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Books in Your Future
by John O'Neill

Fall is a welcome season for every serious reader. Days are getting shorter, leaves are crunching underfoot, and your favorite comfy chair beckons from the living room. It's the time of year when a body is instinctively compelled to bed down with a thick book or three, and let winter settle on the world while old friends take us to new worlds.

Old friends are here in abundance this year, along with a few fresh new faces, weighed down with a bumper crop of novels, anthologies, and fine new collections. We've sifted through numerous advance proofs and galleys to select the two dozen most exciting books on the horizon this Fall. Authors include Robert Jordan, John Varley, Stephen King, Brian Stableford, Michelle West, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville, Robert Silverberg, Sarah Zettel, Raymond E. Feist, Gardner Dozois, Andre Norton, William Barton and Michael Capobianco, Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Hand, Alexander Jablokov, Patricia A. McKillip, Wil McCarthy, and others.

We think you'll find plenty here to have you patting your chair in anticipation. We certainly did.

Book Previews: August - November 1998

August

Bloom by Wil McCarthy (Del Rey, 320 pages, $23.95 US/$34.95 CAN) is a new novel of terror by the author of Murder in the Solid State. In the late 21st century man-made organisms called mycora mutated and swept across the globe. Scant years later the remnants of humanity cling to the asteroid belt and the inhospitable moons of Jupiter, fighting off the invasion of deadly mycospores while working feverishly to build a starship that will carry them to safety. But an ominous discovery changes everything: it seems the Mycora are incorporating gene sequences to elude human defenses -- and perhaps even to thrive in the harsh environment of the outer system. The only way to be sure is to journey into the diseased heart of the Mycosystem, from which no one has ever returned... Lord of the Fantastic: Stories in Honor of Roger Zelazny (Avon/EOS, 323 pages, 373 pages, $14 US/$19 CAN) is a handsomely produced tribute volume to one of the greatest writers of the field, with original short stories from Gregory Benford, Steven Brust, Jane Lindskold, Andre Norton, William Browning Spencer, John Varley, Jack Williamson, and many others... Song For the Basilisk by Patricia A. McKillip (Ace, 314 pages, $22.95 US/$32.95 CAN) is the latest novel of high fantasy from one of the masters of the field, author of The Book of Atrix Wolfe and The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy. Rook, a young boy without a memory, is taken in by an isolated school for bards -- until the day he discovers that his family was destroyed by a monstrous basilisk, and he sets out to discover why... The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana by Daniel Harms (Chaosium, $14.95 US) is a new edition of Chaosium's handy reference guide to the literary spawn of H.P. Lovecraft. It contains over a hundred and fifty new pages, thumbnail illustrations, and a timeline of the Cthulhu Mythos spanning billions of years. Also new is "A Brief History of the Cthulhu Mythos", which examines the evolution of the genre from the 1920s to today... Deepdrive by Alexander Jablokov (Avon/EOS, 311 pages, $14 US/$19 CAN) is the latest hardcover to benefit from Avon's introductory pricing policy, which offers terrific new work from relative newcomers at a hard-to-resist price. In the late 21st century, the solar system has been colonized by no less than 11 extraterrestrial races, all with the starspanning deepdrive which mankind is desperate to acquire. When the alien criminal Vronnan Ripi crash lands on Venus -- now home to the mysterious and destructive Bgarth -- with an intact deepdrive, events unfold that could change mankind's destiny forever. Lisa DuMond checks in next issue with a full review... The Uncrowned King by Michelle West (DAW, 687 pages, $6.99 US/$8.99 CAN) is the second volume of The Sun Sword series, which began with last year's The Broken Crown. The sole surviving heir to the ruling Clan Leonne, a young man never destined to rule, must prove his worthiness to claim the crown, even as his family's murderers and their sinister demonic allies plot his doom...

