Time to stark stockpiling books for Thanksgiving break—we’re highlighting an even dozen new releases this week, enough to keep you busy from now until the leftovers are all gone.
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Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed
The latest novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe treads new ground for the series. Like the same-titled video game that inspired it, Battlefront puts you on the ground with the Rebel Alliance during the a few of the most iconic skirmishes of the original trilogy. Ever wonder what it was like to be one of those hapless soldiers defending the Hoth base against clanking AT-ATs? Find out when you meet the grizzled veterans of Twilight Company, led by the gruff, cynical, battle-hardened Namir, who must rely on the word of an Imperial traitor if he hopes to win the day for the Rebels. A regular writer for LucasArts games, Freed brings a strong sense of verisimilitude to the you-are-there combat scenes that carry the book along like a sprinting tauntaun.
Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott
The start of a new epic trilogy from Kate Elliott, set in the same world as her Crossroads trilogy. Twenty-two years after Dannarah lost her beloved brother Atani to a murderous plot, she’s faced with a choice: the standing king wants her to bring Captain Kellas, the former leader of Atani’s Black Wolves, back to the palace in order to protect him from being cut down like his father. Dannarah, now older and a powerful and influential Marshall, is reluctant to bring Kellas back from his self-imposed exile in the wake of Atani’s death. But the Hundred is more complicated and chaotic than ever, and politics force Dannarah to make a choice between old grudges and her professional ambitions. The choice will lead her back to Kellas and to truths about her family legacy that will change her world forever.
Green Earth, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Robinson’s prescient cli-fi trilogy—Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, and Sixty Days and Counting—has only become more powerful as real-world events continue (alarmingly) to catch up to his fiction. Collected here for the first time in an edited and updated single volume, Green Earth is the story of scientists fighting an uphill battle against politically reluctant bureaucrats to spread word of the dangers of climate change before we’re past the tipping point. Robinson combines the realism and research that have made him one of the most celebrated hard SF writers of the modern age with a real sense of urgency—urgency that has only increased as the last decade has provided clear evidence that these stories may not be considered science fiction for much longer.
Inherit the Stars, by Tony Peak
This ultra-cool retro story combines the best of old-school sci-fi with modern-day storytelling, resulting in a book perfect for fans of fantastical SF. Kivita Vondir has followed in her father’s footsteps as a salvager who hunts down the lost technology of a vanished alien race, living hard and fast as she tries to forget a broken heart. Which is difficult when she’s hired to find a legendary artifact and discovers her estranged lover, the Han Solo-esque Sar Redryll, has been put on its trail as well. When the relic grants Kivita amazing powers, the table turns, as she herself becomes the sought-after prize of competing forces: human, alien, and military.
Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey
Syfy’s adaptation of the splashiest, smartest, most sensational space opera series running doesn’t premiere until December 15, which gives you just enough time to get caught up with the first few installments of the planned nine-book saga. This debut follows James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante as they work to prevent a war between Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance that has something to do with a missing girl named Julie Mao and Detective Miller, the man obsessed with finding her, even if he has to pull the solar system down around him to do it.
Made to Kill, by Adam Christopher
The latest novel from the genre-hopping Christopher is a delightful mashup of Raymond Chandler and robots. In an alternate 1940s-era Hollywood, Ray is a sentient robot detective, the last of his kind following a machine uprising that resulted in the extermination of (almost) all artificial intelligence. With only a day’s worth of storage in his memory banks, Ray takes on cases with the help of his pragmatic computer secretary Ada, which seems to be working out well…until he begins to suspect that his current case is no simple payday. A missing Hollywood starlet, an unexplained pile of radioactive gold, and circling Soviet agents (because of course) are nothing against the real threat in Ray’s mind: what isn’t Ada telling him about his past, and can she be trusted?
Planetfall, by Emma Newman
Hugo-nominated podcaster Newman follows up her popular Split Worlds fantasy series with a stunning piece of social science fiction set on a remote human colony world. Lee Suh-Mi, a scientist who believes she received visions of a distant planet, inspired an almost religious fervor in her followers and managed to fund a deep space expedition to locate it. It turns out the planet does exist, but what awaited them on the surface was far more alien than anyone imagined. 20 years later, life in the colony has developed into something approaching routine—for everyone, that is, but Ren, Suh-mi’s lover, and one of only two people who knows what tragedy really occurred the day they made planetfall. As much a wrenching portrait of mental illness as it is a compelling SF mystery, this is one of the year’s best books.
Reap the Wind, by Karen Chance
The seventh volume of Chance’s Cassie Palmer series once again places us front-and-center with Cassie, one of those most engaging, intelligent, and reliably entertaining POV characters in modern urban fantasy. The story is expectedly complex for a late-series entry, as Palmer, a half-goddess Pythian Seer, babysits Pythian initiates, flees and fights Pythian Acolytes determined to summon an old god no matter the catastrophic consequences, and struggles to save the soul of her friend Pritkin.
Shadow of Empire, by Jay Allan
If the phrase “space pirates” doesn’t get your blood pumping, you may need medical attention. The first book in Allan’s Far Stars trilogy has all the ingredients of a fantastic adventure story, from a charismatic mercenary haunted by his past to the political intrigue that twists the story when you least expect it. Arkarin Blackhawk is captain of the Wolf’s Claw, whose crew live on the edges of civilization in the Far Stars. When an old friend asks him to rescue his daughter from pirates, Blackhawk can’t say no—but the mission sends the crew of freelance adventurers into deeper waters than they expect, and they soon become embroiled in a planetary civil war and wrapped up in political intrigue between a nascent federation of Far Stars planets and the Imperial forces that dominate the area. An old-fashioned adventure set in a detailed, unique universe, Shadow of Empire kicks off a new series in fine style.
Solar Express, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Modesitt returns to science fiction with a remarkable book set in a future where dwindling resources and climate change on Earth have prompted the world powers to militarize space much in the way we might see the militarization of the Arctic in the nearer term. When a mysterious object, rich in nickel and silver and headed for the sun, is spotted by moon-based astrophysicist Dr. Alayna Wong-Grant, a scramble to control it prompts Capt. Chris Tavoian to volunteer for an intercept mission. As the object draws closer, however, it resolves into an artificial construct accelerating towards the star. The story is told mainly through correspondence between Tavoian and Wong-Grant, spinning out the mystery of what the UFO really is, and how it will affect a dying world and the people trying to observe, understand, or control it.
Going Dark, by Linda Nagata
The final volume of Nagata’s The Red trilogy completes an impressive military SF series. Lieutenant James Shelly is believed dead, which provides him the perfect cover story to finally figure out how to deal with The Red, the AI ghost in the machine that has been plaguing him and his compatriots (not to mention setting off a global conflict or two) over two action packed prior volumes. As much a consideration of the emergence of an artificial intelligence as an action-packed political thriller, The Red trilogy is unparalleled among modern milSF.
The Wheel of Time Companion, by Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons
You’ve read all 15 volumes of The Wheel of Time, but you still don’t know the half of it. This comprehensive tome crams the history and lore of Jordan’s immersing epic into a 900-page encyclopedia filled with hidden details, never-before-revealed backstory, and essential clues as to what happened next.