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A Multiplicity of Realms | SF/Fantasy Genre Spotlight

ljx140801webSFfeat1bAn increasing diversity in speculative fiction is the new name of the publishing game this fall. The boundaries between steampunk and alternate histories set in similar near-modern time periods are beginning to blur, while lighter and humorous tongue-in-cheek sf titles are counterbalancing the still popular but grim dystopian trend. Although para­normal/urban fantasies apparently have fallen a bit out of vogue, Harper Voyager executive editor David Pomerico still sees plenty of great books and submissions from that arena.

More innovative story lines and paranormal creatures are replacing urban fantasy’s tired vampire tropes. And crossovers are building new readerships beyond narrowly defined genre ghettos. Likewise space opera and military sf have experienced a recent surge in popularity (“in large part because of readers in the digital arena looking for action-packed, fast-paced adventure”), but Pomerico argues this is not a new trend. “It’s not like we weren’t seeing this for a while (authors like John Scalzi and David Weber have been at this for a number of years, and it’s particularly popular with a number of indie authors).”

“I’m seeing a trend toward a rich diversity of subgenres,” concludes ­Pomerico, “so that there’s a little something for every reader.”

Tim Holman, Hachette vice president and publisher of the Orbit sf/fantasy imprint, agrees, noting “a greater diversity in speculative fiction—the writing itself, who is writing it, who is publishing it, and the way it’s being published.” This is reflected in the varied themes, characters, and settings found in new English-language works as well as in the increasing number of translated sf/fantasy titles being released in this country. At the same time new digital-first imprints like Harper Voyager’s Impulse, Simon & Schuster’s Simon451, Tor.com, and Random House’s Hydra are expanding their programs to offer more diverse selections of imaginative fiction to fans who can’t get enough of their favorite genres.


Epic fantasy remains king

Bolstered, no doubt, by the continuing popularity of a certain cable television series based on George R.R. Martin “Song of Ice and Fire” books, epic fantasy remains a preeminent category of speculative fiction. Tor editor Marco Palmieri stresses that a media success like Game of Thrones (GOT) makes a wider audience more open to genre fiction and that it makes it easier for publishers to experiment with new ways of approaching this material.

“Epics will [continue to be] big as long as Game of Thrones remains on HBO,” says Pyr editorial director Lou Anders. “But there’s a lot more out there in the genre for fans of either the show or the books.” One such epic fantasy with a generous dose of GOT-style political conflict is Australian author Karen Miller’s new series launch, The Falcon Throne (Orbit, Sept.; see review, p. 70). As England’s War of the Roses inspired Martin’s series, so this gritty tale of the squabbling heirs of a divided kingdom recalls the dynastic conflicts among the descendants of Emperor Charlemagne.

In the traditional epic mold of battles for the fate of the world is The Wide World’s End (Pyr, Feb. 2015). The final volume in James Enge’s “A Tournament of Shadows” prequel trilogy is about the origins of his popular epic hero Morlock Ambrosius, swordsman, magician, and son of Merlin (first introduced in the World Fantasy Award–nominated Blood of Ambrose). What is unusual about Enge’s series is that it draws on one of the classic roots of fantasy, the Arthurian mythos, but it creates new heroes and villains. And this September finds rising sf star Kameron Hurley, author of the award-winning God’s War, making her fantasy debut with The Mirror Empire (Angry Robot, reviewed, p. 69), the first volume in her “Worldbreaker Saga.” Bloody and violent, this ambitious work will challenge readers with its complex portrait of alternate realities and multiple worlds.

As longtime fans anxiously await The Winds of Winter, the sixth entry in Martin’s now projected eight-book series (recent speculation on the notoriously slow writer’s health drew an angry public response from Martin), Bantam’s publication this October of The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones should keep his many rabid readers satisfied—for the moment. Coauthored with Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the fan site Westeros.org, Martin’s hefty companion volume provides narrative backstory for the events of his epic saga in a “lavishly illustrated” format, including full-color artwork and maps.


The changed cityscape

While the fate of imaginary kingdoms is at stake in epic fantasies and modern-day heroes face off against magical foes in urban fantasy, a middle ground is also seeing a resurgence. Tor’s Palmieri has observed an “increased interest in city-based fantasy set in original secondary worlds.” City-based fantasy, which tends to have a grittier feel than the epics that otherwise share a similar milieu, has a long history, starting as far back as the shared world of Thieves’ World (Ace, 1979), edited by Robert Asprin.

An early pioneer in this subgenre is Steven Brust, whose long-running Vlad Taltos series began back in 1983; coming this fall is his 14th outing, Hawk (Tor, Oct.). This time Brust’s assassin hero returns to the capital city of the Dragaeran Empire, determined to stay whatever the cost. A notable newcomer is Sam Sykes. In The City Stained Red (Orbit, Jan. 2015), he transports his “Aeons’ Gate” trilogy characters—Lenk and his band of mercenary adventurers—to the wealthy desert city of Cier’Djaal where they find themselves caught between two warring religious armies as demons begin to stir.

Coming full circle with urban fantasy

Urban fantasy seems to have hit a speed bump recently with fewer vampire and werewolf offerings, although Prime Books editor Paula Guran dryly notes that vampires don’t really die. “The trope gets overdone for a bit, then subsides, then eventually comes back from a very shallow grave. Even Anne Rice is back to vampires [see the review of Rice’s Prince Lestat, p. 88]. Who knows? That may start a new demand.”

