Archive for the ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy’ Category

io9 Fall Reading Picks

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

SFF fans have much to look forward as the new publishing season gets underway. io9 surveys the field with “All the New Scifi and Fantasy Books You Absolutely Must Read This Fall.”

9781597808774_abdc8The list gets of to a fast start with the Sept. 6 release of MJ-12: Inception, Michael J Martinez (Skyhorse/Night Shade Books).

The author tells io9 that the first in an expected trilogy is “a paranormal Cold War spy-fi thriller. Think Bond meets X-Men during the height of the Cold War.”

9780765377104_ccd7bDeath’s End, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Macmillan/Tor Books) also arriving in September, marks the final volume in the award-winning trilogy. The first book, The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo and was a finalist for the Nebula and Locus awards. The second novel is The Dark Forest.

9781481424301_06864Liu’s own next book, The Wall of Storms (S&S/Saga; S&S Audio) pubs in early October and is the sequel to the highly regarded Grace of Kings.

9780345540676_7bd4cCrosstalk, Connie Willis (PRH/Del Rey) hits shelves in October. io9 writes “A pair of lovebirds who both work in tech decide to undergo a simple medical procedure to increase empathy between them.” Fans of Willis know what follows will be far more complicated than that.

A number of other works, including spin-offs of favorite story lines from the classics Dune and Star Wars, complete the list, which a;sp includes nonfiction and anthologies.

See our catalog for a running list of the Fall picks as they are announced.

N.K. Jemisin, Book Reviewer

Friday, August 26th, 2016

9780316229296_62f5aThe author of the Hugo winning The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, has been in the news lately for her take on the current state of publishing and her reaction to winning “the Oscars” of her genre, but since last December she has also been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.

While the paper often assigns high profile authors to review high profile titles in the Sunday Book Review (Michael Connelly just reviewed Caleb Carr’s newest for example), Jemisin’s role is a bit different as she gets space to comment on a range of books within her genre specialty.

What kind of reviewer is she? A very precise, demanding, and appreciative one; a critic writing with vibrant engagement who is not willing to let much slide. What kind of reader is she? Based on her reactions to the works covered thus far, one that is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations.

For example, in her opening column she tries to figure out what China Miéville’s This Census-Taker (PRH/Del Rey) is all about, jumping from one possibility to the next before concluding, “This is a novel in which the journey is the story — but for those readers who actually want Miéville to take them somewhere, This Census-Taker may be an exercise in haunting, lovely frustration.”

Similarly, of Keith Lee Morris’s Travelers Rest (Hachette/Back Bay) she says the story is “not fresh” and thought “It’s beautifully written … Beautiful writing just isn’t enough to save any story from overfamiliarity.”

When a work does capture her fully, she gives it a rare “highly recommended” vote, as she has done for Andrea Hairston’s Will Do Magic for Small Change (Aqueduct Press), calling it a “beautifully multifaceted story … with deep, layered, powerful characters.”

All The Birds In The Sky (Macmillan/Tor/Tom Doherty), Charlie Jane Anders also impresses. She says it is “complex, and scary, and madcap … as hopeful as it is hilarious, and highly recommended.”

Below are links to her columns thus far:

December 28, 2015
February 23, 2016
April 19, 2016
June 17, 2016

Live Chat with Katherine Arden, Author of THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Read our chat with Katherine, below.

Join us for the next live chat about The Most Danger Place on Earth byLindsey Lee Johnson on Setp. 28, 4 to 5 p.m., ET.

To join the program, sign up here.

Live Blog Live Chat with Katherine Arden – THE BEAR & THE NIGHTINGALE
 

THE FIFTH SEASON Wins Hugo

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

9780316229296_62f5aThe 2016 Hugo Awards winners were announced on Saturday at the World Science Fiction Convention. N.K. Jemisin won Best Novel for The Fifth Season (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

The first book in the Broken Earth trilogy grabbed reviewers’ attention for its scope and scale. In the NYT Sunday Book Review, multiple award-winning author Naomi Novik wrote it is a novel of “intricate and extraordinary world–building.” The NPR reviewer  also lauded the author’s world-building as being full of “sumptuous detail and dimensionality.” Wired picked it as their book club title and Smart Bitches Trashy Books gave it an A grade, writing:

The Fifth Season blew my entire weekend. I had plans. I was supposed to, at least at some point, get out of bed and take a shower. Instead I stayed in my blanket fort and devoured this book. The most I managed to accomplish was feeding the cat and tweeting about how much I loved this novel.”

