[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

It’s a new year and you know what that means…new book releases! So with that in mind, we’ve asked our panelists the following question:

Q: What upcoming book or books (to be released in 2014) are you most looking forward to reading? Why?

Here’s what they said…

K.H. Vaughan
K.H. Vaughan is a refugee from academia with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. In his other life he taught, published, and practiced in various settings, with particular interest in decision theory, forensic psychology, psychopathology, and methodology. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers, and is the Reviews Editor for Hellnotes.com. He lives with his wife and three children in New England. His website is www.khvaughan.com.

Unlike some of the people writing columns about 2014 releases at this time of year, I have not read advanced review copies and don’t get the press packages from publishers. My excitement about these titles is the result of research. Some I have selected based on the prior work of the author or editor, some based on reviews and published press releases, and some from word of mouth and social media. My tastes are eclectic, but I tend towards the dark and apocalyptic in all genres. Reviewing the list in retrospect, there’s a mix of near- and far-future settings, some surrealism and a lot of paranoia. Military and espionage thrillers and future noir are prominent. Most of these take place on some version of the Earth, and, like all good science fiction, there’s plenty of social commentary and philosophical inquiry interwoven with the aliens and technology. It’s a diverse international group, including new releases from award-winning veterans and promising debut novels. I’m not going to hit on all of them, but I’m looking forward to these titles and I’m willing to bet there are some absolute gems on this list. Presented in no particular order: my most anticipated SF reads of 2014 (descriptions paraphrased from the copy of each book’s respective publisher’s website or Amazon listing).

Monica Byrne: The Girl in the Road
The Girl in the Road is the debut novel of author and playwright Monica Byrne, a Clarion graduate with a masters in Geochemistry from MIT. I haven’t read her work previously, but, based on the early buzz, I think this is a book that a lot of people will know of by year’s end. In the future, a young woman leaves India to travel The Trail: a silver bridge across the ocean toward Ethiopia. In another time, a young refugee girl travels east across Saharan Africa in a truck, also toward Ethiopia. I don’t have much more detail on the parallel journeys of the protagonists and how those threads will intertwine, but looking at her writing resume I have every reason to expect well-developed and evocative prose, and a richly-drawn world.

Wu Ming-Yi: The Man With the Compound Eyes: A Novel
This is the first novel translated into English by Taiwanese author Wu Ming-Yi. I am drawn to speculative fiction from other cultures because the different perspectives and traditions are often a fresh change from the themes and styles I am so familiar with. I go to speculative fiction for the strange and unfamiliar, and there is an extra layer of that when I read something written by an author whose native language I do not speak. Wu holds a Ph.D., teaches creative writing, and this is his fourth novel, so I am confident that the writing will be solid from a craft standpoint. The story itself concerns a mythical island, a vortex of sea-borne trash, a tsunami, and two people from different cultures brought together in the midst of environmental tragedy. Reviews suggest strong world-building and strange, lovely imagery.

Nnedi Okorafor: Lagoon
Lagoon follows three strangers in Lagos, Nigeria, who find themselves bound together in a battle for survival after an object from space crashes into the ocean causing tidal waves and destruction. Add to the mix an extraterrestrial being and a planetary threat, and I expect an exciting read. Dr. Okorafor’s work is powerful and assured. A professor of creative writing at Chicago State University, a Clarion graduate, and winner of many writing awards including a World Fantasy Award for her novel Who Fears Death, she produces thoughtful, nuanced literature with psychological impact.

Jeff Vandermeer: Annihilation
Annihilation is the first book of award-winning author and editor Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, all three volumes of which will be published in 2014. In Annihilation, a portion of the United States has been cut off from the world, taken over by some alien force. Eleven teams have been sent to explore the anomaly, and all but the first have been lost. Annihilation follows the twelfth expedition to the contaminated landscape of Area X, where they will encounter forces beyond human comprehension. From the snippets I’ve seen, I expect a chilling story with emotional resonance. Vandermeer has a marvelous sense of the strange and grotesque, and I anticipate that his unique voice will be in full form. This will be a world as rich and terrible as Ambergris, and as unique.

