Future Treasures: The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Record Keeper-small The Record Keeper-back-small

Afrofuturism has become one of the most vibrant and exciting branches of modern science fiction and fantasy. Recent major novels include Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts, Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon and Who Fears Death, N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy, and many others.

The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion is a near-future dystopia based on the life of Frederick Douglass, and it looks like a worthy addition to an exciting sub-genre. It arrives next month from Titan Books, and a starred review from Publishers Weekly calls it “a gut-punch Afrofuturist novel.”

Gomillion debuts with a gut-punch Afrofuturist novel that examines the incalculable damage systemic racism wreaks on individuals and societies, and the many forms liberation can take. Sometime in the future, in the aftermath of WWIII, societies enforce peace through rigidly controlled racial hierarchies. That control includes using medication to erase the memories of the less privileged. Born in the remnants of America, Arika Cobane inhabits the upper echelons of the race of dark-skinned laborers known as the Kongo, trained by her white teachers to be a record keeper and write false histories that reinforce social norms. As rumors spread of rebels challenging the state’s authority, a new Kongo student, Hosea Khan, enters Arika’s class, shocking her by openly questioning the violence committed against the Kongo people… This intellectually rich, emotional, and ruthlessly honest confrontation of racism proves Gomillion is a critically important new voice.

The Record Keeper will be published by Titan Books on June 18, 2019. It is 457 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. The cover artist is uncredited.


Future Treasures: Gather the Fortunes by Bryan Camp

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The City of Lost Fortunes-small Gather the Fortunes-small

Library Journal listed Bryan’s Camp’s debut novel The City of Lost Fortunes as one of the Best Books of 2018, and in their starred review summed it up as “”A masterly game played by gods and monsters… Camp’s thoroughly engaging debut is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.” At Locus Online Katharine Coldiron expanded on the Gaiman comparison:

If Neil Gaiman wrote a post-Katrina novel about New Orleans, it just might be The City of Lost Fortunes. It’s stuffed with more-than-meets-the-mortal-eye cityscapes, immortal schemes and meddling, and historical myth and meaning… the passion with which he writes about his alternate New Orleans is a rare pleasure. It’s a novel of magicians and musicians, bargains and paradoxes, gods – lots of gods – and death… it is an entertaining and promising debut.

The highly anticipated sequel Gather the Fortunes arrives in hardcover this month. Here’s the description.

Renaissance Raines has found her place among the psychopomps — the guides who lead the souls of the recently departed through the Seven Gates of the Underworld—and done her best to avoid the notice of gods and mortals alike. But when a young boy named Ramses St. Cyr manages to escape his foretold death, Renai finds herself at the center of a deity-thick plot unfolding in New Orleans. Someone helped Ramses slip free of his destined end — someone willing to risk everything to steal a little slice of power for themselves.

Is it one of the storm gods that’s descended on the city? The death god who’s locked the Gates of the Underworld? Or the manipulative sorcerer who also cheated Death? When she finds the schemer, there’s gonna be all kinds of hell to pay, because there are scarier things than death in the Crescent City. Renaissance Raines is one of them.

We covered The City of Lost Fortunes, last year; you can read an excerpt from the first chapter hereGather the Fortunes will be published by John Joseph Adams Books on May 21, 2019. It is 372 pages, priced at $24 in hardcover and $12.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Will Staehle.


Future Treasures: Nexus, Book 2 of The Androma Saga by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Zenith The Androma Saga-small Nexus The Androma Saga-small

When I parked myself in the sprawling Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble last December, I decided to take home the single book that appealed to me the most. I ended up choosing Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. This is why:

The book that won out over all the others was an instant New York Times bestseller by two popular YA writers, a tale of an all-girl crew of space privateers getting caught up in “a dark and complex sci-fi drama” (Library Journal), and it just screamed fun.

Publishers Weekly said the first volume “features plentiful action, complex politics, and a rich mythology,” and Buzzfeed went much further, saying:

This sci-fi novel follows Andi, also known as the Bloody Baroness, and her fearless all-female crew of space pirates. When someone of high importance proposes a mission that Andi cannot refuse, she finds herself and her crew partnered with Dex — a bounty hunter who has a not-so-pleasant past with Andy. They must work together to complete a nearly impossible mission. But what they don’t know is that the ruler of the planet Xen Ptera is planning to extract revenge on the galaxy, threatening all who inhabit it. Zenith is an spectacularly stunning, whirlwind adventure with a race-against-the-clock plot and strong as hell female characters.

