Selected SF/F Previews for 7/2015

Here are the titles I’ve chosen to highlight from SF Signal’s round-ups of books and comics released in July 2015.

  • China Miéville, Three Moments of an Explosion. I wasn’t aware before this summer that Miéville had even written any short fiction (at least, not more than one story), but I was instantly interested in reading all of it. The preview offers a look at two stories. The first was strange, as expected, and I liked what I could read of the second one: a magical realist story about icebergs that suddenly appear in the air over London and mostly just float there.
  • Dennis Mahoney, Bell Weather. In a fantasy world loosely inspired by Earth’s 18th century, a woman with amnesia arrives in a small town by unusual means: drifting unconscious in the river’s annual flood of flowers. That and other enigmatic natural phenomena made this preview stand out for me.
  • Max Gladstone, Last First Snow. I’ve read the first book in this series, which combines the breezy tone of an urban fantasy novel with an intriguingly weird fantasy setting—one in which people manage bizarre gods via magic and (oddly enough) legal process. The preview for this fourth book in the series leaps right into that stuff, and I appreciate fantasy novels that put the fantastic elements front and center.
  • Jodi Taylor, No Time Like the Past. Judging from the preview of its fifth volume, The Chronicles of St. Mary’s seems to be a light, witty, and mildly absurd time travel series blending historical details with simple fun. In this episode, the historians from St. Mary’s visit their own institution during the English Civil War.
  • D.B. Jackson, Dead Man’s Reach. I’ve been meaning to try the Thieftaker Chronicles, which take place in a magic-infused colonial Boston on the verge of the Revolution. This is the fourth book, and I thought it started reasonably well by introducing numerous series characters without making too many assumptions while still getting into some plot issues quickly.
  • E.R. Eddison (trans.), Egil’s Saga. I had no idea fantasy fiction pioneer E.R. Eddison had translated Egil’s Saga, but much more interesting was the fact that he chose to maximize the use of vocabulary with Germanic rather than Latinate roots so that the translation would sound more like the original. Based on the preview, I don’t think the result is something I could read all the way through, but sampling it was interesting, and I’m glad someone tried it as an experiment.

Selected SF/F Previews for 6/2015

Here are the Amazon previews that I enjoyed out of those linked in SF Signal’s June round-ups of new SF/F books and comics.

  • Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology. The VanderMeers are responsible for several of the very best SF anthologies, and I’m delighted to see that they’ve assembled a collection of feminist SF that appears to include both classic and lesser-known but intriguing stories. Insta-buy.
  • Garth Nix, To Hold the Bridge. The major selling point for this collection of Nix’s short fiction seems to be that it has an Old Kingdom story, i.e. something set in the same world as his YA novels, and the preview for it seems decent. The collection doesn’t seem to have any Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories in it, though, which would interest me even more.
  • Taiyo Fujii, Gene Mapper. A blurb says this SF novel about GMOs, augmented reality, and other contemporary issues was a self-published hit in Japan. The preview’s breathless litany of science news imagery reminded me of Ramez Naam’s Nexus, which I also enjoyed.
  • Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. Tolkien and Lewis were a big part of my childhood, but I haven’t maintained the connection. What appeals to me just as much about this is its focus on literary friendships and its scholarly detail.
  • Matthew Meyer, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: An Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic. This is volume two of a guide to Japanese folklore. Evidently it was funded via Kickstarter, which may explain the high cost of the print edition. The electronic version, though, still seems pretty nice. Volume one is The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai.
  • Jon Morris, The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. This encyclopedia of odd and mostly discarded superheroes appeals to me on many levels: it’s funny and informative, but it’s also easy to imagine a slightly alternate universe in which these heroes had more fans or better writers to help them gel into something more lasting.
  • Sebastien de Castell, Knight’s Shadow. This is the second book in the Greatcoats series, and I found its preview slightly more compelling than that of the first, though I had almost been persuaded to try the first one a while back. Anyway, it’s a musketeers-ish fantasy series that promises to deliver a lot of swashbuckling action.
  • Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts. Contemporary horror novels are often not my thing, but the preview for this one seemed smoothly written and cleverly topical, in view of reality shows, Paranormal Activity, etc. Certainly it left me wondering what had happened and wanting to know more, so … success.
  • Andrew MacLean, ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times. This graphic novel about a girl and her cat companion poking around in a post-apocalyptic landscape seems light and well-illustrated, but I also liked that the writer would drop in the text of an aria in French and footnote it as if to say to non-speakers, “Look it up.”

