2015 is already off to a crazy start, as far as science fiction and fantasy books are concerned. And your to-read pile is about to get much bigger. February brings new Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Claire North and Joe Abercrombie. Plus tons more. Here are 23 books you can't afford to miss in February!
Top image: Impulse by Dave Bara
Gaiman hasn't published a collection of his short fiction in years, so this is cause for celebration. Plus this has some hard-to-find stories and one previously unpublished tale. Including one Doctor Who story. Fans of Gaiman's dark fabulism are in for a treat here.
The latest plague apocalypse novel hits pretty close to home for a lot of us — this time around, it's a mysterious illness that causes memory loss, and eventually death. Joy is immune, which is good news — except that she gets to be experimented on in a special facility. Van den Berg is an award-winning short story writer, so this ought to be pretty interesting.
Here's a spin on first contact you haven't seen before — aliens show up and they're friendly, but their friendship might not be the best thing for us. The Jackaroo give humanity access to 15 other planets, full of wonders and marvels, but what we discover could change or destroy us. And when two orphaned children start having strange visions, it could signify something terrible is coming, that will test the limits of the Jackaroo's benevolence.
We really enjoyed the heck out of Half a King, the first book in this trilogy. And now with the second volume, Abercrombie takes a huge leap in a different direction. This time, Yarvi, the main character of the first volume, is a supporting character, and the action is divided between a deadly young girl named Thorn and a guy named Brand. They're on a quest to make an alliance with a far-off kingdom because the High King of the Shattered Sea has it in for the new King of Gettland, Yarvi's uncle.
Here's a YA novel with a pretty unique premise — in the future, we can find out what crimes you committed in a past life, and punish you for them. Alina is the reincarnation of a pretty awful criminal, so she's spent her entire life locked up. Until she makes a break for it, along with three boys.
Sort of a literary-fiction version of Cherry 2000. Eliot falls in love with an android, and is heartbroken when she's stolen and chopped up to be sold off for parts. Eliot vows to get the parts to rebuild his lost love, and get revenge on the bastard who did this. But meanwhile, the cops are on his trail, and the war between humans and machines is heating up.
Eden Reid just wants an ordinary life — but the young woman from Brooklyn finds out she's actually an ancient god, with a lot of enemies. There's a super-powerful demon gunning for her, and a zombie plague is spreading across the world. And a mysterious stranger claims to be her former lover, who can help her regain her full power before the coming of a devastating war.
How do you follow up the brilliantly high-concept novel about immortality, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August? If you're North, with a story of people who can steal your bodies with a touch. Which is a different sort of immortality, via body-jumping, if you think about it. But someone is trying to track Kepler through all his jumps, and meanwhile another body-jumper is using the ability for evil.
What if you could get rid of all the trolls and obnoxious people on the Internet? That's the premise of this novel, whose "hero" Dave murders his friend's girlfriend for being obnoxious on Facebook. And then someone finds out what Dave did, and offers him a way to get rid of everybody who's annoying on the internet — from screaming commenters to pedophiles to narcissistic pop stars. What could go wrong?
A brand new series from the author of Vicious. Kell is one of the few people who can travel between different worlds — including Grey London, which has no magic, Red Magic, where magic is sacred, and White London, where people go to war over magic. Kell's supposed to be an ambassador from Red London, but he's actually a smuggler, a fact that gets him into huge trouble.
Here's another weird dystopian future where people can be tested for abnormalities — in this case, it's a defective gene. If you have it, like Toby, you're sent to a special facility where you're watched and tested for any sign that you might be changing. Toby is resigned to his fate until he falls in love with a new arrival at the house, who's also marked for death.
Tess has a pretty awesome job — she's a psychic investigator for the city of Seattle. Until refugees start pouring into the city from a parallel world that was struck by an asteroid. One of those refugees, Jake, forms a weird bond with Tess — one which could change the fate of both worlds.
A brand new space opera/military SF series! Peter Cochrane is a rising officer in the Quantar Royal Navy, when everything goes wrong at once. Peter's ex-girlfriend is murdered, along with her shipmates, in an unprovoked attack. And then Peter's reassigned to a new ship, under foreign command, and given secret orders that might force him to mutiny. And then they go to an uncharted galaxy and discover ancient technology, that could set off an apocalyptic war.
This book sounds sort of like The Lovely Bones, only backwards. A mother is murdered and watches over her daughter, her family members, and her unrequited love from the afterlife. And Sally has to find a way to stop her daughter from making a fatal mistake.
Sex workers and steam-powered mechanicals share the streets of Seattle in Bear's wild new steampunk novel, set in an alternate 19th century where technology is strangely advanced. Karen Memery works at a fancy bordello, but trouble comes to her door when an injured girl shows up, followed by the man who owns her indenture (and has a mind-control device.) And a dead streetwalker is dumped in their rubbish heap.
The latest book from Viz's book label that translates Japanese science fiction, Dendera follows an old woman who is cast out on the mountainside to keep her from being a burden to her family. But instead of dying, she finds a utopian community of other old women who have been cast out — but they're facing an attack from a hungry mother bear.
And here's yet another literary plague apocalypse novel. This one kills off everybody who reaches the age of 20, leaving the world ruled by children. Like Ice Cream Star, who lives with the Sengles in the woods, scavenging people's houses. When Ice Cream's brother starts showing signs of the disease, she goes on a journey of hundreds of miles, searching for a cure. This book has gotten early praise for its inventive language and David Mitchell-y stylistic cleverness.
A hundred years ago, Thorvald Spear died when the artificial intelligence on his rescue ship, turned rogue and attacked its own people. Now, Spear has come back from the dead and he's seeking revenge against the A.I., and luckily Isobel, the person who's brought him back to life, has the same goal in mind. Isobel sends Thorvald to hunt that bastard A.I. down — but then he double crosses her, and things get ugly.
The ghost of Dorothy Parker is still haunting the Algonquin Hotel, but she's gotten lonely. So she tries to convince a disgraced former wunderkind author, who's dying of cancer, to stick around as a ghost with her. But he refuses to sign her ledger — unless maybe an ambitious young TV producer can help Dorothy change his mind? This book sounds insane, in a good way.
Another author we've been waiting ages for a story collection from. Lethem helped spur our current slipstream mania, with his weird stories about the uncanny in the real world — and these stories, including the twisted "Procedure in Plain Air" (about a political prisoner in a hole in a Brooklyn street) and the Seaworld-nervous-breakdown story "Traveler Home," are prime examples of Lethem's unique eye.
The author of Court of Fives, Crown of Stars and Crossroads finally gets a retrospective of her short fiction, featuring a lot of young female protagonists who have to find themselves in order to find salvation from the schemes of their elders.
Finn only just returned from his 25 years of banishment in the Other Realm, for a crime of dark necromancy he didn't commit. But now, he's just got a few days before he's sent back there again. He has to find out who's so desperate to keep Finn out of the way. His only allies: his brother, who wrongly insists he's a werewolf, his sister, who's allergic to magic, and a fellow exile who doesn't actually believe in his innocence.
And finally... the most long-awaited story collection of them all. It's been a decade since Link's last book of stories for adults. Old movie stars, ghost-hunters, a life-size animated doll, astronauts, evil twins, superheroes and the Wizard of Oz are just some of the things that Link's famously off-kilter imagination takes on this time around. Cannot wait.