The next book in the series, Nexus, arrives in hardcover next week, and it continues the saga in high fashion. Here’s the description.

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Future Treasures: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Thursday, April 25th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Aurora Rising-smallIt wasn’t all that long ago — say, about ten years, when it seemed that 80% of the new release shelf in science fiction and fantasy was adult (and often highly adult) paranormal romance — that it seemed that science fiction just wasn’t attracting new readers any more. And especially, there was no market for young adult SF, and no way for young readers to really discover it, except for those lucky few who stumbled on battered copies of the kid-friendly science fiction I found in my youth, by Heinlein, Simak, Asimov, Le Guin, Poul Anderson, and more.

Man, what a difference a decade makes. Thanks to the gargantuan success of The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, and countless others, YA science fiction and fantasy rules in the bookstore. There’s absolutely scads of it. The YA section at my local Barnes & Noble is nearly as big as the entire SF section — and most of it is genre in one way or another.

I think this is fabulous, especially if SF can keep and nurture these readers. One way to do that it to make sure they know they’re reading science fiction, and not dystopian fiction, or whatever they call it these days. That’s why I’m especially interested in books like the upcoming Aurora Rising, from the the New York Times bestselling writing team of The Illuminae Files, which looks, feels and smells just like SF. Young readers who enjoy this book will come back looking for more space adventure, and there’s a lot to give them. Here’s the description.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem – that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

Aurora Rising will be published by Knopf Books on May 7, 2019. It is 470 pages, priced at $18.99 in hardcover and $10.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Charlie Bowater.


Future Treasures: Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters

Thursday, April 18th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Marvel Decades Legion of Monsters-smallIf there’s a company out there that knows how to use nostalgia to shake dollars out of me, it’s Marvel. I’ve already shelled out for their deluxe hardcover Omnibus volumes, the black & white Essentials line, and more recently I’ve spent a fortune on their Epic Collections, which assemble 18 issues apiece of early core titles like Thor, Spider-Man, Avengers and Fantastic Four. Recently they’ve launched a Decades series that looks at some of the more offbeat comics from Marvel’s long history and, heaven help me, I’m reaching for my wallet again. In this case it’s for a nearly forgotten team book from the 70s which has never let go of my imagination.

Celebrate 80 years of Marvel Comics, decade by decade — together with the groovy ghoulies of the Supernatural Seventies! It was an era of black-and-white magazines filled with macabre monsters, and unsettling new titles starring horror-themed “heroes”! Now, thrill to Marvel’s greatest horror icons: The melancholy muck-monster known as the Man-Thing — whosoever knows fear burns at his touch! Morbius, the Living Vampire! Jack Russell, cursed to be a Werewolf-by-Night! And the flame-skulled spirit of vengeance, the Ghost Rider! But what happens when they are forced together to become… the Legion of Monsters? Plus stories starring Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Manphibian, the vampire-hunter Blade… and never-before-reprinted tales of terror!

COLLECTING: LEGION OF MONSTERS (1975) 1; MARVEL PREVIEW 8; MARVEL PREMIERE 28; MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) 2, 5; FRANKENSTEIN (1973) 1; TOMB OF DRACULA (1972) 10; MATERIAL FROM SAVAGE TALES (1971) 1

Previous titles in the Decades series include Marvel in the 60s – Spider-Man Meets the Marvel Universe, collecting 60s Spider-Man stories from Amazing, Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and other places; Marvel in the 50s – Captain America Strikes! which gathers material from Young Men, Captain America (1954), Men’s Adventures, and other mags; Marvel in the 80s – Awesome Evolutions, which collects some of the bizarre makeovers of the 80s, including Spider-Man’s black costume, Storm’s mohawk, Thor’s battle armor and the Hulk’s return to gray.

Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters will be published by Marvel on April 23, 2019. It is 248 pages, priced at $24.99 in print and $16.99 in digital formats.