Selected SF/F Previews for 5/2015

Here are the previews I enjoyed most from SF Signal’s May round-ups of new SF/F print media and new comics and graphic novels.

  • Naomi Novik, Uprooted. Novik’s first non-Temeraire novel is a treat: a fast-paced, character-driven fantasy full of engaging scenes and colorful magic. It will probably be on my Hugo ballot next year (or perhaps more importantly my Locus ballot).
  • Neal Stephenson, Seveneves. I’ve only read a few pages of this, but having the moon mysteriously blow up on line one is certainly an intriguing way to start an SF novel. And I’ve heard enough buzz about it to think I’m likely to read it eventually.
  • Hannu Rajaniemi, Collected Fiction. Rajaniemi writes some of the most interesting post-singularity short fiction in SF, full of strange ideas and strange imagery, so this was pretty much an insta-buy for me.
  • Noelle Stevenson, Nimona. Currently there’s no preview for this on Amazon, but I did pick this up based on some kind of preview somewhere when it came out, so close enough. Anyway, this is a charming graphic novel about a young woman shapeshifter who signs up to be the sidekick of a local fantasy villain. There’s a lot of cute humor to it but also some surprising emotional complexity.
  • I.N.J. Culbard, adapting The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. This graphic novel adaptation does a great job capturing the feel of Chambers’s classic story cycle: so mysterious, eerie, pensive, etc.
  • Gwenda Bond, Fallout. A YA novel focusing on Lois Lane seems like a fun idea, and the writing on exhibit in the preview suggests it would be a fast, pleasant read as well.
  • Simon Leys, The Death of Napoleon. What if Napoleon was replaced by a double at St. Helena and escaped to see Europe again? It’s a stretch to call this SF/F or even alternate history, because the point of departure from our timeline doesn’t seem to have a significant impact. But I like the idea, and this seems well-written.

Selected SF/F Previews for 4/2015

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.

Popular mid-to-late 20th C. innovative fiction

In 1998, a short fiction collection from Dalkey Archive Press titled Innovations: An Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Fiction included at the end a “A Highly Eccentric List of 101 Books for Further Reading” selected by the editor, Robert L. McLaughlin, and sorted by author. Below, I’ve re-sorted those suggestions by the log of their current number of readers on Goodreads multiplied by the square of their current rating (treated as a percentage). As usual, I’ve omitted the Goodreads data itself.

1. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
2. Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
3. David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
4. Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
5. Joseph Heller, Catch-22
6. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
7. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
8. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of Night
9. Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch
10. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
11. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
12. Don DeLillo, White Noise
13. Paul Auster, New York Trilogy
14. Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversation in the Cathedral
15. Günter Grass, The Tin Drum
16. Georges Perec, Life: A User’s Manual
17. William Gaddis, The Recognitions
18. Milorad Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars
19. John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
20. Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style
21. Alasdair Gray, Lanark
22. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
23. Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds
24. Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
25. Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman
26. David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress
27. Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General from Big Sur
28. Thomas Bernhard, Concrete
29. Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations
30. José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night
31. Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
32. Samuel Beckett, Murphy
33. William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
34. William Carlos Williams, Imaginations
35. Danilo Kiš, Hourglass
36. Steven Millhauser, Edwin Mullhouse
37. Carole Maso, AVA
38. Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Three Trapped Tigers
39. Josef Škvorecký, The Engineer of Human Souls
40. Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra
41. Robert Coover, The Public Burning
42. Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
43. Fernando Del Paso, Palinuro of Mexico
44. Alexander Theroux, Darconville’s Cat
45. José Lezama Lima, Paradiso
46. William T. Vollmann, The Ice Shirt
47. Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing
48. William H. Gass, The Tunnel
49. Tadeusz Konwicki, A Minor Apocalypse
50. Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
51. Joseph McElroy, Women and Men
52. Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object
53. Harry Mathews, Cigarettes
54. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy
55. Donald Barthelme, Snow White
56. Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless
57. John Hawkes, Second Skin
58. B.S. Johnson, House Mother Normal
59. Jacques Roubaud, The Great Fire of London
60. D. Keith Mano, Take Five
61. Felipe Alfau, Chromos
62. Marguerite Young, Miss Macintosh, My Darling
63. Paul Metcalf, Genoa
64. Stanley Elkin, The Living End
65. John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire
66. Claude Simon, The Grass
67. Rikki Ducornet, Phosphor in Dreamland
68. William Eastlake, Castle Keep
69. Gert Jonke, Geometric Regional Novel
70. Karen Gordon, The Red Shoes and Other Tattered Tales
71. Robert Pinget, The Inquisitory
72. Henry Green, Back
73. Edmund White, Forgetting Elena
74. Ann Quin, Tripticks
75. Coleman Dowell, Island People
76. Christine Brooke-Rose, Thru
77. Julián Ríos, Larva
78. Juan Goytisolo, Makbara
79. Michel Butor, Mobile
80. Carol De Chellis Hill, Henry James’ Midnight Song
81. Curtis White, Memories of My Father Watching TV
82. Nathalie Sarraute, Do You Hear Them?
83. Brigid Brophy, In Transit
84. Gabrielle Burton, Heartbreak Hotel
85. Severo Sarduy, Cobra & Maitreya
86. Luisa Valenzuela, He Who Searches
87. Piotr Szewc, Annihilation
88. Ralph Cusack, Cadenza
89. Claude Ollier, Mise-en-Scene
90. Susan Daitch, L.C.
91. Julieta Campos, The Fear of Losing Eurydice
92. LeRoi Jones, Tales
93. William Demby, The Catacombs
94. Alf MacLochlainn, Out of Focus
95. Eva Figes, Ghosts
96. Reyoung, Unbabbling
97. Osman Lins, The Queen of the Prisons
98. Margaret Dukore, A Novel Called Heritage
99. Wallace Markfield, Teitlebaum’s WIndow
100. Charles Newman, A Child’s History of America
101. Alan Burns, Dreamerika!

