Release Week: Neil Gaiman Presents returns, Ariel Djanikian, Red Planet Blues, Wolfhound Century, David Drake, and more

It’s another big release week with multiple must-listen titles. I’ve already gotten started on the return of Neil Gaiman Presents, the John Hodgman-narrated Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley, and I expect to get to a few more from this week — including a literary dystopia, a sf noir set on Mars, and an espionage novel of alternate Russia — before summer comes around. And, of course, John Scalzi’s The Human Division marches on with Episode 11, A Problem of Proportion.

PICKS OF THE WEEK:

Dimension of Miracles By Robert Sheckley, Narrated By John Hodgman for Neil Gaiman Presents is “a satirical science fiction novel” first published by Dell in 1968. As Gaiman says in his introduction: “Dimension of Miracles is probably not [Sheckley’s] most famous book…. but I think it’s probably his best-loved book. It’s about the joys and tribulations (mostly the tribulations) of winning the lottery—the galactic lottery—accidentally. And wrongly. Tom Carmody is awarded a remarkable prize, is taken half way across the universe to collect it, finds himself hopelessly lost, and needs to find his way home again to Earth…to this Earth, not an alternate, weirdo Earth. He’s got to get back. And the price is high. In its style of humor—and even in some of the jokes—Dimension of Miracles is very obviously a precursor of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Dimension of Miracles | [Robert Sheckley] The Office of Mercy: A Novel | [Ariel Djanikian]

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian was published in print/ebook in February by Viking Books, and here is read by Emily Woo Zeller for Tantor Audio. “Weaving philosophy and science together into a riveting, dystopian story of love and adventure, The Office of Mercy illuminates an all-too-real future imagined by a phenomenal new voice in fiction. Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five – a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it. The Office of Mercy is speculative fiction at its best with a deeply imagined, lush world, high-stakes adventure, and romance that will thrill fans of Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood, Justin Cronin, and Kazuo Ishiguro.”

Red Planet Blues By Robert J. Sawyer, narrated By Christian Rummel for Audible Frontiers, simultaneously released with the print/ebook from Ace Hardcover. “… set on a lawless Mars in a future where everything is cheap, and life is even cheaper…. Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up 40 years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.”

Red Planet Blues | [Robert J. Sawyer] Wolfhound Century | [Peter Higgins]

Wolfhound Century By Peter Higgins, narrated by Neil Dickson for Hachette Audio, simultaneously released with the print/ebook from Orbit. This one’s an intriguing-looking alternate history novel of espionage: “Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist – and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.”

Lastly, while Audible Frontiers released David Drake’s The Fortress of Glass: The Crown of the Isles, Book 1 a bit earlier in the week, read by the inestimable Michael Page, it is Drake’s 2010 Tor-published novel The Legions of Fire: Books of the Elements, Book 1, narrated by David Ledoux which grabs my last mention above the fold (though do check out a pair of Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio releases below as well The Martian by Andy Weir, and…). It’s the first of a four-book series, with the third novel (Monsters from the Earth) coming this fall, also from Tor.

The Legions of Fire: Books of the Elements, Book 1 | [David Drake]

Told from the rotating perspectives of two men, the naive but well-meaning Varus and the experienced and stalward Corylus, and two women, the wordly and no-nonsense Hestia and the mercurial Alphena, and populated with fantastic creatures and side characters, the books are also told with a rich attention to (transposed) historical detail, from hobnail boots to the positions of house slaves, to bizarre bits of political-religious detail such as having to wait for a flock of birds to fly in the proper direction before beginning a particular ceremony. For the impatient, some of these details and political notes may be a bit dry, they built an atmosphere into which these characters can descend and swim, creating a world of sphinxes come to life and Hyperborean wizards. “In this novel of magical menace to the survival of all humanity, David Drake introduces a new fantasy world, Carce, based on Europe during the later Roman Empire. Far in the north, a group of magicians perform a strange dance on a volcanic island intended to open a gateway for supernatural creatures that will allow them to devastate the whole Earth and destroy all life. Not knowing the cause, two young men, Corylus and Varus, and two women, Hedia and Alphena, each separately pursue the answer to mysterious and threatening happenings that prefigure disaster in the great city of Carce, the center of civilization. Through magical voyages in other realities where fantastic creatures, and even gods, help or hinder them, each of them must succeed or not just the city but the world will end in fire.”

