September Sci-Fi/Fantasy Roundup: Solving for Area X, a Bloody Battle for the Throne, and Performing Shakespeare in the End Times

sffroundup9-14Golden Princess: A Novel of The Change, by S.M. Stirling
Stirling has now written 11 novels in the Emberverse, his sci-fi/fantasy mashup series that explores an alternate timeline in which a mysterious event in 1998 caused all electricity, gunpowder, and advanced machinery to simply stop working, leaving the U.S. as we know it in shambles. The books focus on survival, political infighting, and epic quests. If you’re a fan, you’re picking this one up; if you aren’t (yet), you’ll want to start with Dies the Fire.

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
Robert Jackson Bennett continues to march his way through a list of fantasy subgenres, from fantasy horror (Mr. Shivers), to sci-fi (The Company Man), to, now, epic fantasy, albeit in a highly original vein. In a fantasy realm that retains many modern world trappings (from trains to telegrams), a low-level diplomat is pulled into a conspiracy involving murder, magic, and a plot to resurrect a god.

The Witch with No Name, by Kim Harrison
This is the can’t-miss final installment in The Hollows, the series that, in large part, helped define what we think of when we say “urban fantasy.” Harrison’s Rachel Morgan is the quintessential UF protagonist, and this book ends her story. Read about why we’re so sad to bid farewell to this series here.

The Falcon Throne, by Karen Miller
Australian author Karen Miller (Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, the Godspeaker Trilogy) launches her new epic fantasy series with a mammoth first installment packed with political intrigue and widescreen action. A battle for the throne. Scheming potential successors to the crown. Meddling princes. Despotic dukes. And one unfortunate young pawn trapped between both sides.

Stories of the Raksura: Vol. I, by Martha Wells
Though a she’s a former Nebula Award nominee, I’d argue Martha Wells deserves to be much more well-known, particularly for her strikingly original Books of the Raksura trilogy (The Cloud RoadsThe Serpent SeaThe Siren Depths), set in an entirely new world and featuring zero familiar tropes: no pseudo-European feudal system, no kings, no knights, no humans at all. In the first three books, she developed an entire anatomy and culture for her strange, bipedal, shape-shifting gargoyle creatures, and now she’s come back to it with the first of two planned volumes of short stories that revisit favorite characters, introduce new ones, and explore the rich history of her invented world.

Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer
I like the whole “let’s release the entire trilogy in a year” experiment that the publisher went with for VanderMeer’s astonishing Southern Reach trilogy. It’s only been six months since the debut of Annihilation, which charted the terrible fate of the twelfth expedition into the mysterious, ecologically mutated Area X. Book two, Authority, went inside the Southern Reach, the shadowy organization that oversees the ill-fated research missions. Acceptance shifts the focus again, and answers all your lingering questions in a deeply unsettling manner. (Available Sept. 2 in paperback and NOOK.)

Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood
Though you’ll find her shelved with literary fiction, there’s no question that much of Atwood’s work appeals heavily to genre fans, and her latest collection of short stories is no different. From a story about a man who bids on an auctioned storage unit and finds a sinister surprise inside (“The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom”), to one in which a woman born with a genetic disorder is mistaken for a vampire (“Lusus Naturae”), these nine tales twist the real world in unexpected ways. (Available Sept. 16 in hardcover and NOOK.)

Star Wars: New Dawn, by Jonathan Jackson Miller
Whether you’ve followed the Star Wars Expanded Universe since elementary school or don’t know the Solo twins from Hope Solo, this is the book all Jedi Padawans need to read. Disney has totally rebooted the franchise, reclassifying dozens of previous books as “Star Wars Legends,” and is relaunching the continuity with this novel from a frequent writer of Star Wars comics. From now on, what happens in the books will line up with the new movies and vice versa. (Available Sept. 2 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfield
Don’t let this title pass you by just because it’s classified as YA. Westerfield goes metafictional with the story of a young woman who moves to New York to pursue a dream in publishing, interspersing the narrative with chapters from the genre novel she’s writing about a girl who slips into an alternate reality to escape from terrorists. Soon, reality and fiction begin to intersect on multiple levels, creating a narrative puzzle you’ll love teasing out. (Available Sept. 23 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Published as literary fiction, this novel does the postapocalyptic thing to near perfection. Years after a global cataclysm, much of culture has been washed away in the ensuing tides of upheaval. A dedicated group of survivors struggles to keep the flame burning through roving performances of Shakespeare plays. Harrowing, haunting, and elegiac, this is one crossover novel you don’t want to miss. (Available Sept. 9 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

Exo, by Stephen Gould
The author returns to his popular Jumper series with another story about troubled teleporting teens getting into mischief. Blending YA tropes with well-considered sci-fi elements, the book offers a perfect mix of popcorn fun and hard science. The focal point this time is Cent, the daughter of original jumpers Davy and Millie, who appeared in Jumper and Impulse.

Which sci-fi and fantasy novels are you excited about this month?

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