David Cronenberg: Consumed: A Novel
I’m not even going to try and summarize the plot of this novel; it’s madness. I have no idea if Cronenberg’s particular kind of strange will translate from film to print, but you can be damned sure I intend to find out.

Adam Sternbergh: Shovel Ready
NYT Magazine Culture Editor Adam Sternbergh’s debut novel is a futuristic hard-boiled thriller about a garbage man turned hit-man in the ruins of New York. Spademan is a classic noir killer with a code of honor, now stalking the radioactive streets of the poor and the virtual reality paradises of the wealthy. This one has been getting a lot of national coverage, and Sternbergh’s style is described as lean and gritty, with a dark, razor-sharp wit. A film is in development with Warner Brothers. A solid bet.

James Cambias: A Darkling Sea
I have always loved stories that take place in extreme environment (Clement’s Mission of Gravity; Herbert’s Dune; John Carpenter’s The Thing), and the pressure, cold, and dark of the deep ocean has a particularly strong hold on me, whether in realistic (Das Boot) or speculative work (The Abyss). A Darkling Sea is set in the deep sea of the planet Ilmatar, beneath a kilometer of ice. It is a first-contact story featuring two alien species with distinctly non-human psychologies. A misunderstanding (and dissection of a Terran) creates a diplomatic furor that threatens to explode into war. Some positive initial buzz about this title, and the theme and excerpt I’ve read reminded me of a more classic era of SF.

Jonathan Maberry: Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel
Multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series of SF-horror-thrillers pits Department of Military Sciences agent Joe Ledger against powerful international conspiracies that threaten the world with a mix of exotic bio-engineered terrorism and political machinations. The series is typified by fast-pacing, tough-guy action scenes, and over-the-top plots, twists, turns, and betrayals. Code Zero is the sixth book in the series. Deadly elite forces steal exotic designer pathogens including the man-made zombie virus from the first Joe Ledger novel, Patient Zero, threatening the entire world. This should be rollicking fun.

Weston Ochse: Grunt Life
Weston Ochse is a Bram Stoker Award-winner for Superior Achievement in a First Novel (Scarecrow Gods) and the author of the supernatural military thriller Seal Team 666, which is in development at MGM starring Dwayne Johnson. This military SF novel pits regular front-line troops against insectoid alien invaders who have established secret hives throughout the world. Ochse’s prose is tight and I expect a fast-paced, hard-hitting action story. The author’s many years of military service brings authenticity to his work, something often lacking in military-themed speculative fiction.

Thomas Sweterlitsch: Tomorrow and Tomorrow
I’m having trouble finding out a great deal about this debut novel, which is surprising since it is due for release in four countries and movie studios are apparently engaged in a bidding war for the rights well before publication. (Sony won.) The author has a Master’s Degree in Literary and Cultural Theory and has worked at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for many years, so I would expect a very literate and thought-provoking text. Tomorrow and Tomorrow takes place ten years after a catastrophe has reduced the city of Pittsburgh to ash. Survivor John Dominic Blaxton cannot move beyond his grief and haunts an interactive digital reconstruction of the city called The Archive. Psychologically trapped in this virtual past, he uncovers a coverup that will lead to a trip through the code of The Archive and the ruin of the city itself. It’s hard to judge from the few descriptions available, but blurbs that invoke Raymond Chandler and William Gibson have my interest piqued.

Alena Graedon: The Word Exchange: A Novel
Graedon’s debut novel is billed as “a literary adventure for book lovers, a dystopian thriller about the digital age and a love story set in a world threatened by the disappearance of language.” In a world in which physical print is at the cusp of extinction, a virulent “word flu” spreads, degrading the spoken word as well. The main character Anana, working on the final print edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language, is spurred by the disappearance of her father to investigate secret societies and corrupt corporate powers in a literary thriller infused with thoughts about the nature of language and the written word. The author has an MFA from Columbia and worked at PEN America Center before leaving to complete her novel on fellowship, so this should be an interesting and informed work. Low profile, but they had me at “a fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age.”