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

The Martian | [Andy Weir] Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Book 1 | [Joseph D'Lacey]

PENGUIN AUDIO: Angelopolis By Danielle Trussoni, Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini

TANTOR AUDIO: Kitty Rocks the House: Kitty Norville, Book 11 By Carrie Vaughn

MACMILLAN AUDIO: Extinction Machine: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 5 By Jonathan Maberry, Narrated By Ray Porter

HARPER AUDIO: Wasteland: Wasteland Trilogy, Book 1 By Susan Kim; and Twice Tempted: A Night Prince Novel, Book 2 By Jeaniene Frost

RECORDED BOOKS: Hitchers By Will McIntosh, Narrated By Andy Paris

SIMON & SCHUSTER AUDIO: Last Kiss Goodnight: An Otherworld Assassins Novel, Book 1 By Gena Showalter, Narrated By George Newbern

PODIUM PUBLISHING: The Martian By Andy Weir

AUDIOCOMICS: Titanium Rain, Episode One (Dramatized) By Josh Finney and Kat Rocha

ANGRY ROBOT ON BRILLIANCE AUDIO: Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Book 1 By Joseph D’Lacey, Narrated By Simon Vance; and The Age Atomic By Adam Christopher, Narrated By Phil Gigante

BRILLIANCE AUDIO: The Magic Circle: A Novel By Jenny Davidson, Narrated By Emily Beresford; and Island 731 By Jeremy Robinson

AUDIBLE INC: Riese: Kingdom Falling By Greg Cox, Narrated By Kaleena Kiff

AUDIBLE FRONTIERS: Homeland: Legend of Drizzt: Dark Elf Trilogy, Book 1 By R. A. Salvatore, Narrated By Victor Bevine; Into the Dark: Book Two of the Dark Trilogy By Patrick D’Orazio; Murder and Magic: Lord Darcy, Book 1 By Randall Garrett; Not Really the Prisoner of Zenda: Guardians of the Flame, Book 10 By Joel Rosenberg; The Edge of Ruin: Edge, Book 2 By Melinda Snodgrass; An Ill Fate Marshalling: Dread Empire, Book 7 By Glen Cook; and The Warmasters By David Weber, Eric Flint, and David Drake, Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Allyson Johnson, Susan Hanfield, and Arthur Rudnicki

SEEN BUT NOT HEARD:

What Makes You Die The Marching Dead

  • What Makes You Die by Tom Piccirilli (Apex, March 26) — “Tommy Pic’s hallucinations come and go and leave sticky notes for him during his bipolar swings. Coming out of a blackout in an unfamiliar psychiatric ward, Tommy Pic awakes to his missing childhood love, his dead brother, his alive family, and a message from his agent that his latest screenplay may yet be his ticket back to Hollywood fame and fortune. If only he could remember writing it.”
  • The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf (Penguin, March 26) — “Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and at the age of twenty he leaves home to study medicine at the great hospital of St. Thomas in London. It will be a momentous year for the intellectually ambitious Mr. Hart, who, in addition to being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, psychotic. He is obsessed with the nature of pain and medically preventing it, but—equally strong and much harder to control—is his obsession with causing it. Desperate to understand his deviant desires before they are his undoing, he uses the new tools of the age—reason and science and skepticism—to plumb the depths of his own dark mind.”
  • Shadow on the Sun (Black Hole Sun #3) by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow, March 26)
  • The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby (Angry Robot: 26 March)
  • The Good the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams (Solaris, Mar 26, 2013)
  • Morris and Chastain Investigations: Play With Fire & Midnight at the Oasis by Justin Gustainis (Solaris, Mar 26)
  • Anthology: Solaris Rising 2 edited Ian Whates (Solaris, Mar 26)
  • The Scrivener’s Tale by Fiona McIntosh (Harper Voyager, Mar 26)
  • Hellhole Awakening (Hell Hole Trilogy) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Mar 26, 2013) — audiobook coming with a Scheduled Release Date: 04-02-13
  • Fire Caste by Peter Fehervari (Games Workshop/Warhammer, Mar 26, 2013)

COMING SOON:

Life After Life A Stranger in Olondria

MAY:

The Kings and Queens of Roam: A Novel The Shambling Guide to New York City

JUNE and LATER:

