New and Notable Books
Greg Bear, Vitals (Del Rey 1/02) A dark, near-future SF thriller of conspiracy and secret history, revolving around efforts to control a new breakthrough in the search for immortality.
David Brin, Kiln People (Tor 1/02) The job of a private investigator has new twists in this future where disposable duplicate bodies make it possible to be literally in two places at one time. A richly complex hard-boiled, hard-SF mystery.
P.D. Cacek, Night Players (Design Image 10/01) In this sequel to Night Prayers, new vampire Allison Garret and her Bible-thumping buddy Mica hide out from their vampire pursuers in Las Vegas, where the night life is, um, lively. A wild wallow in American kitsch, including the obligatory Elvis impersonator.
John Clute, Appleseed (Tor 1/02) Clute’s distinctive style and touches of myth and metaphysics enliven this quirky far-future space opera of a human pilot with a spaceship with a mind of its own, and a trade run turned complicated by raiders, plague, and a man called Johnny Appleseed and his paradoxical worldship.
Storm Constantine, The Way of Light (Tor 1/02) The epic fantasy trilogy ‘‘The Chronicles of the Magravandia’’ concludes as the characters and events of Sea Dragon Heir and The Crown of Silence suddenly converge amid intrigue and political maneuvering over control of the empire.
Dennis Danvers, The Watch (Eos 1/02) Dying activist/philosopher Peter Kropotkin in 1921 Russia meets a time traveler who offers him a chance for a new life - in 1999 Richmond, Virginia. Kropotkin’s view of the city, modern technology, and intolerance keep things interesting as he tries to make a new life for himself and untangle the time traveler’s plot.
Gardner Dozois, ed., Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future (St. Martin’s Griffin 1/02) and Worldmakers: SF Adventures in Terraforming (St. Martin’s Griffin 12/01) In these two anthologies, Dozois explores the development of SF’s treatment of the problems involved in colonizing the solar system. Worldmakers presents 20 stories in which worlds are changed to suit humanity, by authors including Cordwainer Smith, Arthur C. Clarke, John Varley, and Kim Stanley Robinson. Supermen offers 26 stories that explore ways humanity might change itself to suit other worlds; authors include James Blish, Gene Wolfe, and Bruce Sterling.
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Errand (Bantam Spectra 1/02) An entertaining start to a new fantasy trilogy, sequel to the acclaimed ‘‘Farseer’’ trilogy. After 15 years away, bastard prince FitzChivalry Farseer returns to royal intrigues disguised as a servant to the former Fool, now in the guise of a wealthy lord.
Ian Irvine, The Tower on the Rift (Warner Aspect 1/02) The second volume in Irvine’s complex and compelling fantasy epic, ‘‘The View from the Mirror’’.
Graham Joyce, Smoking Poppy (Pocket 1/02) A man searching for his daughter ends up in the jungles of Thailand where drug lords rule and the mystical seems real. A haunting fantasy thriller and a dark journey both inward and outward, reminiscent of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Dean Koontz, One Door Away from Heaven (Bantam 12/01) Humor, suspense, and the unearthly mingle in this thriller of a young woman searching for meaning in her life, a disabled girl in danger from a stepfather who believes aliens will cure her, and a mysterious boy and his dog.
H.P. Lovecraft, Black Seas of Infinity: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft (SFBC 10/01) SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler, a long-time Lovecraft fan, presents his personal selection of Lovecraft’s best stories, plus three non-fiction pieces - a brief autobiography, a history of the Necronomicon, and ‘‘Notes on Writing Weird Fiction’’. Wheeler also provides an introduction and guide to further reading for newcomers to Lovecraft’s oeuvre.
Ken MacLeod, Dark Light (Tor 1/02) The second book in the ‘‘Engines of Light’’ series, sequel to Cosmonaut Keep, set in the intriguing alien-dominated interstellar civilization called the Second Sphere. The first human-built spaceship disrupts the status quo when it arrives at the planet Croatan and crew members attempt to talk to the controlling alien ‘‘gods.’’
Richard Matheson, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (Tor 1/02) This collection of 20 stories focuses on Matheson’s early horror from the ’50s and ’60s, including many memorable classics.
Patrick O’Leary, The Impossible Bird (Tor 1/02) The borders between SF and fantasy become blurred in this novel of two estranged brothers whose lives take weird turns and force them to seek each other - and the alien hummingbirds who are meddling in human lives. ‘‘A novel that risks profound silliness to achieve profound wisdom.’’ (Gary K. Wolfe)
John Pelan & Benjamin Adams, eds., The Children of Cthulhu: Chilling New Tales Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft (Del Rey 1/02) This anthology offers 21 stories, all but one previously unpublished, that manage to find some new ground to work in Lovecraft’s territory. The mix of established and new authors includes China Miéville, Richard Laymon, and Caitlín R. Kiernan.
Al Sarrantonio, ed., Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction (Roc 12/01) 30 all-new stories attempt to push the boundaries of SF, fantasy, and horror, in emulation of Harlan Ellison’s groundbreaking Dangerous Visions. The result may not be that extreme or revolutionary, but includes excellent stories by an impressive roster of writers including Dan Simmons, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock, and Gene Wolfe.
Ken Wharton, Divine Intervention (Ace 12/01) A long-isolated colony planet faces conflicts when new colonists arrive. A first novel getting attention for its combination of hard SF, adventure, and a very odd religion based on quantum physics.