We wrote about Jemisin and critical reaction to the sequel, The Obelisk Gate (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample), earlier this week.

Jemisin headlines a sweeping win for female authors, with every fiction category going to a woman.

9780765385253_40f87Nnedi Okorafor won Best Novella for Binti (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). Tor.com writes “Okorafor’s stories are where the ancient cultures of Africa meet the future, where what we have been and what makes us human meets what we can be and what we may be in the future.” NPR’s All Things Considered recently aired an interview with the author.

Uncanny2Hao Jingfang won Best Novelette for “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu. Tor.com says “it’s not just that this is a smart story doing crunchy, smart things in a clever fashion—that’s just one layer of the thing. It’s also an emotionally resonant and intimately personal piece, grounded thoroughly through the life experience of the protagonist.”

Naomi Kritzer won Best Short Story for “Cat Pictures Please.” io9 includes the story in a round up of “What Are The Best Short Stories of the Year So Far?” (for 2015) and links to a review in Apex magazine.

9781401265199_7147aNeil Gaiman takes home the Best Graphic Story prize for The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition, (DC Comics/Vertigo). The Nerdist and Tor.com provide reviews. Last year, NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed Gaiman about the book on Fresh Air.

MV5BMTc2MTQ3MDA1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA3OTI4NjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_It was also a great night for Andy Weir. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which is not a Hugo Award but is given at the same time) and the film The Martian (adapted from Weir’s debut novel) won Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

An episode of Jessica Jones won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Once again, the “Puppy” effect could be seen. However, it seems the voting members of the Hugo are learning to both live with and ignore the alt-right wing attack on the award (see our overview of the ongoing controversy).

As The Verge put it, “The immediate takeaway from tonight is that once again, slated works [the Puppy nominees] added to the ballot through a coordinated campaign have trouble swaying voters, although they were not unanimously dismissed, but in these instances, the awards largely went  to authors and works that really didn’t need help from slated works in the first place, such as Andy Weir or Neil Gaiman. In all other instances, voters opted to give the awards to extremely deserving works.”

Readers’ Advisory: OBELISK GATE

Friday, August 19th, 2016

9780316229265_28d13A rising star in the SF and fantasy world, N.K Jemisin just received a glowing review on NPR’s book site for the second in her Broken Earth trilogy, The Obelisk Gate (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

The new novel picks “up right where that first book left off” says NPR reviewer Amal El-Mohtart, “plunging us deep into the Evil Earth and all its machinations after the first” (The Fifth Season). She continues, it “pole-vaults over the expectations I had for what epic fantasy should be and stands in magnificent testimony to what it could be.”

The SF site, Tor.com has different take on the book, writing “The Obelisk Gate is small and safe where The Fifth Season was large and surprising.” It happens that El-Mohtart also writes for Tor.com and begins a short exchange with their reviewer in the comments section, helping RA librarians by speculating that reading both books back-to-back might affect a readers perception.

io9 sides with El-Mohtart regardless of reading order. They featured the book in their August list of “15 Must-Read” titles for the month.

The Fantasy fan world initially took note of the author when she won the Locus award in the first novel category for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Her profile rose even higher when The Fifth Season was shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. It also hit many best books lists for the year, including the New York Times and the Washington Post‘s.

Librarians new to Jemisin might want to read The Guardian‘s 2015 profile, which says her books “are about multicultural, complex worlds that stand out in a field that has been traditionally dominated by white men.”

She is known for elaborate world-building, her unique settings, far beyond the typical locales for Fantasy, and her strong point of view. As The Guardian puts it, “Stereotypical fantasy series like, say, The Lord of the Rings, usually present a virtuous status quo threatened by a dark and eventually defeated outsider. But Jemisin’s stories almost always involve a flawed order, and the efforts (also flawed) to overthrow it.”

ARRIVAL Trailer Arrives

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

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Ted Chiang has won a remarkable number of major science fiction awards. That is even more remarkable when you realize that his output has been relatively small, just 15 short stories, most of them originally published in magazines. A collected edition of some of his short stories, Stories Of Your Life And Others (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; OverDrive Sample), is called by the publisher “the most awarded collection in history” even though, technically, it’s not the collection that was awarded, but the stories in it.

