New Book Roundup: Sentient Books, Interstellar Tsunami, and Islands of Angels

bovaThis week’s new SF/F brings us a pair of sequels, the first installments of two exciting new series, and a lovely tribute to an author who left us too soon.

Angel of Storms, by Trudi Canavan
The second volume of Canavan’s Millennium’s  Rule series, following last year’s Thief’s Magic, is another intriguing adventure set in a magical world in which the industrial revolution was powered by magic and sorcerers can be bound up into sentient spellbooks. Tyen is a teacher of mechanical magic whose life and livelihood is threatened by the reemergence of a long-thought-dead ruler who hates magic in all its forms. As his students and fellow teachers run for higher ground, Tyen is forced to make a difficult choice: can he keep his promise to protect Vella, the book-bound soul he has sword to protect at all costs? Elsewhere, Rielle, who can sense magic but lives in a society in which it is strictly forbidden, is given the chance to leave her sheltered community to travel with a powerful, potentially dangerous stranger. The intrigue only deepens in the second installment of a planned trilogy

Death Wave, by Ben Bova
In Bova’s sequel to New Earth, Jordan Kell returns to Earth with the horrific news that a catastrophic explosion in the center of the galaxy has generated a wave of lethal radiation spreading slowly throughout the universe. With the Death Wave scheduled to arrive at Earth in 2,000 years, Jordan knows the planet will figure out how to survive—but other pre-technological species won’t, unless they are warned and assisted. But the Earth Kell returns to is much changed from the one he left decades prior, and his grim news sets off an explosion of political intrigue and nefarious plotting that puts the future of the entire galaxy into question.

Skyborn, by David Dalglish
Dalglish’s new fantasy series begins 500 years after a disaster forced humanity to abandon the surface and take to the skies to inhabit a chain of islands floating above treacherous seas. Orphaned twins Bree and Kael Skyborn lost their parents in an attack on their home, and ever since, they’ve aspired to join the ranks of the Seraphim, the winged warriors who defend their island against external threats. As the two struggle to master their unique powers, a war is brewing between the islands, setting the stakes for a trilogy that promises to be filled with intense aerial action and engaging political machinations.

Last Plane to Heaven, by Jay Lake
Jay Lake’s legion of faith readers was saddened by his untimely death last year, but this collection of 32 of his short stories is a fitting epitaph to a remarkable writing career and an incredible talent. With an introduction by Gene Wolfe, this collection features some of Lake’s best short fiction, offering a breathtaking range of emotions and ideas. The stories flit from space opera to fairy tale, from hilarious to heartbreaking, and from the far reaches of space to the horrors of our own bodies, all with the assurance of a writer completely in control of his craft. While the world is poorer without Lake in it, this collection offers a chance to celebrate a rare talent and enjoy some incredible stories to boot.

The Shootout Solution: The Genrenauts Episode One, by Michael R. Underwood
This is one of those high concepts so irresistible, you can’t believe no one has come up with it before: the worlds of every type of genre novel you can imagine really exist, tucked alongside our own like pieces of paper in a quantum envelope. From sci-fi, to epic fantasy, to romance, to westerns, these universes are populated by stock characters and littered with the tropes you know and love. When something goes out of whack on a genre world—when the narratives don’t play out the way they should—the Genrenauts, an elite team of government “narrative specialists,” must step in to set things right, lest the ripples be felt as violence and upheaval on Earth. Confused? Well, you won’t be. “Because technobabble, got it,” observes one of the characters, and that’s really all you need to know to get going: this first installment is a rollicking exploration of western tropes, with hints of a larger conspiracy afoot. Underwood has plans for a lot more of these, and we can’t wait to read them.

Warheart, by Terry Goodkind
The fourth, concluding entry in Goodkind’s Richard and Kahlan series begins where all climactic stories should: with the heroes at their wit’s end and all hope lost. The D’Haran Empire is on the verge of total destruction and Richard Rahl is surely doomed—but Kahlan Amnell, the Last Confessor, is still in play, and she has one last trick that might save not only the empire, but Rahl as well, one that will transform the world in ways no one can predict. Goodkind gathers all the threads he’s been spinning and weaves them into a conclusion that’s equal parts exciting, surprising, and emotionally powerful.

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