Daniel Suarez: Influx
In this cyber-thriller by New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez, physicist Jon Grady’s scientific breakthrough earns him a visit from the future in the form of the Bureau of Technology Control, an agency tasked with suppressing technological change that could threaten the social order. Refusing to cooperate, Grady is imprisoned in a futuristic high-tech prison and must match wits against an adversary with an enormous technological advantage as he tries to end the future’s artificial throttling of scientific advances. It’s a fascinating premise, tapping into all sorts of conspiracy theories, super secret shadow governments, and fears of the invasive effects of surveillance society and social control. Suarez has a background in technology and programming, and he has a reputation for attention to technical detail.

James Smythe: The Echo
The Echo is a sequel to Smythe’s 2013 novel The Explorer. Twenty-three years after the loss of the spaceship Ishiguro, a new mission is launched to find out what happened. I’ve been aware of Smythe from his columns on the Guardian U.K., rather than his fiction, although I do mean to correct that now. Smythe has a Ph.D. from Cardiff University and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton, so I expect well-developed literate work. The Explorer garnered strong reviews from critics, but part of what intrigues me about Smythe’s work is that the civilian reviews of The Explorer on Amazon are all over the map. In particular, the negative reviews frequently say the kinds of things I might expect from people who do not particularly understand or enjoy literate science fiction. I plan to read both books, and anticipate a dark and unsettling read.

Chang-rae Lee: On Such a Full Sea: A Novel
In a post-collapse America, the residents of an impoverished work settlement in B-More tell the story of one of their own, Fan, who left her work as a fish diver to search for a man she loves. Her search takes her from the safe but impoverished settlements, through the dangers of the lawless Open Countries, and to one of the cities of the privileged. Many writers have written about this kind of economic and social breakdown, but Lee’s work is described as lyrical and deeply affecting. As a professor of creative writing at Princeton, I would expect no less.

Kenneth Calhoun: Black Moon: A Novel
In Black Moon, civilization is grinding to and end, but not from one of the usual suspects. In this case, pandemic insomnia has resulted in the slow mental breakdown of nearly everyone, creating utter chaos. It’s an interesting concept, with sleep and dreaming the only resource that matters in a dying world. This will be a different kind of apocalypse, and I’m looking forward to exploring it.

Patrick Freivald: Jade Sky
This is my sleeper pick, one that you probably aren’t going to see on other lists because it is not even listed with the major booksellers yet. I only know about this title through social media and a shared connection with the publisher. In this thriller, government operatives with enhanced superhuman abilities fight drug-created monsters, with a bit of the supernatural thrown in. My confidence in this release is bolstered significantly by my familiarity with Freivald’s Word Soup blog, on which he does close edits of fiction submissions from other writers, boiling away extra words to create the tightest, cleanest passages possible. These are great exercises, and he has a great editorial eye. Applied to his own work, I expect strong, effective prose.

One thing I rarely see in lists of anticipated releases are short story anthologies. This does not surprise me, as most genre anthologies are released by small presses without the budget and connections to take advantage of the marketing machine that the major houses employ to get the word out in advance. However, as a reader and writer, I love anthologies. They provide a rich literary tasting menu of different styles and themes, and I take great pleasure in discovering new and upcoming authors. Anthologies are where some of the famous novelists of the future are cutting their teeth right now, and because they are produced by independent presses, they can often take much bigger risks than you might find in other sources. There are six SF anthologies coming up that I have been tracking and look forward to reading when they arrive. Nearly all anthologies are uneven, but there will be some great fiction in these.

Ominous Realities, edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawrence, offers sixteen stories of future dystopias, alternate realities, and post-apocalyptic civilizations. I’m cheating just a hair on this, as the Kindle edition came in just prior to the end of 2013, but the paperback will be released in 2014. Rivera and Lawrence have come out of the gates strong with their edited anthologies, and I expect some great stories in this volume. Featuring stories by Martin Rose, John F.D. Taff, William Meikle, Ken Altabef, Gregory L. Norris, J. Daniel Stone, Eric Del Carlo, Bracken MacLeod, Hugh A.D. Spencer, Edward Morris, Jonathan Balog, Ewan C. Forbes, Allen Griffin, Alice Goldfuss, Paul Williams, and T. Fox Dunham. From Grey Matter Press.