September

September's big book (in more ways than one) is Stephen King's first volume with his new publishers, Simon & Schuster: Bag of Bones (Scribner, 560 pages, $28 US). Partly inspired by Rebecca, the classic novel of gothic suspense by Daphne du Maurier, Bones features a creepy old mansion on the shore of Maine's remote Dark Score Lake, an unusual haunting, and a horror novelist investigating his wife's death who stirs up plenty of angry shades in the process. We've heard substantial buzz about this novel already, and the very helpful Stephanie Jones at S&S confided that the publisher printed some 9,000 advance proofs, only to see the collector's price for the proofs sky-rocket to well over $100 in the next few weeks. It'll take more than that to pry this one out of our hands, and SF Site co-founder Rodger Turner will tell you why in his September review... Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg (Tor, 703 pages, $27.95 US), is one of the most exciting and unusual books I've ever come across. Editor Silverberg approached ten of the top fantasy writers in the field of fantasy, requesting from each an original short novel set in their most famous series. The response was fabulous. Stephen King contributes an original novella set in the world of The Dark Tower, and Robert Jordan submitted an 80-page story set in his The Wheel of Time. The other nine contributors are Terry Goodkind (The Sword of Truth), Anne McCaffrey (Pern), Raymond E. Feist (The Riftwar Saga), Terry Pratchett (Discworld), Orson Scott Card (Tales of Alvin Maker), Robert Silverberg (Majipoor), Ursula K. LeGuin (Earthsea), Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn), and George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire). The result is a giant shareware sampling of the most popular fantasy sagas on the market today -- a chance to dip in them all in single sitting. Silverberg introduces each with a summary of the series, and in many cases with artwork or maps from the books. Altogether an amazing achievement, and sure to be a big seller in its hardcover release... Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen & Bruce Coville (Harcourt Brace, 275 pages, $17 US) looks like a keeper. It's the first collaboration between two of the finest Young Adult fantasy writers in the field: Yolen, author of The Pit Dragon Trilogy and over 150 others, and Coville, who brought us Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher and The Skull of Truth. Reverend Beelson claims the world will end on Thursday, July 27, 2000, and he's brought his congregation -- including Marina and Jed, two teens in tow behind their single parents -- to a mountaintop retreat, where they will watch the Righteous Conflagration scour the world. But the world has just begun for Marina and Jed, who have a number of questions... such as why God would let Jed's mother and sister burn. And why the Believers patrol the camp with rifles at the ready. And most importantly, why the world should have to end now, when they've fallen in love for the first time. David Soyka provides a peek in an upcoming review... The Best of Crank! edited by Bryan Cholfin (Tor, 320 pages, $23.95 US/$31.99 Canada) features the finest work published in one of the most cutting-edge SF magazines on the market. If you missed any issues of this groundbreaking 'zine, here's a chance to catch up on top-notch work from A.A. Attanasio, Michael Bishop, Karen Joy Fowler, R.A. Lafferty, Jonathan Lethem, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gwyneth Jones, Lisa Tuttle, Gene Wolfe, and many others... Last Summer at Mars Hill by Elizabeth Hand (HarperPrism, 256 pages, $13 US) is the first collection of short fiction from the acclaimed author of Winterlong, Waking the Moon, and Glimmering, and is sure to focus much deserved attention on one of the fastest-rising authors in the field... and finally we have Inherit the Earth by Brian Stableford (Forge, 320 pages, $23.95 US/$33.95 Canada), the latest from the author of Empire of Fear and The Werewolves of London: an SF thriller of a twenty-second century when biomedical nanotechnology has given everyone a perfect life... or has it? Reviewer Jean-Louis Trudel sampled the advance proof and reports that "This is science fiction as it should be." We'll tell you why next month.

