Future Treasures: Creatures of Charm and Hunger by Molly Tanzer

Monday, April 6th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Creatures of Will and Temper (2017 cover by Eduardo Recife), Creatures of Want and Ruin (2018, Eduardo Recife),
and Creatures of Charm and Hunger (2020, artist unknown)

When I sold The Robots of Gotham to John Joseph Adams, I learned a lot about the publishing biz, and some of it was weird. For example John taught me that, for various reasons, the acquisition announcement released by the publisher, which includes the title, release date, rights acquired, and a detailed description of the forthcoming book, was traditionally a single sentence. As you can imagine, that results in some pretty tortured sentences. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed dropping by John’s blog at John Joseph Adams Books to read the acquisition announcements, and I was delighted to see this artfully crafted sentence a year ago:

Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Charm and Hunger, the third book in her series that began with Creatures of Will and Temper, WWII-era fantasy set in England where two teenage girls seek to become full members of an international society of diabolists, a quest that will nearly ruin their friendship and take them down dark paths when one girl learns her parents were taken to a concentration camp and the other summons a powerful and mysterious demon, to John Joseph Adams Books, for publication in Spring 2020…

The first novel in Molly’s series, Creatures of Will and Temper, was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and Jeff VanderMeer called it “A delightful, dark, and entertaining romp.” The follow up, Creatures of Want & Ruin, was selected as a Barnes & Noble Best Science Fiction Fantasy Book of November 2018,” and the B&N Sci-Fi Blog said “Molly Tanzer does it all; from her debut novel, named best book of 2015 by i09, to the “thoughtful erotica” she edits at her magazine, Congress, she’s proven to be one of the most distinct voices in contemporary SFF.”

Creatures of Charm and Hunger rounds out the Diabolist’s Library trilogy, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of recent memory. It arrives from John Joseph Adam Books on April 21. Here’s an excerpt from the starred review at Publishers Weekly.

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Rogue Blades Presents: It’s a Time for Heroes

Friday, April 3rd, 2020 | Posted by Ty Johnston

the-lost-empire-of-sol-front-cover-smallIn a matter of weeks, months, it has become a different world. Even within the confines of speculative literature and what’s oft referred to as nerd or geek culture, there have been big changes. For instance, disappointing to those of us who had planned to attend this year, Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas, has been canceled, as have hundreds of conventions and gatherings across the globe. Closer to home for me, a board member of Rogue Blades Foundation, a nonprofit publisher focusing on all things heroic, we have had to push back to 2021 publication of the book Robert E. Howard Changed My Life (though The Lost Empire of Sol is still expected to be published next month).

Now don’t think this is grousing, complaining. I’m merely pointing out how some of the world has changed of late. For that matter, some of the changes aren’t all bad.

As a writer and editor, I normally work from home, so all this isolation most of us are having to contend with of late isn’t new to me. What is new for me is that everybody else is home. Including all my online gaming buddies. And most of them don’t seem to be working at home. Which means they have lots of time for Dungeons & Dragons. Which means I have lots of time for Dungeons & Dragons. And other games. Which means I’m getting less work done than usual.

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Future Treasures: Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Jacket design by Jonathan Bush

Hao Jingfang won the Hugo Award in 2016 for her novelette “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu and published in the January/February 2015 issue of Uncanny magazine (you can read the complete story at the Uncanny website here). Her debut novel is one of the most anticipated books of the year; it finally arrives in two weeks from Saga Press.

A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of children are selected to travel to Earth as delegates. Five years later they return to Mars, only to find themselves caught between two worlds and two cultures… and facing some difficult questions. Kirkus Reviews calls it “Social science fiction…. a thoughtful debut” in its online review:

The year is 2201. Just over a hundred years ago, the Martian colonies fought and won a war of independence against Earth, and since then, the two planets have diverged sociologically. In Hao’s incisive and all-too-plausible extrapolation, Earth embodies the triumph of Western laissez faire capitalism driven by the internet’s savagely competitive social media. Mars, technologically much more advanced and apparently utopian — and here the author treads more cautiously — persuasively represents what benevolent Chinese communo-capitalism might possibly evolve into. Consequently, mutual suspicion and resentment bordering on outright hostility dominate the Earth-Mars relationship….

