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?
What are you looking forward to? Anything you want to argue with us about?
In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new Monk & Robot series gives us hope for the future.Why We Want It: You're a fan of the Wayfarers novels, right? They are collectively excellent and, generally quiet and personal about family (found or otherwise). A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a step away from that series and is a standalone novella that may be the first in a new series and it's about a monk going on a journey with a robot and that's the whole thing. It's quiet and peaceful and a balm for today.
It's been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They're going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers's new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
The fifth book in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series continues the adventures of Asian-American superheroines Evie Tanaka, Aveda Jupiter, and Bea Tanaka in a demon-infested San Francisco.Why We Want It: This is the year I'm looking to get back into reading Sarah Kuhn. As noted in my Summer Reading List, I read Heroine Complex back in 2018 and am looking to continue with the series this year and I expect to push right on to Hollywood Heroine.
Over the years, the adventures of superheroines Aveda Jupiter and Evie Tanaka have become the stuff of legend–and now they’ll be immortalized in their very own TV show!
The pair head to LA for filming, but Aveda struggles to get truly excited. Instead, she’s preoccupied wondering about the fate of the world and her role in it. You know, the usual. Now that Otherworld activity has been detected outside the Bay Area, Aveda can’t help but wonder if the demon threat will ever be eradicated.
When the drama on set takes a turn for the supernatural, Evie and Aveda must balance their celebrity commitments with donning their superhero capes again to investigate. And when the evil they battle reveals a larger, more nefarious plot, it’s time for the indomitable Aveda Jupiter to rise to the occasion and become the leader she was meant to be on a more global scale–and hopefully keep some semblance of a personal life while doing so.
This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.Why We Want It: I do like a good sci-fi thriller set on a ship in deep space and this one sounds absolutely exceptional.
Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is placed on the Deucalion, a survey ship headed to an icy planet in an unexplored galaxy. Her purpose is to observe the thirteen human crew members aboard the ship—all specialists in their own fields—as they assess the colonization potential of the planet, Eos. But frictions develop as Park befriends the androids of the ship, preferring their company over the baffling complexity of humans, while the rest of the crew treats them with suspicion and even outright hostility.
Shortly after landing, the crew finds themselves trapped on the ship by a radiation storm, with no means of communication or escape until it passes—and that’s when things begin to fall apart. Park’s patients are falling prey to waking nightmares of helpless, tongueless insanity. The androids are behaving strangely. There are no windows aboard the ship. Paranoia is closing in, and soon Park is forced to confront the fact that nothing—neither her crew, nor their mission, nor the mysterious Eos itself—is as it seems.
Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan's She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.Why We Want It: I can be a sucker for pre-release hype and everything I have heard about She Who Became the Sun has told me *this* is the debut to watch in 2021. This is the book to pay attention to. Adri reviewed it in June.
To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.
The Near-Earth Orbital Guard (Neo-G)—inspired by the real-life mission of the Coast Guard—patrols and protects the solar system. Now the crew of Zuma’s Ghost must contend with personnel changes and a powerful cabal hellbent on dominating the trade lanes in this fast-paced, action-packed follow-up to A Pale Light in the Black.Why We Want It: Wagers is one of my favorite science fiction writers working today and it should be no surprise that I loved her first NeoG novel A Pale Light in the Black, so I'm super pumped for Hold Fast Through the Fire.
Zuma’s Ghost has won the Boarding Games for the second straight year. The crew—led by the unparalleled ability of Jenks in the cage, the brilliant pairing of Ma and Max in the pilot seats, the technical savvy of Sapphi, and the sword skills of Tamago and Rosa—has all come together to form an unstoppable team. Until it all comes apart.
Their commander and Master Chief are both retiring. Which means Jenks is getting promoted, a new commander is joining them, and a fresh-faced spacer is arriving to shake up their perfect dynamics. And while not being able to threepeat is on their minds, the more important thing is how they’re going to fulfill their mission in the black.
After a plea deal transforms a twenty-year ore-mining sentence into NeoG service, Spacer Chae Ho-ki earns a spot on the team. But there’s more to Chae that the crew doesn’t know, and they must hide a secret that could endanger everyone they love—as well as their new teammates—if it got out. At the same time, a seemingly untouchable coalition is attempting to take over trade with the Trappist colonies and start a war with the NeoG. When the crew of Zuma’s Ghost gets involved, they end up as targets of this ruthless enemy.
With new members aboard, will the team grow stronger this time around? Will they be able to win the games? And, more important, will they be able to surmount threats from both without and within?
The sequel to the acclaimed, spellbinding epic fantasy Savage Legion by Hugo Award–winning author Matt Wallace about a utopian city with a dark secret…and the underdogs who will expose it—or die trying.Why We Want It: I didn't have the opportunity to write the NoaF review of Savage Legion, but I did rank it among the best novels published in 2020 and then convinced Adri to read and love it. So, so good. I'm a Matt Wallace partisan but he delivers each and every time and I know he's going to bring the goods with Savage Bounty because that's what he does.
The call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable.
The empire relies on them. The greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire’s enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, well, there are always more.
Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 5x Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan. He / Him