War Stories, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak, is an upcoming anthology of military science fiction, one of my favorite genres. Although the final table of contents has not been announced, contributors include Keith Brooke, Joe Haldeman, Jake Kerr, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, T.C. McCarthy, Linda Nagata, Mike Sizemore, Janine Spendlove, and James L. Sutter.

SNAFU, edited by Geoff Browne, is an anthology of military horror that will have plenty of SF content. Brown is past president of the Australian Horror Writers Association and past director of the Australian Shadow Awards. The table of contents includes stories by James A. Moore, Greig Beck, Weston Ochse, Jonathan Maberry, Joseph Nassise, and Eric S. Brown. Ochse and Maberry have novels on this list above, and I expect the final lineup will be outstanding.

Upgraded is a collection of stories about cyborgs, edited by Neil Clarke, publisher of the Hugo-Award-Winning Clarkesworld Magazine. Clarke has a fine eye for talent, and this book will include stories by Elizabeth Bear, Helena Bell, Tobias S. Buckell, Pat Cadigan, Greg Egan, Xia Jia, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Chen Qiufan, Robert Reed, E. Catherine Tobler, Genevieve Valentine, Peter Watts, E. Lily Yu.

Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’ve been impressed with Moreno-Garcia’s editing on other collections, and love post-apocalyptic literature, so I have high hopes for this one. Includes stories by E. Catherine Tobler, Michael Matheson, A.M. Dellamonica, Orrin Grey, Steve Stanton, Claude Lalumière, Michael Pack, Arun Jiwa, Miriam Oudin, David Huebert, John Jantunen, Christine Ottoni, Donald Duncan, G.M.B. Chomichuk, Curtis Janzen, Thomas Turner, T.S. Bazelli, Jamie Mason, Morgan M. Page, Amanda M. Taylor, A.C. Wise, Jean-Louis Trudel, Hilary Janzen, Geoff Gander, and Frank Westcott.

The Future Embodied: The Future of Human Evolution, edited by Jason Andrew and Mae Empson. This collection will explore the impact of technology on the body in various ways, a theme that has always interested me. Contributing authors include William F. Nolan, David Gerrold, Katrina Nicholson, Nghi Vo, Jennifer R. Povey, Sarah Pinsker, Thomas Brennan, Miles Britton, Megan Lee Beals, Ree Soesbee, Lauren C. Teffeau, Shane Robinson, John Skylar, Preston Dennett, Jennifer Brozek, Alexandra Grunberg, Wayne Helge, Holly Schofield , and myself. Yes, I have a story in this one. I’d be reading it anyhow.

Paul Weimer
An expat New Yorker that has found himself living in Minnesota for the last 9 years, Paul Weimer has been reading SF and Fantasy for over 30 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for over 25 years. Besides his regular presence at SF Signal and his chatty presence on Twitter (@Princejvstin) Paul can be found at his own blog, Blog Jvstin Style, a contributor to the Functional Nerds, as a co-host on Skiffy and Fanty, a not uncommon guest on SFF Audio, and many other places on the Internet. Read his story “Newton’s Method” in Tales of Eve, an anthology from Fox Spirit Press.

There are plenty of books I am salivating to read in 2014. It looks to be a solid year for fantasy and science fiction, debuts, second novels, new series, and continuing favorites.

The Waking Engine, David Edison
A novel about the afterlife, with confused pilgrims, petitioners, gods, goddesses, fae princes, and a New Yorker? Yes, please! The cover art by one of my favorite artists, Stephan Martiniere, just makes me salivate all the more for this.

Cibola Burn, James S.A. Corey
James S.A. Corey is one half Daniel Abraham, one half Ty Franck and three halves of awesome. The most entertaining space science fiction in the field today, and well written to boot, the Expanse series is a must-series for anyone remotely interested in the subgenre. With the revelation and events in the third book, Abaddon’s Gate, the universe is wide open, and I look forward to seeing where he goes next with Cibola Burn.

