New Treasures: Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu

Monday, August 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Waste Tide-smallThis is definitely the era of the Chinese invasion. Chinese writers like Cixin Liu and Hao Jingfang are winning Hugo Awards, and Western readers are paying attention to Chinese SF like never before. Chen Qiufan is one of the stars of the Chinese invasion; his short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and the anthologies Invisible Planets and Broken Stars.

His debut novel was published in the spring, and at Locus Online Gary K. Wolfe says “Waste Tide moves along at a terrific pace… with enough buzzy ideas to power a couple of novels.” And in a starred review Kirkus Reviews calls it “Cutting-edge, near-future science fiction… Chinese science fiction, once an unknown quantity in the U.S., is making its way to the forefront through sheer excellence.” Here’s the description.

Mimi is drowning in the world’s trash.

She’s a waste worker on Silicon Isle, where electronics — from cell phones and laptops to bots and bionic limbs — are sent to be recycled. These amass in towering heaps, polluting every spare inch of land. On this island off the coast of China, the fruits of capitalism and consumer culture come to a toxic end.

Mimi and thousands of migrant waste workers like her are lured to Silicon Isle with the promise of steady work and a better life. They’re the lifeblood of the island’s economy, but are at the mercy of those in power.

A storm is brewing, between ruthless local gangs, warring for control. Ecoterrorists, set on toppling the status quo. American investors, hungry for profit. And a Chinese-American interpreter, searching for his roots.

As these forces collide, a war erupts — between the rich and the poor; between tradition and modern ambition; between humanity’s past and its future.

Mimi, and others like her, must decide if they will remain pawns in this war or change the rules of the game altogether.

Waste Tide was published by Tor on April 30, 2019. It is 340 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $13.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Victor Mosquera. Read the complete first chapter at Tor.com.


New Treasures: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

Thursday, August 15th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Craig Davidson is the author of Sarah Court and Cataract City and, under the name Nick Cutter, The Acolyte, from ChiZine Publications, which we covered here back in 2015. His newest is the definition of a breakout novel. It’s gotten rave reviews from the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and numerous other places. As Jason Heller puts it at NPR, it’s a novel that celebrates the wonders and horrors of being a kid:

Jake Baker, the main character of Craig Davidson’s new novel The Saturday Night Ghost Club [is] a neurosurgeon, and… The Saturday Night Ghost Club is his story, although most of it takes place in the past — one summer during the ’80s, in which he turned 12. He grew up in Niagara Falls, and the town’s mist-shrouded natural monument serves as a dramatic backdrop to something bordering on the supernatural. Because as Jake tells it, he spent that summer with his eccentric Uncle Calvin and a handful of friends, practicing rituals and hunting ghosts and monsters….

The masterful segues between the narratives of child Jake and adult Jake shimmer. And even more profoundly, the book is a celebration of the secret lives of children, both their wonders and their horrors…. Hunting imaginary monsters is a grand adventure, but the most horrendous monsters can be real people. Immensely enjoyable, piercingly clever, and satisfyingly soulful, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is an exquisite little talisman of a book, one that doesn’t flinch as it probes the dark underside of nostalgia.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club was published by Penguin Books on July 9, 2019. It is 211 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. The cover is by George Wylesol.


New Treasures: Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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I’m back from four long, exhausting days at Gen Con, and the first thing I did (after I unpacked) was open all my mail. That included lots of books — but they’re all going to have to wait, because the second box I opened contained C.S.E. (Claire) Cooney’s Desdemona and the Deep, one of the most anticipated books of the year, at least for me. Claire was the Managing Editor of the Black Gate website during our early years, and permanently put her stamp on things. Now she’s making an even larger impact on the entire field of fantasy. Her first collection, Bone Swans, won a World Fantasy Award, and though I’m only 50 pages into it, Desdemona looks like a very strong contender for next year’s Award already. The early reviews have been stellar, but perhaps my favorite was from BookPage. Here’s a snippet.

The land of Seafall is a study in excess, and Desdemona is at the center of it all with nothing to occupy her mind except her mother’s dreadful charity events and her best friend, Chaz. But that was before she learned the origin of her family’s fortune. Her father’s family made a series of deals with the goblin king, the latest of which left hundreds dead and a handful trapped in the world below. Determined to right her family’s wrongs, Desdemona embarks on a quest to enter the underground worlds to bargain for the lives her father callously threw away.

One of the things that makes Desdemona and the Deep so compelling is that in its scant pages, Cooney manages to sketch the boundaries and vagaries of not just one fantastic world, but of three. Desdemona’s world, the world above, is a too-real Gilded Age nightmare where the poor suffer to make the opulent lives of robber barons possible. The worlds below are equally vivid, the dark and sharp world of the goblins standing in stark contrast to the gentry’s light and dreamy plane. That the three worlds are so distinct would be impressive in a much longer book. Within the confines of novella, it is a feat… A gripping tale from beginning to end, Desdemona and the Deep is a great read for anyone who loves a good fairy story.