Selected SF/F Previews for 3/2015

SF Signal’s March 2015 roundup of new SF/F releases included 361 titles, and their roundup of comic / graphic novel releases included 188 more. That’s … a lot. I’ve been spending less and less time sampling titles in sub-genres that I’m unlikely to respond to well, but I’ve made an effort in each case, nonetheless. Anyway, here’s what I’d highlight from March.

  • Brandon Graham and Simon Roy, Prophet, v. 4: Joining. I had never heard of this science fiction comic before, but it looks amazing. The art is strange and Moebius-like, the characters are intriguing, and the story (at least in this volume) spans millennia. Poking around on the web a bit, I see a number of very positive reviews as well.
  • John Joseph Adams (ed.), Operation Arcana. This is a collection of original fantasy stories with military themes. The title is strongly reminiscent of Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos / Operation Luna, a classic “magitech” series I always liked, and that’s basically what the first story here reminds me of too. However, looking ahead in the contents, contemporary magitech stories don’t seem to be the only focus (maybe not even the primary focus).
  • George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (eds.), Old Venus. I’m fond of planetary romances and early SF set on Venus in general (e.g. Burrough’s Carson Napier of Venus, Lovecraft’s “In the Walls of Eryx,” Leigh Brackett’s Venusian stories, etc.), and that’s exactly what this anthology of new/original stories intends to bring back. Based only on the preview, I wasn’t as sure of its earlier companion volume, Old Mars, but I’m sold on that now too (both begin with stories by Allen Steele set in the same universe, so seeing them together supplies a better picture of what’s going on).
  • Daryl Gregory, Harrison Squared. This novel delves into the backstory of the key character from Gregory’s Nebula-nominated novella We Are All Completely Fine (which is being adapted for TV by Wes Craven). Based as much on reading the novella as sampling the novel, I expect a light, fast-paced horror/adventure story full of Lovecraftian themes.
  • Terry Pratchett, A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction. Pratchett didn’t write a lot of short fiction, but what he did write was delightful: no Discworld fan should miss this. I haven’t read much of his non-Discworld fiction, but what’s on preview at Amazon is essentially juvenilia of relatively mild interest.
  • Catherynne M. Valente, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland. Valente’s Fairyland novels are wonderfully imaginative, and now she appears to be changing them up a little. This fourth volume in the series introduces a new protagonist, and instead of being a human who goes to Fairyland, he’s a kid from Fairyland being raised in Chicago. I’d worry that it might be dull in comparison to the other books, but the preview is reassuringly strange.
  • Paul Kirkley, Space Helmet for a Cow: The Mad, True Story of Doctor Who (1963-1989). This book aims to be “as entertaining a history of Doctor Who as possible,” and based on the preview, it does seem to be a very light, readable, opinionated, and amusing overview of the classic years of the show.
  • Ian Tregillis, The Mechanical. A world dominated by a Dutch empire that exploits steampunk robots as labor? To me, that’s a pretty interesting start by itself, but the opening chapter of the book also tells a good story. I’ve enjoyed Tregillis’s earlier work, so I’m looking forward to this.
  • Rachel Hartman, Shadow Scale. This is the sequel to Seraphina, which I greatly enjoyed. But what I didn’t know until recently was that both books are sequels to Hartman’s minicomic Amy Unbounded, which was thoughtful and charming and awesome, but also very, very low key. So when I read reviews of Shadow Scale suggesting its pacing is a bit slow in parts, I remain hopeful that just means it’s more like Amy Unbounded than Seraphina.
  • Mark Teppo (ed.), Thirteen: Stories of Transformation. I’d never heard of this anthology or even its publisher before, but at least five of the contributors are familiar to me and make me feel optimistic about it. The theme of “transformation” seems very broad, so I’m not sure what it’s all about. But the first story offers a hint that it’s going to be sort of literary in its aspirations but for sure pretty weird.
  • Joanne Merriam (ed.), How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens. This is a Kickstarter-funded collection of SF short stories about the immigrant experience. I recognize a ton of the contributors, and overall, the contents look great. In the preview, you only get to read a little of Ken Liu’s story, but it starts by explaining a short Lisp program to students from the very far future, which seems fun.
  • Paige McKenzie (with Alyssa B. Sheinmel ghost-writing most of the novel), The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. Sunshine Girl is evidently kind of a big deal. Here’s the New York Times business section discussing the publication of this novel, which is based on a YouTube channel with over 300k subscribers. I like ghost stories, print media, and keeping up with popular culture, so the novelization of the YouTube stuff sounds pretty good to me on the face of it. I don’t know if the preview would have caught my attention without this backstory to it, but it seems interesting enough.

