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Category: New Treasures

An Anthology to Help End Violence Against Women: Giving the Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer

An Anthology to Help End Violence Against Women: Giving the Devil His Due edited by Rebecca Brewer

Giving the Devil His Due (Running Wild Press, September 2021). Cover uncredited

I’m getting word from a number of readers that a recent charity anthology, Giving the Devil His Due, is well worth a look. Published in September by The Pixel Project in partnership with Running Wild Press, it contains reprints and new fiction from Stephen Graham Jones, Kelley Armstrong, Nicholas Kaufmann, Nisi Shawl, Peter Tieryas, Dana Cameron, Jason Sanford, and many others. It was compiled by ex-Ace/Roc editor Rebecca Brewer; here’s the intriguing description.

Giving The Devil His Due is inspired by award-winning Horror author Stephen Graham Jones’s story “Hell On The Homefront Too” about a battered wife who finally gets rid of her abusive war-hero-turned-zombie husband. The theme of the anthology is the comeuppance of men who commit violence against women and girls. With a Twilight Zone vibe, this anthology evokes the spirit of Rod Serling to tell compelling stories that will help get the conversation about violence against women started amongst book lovers and fandoms worldwide while sending a clear message that misogyny, toxic masculinity, and violence against women is unacceptable.

Clarence Young was the first one to tip me off to the book, and it wasn’t long before I found Seven Jane’s enthusiastic review at Nerd Daily. Here’s a slice.

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New Treasures: Out of the Ruins, edited by Preston Grassmann

New Treasures: Out of the Ruins, edited by Preston Grassmann

Out of the Ruins (Titan Books, September 2021). Cover by Shutterstock

I’ve spent a lot of energy over the past few years decrying the death of paperback science fiction anthology. So when they do still occasionally appear, I’m inclined to celebrate them — especially when they’re as promising as Out of the Ruins, a collection of apocalyptic tales old and new from a stellar list of contributors: Samuel R. Delany, Ramsey Campbell, Lavie Tidhar, Emily St John Mandel, Carmen Maria Machado, Charlie Jane Anders, Nina Allan, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Paul Di Filippo, and many others.

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A Sherlockian Duo in a Pirate Adventure: The Fall of the Gods Trilogy by Ryan Van Loan

A Sherlockian Duo in a Pirate Adventure: The Fall of the Gods Trilogy by Ryan Van Loan

Far Out (Night Shade, July 2021). Cover by Julie Dillon

When The Sin in the Steel, the opening novel in Ryan Van Loan’s Fall of the Gods trilogy, arrived last year, I was immediately intrigued. Well, I was once I read Aidan Moher’s review at Tor.com, anyway. Especially this part:

The Sin in the Steel is a rip-roaring epic fantasy that mixes a genuinely unique world with an equally standout magic system. It’s full of characters you’ll root for and despise, who’ll make your skin crawl, and who you’ll cheer on from the sidelines. Packed full of action, tempered by genuinely thoughtful themes about mental health and trust. The Sin in the Steel tells a good self-contained narrative… If Scott Lynch wrote Pirates of the Caribbean, it’d be a lot like The Sin in the Steel.

Yeah, it was that last sentence that got me. At least I’m predictable.

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Future Treasures: Isolate by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Future Treasures: Isolate by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Isolate (Tor Books, November 2021). Cover by Chris McGrath

Lee Modesitt is one of the most popular fantasy authors on the shelves, with multiple bestselling series to his credit, including The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. But for all his success, I don’t think he gets a lot of critical attention, so it’s a real pleasure to see his latest — Isolate, arriving in hardcover from Tor next week — generate some authentic pre-publication buzz.

Both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave it a starred review; Library Journal says “anyone who likes to delve into the way worlds work will be riveted.” Here’s an excerpt from Judith Utz’s enthusiastic coverage at Booklist.

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New Treasures: Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Paula Guran

New Treasures: Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Paula Guran

Far Out (Night Shade, July 2021). Cover by Julie Dillon

I had the privilege of interviewing Paula Guran back in September, in honoring of the upcoming release of her 50th book. We discussed a lot of her recent projects; one of the more interesting was Far Out, a huge new anthology. Here’s what Paula said about it, in part.

I have another one that just came out that’s not getting a lot of attention that I will mention. It’s called Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy… I’m very proud of that book. It is a great book, and it really has a nice look at the last ten years, and… the publisher it came out from is just kind of not supporting it. I just want to get it out there; it’s a good book, it would be great in college courses that are looking at any kind of LGBT fiction and just as a great introduction to a lot of authors that are very familiar to us, but may be new to people out there…

It’s been one that I wanted to do for a while… it was the last book I had under contract [with Night Shade]… I isolated myself on Far Out to a ten-year period…  of course there were people that I knew I wanted to go back and look for stories from in that period, like Chris Barzak for instance, who’s a gay writer… but just on that cusp of 2020 that I was ending at, there’s this sudden boom in 2020 and 2021 of just in the last year, even more [writers] that you can pick from now. It’s really exciting to see that.

