I’m still catching up on SF/F previews. Here are the highlights I’ve selected from SF Signal’s April round-ups of new SF/F print media and new comics and graphic novels.
- Mary Robinette Kowal, Of Noble Family. This is the final entry in Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, a Regency fantasy series about a couple from England and their use of magic to make art. I’ve enjoyed the preceding volumes in the series, and I heard about this one last year when two blog posts explained the lengths Kowal went to for accuracy in rendering Antiguan Creole English in the novel’s dialogue. Based on plot points in an earlier book, I could sort of guess how the protagonists would wind up in Antigua, and the preview confirmed it. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of all the historical research Kowal did for this book.
- Kazuki Sakuraba, Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas. This seems to be a family saga with elements of magical realism and perhaps science fiction, because it extends to some time in the future. I see that the author primarily writes light novels (i.e. YA), and that may explain why the preview’s narration felt straightforward to me, uncomplicated in a way I associate more with YA than with magical realism written for adults. Or maybe it’s just a very clear translation. At any rate, the imagery was engaging.
- Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), Rolling in the Deep. When writing as Mira Grant, McGuire takes science fiction premises that strike me as slightly corny and blends them with the easy-going narration of an urban fantasy novel but also (most importantly) the plot developments that make it worthwhile. In this novella, the premise is that some cable channel has financed an expedition in search of mermaids, but we’re told from the very beginning that no one returns from the expedition. So what happened? I guess I only have to read 120 pages or so to find out.
- Robert Charles Wilson, The Affinities. I wonder if Wilson’s latest might be an allegory about “taste tribes,” because it apparently has to do with society being transformed as people join scientifically-constructed voluntary associations of compatible personalities rather than sticking with their kin or school/workplace friendships. I don’t know, but regardless, the first chapter or so of this novel reads very smoothly, and although it’s no longer surprising in an RCW novel, one review promises some sort of twist.
- adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. The preview for this collection only offers glimpses of two stories, but I like how those stories venture into standard subgenres (zombie stories and superhero stories) with representational concerns that are not typically in the foreground. I think I might prefer non-fiction for insight into contemporary social issues, but I appreciate seeing the tropes of science fiction as such get a new lease on life through association with new points of view.
- Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings. Liu has published several notable short stories in the past few years, but I think this is his first novel. It’s an intriguingly ornate epic fantasy, and the setting is certainly interesting, even if I can’t guess from the preview how well the characters and story fill out.