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.
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.
Little more than a year after the U.S. publication of his award-winning Dark Eden, Chris Beckett returns readers to the alien, hostile planet of Eden and the humans stranded there. In Mother of Eden, 150 years have passed since the events of the previous novel. The human descendants of John, Jeff, Tina, David and the rest—themselves born of the original castaways—have, for the most part, splintered into thriving communities spread across Eden (as opposed to the small, huddled group featured in Beckett’s debut).
Touted as the perfect fare for readers who love George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie, Alex Marshall’s A Crown for Cold Silver presents the type of politically complicated, morally gray terrain associated with those authors.
In V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, three versions of London exist side by side in parallel universes. There’s Grey London, where magic is basically extinguished; Red London, where it’s abundant; and White London, where it’s somewhere in between (and where the control of it as a resource is jealously and viciously contested). There was also a fourth—Black London—whose inhabitants were devoured by magic and which should no longer exist. Schwab’s male protagonist, Kell, is one of the few with the power to travel between those Londons, and as such, serves as a diplomatic courier of sorts between the monarchies of each.
An intriguing hybrid of Asimovian I, Robot-flavored sci-fi, the quasi-contemporary speculative fiction of William Gibson and the enjoyable detective/crime procedural work of . . . well, countless writers, John Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In, interweaves the threads of a number of familiar genre conventions to impressive effect.
On a cold, sunless planet named Eden, 500 or so descendants of two stranded travelers live beneath light and heat-giving “trees,” converting the slowly decaying knowledge of their own beginnings into a tribal mythology. Among them, John Redlantern chafes at the slavish, innovation-quenching traditions the Family upholds as it huddles in its small valley and refuses to even question what lies beyond the “Snowy Dark” that surrounds it. Soon, John makes a series of decisions that threaten to disrupt the peace—and ignorance—his tribe holds dear.
As a literary thought experiment, Kenneth Calhoun’s Black Moon has an exceedingly elegant trigger for the end of it all. No aliens, mutating viruses or celestial cataclysms are needed. All it takes is the removal of one basic yet profound capacity every single human has: the ability to sleep.