This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Fresh Fairy Tales, Beaucoup UKLG, and a Truly Epic Anniversary

ebttfA big anniversary, two big books honoring a living legend, and a much-anticipated new collection top this week’s list of new releases in sci-fi and fantasy. So what else in new?

A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition, by George R.R. Martin
It’s been two decades since book one of A Song of Ice and Fire was published, and this handsomely-illustrated edition of Martin’s now classic epic fantasy is a great reminder of how incredible a book it is. With more than 70 illustrations scattered throughout, it brings memorable scenes and characters to life in a whole new way. This is an edition even long-time fans will want to add to their bookshelves—it will rekindle the excitement and joy of reading the novel again for the first time.

The Found and the Lost & The Unreal and the Real, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Saga Press launches a celebration of one of the greatest modern writers in any genre with two hefty collections of the short fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin. The Found and the Lost collects, for the first time, all of Le Guin’s novellas, totaling more than 800 pages containing some of Le Guin’s best writing—stories that might be difficult to read otherwise, due to the challenges inherent in publishing and promoting novella-length fiction. The Unreal and the Real collects in one volume the best of Le Guin’s short stories, offering a breathtaking assortment of styles and ideas and demonstrating, in no uncertain terms, her genius at writing across preconceived notions of genre. These books are mandatory reading for anyone who calls themselves a SFF fan—or a fan of good writing.

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, edited by Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien (October 18, Saga Press—Hardcover)
Fairy tales are, in many ways, the lingua franca that every culture shares—and as such, they serve as fundamental building blocks for all the stories that stories that follow them. In this remarkable collection, writers from around the world use classic fairy tales—drawn from a wide swath of cultural traditions—and retell them with their own personal flair. The result is an incredible array of stories that transform these fundamental tales into modern powerhouses of surprise, excitement, and social commentary. The table of contents, featuring names like Genevieve Valentine, Sofia Samatar, Catherynne Valente, Amal El-Mohtar, and Naomi Nivik, is reason enough to add it to your list.

Exploded View, by Sam McPheeters
McPheeters’ second novel sets itself in the LA of the not-too-distant future, a place where the beleaguered and underfunded police department is powerless to stop petty crimes like indecent exposure and overtaxed by a constant flood of refugees and immigrants they protect as best they can. If that weren’t enough, LA is something of a surveillance state, with augmented reality watching your every move, which is, at least, a boon when it comes to catching the serious criminals, if not the petty ones. Add to this a sharp sense of dark humor, mysterious murders, and a entirely too believable depiction of cops trying to do their jobs while hampered by bureaucracy, and you have the makings of the science fiction version of The Wirewe all knew we wanted but didn’t know how to ask for.

Isis Orb, by Piers Anthony
The 40th (!) Xanth novel returns the series to its puntastic roots.  For the uninitiated: in Xanth, everyone is born with a single magic talent. Sometimes these talents are awesome, like being able to animate zombies or discern any sort of information about anything you desire. Sometimes, a talent is significantly less useful. This book introduces us to Hapless, a young man whose magic talent is the ability to summon any musical instrument he desires. That’s…useful? It would be a lot better if he could actually compose music that people want to listen to, which he decidedly cannot. The story eventually evolves into a classic quest, as Hapless collects a ragtag team of companions, all seeking the legendary Isis Orb that will grant them what they think they need (in Hapless’ case, that would be an instrument he can actually play). Along the way, Anthony offers up everything a Xanth fan—or a series newcomer—could ask for.

Everything Belongs to the Future, by Laurie Penny
Though this is her debut novella, Penny has already made a name for herself as a feminist author and columnist, having published four non-fiction books. Everything Belongs to the Future is the story of a group of young punks and anarchists who challenge a just-a-few-years-down-the-road class system that grants the very rich have access to technology that prolongs their lifespans indefinitely, while others barely survive. It’s a social allegory about the nature of our 1 percent society, written by a woman uniquely qualified to tell the story.

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers
Return to the setting of Chambers’ undeniably lovable debut A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet for another shambling journey across the universe with the most endearing cast of characters we’veencountered since we bid farewell to a ship named Serenity. This volume chronicles a most curious love affair between a human and an artificial intelligence that once inhabited a starship and is not living inside of a mobile android body. It’s every bit as character-focused and compelling as the first book. The only downside is, it won’t be available in print until next March; today’s release is only available for Nook.

Pathfinder Tales: Shy Knives, by Sam Sykes
We’ve written quite a lot about why we think the series of standalone fantasy adventures set in the Pathfinder universe are worth picking up, but we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight just how cool this expansive tie-in saga is getting, with a new crop of top-tier SFF talent joining an already formidable roster of authors. This week, we welcome the first Pathfinder book from British Fantasy Award nominee and veritable man-about-Twitter Sam Sykes (The City Stained Red). Thief of thieves Shaia “Shy” Ratani is on the run from the former colleagues she swindled, but her decision to hide out in the lawless city of Yanmass proves to be a poor one when she gets mixed up in a plot involving a murdered nobleman and an invading army of centaurs. The beauty of Pathfinder is that the books can be read in any order, while each benefitting from immeasurably rich shared world-building.

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente
We usually don’t highlight paperback rereleases here, but we’ll make an exception for one of our favorite books of 2015. This almost indescribable sci-fi novel could have come from no other author. Valente has created a beguiling hybrid of wide-eyed Victorian wonder, pulp space adventure, lavish Hollywood excess, and good old-fashioned murder mystery, a multifaceted novel that explores the strange disappearance of revered documentary filmmaker Severin Unk through script excerpts, lost film clips, interviews, and even old-fashioned commercials. Explore a version of our solar system right out of your dreams, where callowhales swim the oceans of Venus and settlers eke out a meager existence on distant Uranus.

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin Orange Edition), by H.P. Lovecraft
In a year in which H.P Lovecraft has been reevaluated and reinterpreted like never before, it’s worth revisiting his work, warts and all. This new Penguin edition of his most famous stories is an excellent place to start.

What new books are you looking forward to this week?

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