Support Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, Illustrated by Mark Wheatley

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Giants The Poetry of Pulp banner

I spent this weekend at the Windy City Pulp & Paper Show and, as usual, I met a lot of great folks and discovered plenty of fabulous books and artwork. One of my most intriguing discoveries came when Christopher Paul Carey introduced me to Mark Wheatley, the renowned comic writer and artist behind Mars, Breathtaker, and Comico’s Jonny Quest. Mark had launched a Kickstarter for an ambitious project titled Songs of Giants: The Poetry of Pulp, an illustrated book featuring some of the greatest pulp writers of all time. Here’s what Mark told me about it.

It’s really gratifying to see how poetry in general is popular these days. When we launched Songs of Giants about a month ago on Kickstarter we had no expectation that the Poetry of Pulp would be so popular. But we are now at 200% of our goal. This means that everyone is getting great extras with stretch goals and we expect to add a few more before we’re done. My personal favorites are the audiobook and the signed limited-edition prints. And I’m very much looking forward to adding the three portrait set of our masters of Pulp poetry, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. P. Lovecraft.

Having Jack McDevitt, one of our very best current writers of science fiction, write the introduction to Songs of Giants is a huge personal perk for me. I have loved Jack’s books for many years. And he actually evokes that sense of wonder that was so prevalent in the Pulps in his own writing today. Ultimately though it’s obvious from his introduction that he truly understands pulp and poetry and I think he gives us some good insights.

Songs of Giants is a terrific project, and the unlocked stretch goals already include a complete audio book, exclusive bookmark, a Robert E. Howard music video, multiple signed art prints, and much more. It wraps up in three days, but there’s still time to get on board. Here’s a closer look at that gorgeous cover art.

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Future Treasures: All My Colors by David Quantick

Friday, April 12th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

All My Colors-smallDavid Quantick is the author of Sparks and The Mule. His latest, All My Colors, is a dark comedy about a man who remembers a book that may not exist, with dire consequences.

Booklist compares it to one of my favorite 80s fantasies, saying “the slowly unfolding literary menace will appeal to fans of Jonathan Carroll’s The Land of Laughs (1980),” and Kirkus Reviews calls it “wonderfully bizarre… a twisty and fitfully funny episode of The Twilight Zone, it’s a blast. A caustic, unexpected comic horror story in which the villain, as always, thinks he’s the hero.” Here’s the description.

It is March 1979 in DeKalb Illinois. Todd Milstead is a wannabe writer, a serial adulterer, and a jerk, only tolerated by his friends because he throws the best parties with the best booze. During one particular party, Todd is showing off his perfect recall, quoting poetry and literature word for word plucked from his eidetic memory. When he begins quoting from a book no one else seems to know, a novel called All My Colors, Todd is incredulous. He can quote it from cover to cover and yet it doesn’t seem to exist.

With a looming divorce and mounting financial worries, Todd finally tries to write a novel, with the vague idea of making money from his talent. The only problem is he can’t write. But the book — All My Colors — is there in his head. Todd makes a decision: he will “write” this book that nobody but him can remember. After all, if nobody’s heard of it, how can he get into trouble?

As the dire consequences of his actions come home to both Todd and his long-suffering friends, it becomes clear that there is a high — and painful — price to pay for his crime.

All My Colors will be published by Titan Books on April 16, 2019. It is 289 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $8.99 in digital formats.

See all of our recent coverage of the best upcoming fantasy here.


Future Treasures: A Time of Blood, Book 2 of Of Blood and Bone, by John Gwynne

Monday, April 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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John Gwynne won the David Gemmell Morningstar for Malice, the opening novel in his 4-book series The Faithful and the Fallen. That series has enthusiastic fans all over the world, and when word spread that Gwynne was preparing a sequel series, Of Blood and Bone, it generated plenty of interest. In his review of the first volume of that new series at The Fantasy Hive, A Time of Dread (2018), Charlie Hopkins wrote:

Wrath was an awe-inspiring, frenetic finale to one of the all-time great fantasy series – The Faithful and the Fallen – and I’d just finished reading it when I heard John Gwynne’s new project would also be set in the Banished Lands, but a few generations into the future… If you’ve not read the first series, don’t hesitate to start here with this one and then go back later to read the “prequel.’ A Time of Dread is going to be on every ‘Best of’ list, and you’d be daft not to move it to the top of your ‘must read’ pile.

