Wednesday, September 30, 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?

Baker, A. Deborah. Over the Woodward Wall [ Publishing]
Publisher's Description
Writing as A. Deborah Baker, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of talking trees and sarcastic owls, of dangerous mermaids and captivating queens in Over the Woodward Wall, an exceptional tale for readers who are young at heart.

If you trust her you’ll never make it home…

Avery is an exceptional child. Everything he does is precise, from the way he washes his face in the morning, to the way he completes his homework – without complaint, without fuss, without prompt.

Zib is also an exceptional child, because all children are, in their own way. But where everything Avery does and is can be measured, nothing Zib does can possibly be predicted, except for the fact that she can always be relied upon to be unpredictable.

They live on the same street.
They live in different worlds.

On an unplanned detour from home to school one morning, Avery and Zib find themselves climbing over a stone wall into the Up and Under – an impossible land filled with mystery, adventure and the strangest creatures.

And they must find themselves and each other if they are to also find their way out and back to their own lives.
Why We Want It: Over the Woodward Wall is Seanan McGuire's first middle grade novel and it's also a companion piece to her superb novel Middlegame (also a Hugo Award finalist novel and Locus Award winner). There's a novel within the novel of Middlegame that is referenced constantly and is critical to that story. Over the Woodward Wall is that novel, now fleshed out. A Deborah Baker is McGuire's second pseudonym (Mira Grant being the other) - but this one is also the name of the author within Middlegame, so it all ties together. Either way, anything new from Seanan McGuire is right at at the top of my list.

Bear, Elizabeth. Machine [Saga]
Publisher's Description
In this compelling and addictive novel set in the same universe as the critically acclaimed White Space series and perfect for fans of Karen Traviss and Ada Hoffman, a space station begins to unravel when a routine search and rescue mission returns after going dangerously awry.

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.

But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.
Why We Want It: Paul reviewed Ancestral Night last year for us last year (see his review) and had I read it in time to make either my Top Nine list or my Hugo ballot, it would have easily been on both lists. It is a spectacular space opera and one of the best published last year. Machine is the follow up in the same universe and that by itself would be enough to get me in the door. Elizabeth Bear has also long been one of my favorite authors and each new novel only affirms that, plus the blurb's comparison to Karin Traviss is an added bonus (Traviss's Wess'har Wars is an overlooked series)

McGuire, Seanan. Dying With Her Cheer Pants On [Subterranean]
Publisher's Description
Despite its humble origins, there is no more challenging or physically dangerous teen sport in the world than cheerleading. Cheerleaders are seriously injured and even killed at a higher rate than other high school sports. Their stunts are performed in skimpy uniforms without the benefit of proper safety equipment…and yet they love them, glittery eyeshadow, spirit bows, and all.

And then there are the Fighting Pumpkins, who take that injury rate as a challenge. Students of Johnson’s Crossing High School, they answer to a higher calling than the pyramid and the basket toss, pursuing the pep rally that is rising up against mysteries and monsters, kicking gods with the pointed toes of professional athletes chasing a collegiate career.

Meet Jude, half-vampire squad leader; Laurie, who can compel anyone to do as she asks; Heather, occasionally recreationally dead; Marti, strong enough to provide a foundation for any stunt; Colleen, who knows the rule book so well she may as well have written it; and Steph, who may or may not be the goddess of the harvest. The rest of the squad is ready to support them, and braced for the chaos of the big game, which may have a big body count. Prepare to jump high, yell loud, and look pretty with the Fighting Pumpkins, those glorious girls in the orange and green, whose high kicks could still be enough to save the world.

And if they’re not, it isn’t going to be for lack of trying.

Dying with Her Cheer Pants On includes three stories appearing for the first time anywhere: "Tryouts," "Trial by Fire," and "Compete Me."
Why We Want It: As a matter of practice we tend to spotlight only one selection from a given author so as to spread the light around - but this is my spotlight and I'm as excited for Dying With Her Cheer Pants on as I am for Over the Woodward Wall, just in very different ways. I've been working way through McGuire's back catalog including her stories, but this is the first I've heard of the Fighting Pumpkins. I need this in my life.

Roanhorse, Rebecca. Black Sun [Saga]
Publisher's Description
From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
Why We Want It: The trend of epic fantasies moving farther and farther away from what was the "standard" of the European Middle Ages is a welcome one, which is why Rebecca Roanhorse's magical epic of the Americas before Columbus is so damned exciting. Her Sixth World novels were a breath of fresh air in urban fantasy (though that's not a sub genre I'm as well read in) and this is a bold new direction for epic fantasy - part of the changing of the genre. Also, it does have a stunning cover.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Ministry for the Future [Orbit]
Publisher's Description
From the visionary, New York Times bestselling author of New York 2140 comes a near-future novel that is a gripping exploration of climate change, technology, politics, and the human behaviors that drive these forces.

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story.

From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined.

Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us - and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face.

It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.
Why We Want It: I can't call myself a Robinson aficionado. He has been publishing novels since 1984 and I've only read his last two (New York 2140 and Red Moon), though I do own a small handful of his earlier novels that I swear I'll get to someday. Regardless of that, I appreciate the optimism that The Ministry for the Future offers that humanity might work together to solve the climate crisis (I write this in early September when the Environmental Protection Agency is doing the exact opposite of its name and mandate and allowing for greater pollution in the name of industry, so I can use a dose of optimism right now).

Vaughn, Carrie. Kitty's Mix Tape [Tachyon]
Publisher's Description
In the final installment of the bestselling Kitty Norville werewolf-DJ series, the paranormal escapades continue with Carrie Vaughn’s most captivating characters, including fan favorite characters like Rick the vampire and Jessi Hardin, paranormal detective, Kitty’s husband Ben, his cousin Cormac the bounty hunter, and the villainous Dux Bellorum.
Why We Want It: One of my greatest discoveries was winning an online contest that I don't remember entering and receiving copies of Kitty and the Midnight Hour and Kitty Goes to Washington in the mail. After giving them the side eye for no good reason, I started to read and Kitty Norville quickly became one of my favorite characters and I could not get enough of the series - and then it ended and Carrie Vaughn moved on. But wait! Here's a story collection and even though I've likely read at least half of the stories in it, there are two brand new Kitty stories! I'm here for this!

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