New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books September 2011 [My Picks] Revisited

September is a busy month with a lot of impressive  releases and it is time to order if you haven’t done it yet.

For a look further into upcoming releases see my almanac of forthcoming books

War in Heaven

(Veteran book 2) by Gavin G. Smith (Gollancz) – Amazon US | UK

Veteran was my debut of the year last year so naturally I am looking forward to the sequel. Gavin G. Smith writes action packed military science fiction with wonderful characters. The cover is awesome. I can’t wait to read it.

The high-powered sequel to VETERAN sees an unlikely hero make an even more unlikely return to take the reader back into a vividly rendered bleak future. But a bleak future where there are still wonders: man travelling out into the universe, Bladerunneresque cities hanging from the ceilings of vast caverns, aliens that we can barely comprehend. Gavin Smith writes fast-moving, incredibly violent SF thrillers but behind the violence and the thrills lies a carefully thought out story and characters who have far more to them than first meets the eye. Never one to avoid controversy Gavin Smith nevertheless invites you to think beyond the initial shock of what you have just read. But in the meantime? Another fire-fight, another chase another flight of imagination.

How Firm A Foundation

(Safehold 5) by David Weber (Tor) – Amazon US | UK

I like the whole high tech meets primitive technology kind of stories and David Weber is really good at it. Safehold is the last human world after an alien attack. The survivors need to escape discovery but the colony founders went too far and set themselves up as angels and brainwashed the rest to a medieval society. 800 years later an android with the mind of a long dead starship commander wake up with a mission to bring civilization back. This is the fifth installment of that fight.

I have read snippets at Eric Flint’s place and from them it looks like Charis continues into the steam age.

The Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don’t know even now, however, is how much more it’s fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.

For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own fifteen to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?

Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one…quickly. The Inquisition’s brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire’s subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet eleven years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.

The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood, but will that foundation be firm enough to survive?

Debris

(The Veiled Worlds 1) by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot) – Amazon US | UK

Debris is a steampunk fantasy with a strong female protagonist. It is also Jo Anderton’s debut novel. New author plus steampunk heroine in space is enough to catch my fancy.

Now I have read it and it lived up to my expectations. A review is upcoming.

“This is what modern fantasy looks like. Debris is a strong debut novel from a promising new writer, featuring a tough, professional heroine, a clever magic system and a complex, beautifully realised city. I couldn’t put it down.” — Tansy Rayner Roberts, award winning author of The Creature Court Trilogy, and Siren Beat 

“Jo Anderton combines elements of steampunk with her own unique vision to create something striking. Debris is a first novel NOT to be missed.” — Marianne de Pierres, award winning author of the Parrish Plessis and Sentients of Orion series

After being exposed to radioactive particles as part of a clean-up gang in the depths of space, Tanyana is told she has developed a hitherto-unseen ability to understand the apparently sentient stuff. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting magical garbage – ‘debris’ – but starts to realize debris is more important than anyone could guess.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Meets The Eye | Fantastic Journey | Hidden Powers | Life Meaning ]

 

Ganymede

(Clockwork Century 4) by Cherie Priest (Tor) – Amazon US | UK

I have fallen in love with Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century world so this is a given. We are back with Captain Cly again and this time he and his crew are up against a submarine. New Orleans, a former lover, a submarine, and steampunk. Where are the zombies?

You can also check out my reviews of the previous books Boneshaker,  Clementine and  Dreadnought.

The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol and guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side effects. But reforming is easier said than done: the captain’s first legal gig will be paid for by sap money, because the Seattle Underground is in dire need of supplies.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed race prostitute named Josephine Early, but that was a decade ago. He’s still on Jo’s mind, he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for – or what she wants him to fly. But he won’t be flying. Not exactly.

Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…if only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River. ..if only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it. Now the only question is whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

 

The Departure

(Owner Trilogy 1) by Neal Asher (Tor UK) – Amazon US | UK

Neal Asher wrote The Technician, in my opinion the best book of  2010. This year he begins a new series The Owner’s Trilogy with The Departure and it is one of the books I am most excited about this year. It is set in its own dystopian universe.

Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it’s a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers.

Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online . . .

This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator . . .

All Men of Genius

by Lev Ac Rosen (Tor) – Amazon US | UK

Lev Ac Rosen is new to me but a female pretending to be a man to get higher education in a steampunk setting interest me.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, All Men of Genius takes place in a Victorian London familiar but fantastical, where mad science makes the impossible possible. 

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever Ernest speaks to her, and a deadly legacy left by Ernest’s father. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.

