Notorious Sorcerer and Shadow Baron (Orbit, September 13, 2022,
and November 14, 2023). Cover Design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a groundswell of interest like I’ve witnessed for Notorious Sorcerer, Davinia Evans’ debut novel and the opening book in her Burnished City series. It didn’t get a lot of attention when it was released in trade paperback last year, but over the last twelve months I’ve seen a lot of discussion. Everyone is talking about this book.
The Book Nook says it’s “compelling… a remarkable and ambitious debut,” and Every Book a Doorway calls it “Dazzling… badass and honestly wondrous… the story never has a dull page.” Publishers Weekly labels it an “energetic epic… This is a charmer,” and Book Page doesn’t rein in their enthusiasm, saying it “deploys genre tropes with delirious glee and builds a rich and fascinating world.”
All this recent buzz is good timing, since the sequel, Shadow Baron, arrives next month, and that gives me just enough time to finish the first volume and get some hot cocoa ready in time for Book Two.
In 2010, Black Gate announced Rogue Blades Entertainment Conjures DEMONS. This October 2023, the third edition has been issued and with it a revamped Kindle version! The original Kindle edition lacked a functioning, linked Table of Contents, but that’s all brought up to modern standards. It is dedicated to Robert Mancebo, author for several Rogue Blade Entertainment anthologies, who sadly passed away in 2023.
The Queen of Days (Harper Voyager, October 24, 2023). Cover design by Richard L. Aquan
Greta Kelly is the author of the Warrior Witch duology (The Frozen Crown and The Seventh Queen, both from Harper Voyager). I’m hearing a lot of pre-release buzz about her latest, The Queen of Days, a fantasy heist tale released in hardcover in two weeks.
The Queen of Days is the tale of a lovable band of thieves hired to steal a statue during a religious celebration. Like all tales of great heists, this one goes very wrong — in this case, accidentally ripping open a portal that allows warring gods into the world, threatening the entire city.
Publishers Weekly calls it “A high-stakes heist in a secondary world populated by gods, demigods, and plenty of wily rogues,” and Library Journal says it’s packed full of “”Incredible worldbuilding [and] fast-paced action… a fantasy heist novel filled with interesting characters, a vivid world, and protagonists trying to find their way through.”
Being Michael Swanwick (Fairwood Press, November 21, 2023)
Back in 2001 Michael Swanwick published a collection of interviews with his close friend, sometime mentor and collaborator, and fellow Philadelphian Gardner Dozois, called Being Gardner Dozois. That book focused on Dozois’s short fiction. And now Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, an accomplished writer of short SF himself, and a Hugo nominee for his 2016 collection of conversations with Robert Silverberg, Traveler of Worlds, has now published Being Michael Swanwick, a collection of interviews with Swanwick. This book covers essentially all of Swanwick’s short stories — which is pretty remarkable as he is quite prolific.
The book is organized chronologically, in five-year chunks, beginning in 1980, when Swanwick’s first stories, “Ginungagap” and “The Feast of Saint Janis,” appeared. I remember the excitement at the time about the Special Science Fiction Issue of the prestigious literary magazine TriQuarterly, and the surprise that a brand-new writer had a story (“Ginnungagap”) in it, amidst heavyweights like Le Guin, Wolfe, Delany, and Disch. Obviously the judgment of the editors has been vindicated — Swanwick would perhaps blush to read this, but his fiction fully stands with those great writers, and he is also clearly a writer of considerable literary merit, but also a writer who loves SF and Fantasy and inhabits the genre world enthusiastically.
The Big Book of Cyberpunk (Vintage, September 26, 2023). Cover by Ociacia
While you and I have been spending our time talking about old paperbacks, Jared Shurin has been toiling away, making a rep for himself as an anthologist. The two volumes of original fantasy he assembled with Mahvesh Murad, The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories and The Outcast Hours, were both nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and his most recent books are two volumes of The Best of British Fantasy from NewCon Press.
His latest effort, on sale next week from Vintage Books, is an entirely different beast. The Big Book of Cyberpunk is a feast of a book, 1136 pages of fiction from the biggest names in science fiction. It belongs on your shelf next to the most monumental and groundbreaking anthologies of the last few years, including Jeff and Ann Vandermeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction, The Weird, and Lawrence Ellsworth’s Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure.
I was very pleased to see The Big Book of Cyberpunk is also the first appearance in print of Isabel Fall’s famous Hugo nominee “Helicopter Story” (2020), originally published in Clarkesworld under the title, “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,” until that title generated such a furor of rage and resentment that the story was withdrawn after three days and the author entered a psychiatric hospital. Hopefully this will give that story more much-deserved exposure.
