Several years ago, after researching his true crime book The Serial Killer’s Apprentice, James Renner was diagnosed with PTSD. It’s not uncommon for journalists to suffer such effects after witnessing trauma for a story, and Renner’s 10 years of hunting serial killers and writing about unsolved murders caught up with him. Fiction provided an unexpected safe haven, and his genre-bending time-travel thriller, The Man from Primrose Lane (2012), was a crime he could finally solve. His latest thriller, The Great Forgetting, digs at a much larger mystery, one with more questions, no generic answers and therefore plenty of room for an imaginative author to play. The result is a mix of conspiracy theorist paranoia, alternate history and cross-country adventure.
Author Catherynne M. Valente crafts a unique and vibrant world in her new novel, Radiance. Set in an alternate present where interplanetary travel was discovered at the turn of the 20th century, this story of secrets and scandals entertains and intrigues even as it explores what a single life can mean.
In Radiance, Catherynne M. Valente crafts a lush, detailed alternate history of Hollywood and a complex re-imagining of our solar system . . . and that’s just the beginning. Against that landscape, full of secrets, scandals and sci-fi awe, Valente weaves a tale of fathers and daughters, stories and truths, love and loss that is as much about the act of telling a story as it is about its characters.
Joseph Fink claims he’s calling from a New Jersey beach. I prefer to imagine that his spotty cell reception is actually because he’s calling from a dark bunker in an undisclosed location. That somehow seems more appropriate for a co-author of Welcome to Night Vale, the new novel based on the wildly popular podcast of the same name.
Given the title of C.A. Higgins’ debut novel, Lightless, it’s fitting that so much of the tale’s enjoyment stems from how well and how long it keeps the reader in the dark.
Jim Butcher's exciting new series is a steampunk-steeped, Napoleonic naval battle-flavored series called The Cinder Spires. True to the steampunk genre mandate, The Aeronaut’s Windlass has plenty of goggles (worn out of necessity, not mere fashion, natch), airships and Old World, aristocratic political structures.
In Supersymmetry, Walton returns to the near-future world of Jacob Kelley and his family, this time focusing on his now-adult daughters, Alex and Sandra. Alex and Sandra are more than twins: They are actually two versions of the same person, an as-yet uncollapsed wave-form of two quantum potentialities left over by the events of the first book.
It’s hard to follow a debut that immediately became an international phenomenon, was published in 40 countries and is in the works to become a movie (hopefully with the same mind-blowing visual effects Warner Bros. brought to movies like Inception, The Lego Movie and The Matrix). The thing that made Ernest Cline’s first book, Ready Player One, so good was a nearly impossible balance between where-the-hell-did-that-come-from originality and the familiarity of Gen-X pop-culture references. There’s no such balance in his second novel, Armada. Familiarity surpasses originality—intentionally.
No matter how strange or outlandish, most fantasy novels take place in a world that bears at least some resemblance to our own. But when a fantasy writer takes the opportunity to cast a spell over the past, it provides a different sort of magic. Two new novels put imaginative twists on history.
In his novels, Peter Clines likes to dwell in the overlap of genre niches. With his Ex-Heroes series, Clines has created a world where super heroes are a thing, but so is the zombie apocalypse. In 14, he keeps things apocalyptic in flavor, but adds a healthy dose of building-based horror. With his latest, Clines seems to have shifted course a few degrees once more.