Selected SF/F Previews for 2/2015

It’s been a while since I last posted about new releases in SF/F, but I haven’t given up. Here are the titles that stood out to me as I went through the available Amazon previews linked in SF Signal’s February round-up. In February, SF Signal began listing comics and graphic novels separately, and I went through those as well.

  • Victoria Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic. A smoothly written story about multiple, magical, interconnected Londons, I can imagine breezing through this in an evening.
  • Joe Abercrombie, Half the World. This is the second volume in Abercrombie’s YA fantasy series, set in a world loosely based on the medieval Baltic Sea. What caught my attention was that it switched to a new POV character with a completely new set of problems.
  • Kate Elliott, The Very Best of Kate Elliott. Kate Elliott mostly writes novels, e.g. Cold Magic, and I wasn’t aware she wrote short fiction at all. So I was intrigued by the existence of this collection, which seems to include essays on gender and fantasy fiction too.
  • Steph Swainston, The Castle Omnibus. I’ve been hearing about Swainston’s weird fantasy “Fourlands” series for years, but I’ve never sampled it before. The setting seems to be a sort of medieval fantasy world at war with giant insects, and there’s also a gang of immortals, at least one of whom can travel to some other alternate reality with living dirigibles, turtle people, and shopping malls. There’s a lot of dialogue too, so I found it easy to imagine all that as a comic book or anime.
  • Neal Asher, Dark Intelligence. The start of a new subseries in the Polity universe, this appears to be a space opera revenge story about a war veteran and the AI that killed him. Just as noteworthy is the re-release of Asher’s The Gabble and Other Stories, in which grotesque alien biologies seem to be the focus.

Selected SF/F Previews for 1/2015

Confirming my prior assumptions is the opposite of what I aim for when reading the available previews linked in SF Signal’s round-ups of new SF/F/H releases. However, as I worked through January, I only found two titles that appealed to me, and they were both related to things I had read before. I’m glad to know about them though.