Desdemona and the Deep was published by Tor.com on July 23, 2019. It is 221 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $3.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Alyssa Winans. Download a sample chapter in the Tor.com Publishing 2019 Debut Sampler.


The Definition of a Long Game: The Raven’s Mark Trilogy by Ed McDonald

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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When I wrote about Ed McDonald’s Raven’s Mark trilogy back in November, in the comments reader H.P. shared a review of the opening novel from his blog. He said in part:

Blackwing has a lot going for it. The worldbuilding is tremendous, the action scenes bloody, the human interaction surprisingly poignant. The plot is well crafted. One of my favorite aspects is the depiction of the Nameless and Deep Kings. They are almost entirely offstage, but always near to mind. McDonald really dives into what it means to get caught in a struggle between immortals. It is the definition of a long game, and not one where you worry too much about the odd pawn.

That piqued my interest, to say the least. I don’t have time to read a lot of trilogies, but I think I’ll make an exception in this case — especially now that the final volume, Crowfall, has arrived. In his survey of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July, Jeff Somers sums it all up nicely:

The third book in the Raven’s Mark series finds the Deep Kings close to a final victory, as the Range — the last line of defense between them and the republic — and the Nameless — the gods who have long protected it — are both broken. Without the strength of the Nameless, the Blackwing captains are toppling one after another as the Deep Kings ready one final, decisive blow. Ryhalt Galharrow has been in the wasteland known as the Misery for so long it has become a part of him, and the Blackwing captains line up behind him for one last mission that will decide the fate of the republic for once and for all. McDonald’s talent for creating characters you’ll love and then showing them no mercy has not abated as he brings his trilogy to a rousing close.

Crowfall was published by Ace Books on July 2. It is 416 pages, priced at $18 in paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. See all our recent coverage of the best new Series Fantasy here.


The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog on The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of July 2019

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

Salvation Day Kali Wallace-small Gods of Jade and Shadow Silvia Moreno-Garcia-small The Hound of Justice Claire O’Dell-small

There’s a phenomenon in software development known as feature creep. As you design and build a new product, you can’t resist adding just one more cool feature… until pretty soon your shiny new product is 12 months late, due mostly to a laundry lists of new features that go way beyond the original spec.

Sometimes I think the same thing is happening to Jeff Somers’ monthly Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy list. His May list was packed 24 titles, more than I recall the lists having last year. And his July rundown contains a whopping 28 books.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s  fantastic list, with brand new novels by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Peter McLean, Chuck Wendig, Mercedes Lackey, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, Molly Gloss, Christopher Ruocchio, C.S.E. Cooney, Fonda Lee, Timothy Zahn, JY Yang, and many others. Jeff’s not padding the list — there really are that many books this month that deserve your attention. Here’s a look at some of my favorites.

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New Treasures: The Big Book of Classic Fantasy edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Sunday, July 28th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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One of my favorite anthologies of the past few years — perhaps my absolute favorite — is The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. It’s a companion book of sorts to their 2012 Tor volume The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, a monumental 1152 page collection of weird fantasy from roughly the last century.

But I don’t file it with that book, or the Vandermeer’s other fine anthologies. Instead, I give it a place of honor on the shelf with my other Vintage Big Books, which include Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Adventure StoriesThe Big Book of Ghost Stories, and The Vampire Archives. Which is why I was so excited to see the VanderMeer’s add another book to that illustrious set this month: The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, a thoroughly impressive tome that unearths the fascinating origins of modern fantasy.

Kirkus Reviews calls The Big Book of Classic Fantasy a “quintessential anthology destined to become the standard by which future fantasy classic anthologies are measured… a must-have.” It contains rarely-seen tales from Asian, Eastern European, Scandinavian, and Native American traditions, including brand-new translation of fourteen stories never before printed in English. Contributors include the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, E. Nesbit, Christina Rossetti, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, L. Frank Baum, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, Edith Wharton, George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Vladimir Nabokov, Hermann Hesse, William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany, A. Merritt, E. R. Eddison, John Collier, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, J. R. R. Tolkien, Clark Ashton Smith, and many, many others.

Here’s the impressive Table of Contents.

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A Feminist Retelling of Cinderella: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Galewski

Stepsister CoverIsabella is ugly and mean, and that’s why readers love her.

She isn’t pretty. She isn’t perfect. She likes things she’s not supposed to like, such as military history, swordplay, and horseback riding. She does things she’s not supposed to do. She says what she actually thinks, rather than what men want to hear.

Isabella’s nonconformity makes her a target. Her mother tries to control everything she does, shoehorning her into the rigid mold for a marriageable young woman. Acquiring a wealthy husband is the only acceptable future her mother can imagine in this patriarchal society.

Yes, Isabella knows she’s been a real bitch to Ella, her stepsister. But Ella is beautiful, sweet, and unfailingly pleasant. She always fits in. Men are eager to give her whatever she wants, including chocolate bonbons.

