There’s nothing quite like an exciting debut fantasy novel. Fantasy is a genre of limitless potential, and every new writer takes us in a direction never before explored. Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant, to be published in hardcover by Tor in September, tells the tale of a young woman from a conquered people who tries to transform a vast empire from within.
Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people — even her soul.
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.
Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.
But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant will be published by Tor Books on September 15, 2015. It is 400 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Sam Weber. Read an excerpt at Tor.com.
Editor Dominik Parisien has just announced the Table of Contents for his upcoming anthology Clockwork Canada, to be published by Exile Editions, a Canadian small press, next year.
Exile began publishing Canadian genre anthologies in 2013; so far they’ve published Dead North: Canadian Zombie Fiction (edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia), Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse (edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia), and New Canadian Noir (edited by Claude Lalumière and David Nickle). They are currently reading submissions for a fifth anthology: Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories, edited by Kelsi Morris and Kaitlin Tremblay.
Here’s the description:
Clockwork Canada runs the gamut of steampunk, showcasing a wide variety of genre elements, from purely technological contraptions to combinations of the mechanical and magical. The stories in the anthology reimagine important Canadian historical events, provide us with alternate Canadas, and gather inspiration from the Canadian landscape to make us wonder: what if history had gone a different way?
Clockwork Canada will contain fifteen stories; all are steampunk, and all are set in Canada. Here’s the complete table of contents.
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Cthulhu Invictus, the popular 2009 Call of Cthulhu sourcebook from Chaosium, allows players to partake in mythos adventures in the hills and streets of ancient Rome. It was at least partially inspired by one of Lovecraft’s most famous dreams, described in a letter to Donald Wandrei dated Thursday, November 3, 1927. The letter survives (and the relevant fragment, now titled “The Very Old Folk,” is posted online here), and it relates an exceptionally vivid nightmare in which Lovecraft dreamt he was an ancient Roman named Lucius Caelius Rufus, investigating a terrible Iberian hill tribe.
He had killed himself when the horses screamed… He, who had been born and lived all his life in that region, and knew what men whispered about the hills. All the torches now began to dim, and the cries of frightened legionaries mingled with the unceasing screams of the tethered horses. The air grew perceptibly colder, more suddenly so than is usual at November’s brink, and seemed stirred by terrible undulations which I could not help connecting with the beating of huge wings…
Above the nighted screaming of men and horses that dæmonic drumming rose to louder pitch, whilst an ice-cold wind of shocking sentience and deliberateness swept down from those forbidden heights and coiled about each man separately, till all the cohort was struggling and screaming in the dark… Only old Scribonius Libo seemed resigned. He uttered words amidst the screaming, and they echo still in my ears… “Wickedness of old… it is wickedness of old…”
Tales of Cthulhu Invictus is an original anthology of Cthulhu Mythos fiction set in Ancient Rome, the setting of Cthulhu Invictus. It was funded as a stretch goal as part of a successful Kickstarter for De Horrore Cosmico. It is due to be published any day now by Golden Goblin Press.
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We’re more than three quarters of the way through July, and I’ve barely scratched the surface on the 30 new books we covered in The Best New Releases in June. If I want to get caught up, I’ll have to cut back on late-night superhero movie marathons with my kids (and probably sleeping, and eating.)
July’s crop of new fantasy releases includes some terrific work from C.S.E. Cooney. Peter V. Brett, Max Gladstone, Wesley Chu, Lou Anders, Melinda Snodgrass, Victor Milan, Chris Willrich, Elizabeth Bear, Nnedi Okorafor, D.B. Jackson, and many others. There are 33 in the list this month, so let’s get started.
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Michael Swanwick’s Darger and Surplus stories, featuring a con-man and a genetically engineering talking dog, began with the Hugo-award winning short story “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” in 2002. Since then there have been many additional tales of adventure featuring the two, including the 2002 Hugo nominee “The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport,” and the 2011 novel Dancing with Bears (which finished sixth in the 2012 Locus Poll for Best SF Novel).
Swanwick’s latest novel, Chasing the Phoenix, finds our two con-men/heroes in post-collapse China, in the middle of a brand new con… one that quickly spirals beyond their control, and soon attracts the kind of attention they’d much rather avoid.
In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems.
Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes…
Chasing the Phoenix will be published by Tor Books on August 11, 2015. It is 320 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital version.
One of the most popular authors in the later issues of the print version of Black Gate was Jonathan L. Howard. His first story for us, about a young thief named Kyth hired to penetrate a deadly tomb, was filled with surprises — not least of which was the amiable lich who congratulated Kyth when she reached the heart of his lair. It was titled “The Beautiful Corridor,” and its sequel, “The Shuttered Temple,” appeared in BG 15. Jonathan has had a very successful career as a fantasy novelist since those early days, and his latest novel, about a private detective who teams with the last descendant of H.P. Lovecraft to investigate some very bizarre crimes indeed, arrives in October. It’s one of the most anticipated titles of fall for me.