  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch, A Murder of Clones. I read the novella that started the “Retrieval Artist” series at some point close to its original publication around 15 years ago, and I’m pleased to see it’s still chugging along. To me, it has the feel of 1960s SF. A space detective / space patrol series with a lot of random alien species would have been perfectly at home on the shelves with Retief, Sector General, Gil Hamilton, James Schmitz’s Zone Agents, etc. This is volume 10 and the third in a sub-series, so I guess it’s pretty far from being an introduction. But there was nothing hard to follow in the preview, and I liked that it just got a story going quickly.
  • Harry Connolly, The Way into Magic. It looks like SF Signal may have missed announcing the first volume of Connolly’s new epic fantasy series, “The Great Way,” but jumping straight into this, the second volume, probably helped me to see it as an eventful story with a lot of D&Dish magical stuff going on. I’ve read one volume of the same author’s urban fantasy series, “Twenty Palaces,” and I thought it was alright: certainly, it moved along, even if it stuck closely to familiar tropes of urban fantasy. If this new series achieves something similar within its genre, then it should find an audience.

Popular SF/F/H Novels of 2014

In 2014, SF Signal noted the upcoming appearance of over 3400 titles: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.

To prepare the lists below, I looked each title up at Goodreads, eliminating those for which Goodreads had no data or a publication date prior to 2014. Then I ranked the remaining ~2100 books by the cube of their current score (expressed as a percentage) times the log of the number of voters. Finally I broke them up into somewhat arbitrary categories to yield the “top X” lists below, and as usual, I removed the actual Goodreads data, leaving only the ordering. Note that this procedure significantly favors books released earlier in the year.

Here’s a key to the abbreviations and terminology:

  • F = Fantasy
  • H = Horror
  • PR = Paranormal Romance
  • Sequels = Titles likely to draw on information arising in earlier, related books by the same author
  • SF = Science Fiction
  • UF = Urban Fantasy
  • YA = Young Adult

Top 25 SF/F/H (Non-Sequels, Non-YA, and Non-UF/PR)

  1. Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)
  2. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
  3. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs
  4. Stephen King, Mr. Mercedes: A Novel
  5. M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts
  6. Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
  7. David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
  8. Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
  9. Josh Malerman, Bird Box: A Novel
  10. Sebastien de Castell, Traitor’s Blade
  11. William Gibson, The Peripheral
  12. Daniel Suarez, Influx
  13. Stephen King, Revival: A Novel
  14. John Scalzi, Lock In
  15. Daniel Price, The Flight of the Silvers
  16. Nick Harkaway, Tigerman
  17. Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach Trilogy)
  18. Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel
  19. George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, Rogues
  20. Dean Koontz, The City
  21. M. D. Waters, Archetype
  22. Peter Watts, Echopraxia
  23. Robin Spriggs, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom
  24. K. J. Parker, Academic Exercises
  25. John Joseph Adams (ed.), The End is Nigh

Top 25 SF/F/H Sequels (Non-YA and Non-UF/PR)

  1. Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2)
  2. Brent Weeks, The Broken Eye (Lightbringer)
  3. Brian McClellan, The Crimson Campaign (The Powder Mage Trilogy)
  4. Robin Hobb, Fool’s Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy
  5. Anthony Ryan, Tower Lord (A Raven’s Shadow Novel)
  6. Lev Grossman, The Magician’s Land: A Novel (Magicians Trilogy)
  7. R. A. Salvatore, Night of the Hunter: Companions Codex, I
  8. John Gwynne, Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen)
  9. R. A. Salvatore, Rise of the King: Companions Codex, II
  10. Scott Sigler, Pandemic: A Novel (Infected)
  11. James S.A. Corey, Cibola Burn (The Expanse)
  12. Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  13. Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files)
  14. H. Paul Honsinger, For Honor We Stand (Man of War)
  15. Patrick W. Carr, Draw of Kings, A (The Staff and the Sword)
  16. Douglas Hulick, Sworn in Steel: A Tale of the Kin
  17. Jonathan L. Howard, The Brothers Cabal
  18. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch)
  19. Sam Sisavath, The Fires of Atlantis (Purge of Babylon, Book 4)
  20. Hannu Rajaniemi, The Causal Angel (Jean Le Flambeur)
  21. John Ringo, Islands of Rage and Hope (Black Tide Rising)
  22. Django Wexler, The Shadow Throne: Book Two of the Shadow Campaigns
  23. Marcus Sakey, A Better World (The Brilliance Saga, Book Two)
  24. Peter F. Hamilton, The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers)
  25. Evan Currie, Out of the Black (Odyssey One, Book 4)

Top 25 Young Adult SF/F/H/UF/PR (Non-Sequels)