In a recent interview in Electric Literature, Chiang’s work is described as managing to “capture the human drama behind philosophical questions, in clear and spare prose that seduces with its simplicity.”

That doesn’t sound like the type of science fiction that generally makes it to the big screen (in an interview last year, he dismissed movies like Star Wars as “adventure stories dressed up with lasers.”)

Nevertheless, a $50 million dollar adaptation of the title story from the collection,  Story of Your Life is headed to screens this fall, with the title Arrival.

Chiang says that, after he first got the idea to write about a woman trying to communicate with aliens and having her own life profoundly changed as a result, he studied linguistics for four years as preparation.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, the movie will arrive in theaters on November 11. The first trailer was just released.

Tie-in:
Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI)
Ted Chiang
PRH/Vintage: October 25, 2016

New George R.R. Martin TV Series

Monday, August 8th, 2016

9780765365071_0d1999780765335623_96301George R.R. Martin announced on his live journal blog on Saturday that his long running Wild Cards “series of anthologies and mosaic novels” is headed for television, adding, “Development will begin immediately on what we hope will be the first of several interlocking series  to be produced by Universal Cable Productions (part of NBCUniversal and the group behind Mr. Robot, The Magicians, and 12 Monkeys). Presumably, this is the continuation of a deal first announced in 2011, when the adaptations were planned for the big screen.

Wild Cards began in the late 1980s and has continued  through a series of 22 books (plus graphic novels, comics, and even games extending the stories). Martin describes it as “a universe, as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (though somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and more consistent), with an enormous cast of characters both major and minor.”

Dozens of writers contribute to the series, described by Martin this way,

“on September 15, 1946 … an alien virus was released in the skies over Manhattan, and spread across an unsuspecting Earth. Of those infected, 90% died horribly, drawing the black queen, 9% were twisted and deformed into jokers, while a lucky 1% became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces.”

No word yet on which of the many stories will be adapted and Martin won’t be working on the project due to his exclusive deal with HBO. He reports that “Melinda M. Snodgrass, my assistant editor and right-hand man on Wild Cards since its inception … is attached as an executive producer.”

To those outside the Martin fan-world, the books are not as well-known as A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and many are out of print. Tor has re-released books 1-5, some with new material. Book 6 due out in 2017.

The Wild Cards site gives information on the books and characters. Martin keeps readers up on the series on his website, and, in a 2010 interview on the Newsarama.com, he offered some further details.

Below Macmillan/Tor re-releases:

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Wild Cards I 2012, Mass Market

Wild Cards II: Aces High, 2013, Mass Market

Wild Cards III: Jokers Wild, 2014, Trade Paperback; Mass Market

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad, 2015, Trade Paperback

Wild Cards V: Down and Dirty2015, Trade Paperback

Wild Cards VI: Ace in the Hole [No cover yet], February 28, 2017, Trade Paperback

A brand new novel arrives in August:

High Stakes: A Wild Cards novelAugust 30, 2016, Hardcover

SFF Readers’ Advisory

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

For readers advisors looking for science fiction and fantasy titles for the end of summer, io9 offers a list of 15 suggestions, ranging from the return of blockbuster authors to worthy reads by lesser-known writers.

9780765375629_6d892  9780345543998_0dc2d

Sure to cause excitement are new books by Orson Scott Card and China Miéville.

Card joins with author Aaron Johnston on The Swarm: The Second Formic War (Volume 1) (Macmillan/Tor Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), the first book in a new trilogy “set before the events of Ender’s Game [and after the events chronicled in the First Formic War series] … about the people of Earth’s ongoing battle in space with their dreaded alien opponents.”

The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample)

relates what happens when “an eccentric French dissident takes on the occupying Nazis with a peculiar invention: a ‘surrealist bomb’.”

9781101998878_e7b80  9780316229265_28d13

Other big new titles include the next in two popular series, the YA title  A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (PRH/Razorbill; Listening Library)

and The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

Tahir “follows up her hit debut with a sequel that returns to the dystopian Martial Empire. It picks up right where An Ember in the Ashes left off, following slave Laia and soldier Elias as they continue the quest to break her brother out of prison.”

io9 says of Jemisin’s newest that “it continues the story of The Fifth Season—last year’s acclaimed tale of an apocalypse-prone planet teetering on the brink of yet another catastrophic climate change, and the complex characters who have a hand in its fate.”

