Everyone has their own lists, but here’s mine: what I’m most looking forward to this month, in chronological order of release, with audiobook information if I know about it:
Authority by Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals, May 6) — “In Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced the mysteries of Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. It was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had sold all around the world and a major movie deal had been struck. Just months later, the second volume is here. For thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X has taken the form of a series of expeditions monitored by a secret agency called the Southern Reach. After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve. And the consequences will reach much farther than that. The Southern Reach Trilogy will conclude in fall 2014 with Acceptance.” Audio: Coming concurrent with the print/ebook release, read by Bronson Pinchot for Blackstone Audio. Buy: [Downpour | Indiebound | Kobo | Amazon | Kindle]
The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks, May 6) — I only just heard about this book at all, but straight away it leaps near the top of my interest list this month: “World Fantasy Award winning short story author Rickert has just published her first novel, and we’re looking forward to it. From the jacket copy: ‘Sixteen-year-old Bay Singer doesn’t believe the rumors that her eccentric mother, Nan, is a witch. It’s just the gossip of their small town, Bay thinks, until two eccentric friends from Nan’s past unexpectedly appear one afternoon. The curious reunion summons haunting memories: of an oath the three women took years ago, when they were girls themselves, and the devastating secret they promised to protect. What they unearth has already claimed one life, leaving Bay wondering who the real witches are, and who is truly wicked.’” (via io9.com; there’s also an excerpt at Tor.com). Audio: No audio news. Buy: [Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (Chronicle Books, May 6, 2014) — First US release for a 19th-century Edinburgh-set debut fantasy which garnered a lot of buzz upon its UK release last year and has been on my radar since Damien G. Walter’s inclusion of May in his The Guardian article on the best young sf novelists in Britain about a year ago. “Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.” Audio: No audio news. Buy: [Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull (Ecco, May 6, 2014) — “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death – in which a devout young worker bee finds herself in possession of a deadly secret, and becomes a hunted criminal whose decisions will mean life and death for her entire hive. Born into the lowest class of her rigid, hierarchical society, Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, an untouchable fit only to clean and remove the bodies of the dead from her orchard hive. As part of the collective, she is taught to accept, obey, serve – work and sacrifice are the highest virtues, and worship of her beloved queen the only religion. Her society is governed by the priestess class, questions are forbidden, and all thoughts belong to the hive mind. But Flora is not like other bees – a difference that holds profound consequences.” Audio: Coming concurrent with the print/ebook release, read by Orlagh Cassidy for Harper Audio. Buy: [Downpour | Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
Queen of the Dark Things: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill (Harper Voyager, May 13, 2014) — “Screenwriter and noted film critic C. Robert Cargill continues the story begun in his acclaimed debut Dreams and Shadows in this bold and brilliantly crafted tale involving fairies and humans, magic and monsters—a vivid phantasmagoria that combines the imaginative wonders of Neil Gaiman, the visual inventiveness of Guillermo Del Toro, and the shocking miasma of William S. Burroughs. Six months have passed since the wizard Colby lost his best friend to an army of fairies from the Limestone Kingdom, a realm of mystery and darkness beyond our own. But in vanquishing these creatures and banning them from Austin, Colby sacrificed the anonymity that protected him. Now, word of his deeds has spread, and powerful enemies from the past-including one Colby considered a friend—have resurfaced to exact their revenge.” Audio: Coming concurrent with the print/ebook release, read by Vikas Adam for Harper Audio. Buy: [Downpour | Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne (Crown, May 20) – “traces the harrowing twin journeys of two women forced to flee their homes in different times in the near future. The first, Meena, is a Brahmin-caste student whose odyssey takes her from the coastal city of Mumbai toward Djibouti across a futuristic but treacherous bridge that spans the Arabian Sea. The second, Mariama, escapes from slavery as a small child in Mauritania, joining a caravan heading across Saharan Africa toward Ethiopia.” A big-name blurb is in from none less than Kim Stanley Robinson: “The Girl in the Road is a brilliant novel–vivid, intense, and fearless with a kind of savage joy. These journeys–Meena’s across the Arabian Sea and Mariama’s across Africa–are utterly unforgettable.” Kirkus Reviews says: “Byrne’s debut novel may be the most inventive tale to come along in years.“ Crown has posted the first chapter online. Audio: Coming concurrent with the print/ebook release, read by