The Widow’s House, Daniel Abraham 
As seen in the previous choice, Daniel Abraham is awesome, and if there was such a silly thing as an “heir” to George R.R. Martin, Abraham would get my vote. The tight number of protagonists, the revisitation and examination of epic fantasy tropes, a vivid milieu and just flat out writing make The Dagger and the Coin one of the best epic fantasy series out there.

The Crimson Campaign, Brian McClellan
McClellan was one of the debut authors whose work I highly enjoyed in 2013 and I look forward to his follow-up to Promise of Blood. Flintlock Fantasy has the potential of being a thing, and McClellan is part of this possibly new tradition. The interesting and unexpected direction the first novel took on the backend makes me very curious if the Matter of this series is not what I, or even the protagonists themselves, think it is. That’s exciting.

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette)
Sarah Monette has had health problems plague her for some time, and so I am very glad to see that she is writing again, here under a new publishing name for a new series. The Goblin Emperor has gotten very good buzz from people whose taste I trust, and the idea of taking the standard trope of the unexpected heir and transplanting it to a unique world of goblins sounds intriguing.

The Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan
A Natural History of Dragons was a gorgeous work, in the prose, the cover art, and the illustrations. The science- and research-minded Brennan’s talents seem to have found a perfect home in the story of a groundbreaking “Victorian” researcher into dragons. The Tropic of Serpents promises to continue her story and the story of dragons in her familiar and yet unique world.

Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal
Mary is another must-buy author for me. Valour and Vanity is the newest book in her Glamourist magic series, about an alternate 19th century with minor magic, and the husband and wife team who employ that magic to learn, to teach, and get into all sorts of adventures. This latest adventure promises to be a heist novel, and given its budding popularity as a flavor for fantasy, I’m very curious to see her take on it.

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
Ancillary Justice was not only the best debut novel I read last year, its the best novel I read, period. The imaginative space opera with roots from Asimov to Delany to Vance was a fresh and interesting take on some very old ideas. Can the author avoid a sophomore slump and meet the high expectations Ancillary Justice set? I can’t wait to find out.

A couple of novels, being published in 2014, that I have already had the privilege to read that I really look forward to in their final forms are Elizabeth Bear’s Steles of the Sky and Ian McDonald’s Empress of the Sun. The former is the wonderful capstone to her Eternal Sky epic fantasy trilogy, the definitive Silk Road fantasy out there. The latter is third in his Everness series, a YA adventure series about a young man who possesses the key to traveling the Multiverse. In this third novel, his travels take him to a Big Dumb Object that makes a Niven Ringworld look *puny*. It’s awesome.

Really, though, this list could have been two or three times longer, easily. I look forward to the year’s reading!

Beth Cato
Beth Cato’s debut steampunk novel The Clockwork Dagger will be released by HarperCollins Voyager in September 2014. She’s originally from Hanford, California, but now resides in Arizona with her husband and son. Her short fiction, poetry, and tasty cookie recipes can be found at http://www.bethcato.com.

My wish list for 2014 is all about sequels. To start off, The Enceladus Crisis by Michael J. Martinez is the sequel to 2013’s Daedalus Crisis. That book just blew me away. It features two parallel plot lines: far-future Mars where a human mining colony is forced to confront some serious weirdness, and an alternate 1779 where the British Navy uses alchemy to sail ships through deep space. The characters are great and the intersection of plots is brilliant, so I can’t wait to see where Martinez takes it next. The Enceladus Crisis comes out in April.

In July, Max Gladstone’s third book comes out, Full Fathom Five. The first two (Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise) are stand-alone books in the same world, where the legal system is based on magic and undead CEOs take the place of dead gods. It’s a highly original blend of epic and urban fantasy.

Sometimes I like my books to be gritty. C. Robert Cargill’s first book, Dreams and Shadows, was a standout in that regard. Stories about the fae have become almost cliche. Cargill writes about modern fairies in the Limestone Kingdom and Austin, Texas, and it’s dark, twisted, and downright nasty at times. It’s awesome. Therefore, I’m eager to see what he can do in Queen of Dark Things when it comes out in May. I already know it won’t be the kind of book I want to read by flashlight during a power outage.

I could go on and on. There are about a dozen other books I know of at this point that I already want, and I know I’ll only find more. My to-read pile is infinite.

Usman T. Malik
Usman T. Malik is a speculative fiction writer with stories in Daily Science Fiction, Chiral Mad 2, and The Crimson Pact: Volumes 4 and 5. He is a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop.

A bunch really. Excited about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, starting with Annihilation. I’m a big fan of Jeff’s work and the risks he takes with speculative fiction with a staggeringly exhaustive understanding of the genre’s history.

Chizine’s Fearful Symmetries and Tachyon Publication’s Lovecraft’s Monsters both edited by Ellen Datlow. I love Ellen’s taste in general, so anything new by her is a treat. Plus the TOC is fantastic and features some of my favorite authors.

David Edison’s The Waking Engine from Tor. David has a unique and surreal voice that envelopes you very quickly. Incisive and dark, powerful and ingenious. Very excited to read this, really.

Also, I cannot wait for Small Beer Press’s audio CD version of Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others. It is criminal that it is not available yet for long-distance commuters (me!).

Elektra Hammond
Elektra Hammond emulates her multi-sided idol Buckaroo Banzai by going in several directions at once. She’s been involved in publishing since the 1990s–now she writes, concocts anthologies, reviews movies for buzzymag.com & edits science fiction for various and sundry. When not freelancing or appearing at science fiction conventions, she travels the world judging cat shows. Find Elektra on Facebook (Elektra Hammond), Twitter (elektraUM), LiveJournal (elektra), & at http://www.untilmidnight.com.

With the huge number of genre books being published compared to just a few years ago, it’s impossible to read all the new books. But there are a couple I’m especially waiting for.

Early in February there’s Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee. It follows Carousel Tides, a rural fantasy that absolutely enchanted me. Sharon Lee walks a beautiful balance between reality and the fantastical, writing a world that very nearly could be, slipping bits of magic in effortlessly. Kate Archer’s return to Maine and the family carousel grabbed my interest from the very first page and never let up. I really want to see where Lee takes this story.

My favorite Star Trek aliens are featured in The Klingon Art of War by Keith R.A. DeCandido, due out in May. Inspired by the famous treatise by Sun Tzu on military strategy, this book details the ten precepts of ancient Klingon wisdom. It looks to be part fiction, part philosophy, part self-help and all entertainment.

Shaman Rises is the ninth and final book in the Walker Papers series by C.E. Murphy, set to debut in June. These books chronicle the journey of Joanne Walker, a Native American/Irish police officer, as she explores her mixed-magical heritage. While fighting evil. Each book has been better than the last, so I have high expectations for Shaman Rises, and no doubt that they will be met.

Rounding out my selections is a high fantasy. I started reading Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series when I was still in college. In December 2014, The King’s Deryni, the final book of the Childe Morgan trilogy will be published. It’s been nearly eight years since there was a new Deryni book to read, and by all indications this one will be amazing. It centers on Alaric Morgan, one of Kurtz’s favorite characters, and should pick up right after Childe Morgan ends. Hopefully, it will fill in the events leading up to Deryni Rising, the very first Deryni book. There’s a symmetry about that I find very appealing.

Those are the ones at the top of my list, which continues to grow. Happy reading in 2014!

Heather Massey
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.

As a longtime fan of science fiction romance—generally books mixing SF and romance with an upbeat ending—in 2014 I’m looking forward to reading books about plates, shrimp—or plates of shrimp.

Well, I might do that if I enjoyed shrimp, which I don’t. So back to science fiction romance.

