There's a lot going on in speculative fiction publishing today, so we thought we'd collect & share the top stories. Here are some highlights you won't want to miss:
As a fantasy fan who's probably read countless "farmboy king" and "Chosen One" stories, how could you NOT want to read this? Check out the praise & blurbs:
In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Monty Python, the bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasma reinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes.
“When you put two authors of this high caliber together, expect fireworks. Or at least laughs. What a hoot!”—New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks
Kirkus Reviews calls it: “A rollicking fantasy adventure that upends numerous genre tropes in audacious style, the first installment of Dawson and Hearne’s Tales of Pell series is a laugh-out-loud-funny fusion of Monty Python–esque humor and whimsy à la Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.”
Check out this official description:
Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.
This is not that fairy tale.
There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.
And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.
There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.
If you want to meet Dawson & Hearne and get your copy of Kill the Farm Boy signed, here's where they'll be appearing:
July 17: Scottsdale, AZ. The Poisoned Pen, 7 pm.
July 21: San Diego, CA. Upstart Crow, 10 am, appearing with Victoria Schwab
July 23: Naperville, IL. Anderson’s Bookshop, 7 pm, appearing with audiobook narrator Luke Daniels.
July 24: Asheville, NC. Malaprop’s Bookstore, 6 pm.
July 25: Woodstock, GA. Fox Tale Book Shoppe, 6:30 pm.
If you don't know about Rebecca Roanhorse yet, take note. Her short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™, won this year's Nebula Award for best short story and is a finalist for the Hugo in the same category. On top of that, Roanhorse's debut novel is making big waves - Trail of Lightning introduces The Sixth World, a postapocalyptic wasteland where gods and heroes roam and badass Indigenous monster-hunter Maggie Hoskie stalks her prey. According to the author herself this morning, Trail of Lightning is headed to a third printing after only being released a few weeks ago!
Here's the official description:
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
We're expecting great things for Rebecca Roanhorse and the Sixth World. It's refreshing to see an Indigenous SF writer getting this level of recognition. There aren't many details yet about the second Sixth World book, Storm of Locusts, but the cover is out, and if we may be allowed to judge a book by its cover for once, we'll be pre-ordering this one the instant it becomes available.
A "Best of May" Science Fiction and Fantasy pick by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, The Verge, SyFy Wire, and Kirkus
“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year [...] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” -- Booknest
A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.
Official Description of The Poppy War:
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Not sure if you heard, but Brooklyn's N. K. Jemisin has been absolutely killing it lately. If she keeps writing at her current level, they'll have to start making up new awards to give her, to complement her multiple Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy Locus, etc. wins & nominations. The first two books in her Broken Earth trilogy won Best Novel Hugos, and the third (arguably the best) stands a good chance of making her the only 3-time consecutive winner ever. With stunning, gorgeous prose, intense action, heartfelt drama, and imaginative worldbuilding that will leave you reeling, The Broken Earth trilogy is destined to be an all-time classic.
We could go on about those books for pages and pages, but the big news today is that Jemisin's first short story collection is in the works. Orbit is delivering it November 27th of this year. The collection is titled How Long 'Til Black Future Month?, and the publisher describes it like this:
In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-winning novella “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
If you haven't read "The City Born Great," drop whatever you're doing - unless you're holding a baby or anything explosive - and go read it. That's a taste of the power of N. K. Jemisin's short fiction writing, and it should whet your appetite appropriately for the collection coming this fall. Really, you might want to get your hands on a first edition, because N. K. Jemisin is well on her way to eventual legendary status, and she doesn't seem to be slowing down.