9780765378255_8047cThe author of Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal, returns with a new story, Ghost Talkers (Macmillan/Tor; OverDrive Sample). io9 describes it as “Espionage meets spiritualism … Set during World War I, it follows the adventures of an American heiress serving in England as part of the Spirit Corps—a group of mediums who help the war effort by using their psychic powers.”

9780399563850_b894eAlso look for The Hike, Drew Magary (PRH/Viking; OverDrive Sample), a book that “blends folklore and video games [and is] about a suburbanite who gets lost while hiking through an unfamiliar forest—and soon, to his surprise, finds himself on an epic and magical quest.”

The full list of titles is here.

Comic-Con: DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

The first teaser trailer for BBC America’s adaptation of Douglas Adams’s 1987 novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was featured during a panel at Comic-Con this weekend.

The 8-episode series will debut on BBC America on Oct. 22. Variety describes it as being about “the surreal adventures of a highly unconventional detective, Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) and his reluctant assistant Todd (Elijah Wood ). Together they navigate one big metaphysical mystery per season.”

Adams, best-known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, published two titles featuring Gently, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,and Dirk  Gently’s Long, Dark Tea-time of the Soul, He had plans for a third novel, which he did not finish before his death. The incomplete novel was included in the posthumous collection, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time.

Comics publisher IDW, which is also a producer for the BBC America series, is publishing graphic novels that feature Gently. These are entirely new stories that take up where the books left off.

9781631405082_a3781  9781631407017_8d8b8

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: The Interconnectedness of All Kings, Chris Ryall, Tony Akins, Ilias Kyriazis (IDW January 26, 2016)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short, Arvind Ethan David, Ilias Kyriazis, (IDW September 20, 2016).

Comic-Con: AMERICAN GODS

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Debuting at Comic-Con is the first view of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, adapted by Starz as a TV series.

Reporting from the conference, io9 writes that, as part of the process of making the series, Gaiman looked through earlier drafts of the novel as fodder for additional screen stories. He announced that some of what he found might ,are its way into “the next American Gods book if I do another novel, which is seeming more and more likely these days.”

If that were not news enough for fans, after a very slow wind-up to get the iconic book to any screen, big or small, it seems Starz has hit the sweet spot with a spot-on adaptation.

Neil Gaiman said, “As a general rule, if you loved it in the book, it is probably going to end up on your screen.”

In a statement that is sure to thrill and intrigue readers of the novel, executive producer Bryan Fuller (Hannibal and Pushing Daisies) said the show is “fan fiction, in a wonderful way.”

Revealed as well is the news that a major element of the book, the journey the old gods take to the US, will get due attention and be treated as “trampolines into more stories.”

The Verge says more casting decisions were also announced. Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Glee, The West Wing, Pushing Daisies) will play Easter,  “a member of the old gods. (Her traditional name in mythology is Ostara, the Germanic goddess of the dawn).” USA Today has a run down on the rest of the cast.

The show is set to premiere sometime in 2017.

Comic-Con: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Season 2 of Amazon’s hit series, The Man in the High Castle, based on the book by Philip K. Dick, was introduced at Comic-Con by executive producer Ridley Scott.

A new trailer was released a few days ago:

No release date has been announced. One source reports it’s not clear whether it will air this year or in early 2017.

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A trade paperback tie-in was released last year and a new hardcover version is set for publication in October.

Backlist To TV:
THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

9780380809066_1_CoverRobert Kirkman is moving away from comics with his next planned TV project according to The Hollywood Reporter and now has his eye on creating the next Game of Thrones. Through his Skybound Entertainment unit he is adapting Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber, a ten-book science fiction/fantasy series.

Zelazny died in 1995 and was a long-standing and beloved figure in the SFF community, winning Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.

Like Game of Thrones, Zelazny’s series, reports Tor.com, “concerns royal family politics over a throne. But in this case, our hero Corwin awakens on Earth with amnesia. He comes to discover that Earth is just one of many “shadows,” or parallel worlds, that exist between the two true worlds of Amber and the Court of Chaos. As a prince of the royal family, it is Corwin’s birthright to rule Amber and fend off the forces of chaos.”

George R.R. Martin is a fan of Zelazny. Tor notes that Martin memorialized the author via a blog post:

Lord of Light was the first Zelazny book I ever read … I’d never heard of this Zelazny guy. But when I read those words for the first time, a chill went through me, and I sensed that SF would never be the same. Nor was it. Like only a few before him, Roger left his mark on the genre.”