Embroidered Worlds: Fantastic Fiction from Ukraine and the Diaspora
Here is a wild effort to crowdfund a fantastic fiction loaded with meaning. This post consolidates a few press releases with the hope that readers will follow along.
In the early months of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, writers internationally looked for a way to help raise awareness and funds for humanitarian efforts. Through network and word of mouth, and several transfers of leadership and scope, a more comprehensive project developed. Now, with a primary focus on bringing Ukrainian storytelling to broader global audiences, they hope this book will raise awareness of Ukrainian culture, pride, and literature — and will encourage people to contribute to Ukrainian humanitarian and artistic causes alike.
Cave 13 (St. Martin’s Griffin, August 29, 2023). Cover design by Rob Grom
Brandon Crilly introduced me to Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels, with his enthusiastic review of the ninth volume in the series Dogs of War in 2017.
This series is about way more than its main protagonist, Joe Ledger, and is filled with a host of deeply-imagined heroes and villains… Every Joe Ledger novel features some sort of established horror premise – like vampires, zombies, and even Cthulhu – and gives it a mad science twist…
But amid the nonstop, Die Hard-esque action that inevitably occurs, there remains that core character development, which continues from several books previous, as Joe Ledger’s allies struggle to remember who they are, why they fight, and why they can win, no matter what odds they face. And with a touch akin to J.J. Abrams, Maberry slowly reveals some key mysteries that go back to the beginning of the series and which, I hope, will be continue to be explored in an eventual tenth book.
The latest installment Cave 13, published in trade paperback next week by St. Martin’s Griffin, is the third volume of spin-off series Rogue Team International, in which detective Joe Ledger leads a team of elite specialists to deal with global threats.
Isabel Cañas’ first short story, “The Weight of a Thousand Needles,” appeared in the June 2019 issue of John Joseph Adams’ Lightspeed magazine. Since then she’s published nearly a dozen stories in some of the top markets in the field, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Fireside Magazine, Giganotosaurus, and many others. Her first novel The Hacienda, a gothic horror set in post-Independence War Mexico, was one of the most acclaimed horror debuts of last year, called “A thing of uncanny, chilling beauty, [with] hauntings, exorcisms, incantations, and forbidden love,” by The New York Times and “the perfect Gothic novel… a brilliant piece of historical fiction and a, ‘Okay, I’m gonna need to sleep with the lights on now,’ horror novel” by Jezebel.
Her sophomore effort Vampires of El Norte, due in hardcover from Berkley Books next week, is one of the most anticipated novels of the summer. Booklist labels it “a lush, supernaturally infused historical romance mixing vaqueros, vampires, and the Mexican-American conflict of 1846–48,” and Kirkus says “The vampires of this tale are incredibly original… There are three different narratives here: a love story, a war story, and a horror story. Each is compelling.”
The Blighted Stars and The Fractured Dark (Orbit, May 23, 2023 and September 26, 2023). Covers by Jaime Jones
Megan E. O’Keefe, author of the The Protectorate trilogy (Velocity Weapon, Chaos Vector, Catalyst Gate) and The Scorched Continent novels (Steal the Sky, Break the Chains, and Inherit the Flame) has what looks like another hit on her hands with a popular new series. The first book, The Blighted Stars, arrived in May, and sequel The Fractured Dark is due in September.
I’m hearing a lot about the first book. It’s a space opera/romance with a fascinating premise (upload your consciousnesses into 3D-printed bodies), rich worldbuilding (a galaxy is ruled by wealthy families, a hunt for unspoiled “cradle worlds,” and a resistance group working to save them through guerrilla warfare), and great characters, including an idealistic resistance fighter stranded on a dead planet with the heir to the Mercator Dynasty.
But what fascinates me is the promise of creepy adventure on a dead planet, and The Blighted Stars sounds like it delivers.
The Saint of Bright Doors (Tor.com, July 11, 2023)
Vajra Chandrasekera is a Sri Lankan author who has published over 40 stories in many of the top genre markets, including Nightmare Magazine, Clarkesworld, Analog, PodCastle, Fireside Quarterly, and many others. His debut novel arrives in two weeks from Tor.com.
The Saint of Bright Doors is the tale of Fetter, raised as a child soldier by his mother in her war against his father. He learns to walk among devils and anti-gods, loses his shadow, and finally escapes to the big city, where divine destinies are a dime a dozen and the inhabitants are caught up by the mystical locked doorways that have appeared throughout the city. Max Gladstone calls it “A breathtaking achievement,” and Sam J. Miller says it “keeps on dropping bombs and surprises and brilliance and heartbreak to the very end.”