been created, often decades later. They’re birthed through a weird alchemical process that includes inspired initial breakthroughs, the production of further works by successive artists, derivative and pastiche work, fan/reader discussion, and eventually, critical consensus. Or something close.

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Space Renegades, Leviathan Ships, and Planet-Eating Monsters: The Honors Trilogy by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Friday, March 13th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Honor Among Thieves-small Honor Bound-small Honor Lost-small

Covers by Jeff Huang

I think a lot of the classic SF I read in the 70s and 80s would be characterized as YA today. Certainly the novels of Clifford D. Simak, Roger Zelazny and Anne McCaffrey still speak to a modern audience, and would probably do well in the YA section of the bookstore.

Or maybe not. Every new generation finds writers who speak its language, and sets aside the treasured writers of older generations. And that’s the way it should be. It’s good to pass along our love of Simak, Zelazny, McCaffrey and others to young readers… but it’s a good idea to take the time to see what the heck they’re reading as well.

What are they reading? Lots of stuff. The YA section of my local Barnes & Noble is crammed full of new releases every week, and a great many of them are science fiction. And more than a few look pretty interesting, too. The Honors trilogy by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre piqued my interest recently… probably because I saw the one-sentence summary for Honor Lost (“Quick-thinking Leviathan pilot Zara Cole must stop a planet-eating monster or lose everyone she loves in the finale of this acclaimed trilogy”), and let’s face it, planet-eating monsters are my weakness.

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New Treasures: The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

Friday, March 13th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Boatman's Daughter-smallI’ve been reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy lately, and I’m in the mood for something different. With impeccable timing, along comes Andy Davidson’s The Boatman’s Daughter, a supernatural thriller about a young woman facing down ancient forces in the depths of the bayou. It features the silhouette of a swampman with a plant growing out of his head on the cover, and that qualifies as sufficiently different in my book.

Andy Davidson is the author of In the Valley of the Sun, which was a finalist for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His second novel is getting even more attention… Kirkus Reviews says, “The remote Arkansas bayou is a swirling kaleidoscope of murder, greed, and dark, ancient magic… A stunning supernatural Southern Gothic.”

I like the sound of that. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda’s peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady mythmaking of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman’s Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of human nature, drawing our worst fears and temptations out into the light.

The Boatman’s Daughter was published by FSG Originals on February 11, 2020. It is 416 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

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