This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Airships, Nightshades, and Little Baby Dragons

carrigerWhile we gear up for San Diego Comic-Con, we’re planning what to bring with us to read on the flight. Any one of this week’s new releases in SFF would make those six hours fly by.

Imprudence, by Gail Carriger
The second installment in Carriger’s Custard Protocol series jumps back into readers’ hearts and minds, picking up where last year’s Prudence left off. Rue and her dirigible, The Spotted Custard, return from their adventures in India to find strange happenings are afoot, Queen Victoria extremely displeased with them, and the whole of England on edge. The werewolves and vampires are behaving strangely—Rue’s lupine-leaning father and vampire mother certainly aren’t themselves. Even as Rue comes to realize the strangeness she’s detecting is fear of a greater threat, Carriger kicks up the banter and the lighter-than-air imagination, swirling it all together into a story best described with a technical term: romp.

The Dragon Lords: Fool’s Gold, by Jon Hollins
Described as Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hobbit, this is not your ordinary fantasy story. Dragons rule the world—and, surprise surprise, they’re not the gentlest of landlords, demanding oppressive taxes and making life miserable for everyone. What more justification is needed for a band of misfit thieves to decide the time has come to take back what is theirs—or, if not strictly theirs, then at least what is certainlythere for the taking. Hollins ladles on the humor while hardly skimping on the action, the unexpected plot swerves, or the glorious feels.

Nightshades, by Melissa F. Olson
Police procedural tropes are invigorated with a dash of bloodsucking vampires in Olson’s hardboiled urban fantasy debut. Alex McKenna is the new head of Chicago’s office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations, responsible for keeping the streets free of “shades”—vampires to you and me. With his agents being sucked dry left and right and the citizens he is sworn to protect going missing, McKenna must make friends in all the wrong places if he hopes to put things right in the Windy City.

Fallout: The Hot War, by Harry Turtledove
The second volume of Turtledove’s latest alt-history series imagines the aftermath of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia turning hot. The missiles have flown, and deadly clouds of radiation hang over some of the world’s once-greatest cities. As McCarthy rises through congress, Harry Truman seeks to disable the Soviet menace with a plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin, France and Italy equivocate over which side to ally themselves with, and China makes a move against Korea. With Turtledove’s signature attention to every detail of his invented timelines, this world-spanning narrative unfolds through the eyes of dozens of characters from all walks of life, propelling what may be his most terrifying series yet to even greater heights. 

The Race, by Nina Allan
Nina Allan’s debut is weird in all the right ways, taking place in a future where making gloves for smart dog racers—actual dogs, spliced with human DNA—is a perfectly valid way to make a living—even if the races are illegal. The book takes the form of four interrelated novellas, all lead by women with family issues, living in a near-future Britain that has been transformed by the fracking industry. There’s a lot more going on than that: while trapped in their own family dramas, each of the women is given glimpses into other lives and alternate universes.

The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Power
This fantasy debut mixes swashbuckling adventure with fantastic dragons—always a winning combination. After a mutiny by the crew of the Comber, who believe he let them fall prey to a deadly dragon attack, disgraced Captain Jeryon is set adrift on a rudderless boat and left to die. Instead, he bumps ashore on a lonely island with one unexpected inhabitant—a dragon hatchling. If carefully reared, the captain reckons, the beast could be his means of escape…and revenge. It’s a fantasy adventure with literary flair, from an author previously nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

The Silver Kings, by Stephen Deas
Speaking of dragons, no one does them quite like Stephen Deas, who returns with the concluding volume of the Silver Kings trilogy, set in the same expansive universe as his Memory of Flames novels. Half-god hero of legend the Silver King, once thought vanquished by his brother Black Moon and his dragons, has returned to the world—but so has Black Moon, who exists within the body of a mortal man, the usurper Berren Crowntaker. The return of the gods is tearing a hole in the fabric of reality, riling the world’s surviving dragons, and threatening to plunge the world into all-out war.

What are you reading this week?

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