A thoughtful debut with ample scope for reader engagement.

Read the complete review here.

Vagabonds is translated by Ken Liu, and will be published by Saga Press on April 14, 2020. It is 603 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. The cover design is by Jonathan Bush. Read a lengthy excerpt (the complete 16-page first chapter, titled The Ship) at the Simon & Schuster website. See all of our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF and fantasy here.


Fighting Schools, Ancient Palaces, and a Killing Fog: The Grave Kingdom Trilogy by Jeff Wheeler

Sunday, March 29th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover design by Shasti O’Leary Soudant

Jeff Wheeler was been toiling away in the fantasy word mines for nearly two decades, and in 2014 he took the leap and retired from Intel to write full-time. He’s written several popular series, including the Whispers from Mirrowen trilogy, two novels in the Landmoor series, and two trilogies in the Muirwood universe, the second of which was the Covenant of Muirwood, which we covered here back in 2015.

His latest, The Grave Kingdom trilogy, kicked off this month with The Killing Fog. At Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, Jeff Wheeler contributed a My Favorite Bit entry that piqued my interest — and not just for the Big Trouble in Little China and Kung Fu references (though they definitely didn’t hurt). Here’s what he said.

When I was young, I used to watch the TV show Kung Fu with David Carradine. I respected the loner monk wandering through America’s Wild West and taking out the bad guys. During high school, one of my favorite films was Big Trouble in Little China, just for the great martial art medley of different styles they demonstrated. What many don’t know about me is that I’ve been a practitioner of many forms of Kung Fu for almost thirty years, starting at Wing Lam Kung Fu school in Silicon Valley after my missionary service.

When I was inspired to write The Killing Fog after a month-long trip to China, I chose to set it in a world with the geography of Alaska and the culture of medieval China. Instead of palaces and royalty, I wanted to focus on the martial artists. The protagonist of the story, Bingmei (a name which means ‘ice rose’ in Chinese), is the granddaughter and daughter of a family who owns a fighting school… Bingmei’s world is a lot harsher than the one we live in. While ancient forms of fighting have been passed down within families, history has not. There is no written language, no knowledge of where the ancient buildings and palaces came from. No understanding of why the Death Wall was built and why no one is allowed to cross it. Most importantly, no one knows who left behind magical relics carved from meiwood and imbued with magical power. People collect these relics to hide them away because if their power is invoked, the presence of magic summons a deadly fog which kills any creature caught within it. And no one knows why.

It’s Bingmei’s destiny to find out.

The KIlling Fog will be followed by The Buried World in June of this year, and The Immortal Words arrives three months later, on September 22. Publishers Weekly calls the opening volume a “winding tale of valor and sacrifice… [an] excellent introduction to the prolific Wheeler’s work.”

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Future Treasures: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Friday, March 27th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires-smallGrady Hendrix knows horror. His Paperbacks from Hell, which Goth Chick said “takes readers on a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s… I couldn’t have found a more perfect beach read,” won the Stoker Award, and is one of the most talked-about nonfiction genre books of the last decade. His novels include Horrorstör (2011) and My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2016).

His latest is The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which is already getting a TV adaptation. In a starred review Publishers Weekly calls it a “clever, addictive vampire thriller.. This powerful, eclectic novel both pays homage to the literary vampire canon and stands singularly within it.” It arrives in hardcover in two weeks. Here’s the description.

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind — and Patricia has already invited him in.

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted — including the book club — but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires will be published by Quirk Books on April 7, 2020. It is 408 pages, priced at $22.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats.

Check out Matthew David Surridge’s Black Gate interview with Hendrix here, and see all our coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy and horror here.


Future Treasures: Eden by Tim Lebbon

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

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

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

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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 Tor.com (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.


Future Treasures: Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover by Armando Veve

I’ve really been enjoy enjoying Tor.com’s line of near-weekly original novellas. I don’t know for sure how many they’ve published (I lost count somewhere around 120), but man. It’s a lot. They’ve hogged virtually all the Hugo nominations for Best Novella for the past five years, too, which is no small accomplishment. If you’re looking for cutting edge fantasy and SF from a Who’s Who of exciting new writers, this is the imprint to follow.

