Science fiction and fantasy

The Marching Dead  
Red Moon  
Any Other Name  
  Dark Triumph
  The 5th Wave
  The New Watch
  Playing Tyler

On My Radar In April

26th April 2013

Out in April

Poison by Sarah Pinborough is an updating of the tale of Snow White, aimed at a much more adult audience than your regular fairy tales. The sequels will be Charm and Beauty. Sarah Pinborough has something of a reputation as a no-holds-barred writer, so it will be interesting to read what she makes of this subject.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is another sequel, this time the second of the His Fair Assassin series. Grave Mercy was an enjoyable historical fantasy set in the 15th century Breton court, with a convent full of assassins in the service of the god of death.

Lee Battersby's The Marching Dead is the sequel to The Corpse-Rat King, a blackly humorous graveyard romp through battlefields and gambling dens. I very much enjoyed the company of the main character, Marius Helles, so this looks promising.

Out in May

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is yet another post-apocalyptic young adult story. What seems different about this one is that it's not just a dystopia, but an extremely bleak setting in which aliens have come and exterminated humanity in several waves of attack, each more thorough than the last. No-one is safe from the danger of the world, or from each other. It all seems pretty intense, and if it's anything like as pessimistic as The Road I don't think I'll finish it. What will make or break this book is whether the main character, Cassie, is likeable, and how much light the author manages to shine into the depopulated world he has imagined.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy is out on the 9th of May. It combines politics with werewolves, or more precisely a werewolf uprising. The press release that came with this one emphasises its credentials as "literary horror", which I suppose means the author is using lycanthropy as a serious metaphor to make a point about society. I like reading books with a political slant, but it's going to have to work hard to match up to the highbrow expectations of the accompanying hype.

The New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko will be the fifth in the Watches series. I enjoyed the films, and I've heard good things about the books as well, although I haven't had the chance to check them out yet.

June releases

There are a couple of books out in June that are sequels to novels I've really enjoyed. Any Other Name by Emma Newman is the second in the Split Worlds series, a portal fantasy that mixes evil fairies with modern day England. There's a great contrast between the old-fashioned fae "puppets" of Aquae Sulis and the more down-to-earth people in the modern world. This is one of those stories that I thought had wrapped up many of the mysteries at the end of the first book, but on closer examination nothing is that simple.

With more of science fiction slant, iD by Madeline Ashby is the second book of The Machine Dynasty. It follows Javier, "a self-replicating humanoid on a journey of redemption."

Red is the new black, short is the new long

Further into the future, Ink by Amanda Sun is due out in July. The premise is an intriguing mixture of a Japanese setting, culture shock, and illustrations that come to life when the main character is near. It reminds me a little bit of Inkheart, but with an oriental twist.

Meanwhile Strange Chemistry have just released the artwork for Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa. The blurb reminds me a great deal of The Last Starfighter. Here's an extract:

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games, and, well, that’s probably not going to get him into college.

Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.

That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.

The other thing that stands out to me is the simplicity of that cover. It still manages to say a lot about the tone and subject of the book thanks to the poppies, and it also looks great at any size. I've noticed that there are a lot of books lately that have short titles, and I think it's part of a trend to make book covers that stand out at small resolutions. Poison, Ink, iD, and even Red Moon seem to conform to this pattern, which can be confusing when there are half a dozen novels out there with the same or similar short names.

That's it for this round-up of forthcoming fiction, except to mention a certain ebook novella coming out in July that I hope you're all thinking of checking out: