(Probably the most straight-forward Mind Meld question I’ve asked thus far).
2015 is shaping up to be so chock full of amazing new releases that I’m already resigned to not being able to keep up. However, I do have a few select books I know I’m going to stuff into my face as soon as they’re available.
Like everyone else who is familiar with and loves her work I’m extremely excited for N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. I was thrilled when it was first announced, because I loved The Killing Moon, but I’ve since taken a dive into the Inheritance trilogy and adored it. So now The Fifth Season is like a shiny beacon of adventure calling my name. I’ve come to appreciate the deft way Jemisin writes about love and family and the way she builds the history of her worlds. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good apocalypse.
Another author whose work I love, Naomi Novik, is releasing a brand new book outside her excellent “Temeraire” series with Uprooted. I’ve been reading Novik’s work for years and years via her fanfiction, and her original fiction has the same excellent narrative voice I find so engaging and entertaining. Her prose reminds me of a favored hoodie, comfy and warm and addictive. I’ve seen lots of people saying this book is for people who love fairytales, and although I don’t think I care as much about fairytales in the same way the rest of the world does (sorry, world), I’m excited to see what she’ll do with the tropes.
Kate Elliott, whose epic back catalogue I discovered in 2012 to my continual delight as I power through it, is expanding into the world of YA with Court of Fives. She writes excellent fiction about women and girls: their fears, their dreams, their relationships, and the complicated pieces of their humanity. This story looks to be yet more excellent fiction where girls go on adventures and become epic heroes. I’m all for girls breaking social conventions, facing danger head on, and going on quests, which is 100% my jam.
On the sequel side of things, I’m waiting for plenty of second or thirds in a series, but none are more coveted to me than the final book in Courtney Schafer’s Shattered Sigil series, The Labyrinth of Flame. I want this so much I would legit mow someone down for a copy of this book with zero shame. I’m ready to read it and weep the entire way through because I’ve listened to her interviews about her belief in the personal costs of epic fantasy adventure and fear the worst. She’s going to break my heart and then probably stomp the pieces gleefully. I’m ready, Schafer. Bring it.
And although not a completely new release, as it was published as a free online web comic first, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is coming out in hardcopy. This story features Nimona, a shapeshifting sidekick to a super-villain. I’ve read part of it online, but my attention span with online web comics is atrocious (so easy to browse away to Tumblr! The Internet is so distracting!). So many people around me love this story and are appalled I haven’t overcome my inability to read comics online, so I’m looking forward to holing up with the whole thing in book form as soon as it drops.
2015 is already shaping up to be an epic year for science fiction and fantasy, with nearly 50 titles already on my watch list, along with a handful of unconfirmed titles I really hope we’ll get to see. There are some big-name debuts that I’m looking out for, some long-awaited sequels on the way, and some brand new chapters from authors I’ve been reading since my high school days. With that said, there are a few fantasy titles that I know I’ll devour the moment they come in the door.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated novels of the year is The Skull Throne by Peter Brett. While we do have a gorgeous cover to tease and tantalize, there’s no official synopsis yet for the fourth volume of his “Demon War Cycle.” All we really know at this point is that Brett has indicated this will be his biggest book in the series yet – and, as a lover of epic doorstoppers, that excites me. We can only guess as to whose backstory the flashbacks will flesh out this time around, but the teaser chapter promises a journey to the Core, bringing the fight to the alagai, and introducing a new twist on the already complex history of Arlen and Jardir.
Another title about which we know very little at this point is King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist. After an astounding 30 years spent telling the tale of the “Riftwar Cycle,” he’s about to launch an entirely new trilogy with the “War of the Five Crowns.” No cover and no blurb yet, but we do know it’s influenced by medieval history and Arthurian legend. While the Riftwar had certain had some weaker entries, it certainly ended on a high note with the final trilogy, so let’s hope Feist carries that excitement through to his new saga.
