New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Must-Reads for Fall
This fall's science fiction and fantasy offerings represent the perfect storm of stars of the genre tackling hot-button topics--and scaring the socks off you while they're at it. Mira Grant follows up her "Newsflesh" series with an even more terrifying take on virology. Margaret Atwood and Charlaine Harris conclude their (respectively) "MaddAddam" and Southern Vampire Mysteries series. George R.R. Martin fills the torturous wait between "A Song of Ice and Fire" books with an entry in the "Dangerous Women" anthology--and he's not the only big name presenting a strong female lead. Finally, the supernatural horror releases in our fall preview will have you keeping the lights on as you read late into the autumn nights.
This highly-anticipated anthology contains 21 new and original stories that dismantle the "damsel in distress" trope: Female fighter pilots, heartless queens, deadly serial killers, dragonriders and more formidable women--from the minds of Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Joe Abercrombie and others--prove that sci-fi and fantasy have plenty of room for strong women. Providing even more of a treat, several of the famous contributors have written stories that fit within the continuities of their beloved series: George R.R. Martin ("Game of Thrones"), Lev Grossman ("The Magicians"), Jim Butcher ("The Dresden Files") and more.
While Mira Grant has left behind zombies (for the time being) with the conclusion of her "Newsflesh" series, the author is clearly still obsessed with virology. While "Feed" opened with the cures for the common cold and cancer kicking off the zombie apocalypse, at the start of "Parasite," humanity seems to be in a better place: SymboGen's genetically engineered "Intestinal Bodyguard" tapeworm cleanses, strengthens and stimulates our bodies. But what happens when the parasites get tired of humans taking without giving anything in return?
Sanderson's new young adult series promises to engage readers of all ages: A decade after Calamity--the mysterious burst in the sky that gave people superpowers--gifted individuals called Epics have transformed major American cities into dictatorships. Rising up against the Epics are the Reckoners, a ragtag band of humans who have studied the Epics to learn their weaknesses. Sanderson turns the old adage "with great power comes great responsibility" on its ear by examining the consequences when power-hungry people are suddenly granted the means to rule.
With "MaddAddam," Margaret Atwood concludes the dystopian, speculative fiction trilogy she began in 2003 with the genetic engineering cautionary tale "Oryx and Crake" then followed up with 2009's "The Year of the Flood." Picking up where "Oryx and Crake" left off, the final installment sees "true humans" Toby and Ren uniting with Snowman-the-Jimmy and the Crakers, or genetically engineered humans he's raised. But as the violent Painballers home in on their sanctuary, the MaddAddamites must fight back to defend their place in this dangerous, post-Waterless Flood world.
Want to discover the spine-tingling fiction and poetry from modern-day Edgar Allan Poes and H.P. Lovecrafts? Trust editor Ellen Datlow, who each year compiles the darkest, most twisted entries of modern horror into chilling anthologies. This fifth volume includes selections by Duane Swierczynski, Bruce McAllister, Claire Massey and Laird Barron--plus plenty of promising newcomers.
Many readers first experienced Robin McKinley's writing through her sword-and-sorcery novels such as "The Blue Sword" and her inventive retellings of classic fairytales, including "Beauty" and "Spindle's End." In the last decade, McKinley has turned toward urban fantasy, marrying science and magic in a modern setting. Although the author has said that she doesn't write sequels, "Shadows" is already being called a companion of sorts to her novel 2003 "Sunshine," for its rich worldbuilding and the struggle between magic-using Oldworld and science-obsessed Newworld.
In the title story of this new collection, John Ajvide Lindqvist picks up where his novel "Let the Right One In" (which inspired Swedish and American movie adaptations) left off, filling readers in on the fate of child vampire Eli and her best friend Oskar. He does the same for his "Handling the Undead" characters in "Final Processing"--yet the standalone tales are just as unsettling and incisive.
In 2011, Tor Books asked several authors to pen short stories inspired by the same haunting John Jude Palencar painting. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. quickly transformed his short story into a novella and eventually fashioned it into the novel "The One-Eyed Man." It's clear which elements of the painting influenced Modesitt's worldbuilding, from the ominous "skytubes" that hover over the colony world of Stittara, to the Unity government that oversees the creation of drugs that double the human lifespan. Sci-fi readers will be as enraptured by Modesitt's book as he was by the Palencar painting that inspired it.
For those fangbangers bemoaning the end of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series with "Dead Ever After," don't despair! As we've learned, no one stays dead for long in Bon Temps--and the same can be said for the series. Harris fast-forwards to the futures of Sookie, Eric, Sam and their vampire, werewolf, fairy and witch allies and enemies. Fans who may have been disappointed with the series' ending will likely find better closure with this mega-epilogue.