  1. Pierce Brown, Red Rising
  2. Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
  3. Mary E. Pearson, The Kiss of Deception (Remnant Chronicles)
  4. Melissa Landers, Alienated
  5. Marie Lu, The Young Elites
  6. Rachel Hawkins, Rebel Belle
  7. Danielle Jensen, Stolen Songbird
  8. Joe Abercrombie, Half a King (Shattered Sea Series)
  9. Amy Engel, The Book of Ivy
  10. Maggie Stiefvater, Sinner (Shiver)
  11. Danielle Paige, Dorothy Must Die
  12. Katie Alender, Famous Last Words
  13. Victoria Scott, Fire & Flood
  14. Josephine Angelini, Trial by Fire
  15. Claudia Gray, A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird)
  16. Sally Green, Half Bad (The Half Bad Trilogy)
  17. Joseph Delaney, A New Darkness
  18. A.S. King, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
  19. Rae Carson, The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories
  20. Alisa Krasnostein, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories
  21. R.C. Lewis, Stitching Snow
  22. Martina Boone, Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island)
  23. Kiersten White, Illusions of Fate
  24. Julie Kagawa, Talon (The Talon Saga)
  25. Juliet Marillier, Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel

Top 25 Young Adult SF/F/H/UF/PR Sequels & Related Works

  1. Marissa Meyer, Cress (Lunar Chronicles)
  2. Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me (Shatter Me)
  3. Sarah J. Maas, The Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass novellas
  4. Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods
  5. Richelle Mead, Silver Shadows: A Bloodlines Novel
  6. Alexandra Bracken, In the Afterlight: A Darkest Minds Novel
  7. Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
  8. Neal Shusterman, UnDivided (Unwind Dystology)
  9. Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
  10. Veronica Rossi, Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky)
  11. Pittacus Lore, The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies)
  12. Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising
  13. Victoria Schwab, The Unbound (An Archived Novel) (The Archived)
  14. Gena Showalter, The Queen of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles)
  15. Cassandra Clare, The Course of True Love (and First Dates) (The Bane Chronicles)
  16. Julie Kagawa, The Forever Song (Blood of Eden)
  17. Ransom Riggs, Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Children)
  18. Cecilia Bernard, Inside Divergent: The Initiate’s World
  19. Rick Yancey, The Infinite Sea (5th Wave)
  20. Kasie West, Split Second (Pivot Point)
  21. Erin Hunter & Dan Jolley, Warriors Super Edition: Bramblestar’s Storm
  22. S. J. Kincaid, Catalyst (Insignia)
  23. Jennifer Estep, Killer Frost (Mythos Academy Novels)
  24. Scott Sigler, THE CHAMPION
  25. Robin LaFevers, Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)

Top 5 Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance (Non-YA and Non-Sequels)

  1. J. D. Horn, The Line (Witching Savannah, Book One)
  2. Christopher Buehlman, The Lesser Dead
  3. Simone St. James, Silence for the Dead
  4. Seanan McGuire, Sparrow Hill Road
  5. C. J. Burright, Wonderfully Wicked

Note: This category has only 5 entries, because nothing else that fit the category appeared above the 25th item on any other list. I have to look each title up manually to make a decision about how to categorize them, and I’m sorry, but I suspect it would be quite a lot of work to find 20 more given the available data. In fact, including some of these entries stretches the definitions of urban fantasy and non-sequel. Even taking the “sequel bump” into account (scores tend to go up for sequels as readers bounce off earlier books), the dearth of high-scoring titles in this category is a surprising result because urban fantasy sequels simply dominate the top 200 results. Perhaps SF Signal has overlooked some series starters this year. Or maybe it’s a very difficult field to get noticed in at first.

Top 25 Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Sequels (Non-YA)