A Time of Dread was well received when it first appeared. Here’s part of the Publishers Weekly review:

Nice guys finish alive, and not always last, in this gritty but not grimdark fantasy of battling supernatural forces, set in a fantasy world where humans battle the demonic Kadoshim with the assistance of the Ben-Elim, a winged race of warriors from the ethereal Otherworld. Bleda, a human warrior-prince whose siblings are killed by a Ben-Elim they attacked, is taken hostage and raised by the Ben-Elim. When the supposedly defeated Kadoshim suddenly spring out of hiding with their own human allies and human-demon children, Bleda teams up with Riv, a fellow denizen of the Ben-Elim citadel, to take them on. Riv finds that the angels she knows often fight and scheme among themselves, their conflict instigated by the issue of “improper” human–Ben-Elim relationships. Separately, Sig, a bear-riding giant familiar from Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series, embarks on a solo quest to eradicate the Kadoshim… [Gwynne] avoids much of the cynicism that reduces epic struggles to mere realpolitik.

A Time of Blood, Book 2 of Of Blood and Bone, arrives next week from Macmillan (UK) and Orbit (US). It is 474 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Paul Young. Read a lengthy excerpt from A Time of Dread here.


Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume Thirteen, edited by Jonathan Strahan

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 13-smallThe 2019 Hugo Awards Finalists were announced this week and, as usual, I immediately wanted to track down the short fiction nominees I missed last year (which turns out to be most of ’em, but I won’t let this digress into a cranky rant about the precious little short fiction I get to read these days.) Many of the nominees are online of course, but scattered across numerous sites. So it made me laugh when I saw this tongue-in-cheek post from editor Jonathan Strahan on Facebook this morning:

Hugo Awards nominees? Shortlists? If only there were somewhere you could read a whole bunch of the nominees all in one place, right now. Hmmm.

He’s referring, of course, to his upcoming book The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume Thirteen, arriving from Solaris in two weeks. It contains 30 stories, including a whopping seven Hugo nominees. I know this because Piet Nel conveniently did the counting for me in the comments:

I’d go for a book that had at least four of the Nebula finalists, seven up for the Hugo, and six on the final Sturgeon ballot. If only I knew of such a book…

While I don’t mean to imply that a pure nominee count is the best measure of success for a Year’s Best anthology, you still have to give it up for Strahan. The man has excellent taste, and no mistake.

While it’s great to have a single volume packed with so much Hugo nominee goodness, the arrival of Volume Thirteen is still bittersweet. It is the final book in the series, which has been one of the most rewarding of the Year’s Best in the modern era. This is a book that I have looked forward to each and every year, and it will be much missed.

But when God closes a door, He opens a window, as they say (and what the heck does that even mean?) In any event, without missing a beat Jonathan announced a brand new Year’s Best series with Saga Press, the inaugural volume of which ships next year. In the meantime, we have Volume Thirteen of this series to look forward to, with stories by John Crowley, Jeffrey Ford, N K Jemisin, Naomi Kritzer, Ken Liu, Rich Larson, Garth Nix, Kelly Robson, Tade Thompson, Alyssa Wong, Elizabeth Bear, Daryl Gregory, Maria Dahvana Headley, Andy Duncan, and many others. Here’s the complete table of contents.

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Call for Backers! Unique Anthology THEN AGAIN Blends Literary and Speculative Fictions Through Art

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Emily Mah

Then Again cover-small

Where can you find original short stories by John Crowley, Sofia Samatar, Sarena Ulibarri, Tina Connolly, Mary Ruefle, Elizabeth Hand, Paul Park, Jim and Karen Shepard, Paul Di Filippo, Akiko Busch, Safia Elhillo, Jeffrey Ford, Kij Johnson, Kirsten Imani Kasai, Renee Simms, and others all in one place? Now this is a Kickstarter campaign worth backing — one of the rewards is a special edition of this book.

Laura Christensen is a visual artist who has developed a technique for painting on found vintage photographs. Her seamlessly altered photographs are like stills from dreams: surreal, but real-seeming. By the time she finds a photograph, its chains of personal connections have broken. Subjects are freed to become characters cast and costumed, players in other stories. As an extension of this practice, she has invited 30 award-winning authors to write stories and poems in response to her art.

THEN AGAIN: Vintage Photography Reimagined by One Artist and Thirty Writers, is the singular anthology that assembles these richly imagined stories and poems with the captivating images that inspired them.

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