Another exciting follow-up on the horizon is The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence. Having already wowed us all with The Broken Empire, he’s back with the second book of “The Red Queen’s War.” The second chapter in the saga sees Jal and Snorri on the run with Loki’s Key, which Snorri wants to use to bring his family back from the land of the dead, and which The Dead King wants for himself, while Poor Jal only wants to return to his women and wine. Unfortunately for them all, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen herself, has different plans.
One of my most anticipated titles has to be The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán. Really, come on, how cool is this? It’s an historical fantasy, with all the religious and political conflicts of 14th century Europe, and with dinosaur mounted knights! Dragons are cool, no doubt about it, but the dirt-digging, fossil-hunting geek in me is ecstatic about the idea of armored knights riding to war atop various species of dinosaur. It also sounds like there’s some nice world-building and mythology to it, with talk of Paradise and Eight Creators who designed the world to play out their games of passion and power.
Last year saw the debut of a much darker, much more adult form of grimdark, ushered in by Andy Remic’s Rage of Kings saga and Mark Smylie’s first “Barrow ” tale. So far there’s no word on a third adventure for Remic’s Iron Wolves, but Smylie is inviting us once again to indulge in some guilty pleasures with Black Heart, his second “Barrow ”adventure. Stjepan Black-Heart and the other survivors of the titular raid of the first book have gone their own ways, but something tells me Black-Heart’s schemes will somehow bring them back together for another shot at tarnished, gluttonous, obscene glory.
Finally, the end of the year is schedule to see a much-anticipated finale from Jeff Salyards, with Chains of the Heretic, the third book of “Bloodsounder’s Arc.” There’s not much available at this point in terms of cover blub or other details, but he has teased that the narrative scope of the final book will grow once again, building upon the “more sweeping and expansive” trend with the middle volume. The climax of the second book provided a stunning cliffhanger – both physically and emotionally – so I can’t wait to see how it all ends.
I’m looking forward to a lot of books in 2015, but especially to new titles by N. K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott and Elizabeth Bear. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season has been on my radar for a while, while Elliott’s Court of Fives sounds like it could’ve been written for me, and Bear’s Karen Memory looks amazing.
All three are accomplished writers whose other works I’ve enormously enjoyed, and I can’t wait to get my hands on their output in the coming year.
1 – Night Without Stars by Peter F Hamilton
Easily my most anticipated novel for 2015 (assuming that it’s out this year – no release date as yet). The Abyss Beyond Dreams was such a great return to form for Hamilton, and the possibilities for Night Without Stars are endless. Hamilton also suggested (at a signing I went to for Abyss) that we may see the Primes again. YES!
2 – Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher
A return to Asher’s “Polity” universe, which is most welcome. His “Polity” novels got better and better as he wrote them, and with the break to set up his “Owner” novels done this can’t come soon enough. Not long to wait as it’s out in January, and if his previous outings in the “Polity”are anything to go by this will deliver just about everything I love about sci-fi.
3 – Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan by Jack Campbell
Guardian was a massive disappointment for me this year. It had so much potential, but was essentially a stop-gap novel in order to set up a new-ish direction for this novel. No spoilers here, but if you’ve been keeping up with the adventures of John ‘Black Jack’ Geary I think this could be a great return to form, and possibly something rather special.
4 – Weird Space: The Baba Yaga by Eric Brown and Una McCormack
Eric Brown is handing over the reigns of the “Weird Space” setting to Una McCormack for The Baba Yaga, and he’s created a great setting which can be expanded further. Looking forward to seeing where this goes after no Brown related sci-fi in 2014 (novel length, anyway).
5 – Touch by Claire North
I loved The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August in 2014 – it was easily in my top three reads and even now I can’t help but think about it. Touch will be North’s second novel under this pen name and, while I only know what the synopsis says, it’s one I will be jumping into as soon as it hits the shelves.
There are so many delicious sounding books coming out in 2015 that I was about to smack myself silly with aggravation trying to narrow it down to just 5. Why must you limit me so SF Signal!!? I must have them all and likely all the ones all the other contributors to this post list as well because I’m sure they all sound fabulous!
