This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Cosmic Powers, Waking Dragons, and Designer DNA

Cosmic Powers, edited by John Joseph Adams
An anthology of unapologetically splashy sci-fi stories by a host of heavy hitting authors, with stories cranked to the max to emphasize the action and thrill of adventures in space. With a lineup featuring Jack Campbell, Seanan McGuire, Tobias S. Buckell, Kameron Hurley, Yoon Ha Lee, Alliette de Bodard, Charlie Jane Anders, and many more, these stories are very nearly guaranteed to be memorable, as each puts their own spin on a theme whose spirit is torn straight out of comics and Star Wars. Think fast-paced action, unlikely heroes, and, of course, space: those elements that all combine into what we used to call a “senseawunda.” Veteran anthologist John Joseph Adams, winner of two Hugo Awards, has assembled a range of stories that celebrate the different styles, tones, and approaches of their creators; the result is sure to be one of the year’s most flat-out fun reads.

The Dragon’s Legacy, by Deborah A. Wolf
A dreamshifter, Hafsa, who can kill people in their sleep protects her young daughter, Sulema, from assassins sent by her father, the Dragon King, the only man capable of keeping dormant the dragon slumbering within the world. If the dragon awakes, the world cracks open like an egg. Sulema, nearing adulthood and on the verge of becoming a fearsome warrior, and Hafsa find themselves the focus of conspiracies, betrayals, and magical threats as the world literally begins to break apart around them. The dragon is stirring, and what that means for the future of this complex world of interwoven tribes and nations is impossible to foresee. Wolf’s debut fantasy is remarkably assured and deeply detailed, offering a unique universe and a trope-twisting narrative that plays out in unexpected ways.

Off Rock, by Kieran Shea
Shea offers up a humdinger of a heist story set in the year 2778, when down-on-his luck interstellar miner Jimmy Vik sense a downsizing in the vacuum of space, threatening to leave him bitter and bereft after decades spent working hard for little reward. When he discovers a secret gold deposit on Kardashev 7-A, he does what anyone who feels cheated by an indifferent system might: he begins planning an epic heist to get the loot “off rock.” The plan brings Jimmy into contact with a rogue’s gallery of allies and enemies, including his ex-girlfriend and current supervisor, a beautiful assassin, and a rival mining company. The heist grows more complicated with every page as Jimmy has to deal with the unexpected on the fly and without a tether. We all know what they say about the best laid plans.

Tender: Stories, by Sofia Samatar
A Campbell winner for best new writer with two brilliant, unconventional fantasy novels to her name (A Stranger in Olondria, and The Winged Histories), Samatar is also well regarded for her short fiction; her stories are frequently collected in year’s best anthologies and have garnered Hugo and Nebula Award nominations. Now, Samatar, writer Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press have assembled Tender, a collection of 20 stories from across her career. For readers of fantastical tales with literary heft, it is a book not to be missed.

Ghost Writer in the Sky, by Piers Anthony
Look, this is the 41st Xanth book. If we have to tell you what to expect, well, then this probably ins’t the book for you. Suffice it to say, there is a somewhat silly fantasy plot afoot (a hack author from our world unleashes a plot to infect the denizens of Xanth with lurid dreams), the humor will not be in good taste, the sexual politics will be…troublesome at best, and oh, there will be puns. All of that is to say: it’s a new Xanth novel.

The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavich
This much-buzzed-about literary sci-fi novel puts a dystopian feminist twist on the story fo Joan of Arc. In a dark future, the world has been ravaged by endless warfare, and humans—or what passes for them, as the stricken environment has turned the survivors into pale, hairless creatures—have fled to CIEL, a platform hovering in orbit. Jean de Men is a cult leader who takes control of CIEL, turning it into a police state, and sparking a rebellion led by a young warrior named Joan, who seems to have a mysterious connection with the earth below. When Joan is martyred, her fate will change the destiny of an entire species.

Change Agent, by Daniel Suarez
Another tense, cerebral technothriller from the author of Daemon and Freedom™. In 2045, a genome-editing technology called CRISPR has made genetic engineering commonplace. Cars are grown out of the DNA of shells, criminals carry keratin switchblades, and an organized crime syndicate called the “Huli jing” offers designer edits so parents can have the wonder child they always wanted. Standing against these genetic black-marketeers is INTERPOL’s genetic taskforce, responsible for shutting down numerous Huli jing labs with the help of their top analyst, Ken Durand. But then, Durand is injected with a “change agent” as part of a botched hit, his body genetically altered to look like Huli jing leader Marcus Wyckes. Pursued across southeast Asia by law enforcement, INTERPOL, and a sociopathic operative, Durand must find the change agent and stop the real Wyckes before the new technology is used to erode the fabric of humanity as he knows it.

The Dastardly Miss Lizzie, by Viola Carr
This is the third installment of Carr’s delightfully dark electropunk monster fantasy series following Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the famed mad scientist,  skilled crime scene investigator in an alternate Victorian London where magic exists, electricity has been discovered, and each new technological marvel threatens to upset the precarious social order. Eliza has a dark secret of her own—Miss Lizzie Hyde, unleashed by her father’s elixir. Though she usually does whatever she can to keep Lizzie at bay, Eliza’s latest case finds her trying to stop a killer targeting London’s most brilliant minds—and Lizzie might be the only one who can stop him.

Forgotten Worlds, by D. Nolan Clark
The followup to last year’s hugely expansive space opera Forsaken Skies picks up in the aftermath of a war between alien invaders and the populace of a human colony planet. Aleister Lanoe, the man who helped lead humanity to victory, is determined to take the fight to the invaders—to find their homeworld and burn it all to the ground. But before that can happen, he must root out those behind an Earthbound conspiracy involving a nefarious corporation. Book three of the trilogy, Forbidden Suns, is out in October.

What new books are you interested in this week?

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