Selected SF/F Previews for 11/2013

Continuing a little project from September and October, I’ve read all the available Amazon previews of new SF/F linked in SFSignal’s November round-up, and I’ve chosen a few titles to highlight, below.

Previously, I’ve sort of skirted the issue of what counts as new, because SFSignal seems not to care. I think I’ll go with “either truly recent or at least offering something new to me,” because that gets to the heart of why I’m bothering. I’m delighted that The Invisible Man, Riddley Walker, The Princess Bride, and other classics have new editions, but what I’m doing is casting a wide net to discover new-ish things, not celebrate old stuff.

  • Miyuki Miyabe, Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo. Miyabe writing ghost stories full of historical details about Japan? Unquestionably the book on this list that I’m most interested in reading.
  • Peter Watts, Beyond the Rift. I was surprised Watts’s short stories hadn’t already been collected somewhere. I’ve read “The Things” and “The Island” before, and I’d be glad to read more by him.
  • Gail Carriger, Curtsies & Conspiracies. I’ve heard this YA series is decent. The style seems affected, but it sort of suits the genre, and I liked the strange test the main character took in the preview.
  • Rachel Bach, Fortune’s Pawn. This is another one I’d heard positive things about, and the preview was basically fun. It appears to be a space opera written in a breezy contemporary first-person style I associate with urban fantasy.
  • Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam. I’ve always been sort of lukewarm about the “Industrial Revolution” Discworld novels (Moving Pictures, Going Postal, etc.). I like them, but not as much as the other sub-series. I’m sure I’ll read this though.
  • Daniel Abraham, Balfour and Meriwether in The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs. Another affectatious Victorian fantasy, but it seems above average and conjures up its world pretty effectively in the preview.
  • J. Kathleen Cheney, The Golden City. An urban fantasy featuring selkies and sirens … in Portugal in 1902. The choice of setting alone makes this one stand out. The story appears to have a straightforward crime/mystery plot, but the prose seems OK.
  • Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Trade Secret. The preview isn’t really convincing, but I’ll probably read this eventually based on the strength of the Clan Korval sub-series in the same setting, though I’m well aware not all Liaden Universe books are equally good.
  • Alex Bledsoe, Swords Are My Business. Kindle omnibus edition of a fantasy noir series I had somehow never encountered, although it seems to be reasonably popular. The preview shows it to be ordinary pulp crime fiction, just with swords, but it seems at least as good as Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I.