  1. Jim Butcher, Skin Game (Dresden Files)
  2. Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels)
  3. Diana Gabaldon, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood: A Novel (Outlander)
  4. Kim Harrison, The Undead Pool
  5. Patricia Briggs, Night Broken (Mercy Thompson)
  6. Kim Harrison, The Witch with No Name (Hollows)
  7. Darynda Jones, Sixth Grave on the Edge (Charley Davidson)
  8. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Illusion: Chronicles of Nick
  9. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Born of Fury (League Novel)
  10. Anne Bishop, Murder of Crows: A Novel of the Others
  11. Darynda Jones, Seventh Grave and No Body (Charley Davidson Series)
  12. Nalini Singh, Shield of Winter (Psy/Changelings)
  13. Jeaniene Frost, Up from the Grave (Night Huntress)
  14. Deborah Harkness, The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy)
  15. Seanan McGuire, The Winter Long (October Daye)
  16. Faith Hunter, Black Arts (Jane Yellowrock)
  17. Kevin Hearne, Shattered: The Iron Druid Chronicles
  18. Christine Feehan, Dark Wolf (Carpathian)
  19. Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis
  20. Patricia Briggs, Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson
  21. Faith Hunter, Broken Soul (Jane Yellowrock)
  22. Chloe Neill, Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires)
  23. Jonathan Maberry, Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel
  24. Larissa Ione, Revenant (Lords of Deliverance)
  25. Chloe Neill, Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires)

Top 25 Miscellaneous Works (Comics, Etc.)

  1. Joe Hill, Locke & Key Volume 6: Alpha & Omega
  2. Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan 14
  3. Fiona Staples & Brian K. Vaughan, Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1
  4. Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back (William Shakespeare Trilogy)
  5. Wizards RPG Team, Player’s Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
  6. Bryan Lee O’Malley, Seconds
  7. Zack Whedon, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
  8. Tom Taylor, Injustice: Gods Among Us Vol. 2
  9. Ben Hatke, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures
  10. Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1
  11. Kieron Gillen, The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1
  12. Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 2
  13. Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return
  14. Gene Luen Yang, The Shadow Hero
  15. Gene Luen Yang & Michael Dante DiMartino, Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 2
  16. Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto 68: A Shinobi’s Dream!
  17. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale
  18. Tom Taylor, Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Vol. 1
  19. Wizards RPG Team, Monster Manual (D&D Core Rulebook)
  20. Tim Minchin, Storm
  21. Marvel Comics, Black Widow Volume 1: The Finely Woven Thread
  22. Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn, Alex + Ada Volume 1
  23. Hayao Miyazaki, Art of Princess Mononoke
  24. Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction
  25. Bill Willingham, Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Selected SF/F Previews for 12/2014

SFSignal’s December round-up of new releases seemed especially full of things I’d seen before (reprints of classics or things on the same list in previous months) combined with many, many titles with either no preview at Amazon or not enough of a preview. I can’t say I intentionally chose proportionally fewer titles to highlight, but that seems to have been the outcome.

  • Catherine Asaro, Undercity. Many years ago, I read and enjoyed the first few books in Asaro’s space-fantasy-romance series, the Saga of the Skolian Empire, and I was glad to read the preview of this (15th?) installment too. It’s chattier and more straightforward than I remember the other books being: perhaps my recollection is poor, but the main character’s voice reminded me more of an urban fantasy protagonist’s than one I associate with space opera. In any case, the breezy style and inverted gender dynamics seemed fun.
  • Jim C. Hines, Rise of the Spider Goddess: An Annotated Novel. Hines revisits his first, unpublished novel and provides snarky comments on all his writing mistakes. I have to say I like the idea of this book, even though I have doubts about reading the main part of the text. It’s not quite like the Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics series, because the comments are more amusing than instructive and because the main book is something less than a classic. What it reminds me of are Eye of Argon readings or Mark Reads Fanfiction occurring within the slightly kinder circumstance of self-critique.
  • John Dixon, Phoenix Island. Based on the preview, I have no idea how the SF elements of this YA novel will play out, but the characterization in the opening chapter about a court appearance by a juvenile offender with a background in boxing struck me as reasonably vivid and humanizing, and the author bio may have something to do with that (“former Golden Gloves boxer, youth services caseworker, prison tutor, and middle school English teacher”). I see the book itself being compared to Lord of the Flies, Battle Royale, Cool Hand Luke, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. That’s an impressive list of things to call to mind.
  • Liv Spector, The Beautiful and the Wicked. The premise of this novel seems to be that Lila Day, formerly a detective with Miami PD, has a billionaire acquaintance who has discovered the secret to time travel, and to solve cold cases (perhaps always involving the wealthy?), he keeps sending her back in time. Back to, like, the 90s. Or the mid 2000s. It’s a surprisingly prosaic thing to do with time travel, and I can’t tell whether any of the SFnal ramifications are worked out. But accepting this as sort of a TV show pitch, OK, and simply put, the preview reads quickly and leaves me wondering where it will go. The first book in the series is actually The Rich and the Dead.