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
19th Century Seattle mixed with Steampunk and a bordello!? Hell yes I say to that! I have yet to read an Elizabeth Bear book and this year I aim to fix that!
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
I absolutely LOVED the first two books in Bishop’s “Others” series thus far. I’d have to say of all the books this is the one that I would devour as soon as I can get my itchy hands on it because its such a gritty and fresh take on a paranomal/urban fantasy community,
Armada by Ernest Cline
The premise of playing a video game that’s actually real sounds a bit familiar to something I’ve run across before but can’t remember what but I’m hoping it will still give me something I haven’t seen before. He set the bar high with Ready Player One which is now one of my favorite novels so let’s see if he can top it.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
Schwab completely won me over last year with Vicious. It was one of my favorite reads from 2014. This has parallel/alternate Londons, magic and sounds like just my cup of tea. Plus look at that fantastic cover!
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This sounds like a delicious fairytale-esque story of a girl that is going to be taken as her town’s tribute to the magician aka Dragon that acts as their protector. And I do so love the feel reading that book description gives me!
Amanda Rutter is an erstwhile blogger at Floor to Ceiling Books, current Malazan re-reader at Tor.com, and freelance editor by trade. Engage her in chat on Twitter @ALRutter and find details about her editorial rates at http://areditorialsolutions.com/.
It feels as though 2015 has the potential to be an embarrassment of riches where SFF reading is concerned! I am looking forward to getting my hands on many novels, but here are a few that genuinely excite me.
- Armada by Ernest Cline. Having read and adored Ready Player One, I am ecstatic to see that we have a new novel coming from Cline. I have my concerns that nothing will live up to the nostalgia kick that RPO provided, but I’d love to see what Cline can do with a new story.
- Time Salvager by Wesley Chu. I’ve been there right from the start of this chap’s writing career. I put forward The Lives of Tao to Angry Robot from their very first Open Door, and have watched his stratospheric rise since then. Time Salvager sounds epic and heart breaking, and I can’t wait to get started.
- Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. Seraphina was an absolute joy to read – character driven and thoughtful YA fantasy – and the sequel has taken time to come out. It looks like 2015 is the new slated release, and I’ll be first in the queue.
- Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This gentleman has written one of the most (IMO) under-rated fantasy series of recent times. “Shadows of the Apt” gave us fantasy without the usual tropes. Science and magic combined, in a world where insects were used as the main inspiration. I will enjoy seeing what he can do in the SF field.
- The Black Wolves by Kate Elliott. Elliott is a prolific writer and yet I have not managed to read a single novel of hers. I love her conversation on Twitter – she is engaging, inclusive and thought-provoking, and I want to see if these qualities also enrich her writing. The Black Wolves seems like the ideal place to start.
One of the great pleasures of the start of a new year is the joy that comes from anticipating new releases. Though there are several releases slated for 2015 that I am prepared to purchase during release week, there are five that I will share for this Mind Meld.
I’m going to kick this off with something that might be unconventional: an art collection. Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art is editor Cathy Fenner’s first publication after she and husband Arnie Fenner turned the reigns of Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art over to John Fleskes (of Flesk Publications) with the just-released 21st art annual. The artwork being created by female artists in the fantastic arts community is varied, amazing, and inspiring and this collection promises to be a must-have for fans of fantastic art. Cathy Fenner has more than two decades of quality art collections that prove that her name is synonymous with quality, and Women of Wonder will be another quality production. The book will be released in May at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 4 event.
Ernest Cline tapped into the childhood of a number of adults who grew up in the video game culture of the 1980’s with his novel Ready Player One. The novel was a tremendous pop culture love fest, made all the more entertaining if you happened to listen to the Wil Wheaton narrated audio book. Cline returns to the well with Armada, a novel whose description recalls a long summer drive across Nebraska on a family trip to Colorado Springs, where I laid in the back of a station wagon and read, among other things, Alan Dean Foster’s novelization for The Last Starfighter. I have a great fondness for that film/novelization, and for classic and contemporary video games, and cannot wait to get my hands on Armada.