The Shining GirlsNorth American Lake Monsters: Stories

  • The Shining Girls by (Mulholland Books, 6/04/2013) — “A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace–until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential.” No audio news.
  • Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse) by James S.A. Corey (Orbit, Jun 4, 2013)
  • In Thunder Forged: Iron Kingdoms Chronicles (The Fall of Llael Book One) by Ari Marmell (Jun 4, 2013)
  • Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X) by Richelle Mead (Penguin Audio, Jun 4, 2013)
  • Fiction: The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom (Grove Atlantic, Jun 4, 2013) — “an epic novel about the American frontier in the early days of the nineteenth century”
  • Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone)) by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt, Jun 4, 2013)
  • After the End: Recent Apocalypses by Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Margo Lanagan and Nnedi Okorafor (Jun 5, 2013)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow and Harper Audio, Jun 18, 2013)
  • The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper, Jun 18, 2013) — sequel to The Long Earth
  • Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe (Tor, Jun 18) — coming to audio read by Stefan Rudnicki, this is book 2 after 2011′s The Hum and the Shiver
  • The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn (47North and Brilliance Audio, Jun 18, 2013)
  • The Adjacent by Christopher Priest (Orion UK, Jun 20, 2013) — no US release news
  • Divinity and the Python by Bonnie Randall (Panverse, June 21)
  • Cold Steel (The Spiritwalker Trilogy) by Kate Elliott (Orbit, Jun 25, 2013)
  • Anthology: Aliens: Recent Encounters by Alex Macfarlane (Prime, Jun 25, 2013)
  • Thieves’ Quarry by D.B. Jackson (Tor, July 2) — sequel to Thieftaker
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace, Jul 2, 2013) — “The year is AD 7000. The human species is extinct—for the fourth time—due to its fragile nature. Krina Alizond-114 is metahuman, descended from the robots that once served humanity. She’s on a journey to the water-world of Shin-Tethys to find her sister Ana. But her trip is interrupted when pirates capture her ship. Their leader, the enigmatic Count Rudi, suspects that there’s more to Krina’s search than meets the eye.”
  • A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp (Angry Robot: 2 Jul 2013)
  • Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond (Jul 2, 2013)
  • The Thousand Names: Book One of The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler (Roc Hardcover, Jul 2, 2013) — “Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic.”
  • Anthology: Wastelands II: More Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade Books, Jul 2, 2013)
  • North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press, July 16)
  • Beacons edited by Gregory Norminton (Oneworld Publications, Jul 16, 2013) — “Beacons throws down the gauntlet, challenging best-selling and award-winning authors to imagine where we, and out planet, might be headed and, in imagining, help us transform the way we look at our world and change things for the better. From Joanne Harris’ powerful vision of a near future where ‘outside’ has become a thing of history to Nick Hayes’ beautifully illustrated tale of the bond between man and nature, Beacons sees the coming together of dystopian satire, speculative and historical fiction, metaphorical flights of fancy, quiet tragedy, and farcical comedy in stories that are as various as our possible futures. Provocative, encouraging, and deeply moving, Beacons represents the best of short story writing — and collectively illuminates the immediacy of the ecological problems at hand. All author royalties will go to the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, one of the largest groups of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world’s poorest people.”
  • Anthology: Carniepunk (Pocket Books, July 30)
  • Anthology: Impossible Monsters edited by Kasey Lansdale (Subterranean Press, July 2013) — “The Lansdale name is legendary in the horror field. Now acclaimed musician and actress Kasey Lansdale follows in her father’s footsteps, making her editing debut with this anthology of monstrously innovative stories. The twelve creatures that stalk the pages of Impossible Monsters spring from the twisted imaginations of a dozen of today’s most noted authors.” This anthology includes Neil Gaiman’s “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” among other tales.
  • Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan (Kickstarter, July 2013) — “Ellis Rogers is an ordinary guy who has always done the right things and played by the rules. But like many, his life didn’t turn out as he had planned. Facing a terminal disease, he’s willing to gamble that a cure could exist in the future, and although it is insanely dangerous to try, he really has nothing to lose. There are many books that explore what life might be like many years from now, and they cover the spectrum from the idealized world of the original Star Trek, with its progressive stance on equality and civil rights, to Huxley’s dystopian Brave New World. For years I’ve been fascinated by the observation that perception can make people see the same thing in very different ways. So I created a future, which if I’ve done my job properly, will be seen by some as a utopia and by others as exactly the opposite.”
  • Darwen Arkwright and the School of Shadows (Darwen Arkwright #3) by AJ Hartley (Razorbill, August 1)
  • The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles #1) by Michael J. Sullivan (Orbit, August 3)
  • The Emergence of the Digital Humanities by Steven E. Jones (Routledge, Aug 3, 2013)
  • Wrath-bearing Tree (A Tournament of Shadows Book Two) by James Enge (Pyr, Aug 6, 2013)
  • Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire) by Mark Lawrence (Ace, Aug 6, 2013)
  • Kindred and Wings (A Shifted World Novel) by Philippa Ballantine (Pyr, Aug 6, 2013)
  • Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik (Del Rey, Aug 13, 2013)
  • The Time of Contempt (The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski (Orbit, Aug 27, 2013)
  • Billy Moon: A transcendent Novel Reimagining the Life of Christopher Robin Milne by Douglas Lain (Tor, Aug 27, 2013)
  • The Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson (Jo Fletcher Books, August 2013) — a “Viking fantasy novel” by a new Icelandic author
  • Super Stories of Heroes and Villains edited by Claude Lalumiere (Tachyon, August 2013) — Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola, Jonathan Lethem, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link’s “Origin Story”, Carol Emshwiller, Gene Wolfe, GRRM, …