I’m looking forward to reading as many titles as possible since I love the genre’s endless variety, but since SF Signal sent a repo man to my house and basically told me I had to narrow my list down or they’d force feed me a plate of shrimp, here are a few books I’m looking forward to in particular:

Meljean Brook’s The Kraken King (Berkley) is a steampunk romance and the latest installment in her Iron Seas series. According to the author’s website, it will be released first as an eight-part ebook serial, with a trade paperback and ebook release to follow in August. Best I can tell, the story’s premise is being kept a big secret. But the title promises a kraken, people! If we’re lucky, a steampunk kraken! Who can resist? (Clash of the Titans fans, I’m looking at you.)

Rhi Etzweiler is a new-to-me author whose Fragile Bond will be released in March from Riptide Publishing. The description informs me it’s an action-adventure story featuring an m/m interspecies romance. I love its promise of an edgy, gritty, and risk-taking ‘tude.

Sharon Lynn Fisher’s The Ophelia Prophecy (Tor) has biopunk written all over it—and in it, heh. I love the concept of humans being transformed by dangerous and disturbing technology, and her book looks like a fresh twist on the B.E.M. trope, and with a romance to boot!

Speaking of B.E.M.s, Storm Moon Press will release Tall, Dark, and Wriggly, an erotica collection of gay, tentacle-themed stories. I’m particularly looking forward to Angelia Sparrow’s story, which will have a cyberpunk setting. Here’s the description courtesy of the publisher’s site:

“What is it about tentacles that capture the imagination like nothing else? From The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife to the eldritch horrors of Lovecraft, what horrifies us often arouses us, too. Whether it’s the taboo, the inherent wrongness, or something that can’t be defined, tentacles capture the imagination, and these stories wrap their slippery appendages around our minds and won’t let go.”

If, like me, you’re having a difficult time waiting for Tall, Dark, and Wriggly, in the meantime you can read the first anthology in the series, All Wrapped Up.

D.J. Davis’ While You Were Away will be released in August from Red Sage Publishing. I don’t think there are any shrimp in his story, but so far I know the story will have political treachery, freedom fighters, guns, a risky escape mission, and a passionate romance. Sounds like a fun mix to me!

I’m also looking forward to Jody Wallace’s Angeli from Entangled Publishing. Or should I say, re-reading the official release since I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy! In the interest of full disclosure, I also supplied a cover blurb for this book (I wasn’t paid, mind you—getting to read a sci-fi romance from Jody Wallace is payment enough!). On its surface, Angeli is about, well, angels and a spunky Latina heroine and End of Time-like scenarios in a post-apocalyptic setting. But then the story does some slight-of-hand magic and we learn everything is not all as it seems. And the Alex Ross-inspired cover can’t be beat—especially not by a plate of shrimp!

Kristin Centorcelli
Kristin is a mom of 3 whose superpower is useless movie trivia. The inmates run the asylum, but in moments of quiet, she reviews speculative fiction for her own review blog, My Bookish Ways, and contributes to a few other sites where she indulges her other love of crime fiction. She’s known for her massive library which has already taken over the house, and threatens the entire block. Eventually she will finish her English degree and begin raking in the big bucks, but until then, reviewing books makes her deliriously happy, as does boxed wine, Supernatural, and traveling the world as a secret agent. One of those things isn’t true.

This is a dangerous question for me, because…there are sooo many awesome books coming out this year, and I WANT THEM ALL.

That said, there are a couple coming up in the next few weeks that I’m really looking forward to. One is The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, because, well, Japanese folk tales, and…Patrick Ness. Also coming up this month is Hang Wire by the always awesome Adam Christopher. I really really loved The Explorer  by James Smythe, and the follow-up, The Echo, is coming up soon, so I’m there. Also coming up is Red Rising by Pierce Brown, which I can already tell you is amazing.

Let’s see, in Feb, we’ve got The Grasshopper Jungle by the crazy talented Andrew Smith, about an invading army of hungry and horny (and six foot tall) praying mantises. I mean, come on, that one’s a gimme. Then there’s Conquest, the first SF novel by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard. I am a shameless and rather rabid fan of John’s Charlie Parker crime series with a hint of the supernatural, so Conquest is on my drop everything and read list. Can’t forget The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert, about a ventriloquist who falls for a woman that loses her head nightly in the Chamber of Horrors at the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair. *sigh* Oh! Can’t forget Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer…

In March there’s Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun (can you tell I have a list??), about an outbreak of insomnia and the man who ventures out into the crazy to save his wife. Also in March is Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins, the follow-up to the wonderfully weird Wolfhound Century, and another from Adam Christopher, The Burning Dark.