When the prince comes to their house with a glass slipper, looking for his lost love, her mother coerces Isabella to cut off her toes to fit her foot into the shoe. The prince and his retinue accept Isabella as the new princess until she’s walking to the coach, when her blood gives her away. The prince sets her aside and turns to leave, when Ella bursts out of the house.

There she is – the love he was looking for.

The captain of the guard comes forward with the glass slipper, nested on a pillow. He trips on something, falls… The glass slipper shatters.

But then Ella pulls its partner out of a pocket in her dress. It goes on her foot perfectly, as we knew it would.

Reunited, the prince and his beloved climb onto the coach and ride off into the countryside.

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Mystery on a Generation Starship: Medusa in the Graveyard, Book Two of the Medusa Cycle by Emily Devenport

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Emily Devenport’s Medusa Uploaded, the opening novel in the Medusa Cycle, arrived last May to wide acclaim. Vulture called it one of the 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2018, SF Revu proclaimed it “One of the best generation starship novels,” and The Illustrated Page said it was “A fantastic, fast paced, twisty sci-fi thriller that builds mystery on top of mystery.” The sequel Medusa in the Graveyard arrived this week from Tor. In his weekly sum-up at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Joel Cunningham gives it an intriguing write up. Here’s the detail.

Oichi Angelis was nothing but a worm aboard the generation ship Olympia, harmless until (literally) pushed too far (as in out of an airlock). With her band of insurgents, they led a revolution that put them in charge of the starship (see: the events of last year’s Medusa Uploaded); now, they’re headed deep into the Charon System in hope of uncovering a mystery that’s buried within Oichi’s DNA: three colossal sentient starships wait for them on the planet Graveyard, engineered by the same extinct race that made Oichi’s people. If the travelers are judged worthy, they’ll gain control of unimaginable power. Book two of the Medusa Cycle is just as dark, daring, and propulsive as the first.

Read Joel’s complete mid-July rundown — including a Mexican folklore-inspired epic from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Last Astronaut by David Wellington, and a brand new novella by our very own C.S.E. Cooney — here.

Medusa in the Graveyard was published by Tor Books on July 23, 2019. It is 304 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. See all our coverage of the best new series SF and fantasy here.


New Treasures: Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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John Langan is the author of the collections Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (2008) and The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013), and the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman (2016). His newest gathers eight stories from Ghosts by Gaslight, Black Wings 2, Supernatural Noir, and others, including an original novella, “Sefira,” and an original novelette, “At Home in the Devil’s House.” Rue Morgue Magazine says it’s “certain to solidify his place among the strongest voices in modern literary horror,” and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, saying (in part):

In the title tale, a woman tracks the femme fatale who has seduced her husband across the country, gradually acquiescing to the realization that her rival is a formidable succubus from time immemorial. “In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos” is a slice of supernatural noir whose characters are trapped in a web of double-crosses and deceptions designed to propitiate the dark forces controlling their fates. “At Home in the House of the Devil” features an appearance by Old Scratch himself as the personal tormentor of a man who abandoned his drug-addicted lover in her hour of need. Langan laces his tales with allusions to the work of Henry James and other heavyweight writers, but the horrors he evokes are unique to their stories, as in “Bor Urus,” in which the reality-bending storms its narrator chases seem an externalized expression of his own troubled psyche, and “The Third Always Beside You,” in which “the other woman” feeds vampirically off a marital relationship. This book is a treasure trove for lovers of literary horror fiction

Sefira and Other Betrayals was published by Hippocampus Press on April 20, 2019. It is 352 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Santiago Caruso. Order copies directly from Hippocampus Press, and see all our coverage of Hippocampus recent releases here.

See all our recent New Treasures here.


John DeNardo’s Adventures in Short Fiction

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

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Last month I checked in with John DeNardo, the most well-informed man in science fiction, to get his take on the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in June. I posted a brief summary on June 26, and John dropped by to leave the following in the Comments:

Oh, and speaking of short fiction, my article on cool, recent short fiction reads is now up, too.

Adventures in Short Fiction: Supernatural Detectives, Civil War Airships, Harvesting the Dead, and Reality Shows with Guns.

It’s tough to resist a resist an article with a title like that. (Go ahead and try.) When you’re too busy to keep up with the flood of new novels (and virtually all of us are, unless your name is John DeNardo), but you want keep tabs on what’s going on, short fiction will keep you up-to-date on who’s doing really innovate and exciting work.

Where can you find the best genre short fiction these days? John recommends several online publications, including Sean Wallace’s magazine of horror and dark fantasy, The Dark, John Joseph Adams’ SF and fantasy magazine Lightspeed, and Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, plus recent anthologies such as Ken Liu’s Broken Stars, Paula Guran’s Mythic Journeys: Retold Myths and Legends, and Wastelands: The New Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams. Here’s some excerpts from John’s comments.

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