There are a handful of science fiction novels coming out in the next few months that have caught our eye, including the final entry of a trilogy that really ought to go down as one of the most entertaining and well-written science fiction series ever, the fifth book in a great military sci-fi series, and a detective story set on Mars. Here’s a quick look at the three books Android Dreamer is most excited about:
Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer – Robert J. Sawyer is one of those writers that you either love or hate, and we love everything we’ve read of his so far. Red Planet Blues is apparently a noir-ish detective story set on a future dystopian Mars extrapolated from his Hugo & Nebula Award-nominated novella “Identity Theft”, which sounds too good to pass up. To be released on March 26th.
Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis – Although he may not be a household name yet, the Milkweed Tryptych (as the trilogy is called) is one of the most exciting and completely original works to come out of science fiction in years. The first chapter, Bitter Seeds, was among the best books of the year when it was released way back in 2010, and the middle novel, The Coldest War, definitely lived up to the thrill of the first. Raybould Marsh is one of the most memorable sci-fi heroes ever, and the series is a must read on the strength of his character alone. Necessary Evil is set to be released on April 30th. The Human Division by John Scalzi – The fifth novel in Scalzi’s Hugo Award nominated Old Man’s War series, The Human Division is already available in individual story-length ebooks. Scalzi is a huge presence on the internet, and is also juggling being the president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and being a very prolific novelist. The Human Division will see release as a complete novel on May 14th.
What big science fiction & fantasy release are you looking forward to over the next few months? Which big ones did we miss?
The most important aspect of any fiction dealing with war is that the conflict isn’t interesting if the characters of both sides aren’t treated with the utmost care. A handful of archetypal British heroes fighting a group of Nazi cannibals with no depth whatsover is not worth reading; black and white war stories should have died with John Wayne. Ian Tregillis understands this. The characters in The Coldest War, and its predecessor Bitter Seeds, are all very real people, with some flaws and some admirable traits no matter which side of the conflict they are on.
In the case of Klaus, there is a German who was forced into fighting for the Nazis from a very young age after being experimented on and augmented with technology that allows him to pass through walls. Although there is a sadness that he always carries with him, he is well intended despite his upbringing. The other side of the conflict in Bitter Seeds is Raybould Marsh, a proud Brit and intelligence agent. In the time that has passed since the first novel, Marsh’s life has fallen apart and he’s become a borderline alcoholic with severe marital troubles that stem from the loss of a child and the apparent mental disabilities of a second. When the story picks up, Marsh is essentially dragged forceably from the bottle by his country to “battle” the Soviet Union in a re-imagining of the Cold War, teaming up with Klaus and his sister, Greta. Although Greta is a bit lacking in depth, but serves an important purpose in that throughout the novels she uses her ability to see the future to basically be the master of all that is going on. She is a purely terrifying villain throughout.
The “history” part of alternate history has become fuzzy with this novel, as is only natural in a book taking place more than twenty years later in a universe where the British used warlocks to fight superhuman Nazis (and thus ending the war early). It doesn’t really feel like an alternate history novel in the Harry Turtledove sort of way, but is something unique that is brilliantly well-written with some of the most memorable literary characters in recent memory. Although The Coldest War doesn’t have as many amazing single moments as Bitter Seeds, and it takes a bit longer to get rolling, it is a worthy sequel to arguably one of the best science fiction novels of the 21st century.
This summer looks like it will shape up to be pretty significant in terms of science fiction releases. The number of big names putting out new books over the next few months is pretty impressive, and as such it is worth taking a quick look at what we will be reading through the warmer months.
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi – The hottest novelist in science fiction returns to the world he created in Ship Breaker with a new young adult novel that follows two young refugees from a war torn world, where one of them is kidnapped and the other is forced to decide between saving his friend or finally getting freedom. Was released on May 1st by Little Brown Books
Railsea by China Mieville – A science fiction-y retelling of Melville’s Moby Dick tells the story of hunters tracking down enormous mole-like creatures with harpoons while travelling down an endless system of rails across the Railsea. They discover a derelict train that leads them to something mysterious and impossible. Was released on May 15th by Del Rey
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi – Scalzi parodies the classic Star Trek series in a comedic novel that follows a young Ensign who begins to realize that every time a team leaves the ship, it comes back with one less lower ranked crew member while the officers always mysteriously remain in tact. Tongue-in-cheek sci-fi adventure in the typical Scalzi good humor. To be released June 5th by Tor Books
The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross – Bob Howard is a computational demonologist working for the English government when a mysterious televangelist with healing powers named Ray Schiller starts to get a little too cozy with the Prime Minister. When the government dispatches a brilliant woman named Persephone Hazard to infilitrate the healer’s religious organization, Howard has to make sure everything doesn’t blow up their collective faces. To be released July 3rd
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis – The long awaited sequel to the brilliant Bitter Seeds, an alternate history story set in a world where the British use warlocks to fight the Nazis and their superhuman soldiers. Raybould Marsh was one of the best characters in recent science fiction memory and his re-appearance will be worth the price of the book alone. To be released July 17th by Tor Books
Whispers Under Grounds by Ben Aaronovitch – The third novel in Aaronovitch’s series about Peter Grant, a mixed race copper and amateur wizard living in London and investigating crimes involving paranormal magic. This novel takes Grant and his allies into the subway, still on the hunt for a mysterious wizard called The Faceless Man. To be released July 31st by Del Rey
This is just a handful of the really exciting science fiction novels coming out this summer. Rest assured that your dear editor realizes that this list is a bit of a sausage fest so please let us know what we’re missing from the list that you are looking forward to in the coming months.