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SUMMER BUZZ: OR, WHAT I REALLY WANT TO READ THIS SUMMER
I've just gotten back from Book Expo America 2010, the book industry's professional trade show, and I'm really excited about the great speculative fiction coming our way this year! Rather than the usual themed list this month, I thought I'd bring home some of the BEA buzz by talking about the forthcoming titles I'm most eager to read. Some definite themes appeared as I surveyed this summer's offerings: unlikely saviors, alternate histories, adventure, steam- or clockworkpunk (with or without magic), creatively rewritten classics, and yes, even more zombies. There are several standout new voices, some surprise returns of old masters, and a few truly monumental short story anthologies. I don't have room to cover everything I'd like to here, so I'm going to hit the biggest titles for each month and then give you a shortlist to follow up on, if you're so minded.
Already out are the two most talked-up novels of the summer. They're quite distinct in character, yet share some remarkably similar themes: a post-apocalyptic society on the verge of annihilation, an unlikely female savior, and a desperate quest to save those who remain. Justin Cronin's The Passage, first of a trilogy, is about a terrifying virus that turns men into monsters and threatens the end of humanity, unless an already-infected young girl can save them all. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor follows the story of an African girl born of violence, tutored in magic, and destined to end the genocide of the people who fear and hate her... by facing death herself.
Later in June, I'm waiting impatiently for Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, a collection of original fiction from some of the best, most imaginative writers of our generation (so far, it's blown away every critic who's read it). Also this month is the much-anticipated Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton, a tale of mystery, romance, and political intrigue set on a world growing ever colder with its dying sun. If you need some silliness after all this world-saving grimness, try Tom Holt's Blonde Bombshell: really, really smart bombs, a computer genius, crazed canine aliens, unicorns, and octopi. (No, really: octopi.) Oh, and speaking of tentacles-- China Mieville's Kraken is out this month, too.
In July, keep an eye out for debut author Ian Gibson and his fantasy Stuff of Legends about the price of fame, the perils of hero-worship, and how hard it is for a legend to really retire. The book was a finalist in Amazon's 2009 "Breakthrough Novel Award" contest. Also look for The Living Dead: The Beginning by the king of zombie movies himself, writer/director George A. Romero. For a wickedly funny, definitely-not-for-kids fairy tale, try the graphic novel by Pat Rothfuss (creator of Name of the Wind's Kvothe) called The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing beneath the Bed.
In August, look for the un-retirement of another legend: Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat Returns. If you've never made the acquaintance of daring con man and interstellar criminal (retired... mostly) James Bolivar "Slippery Jim" DiGriz, now's your chance! And if you're looking for the perfect summer read to tide you over between the last Betsy the Vampire Queen and the next Sookie Stackhouse, might I recommend Death's Excellent Vacation, an anthology of paranormal fiction edited by none other than Charlaine Harris herself?
Finally, a quick glimpse at the literary horizon for this fall promises me relief from a couple of summer-long cliffhangers (about time, my fingers were getting tired!): Gail Carriger's Blameless, third in the Parasol Protectorate series, will hopefully answer some pesky unresolved plot issues from Changeless, and Connie Willis' All Clear will finally pick up where she left off in the middle of Blackout. This fall we'll also see a new epic fantasy series from Brandon Sanderson beginning with The Way of Kings ; a strange, new city of the undead with a zombie P. I. to guide us in Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis (a U.S. debut for the new Angry Robot imprint); and the first new Miles Vorkosigan novel in six years from Lois McMaster Bujold with Cryoburn.
Well, I know what I'll be doing this summer... happy reading!
My summer reading list...
The Passage by Justin Cronin (1, The Passage) Horror
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (1, The President's Vampire) Horror
Feed by Mira Grant (1, Newsflesh trilogy) Horror
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor Fantasy
Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds SF
Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters and Leo Tolstoy SF
Coming later this June:
Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle SF
Zendegi by Greg Egan SF
Stories: All-New Tales by Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio Fantasy
Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt SF
Kraken by China Mieville Fantasy
Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton (1, Legends of the Red Sun) Fantasy
Masked by Lou Anders, ed. SF
Stuff of Legends by Ian Gibson Pbk-Fantasy
Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl by Elizabeth Anne Hull, ed. SF
The Living Dead: The Beginning by George A. Romero Horror
The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss & Nate Taylor GN
Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn Fantasy
The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell Horror
Death's Excellent Vacation by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, eds. Horror
The Stainless Steel Rat Returns by Harry Harrison SF
Lady Lazarus by Michele Lang Fantasy
The Terminal State by Jeff Somers (4, Avery Cates) Pbk-SF
The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (1, The Lightbringer trilogy) Fantasy
And for the fall...
Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett Pbk-Fantasy
Blameless by Gail Carriger (3, The Parasol Protectorate) Pbk-Fantasy
Dreadnought by Cherie Priest (2, Boneshaker) SF
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (1, The Stormlight Archive) Fantasy
Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon (1, Courts of the Feyre) Pbk-Fantasy
Out of the Dark by David Weber (1, Out of the Dark) SF
The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman SF
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner (1, Matt Richter) Pbk-Horror
All Clear by Connie Willis (2, Blackout) SF
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (12, Miles Vorkosigan series) SF
The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (2, Inheritance trilogy) Fantasy
Pegasus by Robin McKinley Fantasy