Selected SF/F Previews for 01/2014

Continuing a little experiment, I’ve tried all the available Amazon previews of new SF/F linked in SFSignal’s January round-up, and I’ve chosen a few to highlight.

  • Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great. I wasn’t fond of the same author’s novel Among Others in part because of the many unilluminating references to familiar books. But here, there are enough things to mentally praise or dispute as you read that it’s like shooting the breeze with an SF/F-loving friend.
  • Simon Morden, Arcanum. Very neat insertion of grim fantasy action into an interesting and relatively unused corner of semi-historical Europe.
  • Seanan McGuire, Indexing. I like the idea of a folklore index being especially meaningful in an urban fantasy world, and as usual, McGuire’s work is ultra-readable.
  • Marko Kloos, Lines of Departure. This is actually the second novel in a series, and the first (Terms of Enlistment) was on the January list too. But I liked the preview of the sequel best. It begins the story at a more intriguing place, and it seems to stand alone.
  • Joanna Wiebe, The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant. Maybe it’s just that I like boarding school novels and tend to read them less critically, but I read the 73-page preview (minus a few “not included” pages) without noticing the time passing.
  • Karen Traviss, Halo: Mortal Dictata. The author’s Star Wars novels are extremely popular, and apparently, she’s doing well with Halo too, in spite of irritating a few fans with her treatment of one character. I have essentially no previous experience with the setting, but I liked the AI and alien characters here, and I’m persuaded there’s something interesting happening in Halo branded fiction in general (certainly the authors are famous: Greg Bear, William C. Dietz, Tobias Buckell, Eric Nylund, etc.).
  • Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades. The prologue and the character names didn’t instill much hope, but later chapters were pretty fun, and this seems to be the fat fantasy that a bunch of folks are excited about this month.