A Christmas Gift: First Novels/First Time Authors

Christmas is fast approaching, and as the saying goes, it’s better to give than receive.

We here at SF Signal receive a lot of books every year. So many, we can’t possibly hope to read them all, even with a ‘team’ of readers (and by team, I don’t mean Harriet Klausner). However, as many writers will tell you, getting that first novel published is thrilling, even if it takes a long time to happen. With that said, we do read first novels/first time authors from time to time, so, in the spirit of giving, we’d like to give some props to the first novels/first time authors we’ve seen this year.


Nothing fancy here, basically just a list with a link to our review of each book. And in looking at the scores, I don’t see clunker in the mix. If you’re looking to find a new author, try one of the below:

  • Mainspring by Jay Lake. Jay Lake is no stranger to science fiction, having written numerous short stories. But Mainspring is his first novel, and is definitely worth checking out. Update: As Joe points out below, this is actually Lake’s third novel, but first from a big publisher. I must have mis-read the blurb I saw. Still, you should read it.
  • Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe. Matthew doesn’t care how you pronounce his last name, but we do think you should read this story of science fiction, AI and rock and roll.
  • Dusk Before the Dawn by Larry Ketchersid. Larry wins the title of ‘Author who lives to closest to an SF Signal blogger’, at least until John writes his tell-all book about his one-night stand with the Gabor sisters. The Mayan calendar will be ‘resetting’ on 12/21/2012, possibly resetting the universe as well. You’ve got 5 years and counting to read this book and, while you’re at it, brush up on Larry’s Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World.
  • A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham. We don’t typically read much fantasy around these parts, so when we do read a fantasy story that impresses us, it’s worth another shout out. Consider yourself ‘shouted out’, again, Mr. Abraham.
  • KOP by Warren Hammond. Mystery and science fiction go together like PB&J. Hammond has created an interesting, gritty new world for his jaded police detectives to inhabit. If you like science fiction mystery cop stories, give this one a try.
  • Shift by Chris Dolley. Shift may be Dolley’s second published novel, but it was the first one he wrote, it combines interesting ideas with rapidly shifting perspectives to make one of the more unique first contact novels.
  • The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Remember how I said we don’t read much fantasy around here? I was going to pass on The Blade Itself, but the acclaim that it has received put it onto my ‘to read’ list. I’m glad it did. Abercrombie has written a story that is long on character and plot, and short on epic-ness. Which is a good thing, given the abundance of door stopper fantasy out right now. Funny, smart and violent, The Blade Itself is a great read.

So from us to you, have a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holiday! Here’s to finding even more, new authors next year.

5 thoughts on “A Christmas Gift: First Novels/First Time Authors”

  1. Out of pure curiosity, what do you guys do with all the books you don’t have time to read? I looked at your books received list and you guys get so many books there have to be dozens you never get to. So what happens to those? Do you send them back to the publisher? Give them as gifts on B-days, Christmas, etc.? Do you guys try to find new readers to do reviews or what?

    Thanks :D. I’m a curious bee about this stuff. I’m relatively new to the whole receiving books for review thing, and I find it remarkably enjoyable, but I can’t imagine being so overwhelmed with books and not being able to ever read them all :S.

  2. Currently, they unread books are sitting in boxes in John’s house, on the off chance that one day someone will get to them. We haven’t explored any other avenues for dealing with them, other than to have them provide extra support for one of John’s walls.

  3. JP:

    Hate to say it, but Mainspring is actually Jay Lake’s third novel(Trial of Flowers and Rocket Science being the first two). It is, however, his first from a large publisher (Tor). His first two were from Night Shade and Fairwood Press.

    If you’re looking for another reviewer, though, I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring to take a couple of books off your hands.

    :-P

  4. Physical proximity, plus 15 years at Compaq is a good thing, eh?

    Thanks for the shout out, gents. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

    Larry

  5. Maybe something you guys could try is to use your enormous fan base to get to books you just don’t think you’ll get to.

    You could just host random contests for people to win a book with the requirement that in a month they have to write a good review for it that would go on SF Signal (or maybe a personal blog, depending). That way you guys could make sure some of those books get exposure, since that’s what the publishers are hoping for.

    Alternately, maybe finding some people who’d like to do a couple reviews for you guys to lighten the load could help too. One guy already said he’d like to, I wouldn’t mind doing a couple, and I’m sure there are dozens of people more than willing.

    Just ideas though. I just hate to think of all those books that might never get read :(.

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