Wednesday, May 6, 2020

New Books Spotlight

Welcome to another edition of the New Books Spotlight, where each month or so we curate a selection of 6 new and forthcoming books we find notable, interesting, and intriguing. It gives us the opportunity to shine a brief spotlight on some stuff we're itching to get our hands on.

What are you looking forward to? Anything you want to argue with us about? Is there something we should consider spotlighting in the future? Let us know in the comments!

Bujold, Louis McMaster. Penric's Travels [Baen]

Publisher's Description:
Tales of a new hero in fantasy from Lois McMaster Bujold, together for the first time!  Including Penric’s Mission, Mira’s Last Dance, and The Prisoner of Limnos. He does it his way!
Penric’s Mission: Learned Penric, a sorcerer and divine of the Bastard’s Order, has faced danger and intrigue many times before. Now, he finds himself on his first covert diplomatic mission. Penric must travel across the sea to Cedona in an attempt to secure the services of the Cedonia General Arisaydia for the Duke of Adria. But nothing is as it seems. No sooner than he has arrived, Penric finds himself tossed into a dungeon. If Penric is to survive, he’ll have to navigate treacherous politics—and his own feelings for the young widowed sister of the General.
Mira’s Last Dance: Penric, suffering from injuries attained while escaping from the Cedonian dungeon in which he was imprisoned, must now guide General Arisaydia and his widowed sister, Nikys, across the last hundred miles of hostile Cedonia to safety in the Duchy of Orbas. In the town of Sosie, the fugitive party encounters unexpected delays, and even more unexpected opportunities and hazards, as the courtesan Mira of Adria, one of the ten dead women whose imprints make up the personality of the chaos demon Desdemona, comes to the fore with her own special expertise.
The Prisoner of Limnos: Penric and Nikys have reached safety in the Duchy of Orbas when a secret letter from a friend brings frightening news: Nikys's mother has been taken hostage by her brother's enemies at the Cedonian imperial court and confined in a precarious island sanctuary.
Now, Nikys, Penric, and Desdemona must infiltrate the hostile country once more, finding along the way that family relationships can be as unexpectedly challenging as any rescue scheme.

Why We Want It: While not a new novella from Lois McMaster Bujold, this second Penric and Desdemona collection is essential reading for fans of Bujold who may have missed the novellas the first time around or just wants them all in one place.

Collins, Suzanne. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes [Scholastic]

Publisher's Description:
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
 The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute...and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.  
Why We Want It: While many have been looking forward to a potential Hunger Games prequel novel, I'm not sure anyone really wanted a Young President Snow novel. The rise of a dictator is less interesting than other stories that can be told - but with that said, we trust Suzanne Collins to tell a good story.

Johnson, Alaya Dawn. Trouble the Saints [Tor]

Publisher's Description:
The dangerous magic of The Night Circus meets the powerful historical exploration of The Underground Railroad in Alaya Dawn Johnson's timely and unsettling novel, set against the darkly glamorous backdrop of New York City, where an assassin falls in love and tries to change her fate at the dawn of World War II.
Amid the whir of city life, a young woman from Harlem is drawn into the glittering underworld of Manhattan, where she’s hired to use her knives to strike fear among its most dangerous denizens.
Ten years later, Phyllis LeBlanc has given up everything—not just her own past, and Dev, the man she loved, but even her own dreams.
Still, the ghosts from her past are always by her side—and history has appeared on her doorstep to threaten the people she keeps in her heart. And so Phyllis will have to make a harrowing choice, before it’s too late—is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?
Trouble the Saints is a dazzling, daring novel—a magical love story, a compelling exposure of racial fault lines—and an altogether brilliant and deeply American saga.
Why We Want It: I've read some of Alaya Dawn Johnson's short fiction years ago, but haven't kept up with her novel length work. It's certainly possible that The Night Circus meets The Underground Railroad is overselling Trouble the Saints, but it's also one hell of a recommendation and I want to see if Trouble the Saints rises to the billing. If so, this will be incredible.

King, Stephen. If It Bleeds [Scribner]

Publisher's Description
From #1 New York Times bestselling author, legendary storyteller, and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary collection of four new and compelling novellas—Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds—each pulling you into intriguing and frightening places.
The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, including “The Body” (Stand By Me) and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (Shawshank Redemption). Like Four Past Midnight, Different Seasons, and most recently Full Dark, No Stars, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.
Why We Want It: Some of Stephen King's strongest work is at novella length and while we're always excited for new Stephen King - we're often more excited when it is a collection of shorter works. While many of his most famous novellas were published decades ago, King is still doing strong work and pushing himself in directions we'd never have expected from a younger Stephen King. We *are* excited to check out this collection of four novellas.

Kress, Nancy. The Eleventh Gate [Baen]

Publisher's Description
Despite economic and territorial tensions, no one wants the city-states of the Eight Worlds to repeat the Terran Collapse by going to war. But when war accidentally happens, everyone seeks ways to exploit it for gain.  The Landry and Peregoy ruling dynasties see opportunities to grab territory, increase profits, and settle old scores.  Exploited underclasses use war to fuel rebellion.  Ambitious heirs can finally topple their elders’ regimes—or try to.
But the unexpected key to either victory or peace lies with two persons uninterested in conquest, profits, or power.   Philip Anderson seeks only the transcendent meaning of the physics underlying the universe.  Tara Landry, spoiled and defiant youngest granddaughter of dynasty head Rachel Landry, accidentally discovers an eleventh star-jump gate, with a fabulous find on the planet behind it.  Her discovery, and Philip’s use of it, alter everything for the Eight Worlds.
Why We Want It: Nancy Kress's bibliography is extensive and while there is plenty more to read, we know that a new Nancy Kress novel will be imaginative science fiction. While most of her more recent novels have been near future science fiction, Kress's return to space opera is something to look forward to.

Wells, Martha. Network Effect [ Publishing]

Publisher's Description
Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel, Network Effect.
You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.
Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.
I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.
When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.
Drastic action it is, then.
Why We Want It: New Murderbot. Okay, let me rephrase that. After four excellent novellas, Network effect is the first full length Murderbot novel!

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 4x Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan. He / Him.