Reamde

by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow) – Amazon US | UK

Neal Stephenson doesn’t require any presentation. I love Snowcrash and The Diamond Age so this is one of my most anticipated book this year.

Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T’Rain – an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure. But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world spreading from player to player – holding hard drives hostage in the process – the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality. A fast-talking, internet-addicted mafia accountant is brutally silenced by his Russian employers, and Zula – a talented young T’Rain computer programmer – is abducted and bundled on to a private jet. As she is flown across the skies in the company of the terrified boyfriend she broke up with hours before, and a brilliant Hungarian hacker who may be her only hope, she finds herself sucked into a whirl of Chinese Secret Service agents and gun-toting American Survivalists; the Russian criminal underground and an al-Qaeda cell led by a charismatic Welshman; each a strand of a connected world that devastatingly converges in T’Rain. An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to South-West China via Russia and the fantasy world of T’Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today’s most individual writers.

The Highest Frontier

by Joan Slonczewski (Tor) – Amazon US | UK

Joan is new to me but this piece got me interested.

This is an good book. It has an engaging girl protagonist who struggles with a new school, boys and aliens. Your basic science fiction school experience.

One of the most respected writers of hard SF, it has been more than ten years since Joan Slonczewski’s last novel. Now she returns with a spectacular tour de force of the college of the future, in orbit. Jennifer Ramos Kennedy, a girl from a rich and politically influential family (a distant relation descended from the famous Kennedy clan), whose twin brother has died in an accident and left her bereft, is about to enter her freshman year at Frontera College.

Frontera is an exciting school built with media money, and a bit from tribal casinos too, dedicated to educating the best and brightest of this future world. We accompany Jenny as she proceeds through her early days at school, encountering surprises and wonders and some unpleasant problems. The Earth is altered by global warming, and an invasive alien species called ultraphytes threatens the surviving ecosystem. Jenny is being raised for great things, but while she’s in school she just wants to do her homework, go on a few dates, and get by. The world that Jenny is living in is one of the most fascinating and creative in contemporary SF, and the problems Jenny faces will involve every reader, young and old.

Into the Hinterlands

(The Citizen book 1) by David Drake & John Lambshead (Baen) – Amazon US | UK

RCN is one of my favorite military science fiction series so I will give it a try.

#1 in a new series from a military science fiction master with over 3 million books in print. A young hero comes of age in the crucible of war and galactic struggle.

When Allen Allenson, scion of a noble family that has fallen on hard times, gets a mission to roust the power-hungry Terrans from a “wild” star sector where they’re encroaching, he jumps at the chance to show his individual worth, improve his family’s fortunes – and gather enough lucre to make a good marriage. But the wily Terrans are not so easily persuaded by a young colonial they think of as a rube.

Worse, Riders, the beings who naturally ply the wilderness between the stars, are playing their own deadly political games – against the Terrans, against the colonials, and against one young greenhorn commander in particular: naÏf young Allen, whom they figure they can manipulate to do their bidding. The one thing nobody has counted on is the fact that Allen, while young and inexperienced, and much to his own amazement, happens to be a hero in the making.

Rogue

(A Freehold novel) by Michael Z. Williamson (Baen) – Amazon US | UK

 

Freehold is one of my favorite novels. The later ones have been okay especially Better to beg Forgivness and  Do Unto Others ….

Kenneth Chinran commanded the elite unit assigned to take out an entire planet in a terrible war. Millions died; billions more perished in the aftermath. One doesn’t send a sociopath on such a mission. A sociopath might not stop. Chinran did stop – but in the process nearly lost his sanity and his soul.

But one of Chinran’s men was a sociopath going in. Now he’s a trained sociopath with the knowledge and firepower to take out entire tactical teams, evaporate through security cordons and change identity at will. Who do you send after a killer like that? There’s only one answer: the man who trained him. The man who made him.

The End Specialist

by Drew Magary (Random House) – Amazon US | UK.

Interesting issue.

I am still reading it and is about halfway through. So far a good read with an interesting protagonist we get to follow from the time immortality is discovered and on. A review is coming up.

A gripping, compulsive thriller set in a future where the cure for ageing has been discovered… to devastating consequences

John Farrell is about to get “The Cure.” Old age can never kill him now. The only problem is, everything else still can . . .

Imagine a near future where a cure for ageing is discovered and – after much political and moral debate – made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems – including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors. Witty, eerie, and full of humanity, The End Specialist is an unforgettable thriller that envisions a pre-apocalyptic world so real that it is completely terrifying.