In April, there’s The Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen, which is to be the first of a trilogy about a witch’s curse, trolls, and a young girl who is kidnapped and taken to a magical place under Forsaken Mountain (trolls!!!). I love fairy tales and this sounds amazing. Another must read for April is Sea of Shadows, the first of a new fantasy series by another author fave of mine, Kelley Armstrong. Also on my must list for April is Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres.

May brings The Bees by Laline Paull which is described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games. That’s all I really need. Also in May is The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne about a woman in futuristic India that embarks on a journey to Ethiopia.

June and July brings lots of goodies, including Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour, the first of the Night and Nothing series about a woman, Finn Sullivan, who falls in love with a very mysterious and magical man named Jack, and uncovers the secrets about his very different family. There’s also Ecko Burning, the follow-up to the superb Ecko Rising by Danie Ware, and The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey (aka Mike Carey!!!). Another one that looks like great fun is Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieren Shea, which looks like a bit of futuristic SF fun.

August sees the release of Delilah S. Dawson’s first YA, Servants of the Storm, and I can’t wait. Can you say southern gothic fantasy? Also in August is The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. I loved The Magicians and The Magician King so this one is bound to be a win. In September is The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, the follow-up to the crazy popular The 5th Wave. In October, the next book by Tina Connolly, Silverblind is due, so looking forward to that too. I am also very eagerly awaiting We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers, the second book in the Ustari Cycle. Also of note at the end of 2014 is The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, the first Chinese-language SF novel to be translated into English, by Ken Liu (“The Paper Menagerie”), no less, so be on the lookout!

Well, I’m gonna leave it there before my brain explodes, but hopefully this will give you lots of good stuff for your want list!

Brian Lewis
Brian Lewis is the editor of Spark: A Creative Anthology and a software security engineer by day. Somehow between the white hat of “ethical hacker” and the black hat of “rogue editor,” he manages to enjoy family time with his wife and eight children. Brian recently released the fourth volume of Spark. This all-speculative-fiction issue features the artwork of Paul Pederson, a foreword by Kevin J. Anderson, and 34 amazing spec-fic selections. Volume IV is available now on Amazon or from the Spark online store.

Humans have always had the indomitable spirit of adventurers, of explorers. Climb the highest peak, cross the farthest frontier. Just in my short lifetime, we’ve seen so much, explored so much, and accomplished so much that it’s easy to imagine that we’ve done it all.

But what if the “Final Frontier” … isn’t?

In the series The Expanse by James S.A. Corey, a chance discovery leads to the ability to explore farther—and faster—than we’ve ever done before. The series not only dives into our insatiable drive for adventure, but examines all the repercussions of our explorer nature—political, technological, and personal.

This year I’m looking forward to the fourth book in the series, titled Cibola Burn. In something akin to the late 1800s rush in the United States, humans are able to leverage the now-well-known technology to execute a free-for-all grab for land—but instead of small homesteads, we’re talking new planets.

With a “poorly controlled flood” of settlers streaming out from home and plenty of political, technological, and personal tension to go with them, how can this premise not lead to great Space Opera?

James S.A. Corey is the pen name of the collaborative team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and Cibola Burn is due out in June, 2014.

Paul Goat Allen
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like The Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and has also published one novel and self-published two collections of poetry.

There are so many 2014 releases that I’m excited about — Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison, Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells, etc. — but the one that I literally can’t wait to get my hands on is Ernest Cline’s second novel, Armada. Back in 2011, his debut novel Ready Player One just blew me away. A blend of near future science fiction, epic fantasy quest, and brilliant homage to the ’80s, I called it “pure geek gold.” It was easily one of the most entertaining novels that I’ve ever read, regardless of genre categorization. So, yeah, I’m really excited about where he goes in his next novel! (July 3)

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