SEPTEMBER and LATER:

  • Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 3 Sep 2013) — UK release date, US date not confirmed for this historical fiction “novel set in the ice age, about the people who made the paintings in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France, about 32,000 years ago”
  • Constellations: A Play by Nick Payne (Faber and Faber Plays, Sep 3, 2013) — already available in Kindle and in the UK — via an interesting review on Tor.com
  • Monsters of the Earth (Books of the Elements #3) by David Drake (Tor, September 2013)
  • Three (Duskwalker Cycle #1) by Jay Posey (Angry Robot, Autumn 2013)
  • Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest (Tor, Autumn 2013)
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner and Simon & Schuster Audio, September 24) — King returns to The Shining
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Sep 24, 2013)
  • Dead Run, The by Adam Mansbach (HarperCollins, Sep 24, 2013)
  • Hero by Alethea Kontis (Harcourt Children’s Books, October 1)
  • Pandemic by Scott Sigler (Crown, Oct 1, 2013)
  • The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3) by Scott Lynch (Spectra, October 8)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image, Oct 15, 2013) — an audiobook for this doesn’t make sense and so there isn’t one and won’t be one, but definitely a project I’m looking forward to
  • Copperhead by Tina Connolly (Tor, October 15, 2013) — follow-on to Ironskin cover revealed
  • Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone (Tor Books, October 29) — book one is in audio from Blackstone
  • The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder UK, October 2013) — just announced — “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Watchmen in Tidhar’s The Violent Century, the thoughtful and intensely atmospheric novel about the mystery, and the love story, that determined the course of history itself. The Violent Century is the sweeping drama of a time we know too well; a century of fear and war and hatred and death.  In a world where everyday heroes may become übermenschen, men and women with extraordinary powers, what does it mean to be a hero? To be a human? Would the last hundred years have been that much better if Superman were real? Would they even have been all that different?”
  • Collection: Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor (Prime, October 2013)
  • Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit, November 1) — I know nothing about his other than the quite interesting cover…
  • Twenty-First Century Science Fiction by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor, Nov 5, 2013)
  • Maze by J.M. McDermott (Apex, January 2014)
  • The Crimson Campaign (The Powder Mage Trilogy, Book 2) by Brian McClellan (Orbit, February 2014)
  • The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (Viking, Early 2014) — book three after The Magicians and The Magician King
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2014) — the first of three “Southern Reach” novels being published in 2014 — “For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious, remote, and concealed by the government as an environmental disaster zone even though it is to all appearances pristine wilderness. For thirty years, too, the secret agency known as the Southern Reach has monitored Area X and sent in expeditions to try to discover the truth. Some expeditions have suffered terrible consequences. Others have reported nothing out of the ordinary. Now, as Area X seems to be changing and perhaps expanding, the next expedition will attempt to succeed where all others have failed. What is happening in Area X? What is the true nature of the invisible border that surrounds it?”
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Crown/Broadway and Recorded Books, April 1, 2014) — “a second-world story of spies, subterfuge, and statesmanship set in a nation of dead gods.”
  • The Moon King by Neil Williamson (Newcon, April 2014) — Debut novel: “The story of The Moon King grew out of its setting, the sea-locked city of Glassholm, which is a thinly veneered version of Glasgow, Scotland where I live. Glasgow is a city of mood swings, brilliant with sun and warm sandstone one minute and dour with overcast and rain soaked tarmac the next. Summer days are long and filled with light. The winter months pass mostly in darkness. Living here, your spirit is tied to the city’s mood. As soon as I hooked that almost bipolar sense to the idea of natural cycles, the story blossomed. In Glassholm, the moon never sets and everything, from entropy to the moods of the populace, is affected by its phasing from Full to Dark and back to Full again. I wanted to know what would life be like there, what quirks nature might throw into the mix. And what would happen if it was discovered that the cyclic euphorias and depressions were not natural after all.”
  • Anthology: Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (May 2014) — table of contents includes Joe Abercrombie, Lev Grossman, and Pat Cadigan, among others
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