This week we’re doing a special edition of SciFi Thursday in which we hit the print side of things. I’m going to run through the best books in the genres of science fiction and fantasy that are coming out this summer. A summer reading list, if you will. I came up with seven must-reads, but of course, the comments are yours to tell me everything else new that we should be reading this summer. I don’t just expect it of you, I demand it.
First up, we’ve got Neal Stephenson with Seveneves. I wish he’d write some more historical fiction since The Baroque Cycle is positively transcendent and I think Literature with a capital “l” that should be remembered decades down the line, but I’ll still take his science fiction every day. It’s already available and it begins with the sentence “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason” and I’m already hooked an I don’t even have it yet.
China Mieville, Three Moments of an Explosion. This is a short story collection, but I like good volumes of those better than many novels. And Mieville’s Looking for Jake was a fantastic one. So 23 more short stories? Done.
Mark Lawrence, The Liar’s Key just released now, book two of his second trilogy. I didn’t like the first entry quite as much as the Prince of Thorns trilogy, but it definitely has its own charm, and is very distinct from the first trilogy rather than feeling like an attempt to duplicate it.
Clive Barker, The Scarlet Gospels was released a few weeks ago and is a full length novel set in the world of Pinhead and The Hellbound Heart. It has gotten decidedly mixed reviews, and clocks in under four hundred pages, which seems a bit short for a volume a decade in the making from an author who has poured his heart into several truly gargantuan volumes. But it’s Barker, so I’ll give it a shot.
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Quest will be released in early August, the second volume of her latest trilogy featuring Fitz and the Fool. Also, go read her Soldier Son trilogy, which never seems to get any love, but is a nuanced fantasy story that is of a rare depth and truly unique world-building.
Dan Simmons, The Fifth Heart actually came out in late March, so it’s stretching to call it summer, but screw it, it’s the man who gave us Hyperion. I am terribly excited every time I see a Simmons book coming down the pipeline, even if this one is technically historical fiction focusing on Sherlock Holmes as a primary character, which wouldn’t grab my attention if it were any other author.
Finally, Terry Pratchett’s final novel The Shepherd’s Crown will be released August 27th. It’s the 41st of the series and is a Tiffany Aching novel, which for me ran neck in neck with novels starring Vimes as being the best of the superlative series. Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna, a writer herself, is the one who inherited all of the rights to his intellectual properties, and there has been speculation that she’ll write more book in the series, or finish ones half written.
Says Rhianna Pratchett when asked about the possibility said this:
“No. I’ll work on adaptations, spin-offs, maybe tie-ins, but the books are sacred to dad. That’s it. Discworld is his legacy. I shall make my own … To reiterate - no I don’t intend on writing more Discworld novels, or giving anyone else permission to do so.”
I like her.
Notable missing persons on this best of list include Jim Butcher who does not have a release date yet for the 16th volume of The Dresden Files, which I have been checking for news of within five minutes of finishing Skin Game last summer on audio book. I still hear James Marsters saying matter of factly “Waldo Butters decided to be a hero” at least once per week in the back of my head.
Brandon Sanderson also has nothing for the summer. Of course he has five books with release dates of fall 2015 through 2016 because he never sleeps and has had a keyboard surgically attached to his wrists, so we’ll forgive him for the summer.
Now tell us what books you’ve got in the pile for the long Saturday afternoons on the deck, with mowers rumbling in the distance, a warm wind fluttering the pages, and a cold beer dripping a sheen of condensation down your fingers.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.