The Man with the Compound Eyes: A Novel by Wu Ming-Yi (Pantheon, May 20, 2014) — published last year in a more limited release in the UK by Harvill Secker, a Taiwanese eco-dystopia: “When a tsunami sends a massive island made entirely of trash crashing into the Taiwanese coast, two very different people—an outcast from a mythical island and a woman on the verge of suicide—are united in ways they never could have imagined. Here is the English-language debut of a new and exciting award-winning voice from Taiwan, who has written an “astonishing” novel (The Independent) that is at once fantasy, reality, and dystopian environmental saga.” Audio: No audio news. Buy: [Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
My Real Children by Jo Walton (Tor, May 20, 2014) —”It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. ‘Confused today,’ read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.” Audio: No audio news. Buy: [Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle]
Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann, 22 May 2014) — “Exhausted by a hard tour of duty in Afghanistan, Sergeant Lester Ferris is sent to occupy the largely ceremonial post of British consul in Mancreu. This larcenous island is facing impending ecological disaster-which makes it, in the meantime, the perfect spot for the international underworld. Hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: spies, arms dealers, offshore hospitals, money-laundering operations, drug factories, and torture centers. Lester’s brief is to sit tight and turn a blind eye, which he’s happy to do. In his downtime, he’s made a friend: a brilliant, Internet-addled, comic-book-addicted street kid who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. But when violence erupts, the boy suddenly needs Lester to be more than just an observer: he has no choice now but to rediscover the man of action he once was-and find out what kind of hero he might become.” Audio: No audio news. The US print/ebook release is set for July 29 from Knopf, but maybe (maybe?) as sometimes happens, a US audiobook (if there is one) will arrive with this UK edition. Update: Via Twitter, Harkaway says: “Last I heard they were going to release the audio around paper publication – independent audio house.“
While there are several fantastic anthologies coming out this month (Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older, Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams, and Reach for Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan, to name just a few), the one I’m most looking forward to is the Kickstarter-funded Fearful Symmetries edited by Ellen Datlow (ChiZine, May 27, 2014) — “In addition to sixteen stories specifically solicited for the anthology, Ellen Datlow chose four stories submitted during the month-long open reading period, adding some excellent new writers to the mix. So in addition to award-winning and/or bestselling writers such as Brian Evenson, Jeffrey Ford, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Pat Cadigan, and Michael Marshall Smith, there are a few names with whom readers might not yet be familiar—yet. Writers such as Siobhan Carroll, Catherine MacLeod, and Carole Johnstone. Each writer in this book has a unique voice, and this multitude of voices has created a symphony that will continue to be appreciated for many years to come.” Audio: No audio news. Buy: [Kobo | Indiebound | Amazon | Kindle] Update: The announced table of contents includes (in addition to those already listed) Nathan Ballingrud, Gemma Files, Helen Marshall, Stephen Graham Jones, Robert Shearman, Laird Barron, John Langan, Terry Dowling, and Garth Nix, among others.
Well, there they are, my top 10. Yup, there are quite a few really good-looking books just off the list (Seanan McGuire’s Sparrow Hill Road, Brian McClellan’s The Crimson Campaign, Douglas Hulick’s Sworn in Steel, Charlie Fletcher’s The Oversight, Michael Cunningham’s The Snow Queen read by Claire Danes, Terence Hawkins’ American Neolithic, John Scalzi’s Unlocked, Ari Marmell’s Hot Lead, Cold Iron, Paul Cornell’s The Severed Streets, Will McIntosh’s Defenders, Jane Lindskold’s Artemis Awakening, Jim Butcher’s Skin Game, Robert McCammon’s The River of Souls, …) but when you stick to 10, neither 11 nor 12, you’ve got to make the hard decisions. What are you looking forward to in May?