9780060567231_1_CoverIf you need a refresher on Zelazny Tor offers a reread of his series.

If you need to add copies, Harper Voyager published a collected edition of all ten stories in 2010: The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 by Roger Zelazny (HC/Harper Voyager) as well as a new edition of his 1988 winner of both the Nebula and Hugo for best novel, Lord of Light.

GOT: Long Winter,
Meet Short Summer

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

MV5BMjM5OTQ1MTY5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjM3NzMxODE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Although it’s getting snowy and cold in the North of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the series is focused on summer. According to multiple sources including Vanity Fair, season seven will air in summer 2017 and consist of only seven episodes. The previous six seasons have featured 10 episodes each and they aired in the spring.

Perhaps even more troubling for fans, Vanity Fair also reports that the final season, #8, will be even shorter, just six episodes. Sources such as Variety have confirmed those numbers, leaving fans only 13 hours more to enjoy.

Showrunner David Benioff explains the truncated seasons to Deadline Hollywood:

“It’s not just trying not to outstay your welcome … We’re trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end … Daenerys is finally coming back to Westeros, Jon Snow is king of the North and Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne. And we know the Night King is up there, waiting for all of them … The pieces are on the board now. Some of the pieces have been removed from the board and we are heading toward the end game.”

Showrunner D.B. Weiss tells Variety that the high production values of the series are also part of the reason for shorter season because hey simply cannot make ten episodes in 12-14 months of shooting, “It’s crossing out of a television schedule into more of a mid-range movie schedule.”

The NYT points out that the late start might change future award seasons: “If the seventh season begins later than May, it will not be eligible for next year’s Emmy Awards,” continuing “Game of Thrones has garnered the most Emmy nominations of any TV show for three consecutive years, and last year it took home the Emmy for best drama for the first time.” This year, reports USA Today, it racked up 23 nominations, the most of any show in 2016.

As if to temper the disappointment over the delayed start and shorter seasons, Vanity Fair speculates that the schedule might give George R.R. Martin enough room to complete The Winds of Winter in time for inclusion in the TV series. Martin, who always has much to say on his blog, is completely mum on that point.

Studying Steampunk

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

tumblr_o9pco5fiOT1r6tsxvo1_540In a rare documentary look at a print genre, steampunk is examined in the film Vintage Tomorrows,  that begins airing on July 19th via VOD and digital.

The film features interviews with authors, inventors, fashion designers, musicians, and artists. Highlighted authors include William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Cherie Priest, China Miéville, Cory Doctorow, and Gail Carrier. Also available is a companion, Vintage Tomorrows, published by O’Reilly.

Variety reports that the movie, which originally screened at last year’s Comic-Con, was acquired by  Samuel Goldwyn Films and the release date is set to coincide with this year’s Comic-Con.

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS Trailer Brings New Attention to Book

Friday, July 1st, 2016

9780316278157_66d11Pop culture sites are full of excited reactions to the trailer for the Warner adaptation of The Girl With All The Gifts, a zombie novel published in 2014 by M.R. Carey (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio/Blackstone; OverDrive Sample). The book is also rising on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of the attention.

io9 says “The Girl With All the Gifts looks unlike any zombie movie we’ve ever seen—and if it’s half as good as the book, it’ll be a genre standout for sure.”

ars technica says “At last, a new zombie movie that looks original and compelling … Pop culture may be reaching peak zombie, but stories like The Girl with All the Gifts prove that even the most tired tropes can feel vital again if they’re done right.”

Librarians may recall the novel was an Indie Next pick and made the USA Today bestseller list. The short story version (“Iphigenia in Aulis”) was a finalist for the 2013 Edgar Awards.

The film staring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close, is directed by Colm McCarthy, who has run several hit British TV shows including Sherlock, Doctor Who, and The Tudors.

M.R. Carey is a lightly disguised pen name for Mike Carey who is best known in the comics world (he has worked on both Marvel and DC series) and wrote The Unwritten (PRH/Vertigo; coming in hardback in a collected edition Dec. 2016). Under the Mike Carey name he is also known for the Felix Castor novel series (The Devil You Know [Hachette/Orbit] is the first).

M.R. Carey’s “second” book, Fellside, another Indie Next pick, was published this spring (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).