I can’t stay on top of all their releases, but every once in a while I get especially intrigued. It happened back in October when they released a sword-and-sorcery novella by Saad Z Hossain back-to-back with a promising space opera debut by Lina Rather. And it happened again this month, when Tor.com sent me a review copy of an odd little package titled Hearts of Oak, by Eddie Robson. Here’s a snippet from Publishers Weekly‘s enthusiastic review.

Four people in an uncannily unchanging city come to question their reality in this piercing work. Iona, Steve, Saori, and Victor can’t remember a time when they didn’t live in the unnamed city or follow their daily routines. They go to work, go home, and repeat this cycle again the next day alongside their obedient, homogeneous fellow citizens. But the arrival of a stranger triggers repressed memories, sending all four hurtling into danger… Robson (Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully) is a master of the gradual release of information, ratcheting up the tension by degrees as both readers and characters learn the truth of his intricately constructed universe… Clever, emotional, and thematically rich, this is sure to please fans of classic science fiction.

Clocking in at 265 pages, this is a very generous package for a novella. Hearts of Oak will be published by Tor.com on March 17, 2020. It is 265 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $4.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Armando Veve. Get all the details here.

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Future Treasures: Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole

Thursday, March 5th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Sixteenth Watch-smallMyke Cole’s fourth short story sale was “Naktong Flow” (2009), which appeared in Black Gate 13 in Spring 2009. It was a terrific tale, and when I met Myke in person a few months later at the World Fantasy Convention, I urged him to send more fiction my way.

By then, however, he’d already moved on to better things. His first novel Control Point, the opening volume in the ultra-realistic military SF/superhero series Shadow Ops, was published in 2012; five more in the series followed in quick succession. His fantasy series The Sacred Throne became a trilogy last year with the arrival of The Killing Light.

His latest is near-future SF featuring a US Coast Guard team racing to prevent the first Lunar War. It’s already getting great reviews, including this one from SFX:

It’s incredibly refreshing to find a sci-fl novel with a female protagonist who’s a confident woman in her fifties… The author’s experience in the Coast Guard lends a strong sense of verisimilitude to his portrayal of military operations, and his action scenes sizzle with the rush of adrenaline… Briskly paced, the book strikes a fine balance between military minutiae and imagination.

Here’s the description.

The Coast Guard must prevent the first lunar war in history.

A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

Myke Cole’s guest blogs for us include “Drizzt Do’Urden Simply Won’t Stop Adventuring: Learning to Love Serial Fantasy” (2015) and “Selling Shadow Ops: Control Point” (2012), not to mention this 2012 interview with Patty Templeton.

Sixteenth Watch will be published by Angry Robot on March 10, 2020. It is 432 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Isaac Hannaford. Read an excerpt at the Angry Robot website, and see all our recent coverage of the best upcoming SF & Fantasy here.


Monsters, Pirates, and Ghosts: The Revenger Series by Alastair Reynolds

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

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Cover designs by Blacksheep and Lauren Panepinto

The Revenger series is one of the most successful SF series in recent memory. Opening novel Revenger (2017) was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, and won the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book; SFX called it “By far the most enjoyable book Reynolds has ever written.” Sequel Shadow Captain arrived last year, and quickly won over critics; the Guardian called it “A swashbuckling thriller — Pirates of the Caribbean meets Firefly.” What’s it all about? The Daily Telegraph summed up the first two volumes expertly:

Returning to the universe of Revenger, award-winning author Alastair Reynolds delivers another thrilling tale set among the stars. Two sisters ran away from home to join the crew of a spaceship. They took on pirates, faced down monsters and survived massacres… and now they’re in charge. Captaining a fearsome ship of their own, adventures are theirs for the taking — and there’s hoards to loot and treasures to find in the darkest reaches of space. But the rules are also more relaxed out on the fringes, as they’re about to discover… A rollicking adventure yarn with action, abduction, fights, properly scary hazards, very grisly torture and even ghosts of a sort.

Pirates, monsters, ghosts…. that’s a whole lot in one package. Everyone knows that all the best series come in threes, and sure enough the third volume in Alastair Reynolds’ series arrives next month. Here’s the details.

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