Daniel Carter used to be a homicide detective, but his last case — the hunt for a serial killer — went wrong in strange ways and soured the job for him. Now he’s a private investigator trying to live a quiet life. Strangeness, however, has not finished with him. First he inherits a bookstore in Providence from someone he’s never heard of, along with an indignant bookseller who doesn’t want a new boss. She’s Emily Lovecraft, the last known descendant of H.P. Lovecraft, the writer from Providence who told tales of the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods, creatures and entities beyond the understanding of man. Then people start dying in impossible ways, and while Carter doesn’t want to be involved, but he’s beginning to suspect that someone else wants him to be. As he reluctantly investigates, he discovers that Lovecraft’s tales were more than just fiction, and he must accept another unexpected, and far more unwanted inheritance.
Jonathan L. Howard’s previous novels include the four volumes in the Johannes Cabal series (Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Johannes Cabal the Detective, The Fear Institute, and The Brothers Cabal), and The Russalka Chronicles, including Katya’s World. Our previous coverage includes Jonathan’s article on writing the Johannes Cabel series, and his interview with John Joseph Adams. Carter & Lovecraft will be published by Thomas Dunne Books on October 20, 2015. It is 320 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. See more details at Jonathan’s website.
I first met Brad Beaulieu when he submitted the novella “From the Spices of Sanandira” to Black Gate magazine. It was a terrific tale, filled with magic, intrigue, and a desert filled with long-buried secrets. Alas, Black Gate was nearly defunct by that point, and we’d largely stopped buying fiction. He eventually found a home for it at Scott H. Andrew’s excellent Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where it was published in two parts (you can read it free here).
I followed Brad’s career closely after that. He published The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy through Night Shade Books (2011-2013), and late last year I heard he’d signed a contract for a major new Arabian Nights-inspired series with DAW: The Song of Shattered Sands. The first volume, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, is scheduled to be released next month, and you can read all the details — and get a peek at the absolutely gorgeous cover art — in the wraparound image above (click for bigger version.)
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai will be published by DAW on September 1, 2015. It is 592 pages, priced at $24.95 in hardcover, and $9.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Adam Paquette. Get more details at Brad’s website.
Jeff Wheeler’s Muirwood trilogy is one of the success stories of self-publishing. All three volumes were released in 2011, and they did so well they were picked up by 47North, Amazon’s new fantasy and SF publishing arm, and republished in handsome new editions in January 2013.
Those of you who hate waiting for the next installment of your favorite fantasy series are in luck. It looks like 47North will release the entire sequel trilogy, Covenant of Muirwood, in a tight schedule over the next three months: The Banished of Muirwood on August 15, followed by The Ciphers of Muirwood (September 15), and The Void of Muirwood (October 27, 2015). The sequels tell a standalone story, and need no knowledge of the earlier trilogy.
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One of the nice things about hanging out with genre professionals is hearing what gets them excited. While I was at the Nebula weekend here in Chicago in June, there was a lot of excited chatter about an upcoming book from debut novelist Zen Cho, a Malaysian writer who’s published short fiction in anthologies like Bloody Fabulous, End of the Road, and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women.
Now I finally have my hands on an advance copy of Sorcerer to the Crown, and I can see what all the fuss was about. It captivated me with the very first chapter. I predict this novel will launch Ms. Cho on a stellar fantasy career.
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman — a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar — as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain — and the world at large…
Sorcerer to the Crown will be published by Ace on September 1, 2015. It is 384 pages, priced at $26.95 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital edition.
Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane is one of the greatest sword & sorcery heroes of all time. Reading him today is fairly problematic, however — most of his appearances were in small press magazines like Midnight Sun, which are almost impossible to find. Warner Paperback Library published the complete stories of Kane in five volumes in paperback between 1973 and 1978, and these slender books are highly sought by collectors.
Death Angel’s Shadow (June 1973) — Collection
Bloodstone (March 1975)
Dark Crusade (December 1976)
Darkness Weaves (January 1978)
Night Winds (August 1978) — Collection, World Fantasy Award nominee
Night Shade briefly returned the entire series to print in two volumes, Gods in Darkness (2002), collecting all three novels, and Midnight Sun (2003), which gathered all the short stories, but those sold out quickly and have been out of print for over a decade. Now Centipede Press is reprinting all five Warner volumes in hardcover editions, with new art, rare photos, and printed endpapers. All five are scheduled to be released on October 15.
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