Neil Gaiman has been a prolific author for the last few decades, creating both short and long-form fiction. His 1998 Smoke and Mirrors collection reignited my passion for short fiction and I am one of many impatient fans who feel that the wait between short fiction collections is far too long. That wait ends in February with the release of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances…at least until I am finished reading it and the wait begins again. Neil is a master of the form and I have high expectations for this collection.
I was first encouraged to give author Alastair Reynolds a try because of one of John DeNardo’s reviews here on SF Signal. I picked up Chasm City and emerged a Reynolds fan. Though my shelves house several Alastair Reynolds novels that I have yet to experience, that does not temper my excitement for the June release of Slow Bullets. Slow Bullets looks to focus on a specific protagonist within a much greater universe and that is the kind of complex space opera I expect Reynolds to deliver.
January 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the release of John Scalzi’s popular novel, Old Man’s War. The original trilogy has expanded over the years, resulting in a young adult novel and an episodic book release harkening back to earlier times. John Scalzi returns to the “Old Man’s War” universe with the August release of The End of All Things. As he has with all the OMW books, artist John Harris has created a beautiful cover for the novel and John Scalzi has intimated that their may be more Harris illustrations associated with the novel with another planned episodic release. When I first read Old Man’s War, it was as if I had time traveled back to my youth. The novel channeled the spirit of the type of story that made science fiction my first love. Though the book’s title could signal and end to John Scalzi’s journeys within this universe, I sincerely hope that is not the case.
- Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop – love the way Anne cloaks sinister in sweet and ordinary.
- (untitled) Mercy Thompson 9 by Patricia Briggs – Mercy is a character I just never get tired of…
- Seveneaves by Neal Stephenson – curiosity!
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi – because Paolo…
- The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson – love Justina’s work.
As if Mount ToBeRead isn’t formidable enough, the 2015 release list so far is quite daunting, and full of newer authors I am very excited to revisit. But for this Mind Meld I find the whole New Year tradition of taking stock of one’s life has me craving the literary equivalent of comfort food.
Robert McCammon’s The Border marks his return to epic SF horror. All I know about it is that it should appeal to fans of Stinger and Swan Song, which I am. I find I miss the big, sprawling dread-feasts that dominated the 90s. McCammon has done monsters, human evil, and wide-screen body horror in the past, and his application of non-trite unsentimental Americana was always measured and appropriate. I am curious how that will play out in a 21st century setting.
Melinda M. Snodgrass’ Edge trilogy wraps with The Edge of Dawn this year. For all the issues I had with the first two books, the premise of a battle between reason and mysticism being waged in the metaphysical realm still intrigues me. Plus, what started as a fairly Lovecraftian cosmology has developed into something a bit heftier, with systems of magic being dependant on the beliefs that fuel them. I like books that play with the concept of the human operating system and how it can be hacked with theology. Sometimes it works in SF (Ted Reynolds’ Tides of God and the too-few SF works of Michael Kanaly leap to mind), but Snodgrass tackling it in a fantasy/adventure series is to be commended.
I hate the tired bromide that the best science fiction is about what it means to be human. Hate it. I’ve been human for over 50 years and I think I have the hang of it. Plus, the list of exceptional SF/F books which explicitly do not address this cliché is long.
That being said, nobody writes about human frailty and the exquisite art of simply coping with life quite like Robert Charles Wilson, and I eagerly await the release of The Affinities this year. From all the promotional copy I have read, it deals with social media becoming the basis for sweeping sociological change, techno-tribalism, and ideological isolationism. Wilson has conveyed bleak and hopeless mindsets in many of his novels, but always with a sense of endurance. I am really looking forward to where he’s going with this one.