Far Out is a reprint anthology with a “table of contents [that] reads like the glitterati of queer fiction,” according to Arley Sorg at Lightspeed. Here’s the complete TOC.

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New Treasures: Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

New Treasures: Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales (Harper, September 2021). Cover by Julia Iredale

I admit it, my reading tastes are susceptible to the changing seasons (and publishing dollars). When Halloween is over my interest in scary fiction abates a little… though I still like my late fall fiction to have a little bite.

Soman Chainani’s Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales looks like a perfect choice. Chainani is the author of the bestselling School for Good and Evil series; his latest is a collection of a dozen re-told fairy tales, stories that include a dark-skinned Snow White, a South Asian Hansel and Gretel, and similar takes on Bluebeard, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumpelstiltskin. Medium calls them “Terrifying, chilling, unexpected, and glorious. A must-read for any fairy tale devotee,” and Kirkus says they evoke “the wonder, terror, and magic of the fantasy realms.” Here’s a snippet from the Kirkus review.

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In 500 Words or Less: THE YEAR’S BEST AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION, VOLUME ONE, ed. by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

In 500 Words or Less: THE YEAR’S BEST AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION, VOLUME ONE, ed. by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction
edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Cover design by Maria Spada
Jembefola Press (358 pages, $6.99 eBook, Sept 28, 2021)

So… it’s about freaking time we have one of these, right?

Having already demonstrated impressive editing chops with Dominion (co-edited with Zelda Knight), Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has created an even greater anthology with this Year’s Best, distilling twenty-nine stories into one of the most cohesive anthologies I’ve ever read. Common threads make this feel like so much more than just a “here’s who we think are the top authors” sort of Year’s Best. We’re being shown part of what African SF is saying right now, and honestly, we should feel lucky to be given this insight.

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A Con Artist in a Magical City: The Rook & Rose Trilogy by M.A Carrick

A Con Artist in a Magical City: The Rook & Rose Trilogy by M.A Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors and The Liar’s Knot (Orbit, January and December, 2021). Covers by Nekro

I don’t know about you, but this recent trend in young adult fantasy for covers with elaborate designs and colorful crowns instead of cover art does nothing for me. There’s so many on the shelves, and after a while they all look the same.

At least the book descriptions are different — and that’s what grabbed me in the case of The Mask of Mirrors, the opening novel in a new fantasy trilogy by “M.A Carrick,” the writing team of Marie Brennan (author of the Hugo-nominated A Natural History of Dragons) and Alyc Helms (author of the splendidly pulpy Missy Masters novels). The two met on an archaeological dig in Wales and Ireland, which is exactly where I’d want to meet my future writing partner.

The second novel in the series, The Liar’s Knot, is due next month, and there’s a third volume on the way. Here’s the description on the back of The Mask of Mirrors that caught my eye.

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New Treasures: Blood of the Chosen, Book 2 of Burningblade & Silvereye by Django Wexler

New Treasures: Blood of the Chosen, Book 2 of Burningblade & Silvereye by Django Wexler

Ashes of the Sun and Blood of the Chosen (Orbit, July 2020 and October 2021). Covers by Scott Fischer

It was the cover of Django Wexler’s Ashes of the Sun that grabbed me while I was browsing bookstore shelves last year — and a heck of a cover it is too, by talented fantasy artist Scott Fischer.

The sequel Blood of the Chosen was just released this month. Like the first one, the cover seems to be a collaborative effort. The original art that Fisher proudly displays on his website is certainly striking…. but it’s also missing those human figures (which I assume were added by cover designer Lauren Panepinto).

Those tiny human silhouettes are a small addition perhaps, but they make a heck of a difference. See the surprisingly sterile originals below.

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A Triumphant Finale: The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock, Book 3 in The Risen Kingdoms

A Triumphant Finale: The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock, Book 3 in The Risen Kingdoms

The Last Uncharted Sky (Tor trade paperback edition, August 2021). Cover by Thom Tenery

When an author completes a trilogy, we bake a cake at the Black Gate rooftop headquarters in Chicago. In the case of Curtis Craddock’s acclaimed Risen Kingdom trilogy, the confectionery celebration was unfairly delayed until I found a copy of the final volume, The Last Uncharted Sky, released in trade paperback in August.

It was Charles Stross who drew my attention to the opener, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, back in 2017 when he proclaimed it a “gaslight fantasy in the tradition of Alexander Dumas.” That’s not something I hear every day. The second, A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery, offered more tales of “adventure full of palace intrigue, mysterious ancient mechanisms, and aerial sailing ships!” (According to David D. Levine).

The closing volume was first published in hardcover in August 2020. Publishers Weekly called it a “triumphant finale to Craddock’s swashbuckling Risen Kingdoms trilogy… a spectacular series ender.” A truly satisfying and original modern fantasy trilogy is not an easy thing to find. This one reminded me of Howard Andrew Jones’ Ring-Sworn Trilogy; that alone was enough to pique my interest.

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