October

Green Rider Kristen Britain's debut fantasy Green Rider (DAW, 512 pages, $23.95 US/$33.95 Canada) has won her two ardent fans on our staff already. Heroine Karigan G'ladheon's hot temper gets her in trouble early -- she's kicked out of school for thrashing the heir of the lord-governor in the practice ring. Riding home through the immense forest known as "Green Cloak," her brooding is interrupted by a young rider dressed as in the garb of the legendary messengers of the king and impaled by two black-shafted arrows. No doubt you can guess what happens next. This debut novel nonetheless surprised us with plenty of deft touches -- pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent spectre of the original messenger, Karigan and her adventures had us reading through the night. SF Site reviewer Victoria Strauss provides a full report in October... Pat Cadigan earned the title "The Queen of Cyberpunk" -- the kind of thing that's very hard to shake -- for her early novels Mindplayers, Fools and Synners, which unfortunately overlooks much of her fine work in other areas. We'll get a chance to see exactly where she'll take us next when Tor releases Tea From an Empty Cup (Tor, 256 pages, $22.95 US) in October... Eternal Lovecraft: The Persistence of HPL in Popular Culture edited by Jim Turner (Golden Gryphon, 411 pages, $25.95 US) is a return to his roots for Turner, who was much of the creative drive behind Arkham House for the last few years. With his own press Golden Gryphon, he's produced some fine collections, and here he continues the trend with a look at the continuing influence of horror H.P. Lovecraft, in a thick collection of eighteen reprinted stories from folks such as Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Gene Wolfe, Alan Rodgers, and many others. October is the right month to appreciate the father of modern horror, so keep an eye out for this one... Smoke and Mirrors (Avon/EOS, 565 pages, $23.95 US) is a collection of short work by Sandman author by Neil Gaiman, which includes much of the fiction in his hard-to-find early collection Angels and Visitations. Reviews Editor Neil Walsh settled down with the advance proof in August and has promised a complete review .. John Varley captured the attention of the field in the late 70s and mid-80s with some truly groundbreaking short fiction, and a series of novels that included The Ophiuchi Hotline and the Titan trilogy. Now he returns with his first novel since Steel Beach: The Golden Globe (Ace, 448 pages, $22.95 US), a book that's sure to excite fans of quality SF everywhere... Kathe Koja's horror novels include Bad Brains and Strange Angels. But she's also written a strong body of work at shorter lengths, fiction that will at last be collected for a wider audience to enjoy in Extremities (Four Walls Eight Windows, 232 pages, $20 US)... William Barton and Michael Capobianco have collaborated on a number of successful SF novels, including IRIS and last year's Alpha Centauri. Their latest is White Light (Avon/EOS, 368 pages, $13 US), set at the end of the 21st century, where nuclear war has destroyed much of the Earth. Explorers searching the galaxy on a scientific mission fall through an alien star gate and find themselves among the Pleiades, where they encounter the nonorganic alien BeauHun -- who report that the universe is rapidly being engulfed by a terrifying entity called the Topopolis... and The Scent of Magic (Avon/EOS, 368 pages, $23 US) is the latest from the esteemed Andre Norton, Grand Dame of Fantasy. Keep an eye open for this unusual stand-alone work from the woman who created The Witch World.

November

Beyond a doubt the most eagerly awaited title this November is The Path of Daggers (The Wheel of Time, Book 8) by Robert Jordan (Tor, 704 pages, $27.95 US). The Wheel of Time is probably the most popular and influential fantasy series this decade (and one of the longest of any decade), and Jordan's patient fans will be sure to line up early to get their copy. Rest assured we'll have an early report... I've already picked out my favorite November book: The Good Old Stuff, (St. Martin's Press/Griffin, 435 pages, $15.95 US), edited by SF short fiction's own private hero, Gardner Dozois -- who's probably done more to popularize and promote genre fiction at short length than anyone else in recent memory. TGOS is a thick collection of stories that exemplify "Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition," with a lengthy intro from Dozois on the subject of old-style Space Opera and sixteen prime examples of the form, from A.E. van Vogt's "The Rull" (1948) to James Tiptree's "Mother in the Sky with Diamonds" (1971). In between are stories such as Fritz Leiber's "Moon Duel" and "The New Prime" by Jack Vance. Best of all, it will be followed in three months by The Good New Stuff... The One-Armed Queen by Jane Yolen (Tor, $23.95 US), who gives a new definition to the word "prolific", continues the saga begun in The Books of Great Alta -- the story of White Jenna, born in sorrow and raised among warrior women, who was taught to call forth her shadow sister under the light of the moon. Yolen's writing speaks to readers of all ages, and if you haven't experienced the pleasure of one of her fine fantasies we encourage you to correct the situation immediately... The anthology Starlight 1 was called "The best original science fiction anthology of the year" by no less an authority than Gardner Dozois, and it went on to win a World Fantasy Award. Its contributors were nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, the Sturgeon, and the World Fantasy Awards, and Jane Yolen's story "Sister Emily's Lightship," won the 1997 Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden has been threatening to do a follow-up, and in November he'll finally make good with Starlight 2 (Tor, $24.95 US), your best bet for quality original short fiction this fall... Raymond E. Feist has been a favorite among fantasy fans almost since his first novel, Magician. But his real breakout work was the Serpentwar Saga -- including Rage of a Demon King and Shards of a Broken Crown -- which brought him international success and put him in the realm of million-dollar book advances. His latest is Krondor: The Betrayal (The Riftwar Legacy, Book 1) (Avon/EOS, $24 US), which shares a title with the successful Sierra/Dynamix computer game and which looks the beginning of a new series. Andy Heidel, our main man at Avon/EOS, slipped SF Site editor Wayne MacLaurin an advance copy and swore him to secrecy, and later this Fall, Wayne will come clean with a full report... Sarah Zettel's second novel, Fool's War, was one of the most intelligent and surprising SF novels we reviewed last year. In November, Warner Aspect unveils her third book, Playing God, and it looks to be as promising as the last. Be sure to drop in for our feature review.

You know where to find us.

Copyright © 1998 by John O'Neill


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