Like I said: comfort food. Simmering near the top of my list are the recent and upcoming books by Karen Lord, Ian McDonald, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Stina Leicht, Mike Resnick, Jo Walton, Neal Asher, Alastair Reynolds, Kit Reed, Nnedi Okorafor, Clive Barker, C.S. Friedman, Michael Cobley, and Harry Turtledove. A feast, by any standard.
It’s hard to make these lists because I figure everyone involved in this mind meld will pick the same books so I tried to think of some books that might not have been picked by others. 2015 is looking to be another incredible year for speculative fiction!
- Long Black Curl – Alex Bledsoe. Bledsoe’s “Tufa” novels are some of my favorite books that have recently been published. His blending of realism and magic is just about perfect, and his writing is atmospheric, emotional, and absolutely addicting. I cannot wait to read more in this series.
- The Philosopher Kings – Jo Walton. This book is set to drop in June of 2015. I was lucky enough to get a (very, very early) ARC of The Just City, and I read it in about a day when I was recovering from surgery. I think it’s probably one of the best books I’ve recently read, which is saying something. I can’t get to book 2 fast enough.
- The Dark Forest – Cixin Liu. In July of 2015 the Western World will, once again, be regaled with a fantastic novel by Cixin Liu. The Three-Body Problem by this same author absolutely blew my mind. It put the author solidly on my “Must Read” list. The Dark Forest looks to be even better than The Three-Body Problem. I can’t get my hands on it fast enough.
- Twelve Kings in Sharakhai – Bradley P. Beaulieu. I’m kind of cheating with this one because I was a beta reader so I’ve already read it, and I LOVED IT. I honestly can’t wait to read the finished version and watch all the rest of you people read it and love it, too.
- Cold Iron – Stina Leicht, Leicht blew me away with her duology The Fey and the Fallen. She packs more emotion into her writing than I thought possible. Her world building is incredible, her characters are real and intense. I’ve been waiting anxiously for another book by Leicht because she hits all my buttons perfectly, and now it is upon us and I can’t wait!!
Despite the fact that I’m currently buried (and gleefully so) in all the great books I acquired in 2014, there are still a bunch that are going straight to the top of the pile when they hit in 2015.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley: This is a bit of a cheat, in that I’ve already read an advance reader copy, but I’m still looking forward to seeing this novel take the YA world by storm. Imagine The Fault in Our Stars plus bird people and air pirates. Yes, really. This book made me cry on a crowded airplane. You’ve been warned.
Apex by Ramez Naam: For my money, Naam writes the best near-future science fiction on the market. Not only is his knowledge of the technology impeccable, he also manages to make each book a legitimately wild ride—these are techno-thrillers in the best possible sense of the term. Apex finishes the trilogy started with Nexus and Crux, both of which offer a fascinating glimpse into the ways programming and engineering will change human society and government within our lifetimes.
City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett: This book hasn’t even been solicited yet, and I’m still putting it on the list because its prequel, City of Stairs, was just that good. A story of colonialism in a world where one nation has killed another’s gods, City of Stairs had everything I want in a fantasy novel: fabulous worldbuilding, compelling characters, a creative magic system, and bizarre monsters. If you like Max Gladstone or China Miéville (or me, for that matter), you’re going to love these books.
The Hellsblood Bride by Chuck Wendig: This is the sequel to The Blue Blazes, Wendig’s urban fantasy novel starring mobster and magical meathead Mookie Pearl. The Blue Blazes was a fun, darkly comic romp through the underworld of New York, complete with a magic system that’s essentially a drug trade. Highly creative and entertaining.
Every issue of Saga, The Unwritten, The Wicked + The Divine, Rat Queens… 2014 has been an amazing year for comics, and with so many fabulous series hitting their strides, it’s only going to get better from here.
Honorable Mention—The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin: I am incredibly excited for the finale of the Passage trilogy—the best vampire/zombie apocalypse I’ve ever read—which is supposedly coming out in 2015. Of course, it was also supposedly coming out in 2014, so at this point I don’t think any of us should be holding our breath