This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: 10,000 Chances, Superhumans, and Giant Space Bugs

Reincarnation Blues, by Michael Poore (August 22, Del Rey—Hardcover)
Poore tells the story of Milo, a soul who has been reincarnated 9,995 times so far, into various epochs and realities, in various bodies, with varying levels of success. There’s a hard limit of 10,000 reincarnations in the pursuit of perfection, however, and that means Milo—easily the oldest soul on Earth—is quickly approaching the end of the line. In-between reincarnations, Milo finds himself in a netherworld where his lodgings reflect the quality of the life he’s just led, and two spirits in the form of nagging old ladies critique his failures. Complicating things is Milo’s enduring love for Death herself, who he calls Suzie. Milo’s thousands of lives are sketched out with efficiency and economy, offering the wonderful sense that Poore’s universe is limitless, and the adventures, endless.

The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter (August 22, Crown—Hardcover)
Baxter takes a second stab at writing an authorized sequel to a classic by H.G. Wells (after The Time Ships)—this time extending the story of The War of the Worlds. In 1920, the Martians launch a second attack on an Earth understandably different from the one we know from history. The invaders are determined to avoid the mistakes that saw their first invasion end in ruin, but humanity is equally determined to use every dirty trick in the book to defeat them (including making use of some of the technology the aliens left littering our world the first time). Although the scope is global, much of the story is narrated by Julie Elphinstone, sister-in-law to the unnamed narrator of Wells’ original novel (here given the name Walter Jenkins). She is the clear-eyed center to this pulse-pounding steampunk story, authorized by the Wells estate.

Starfire: A Red Peace, by Spencer Ellsworth (August 22, Tor.com Publishing—Paperback)
Sometimes you want to read a space opera that makes no apologies about the “opera” part, and this is it: Spencer Ellsworth’s debut novella goes big and refuses to go home as it tells the story of a galactic civil war fought between an all-powerful empire and a Resistance force seeking a long-lost artifact that will help it shift the balance of power in the universe. Did we mention that there are giant space bugs, sun-sized spiders, and entire planets populated by cyborgs? Well then.

The God Peak, by Patrick Hemstreet (August 22, Harper Voyager—Hardcover)
Hemstreet expands on the ideas originated in his Crichton-esque debut The God Wave, asking a simple question: if you unlocked you innate superpowers, how would you use them? In this sequel, the team that did just that remains at odds, plotting against each other and the world at large—but also using their newfound abilities to blackmail society to change, or else. Nothing less than world peace and universal healthcare is on the agenda. The remnant of the team led by Chuck Brenton has allied themselves with the mysterious Benefactors, who have their own remarkable abilities—and their own agenda.

Swarm and Steel, by Michael R. Fletcher (August 22, Talos Press—Paperback)
Fletcher returns to the incredible universe of his Manifest Delusions books—following the masterful Beyond Redemption and the self-published sequel The Mirror’s Truth—and a world where anything you truly believe becomes reality. In such a world as this, what happens if your faith begins to fail? As children, sisters Zerfall and Hölle shared a vision from god telling them to create the Swarm, a hell where souls are trapped forever, and to create a religion to funnel unsuspecting spirits into it. But Zerfall is beginning to doubt whether the vision was divine in the first place, and even that Hölle is actually her sister. Waking up after attempting to murder Hölle, Zerfall searches for the truth as she suffers from partial amnesia, made no less confusing by the shifting realities around her.

An Echo of Things to Come, by James Islington (August 22, Orbit—Paperback)
In the second book of Islington’s Licanius trilogy, magic is no longer forbidden thanks to the attack from beyond the wall protecting Andarra, and an edict by newly-installed Northwarden Wirr—but no one in the north truly trust the beings who wield it, including the last Augur, Davian, and the Shadow Asha. Davian struggles to master his powers and repair the wall that protects them all, while Wirr attempts to rally the divided people of the land to defend themselves against the true threat—the darkness beyond the wall. Meanwhile, the amnesiac Caeden slowly regains his memories—and each piece of himself that returns brings with it a new certainty that this ancient war is much more twisted than anyone realizes. Slowly, politics fall to the wayside as the danger grows irrefutable, as everyone begins to prepare for the day the wall fails—if it hasn’t already. This series is pure, old school sprawling epic fantasy—if you’ve been looking for the next Wheel of Time, it may be just the treasure you seek.

The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman (August 22, Tachyon Publications—Paperback)
Celebrating the new voices in fantasy that will define the future of the genre, Beagle assembles an impressive roster of 19 authors who will introduce the unaware to the Next Big Things. The list of authors includes many you’ll recognize from awards ballots over the past few years: Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Usman T. Malik, Ursula Vernon, and many others. The tone, subject matter, and precise sub-genres change from story to story, and the end result is a varied and entertaining anthology with something for every reader—and one that will likely introduce every reader to at least one great new voice.

Raising Fire, by James Bennett
Bennett follows up on the addictive urban adventure Chasing Embers. One-time mythic hero Ben “Red Ben” Garston may have lost everything and everyone he ever cared about, but at least he escaped from that world-ending fiend that was chasing him last time around. But in this version of our reality—in which the myths and legends of old are undeniably real—someone is trying to unleash an ancient magic that will meld the world of myth with the one we know. And Ben can’t let that happen, not the least of which because it will interrupt his plans to take a break and have a drink.

The Iron Hound, by Tim Akers
The sequel to Tim Akers’ The Pagan Night arrives! A war erupts between neighboring lands, but the dispute between two peoples is nothing compared to the threat posed by the incoming darkness, rising up from below. As hordes of terrifying creatures swarm the land, obliterating everything in their path, and the agents of the Celestial Church enact a plan to spread yet more chaos, a man named Malcolm Blakley stands against the tide, even as his son searches for aid from the huntress Gwyendolyn Adair and is followed by the Iron Hound, symbol of his family. Faith—in gods, in the spirit of the land—play an intricate role in this inventive, suitably epic series.

What new books are you reading this week?

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