Instead Harper Voyager’s Pomerico asserts that the genre is witnessing more innovation with a focus on pantheons, magic, and more unusual heroes. An example is the female hellhound who stars in Caitlin Kittredge’s new dark urban fantasy series launch, Black Dog (Harper Voyager, Oct.), and the bureaucro­mancer who battles dealers of a magical drug to save his daughter in Ferrett Steinmetz’s Flex (Angry Robot, Sept.).

Scandinavian mythology is also increasingly popular as inspiration for new fantasies. Slated for Houghton Harcourt’s spring 2015 list is Stefan Spjut’s novel Stallo, which introduces a new mythical creature, deeply entrenched in Swedish folklore. “We’ve seen vampires and werewolves, wizards, dragons, and zombies, but the shape-shifting trolls of Lapland are new to American readers,” explains Harcourt’s senior publicist ­Michele Bonanno.

In time all good things must come to an end, and that includes popular series and story arcs, when authors are ready to bring to a close one narrative and turn to fresh characters and worlds. A number of established writers, says Pomerico, “have come full circle on their worldbuilding, realizing the universes they have created have made it that much more challenging to actually tell the story.” The big news this fall, of course, is the release of the final volume of Kim Harrison’s blockbuster “Hollows” series. In The Witch with No Name (Harper Voyager, Sept.; see review, p. 69 and Q&A with Harrison, p. 25), Rachel Morgan stands ready to pay the price for all her world-changing activities to date. Pomerico is certain that readers “will be thrilled to see how Kim wraps everything up ­beautifully.”


Evolving subgenres

At the UK publishing house and games developer Rebellion Publishing, editor in chief Jon Oliver and commissioning editor David Moore are seeing less speculative fiction than evolution in subgenres like steampunk and alternative history. “Steampunk has become much less niche,” explains Oliver, “but it’s also breaking out of its ghetto, rising above the stereotypes concerning empire, dashing heroes, and dirigibles, to cast more of a critical eye over the source material, picking apart imperialism and looking at the role of women in Victorian society.”

Harper Voyager’s Pomerico is excited about Beth Cato’s debut novel, The Clockwork Dagger (Sept.; see review, p. 69), which he describes as “young steampunk with a somewhat different sensibility.” Young medician Octavia Leander is on her first mission aboard an airship when she is embroiled in intrigue and murder.

Aficionados will welcome the October publication of The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures (Running Pr.). Following 2012’s acclaimed The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, editor Sean Wallace has collected 30 more mashup tales that push the boundaries of steampunk. Contributors include the late Jay Lake, Cherie Priest, Lavie Tidhar, Genevieve Valentine, and Carrie Vaughn. Next March, Gail Carriger, the best-selling author of the five-book “Parasol Protectorate” steampunk paranormal romance series featuring the soulless Alexia Tarabotti, will introduce Alexia’s daughter, Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama. The first book of Carriger’s “Custard Protocol” series, Prudence (Orbit), has her aristocratic heroine flying her new dirigible, Spotted Custard, “to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea.”

As for alternative history, Rebellion Publishing’s Abaddon imprint is pushing the genre’s boundaries with a new alternative Sherlock Holmes collection, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space (Oct.), edited by Moore. “This is Holmes and Watson as you’ve never seen them before,” says editor in chief Oliver. Contributions by new and established talents, including Kasey Lansdale, Kaaron Warren, Ian Edginton, Guy Adams, and J.E Cohen, have the iconic detective solving a witch trial in 17th-century England, investigating the attempted assassination of Andy Warhol, clashing with his nemesis Moriarty in the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression, combating crime in a fascistic cybernetic future Britain, and even solving a murder on a fantasy world.

What if the Roman Empire had never collapsed? Alternative history blends with historical and military fiction in Clash of Eagles (Del Rey, Mar. 2015), a debut novel by NASA astrophysicist Alan Smale. This tale about a Roman legion that invades the newly discovered North American continent reveals, says Del Rey editorial director Tricia Narwani, the Sidewise Award–winning writer “to be a born storyteller.” In October, Beth Bernobich, the author of the “River of Souls” trilogy, debuts The Time Roads (Tor), a 19th-century steampunk alternative history in which scientists of the empire of Eire seek answers to temporal mysteries.

SF’s women

This season will see a number of strong sf offerings by female authors, both rising stars and masters of the genre. Among Oliver’s favorite new writers is Ann Leckie, “who has very rightly been winning all the awards for the remarkable Ancillary Justice.” The first title in her “Imperial Radich” space opera trilogy drew critical acclaim from the likes of John Scalzi and won four of sf’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the Nebula, BSFA, Arthur C. Clarke, and Locus awards. In October comes her highly anticipated sequel, Ancillary Sword (Orbit), featuring the return of the ancillary soldier Breq (a fragment of an artificial intelligence housed in a human body), now in command of the ship Mercy of Kalr.

In September, Nancy Kress, the 2013 Nebula Award winner for best novella (After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall), returns with an sf biothriller. In Yesterday’s Kin (Tachyon; see review, p. 69) aliens fleeing deadly spores have landed on Earth and recruit geneticist Marianne Jenner to help them find a cure before the spores arrive in ten months. One of Kress’s short stories will be featured in The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, edited by Alex Daily MacFarlane (Running Pr., Dec.)

And this October, Harper Voyager will pay homage to sf master Sheri S. Tepper with the release of her 35th novel, Fish Tails, which weaves together 11 of her previous works from 1983’s King’s Bloods Four to 2010’s The Waters Rising. Executive editor Pomerico explains that the works of this ardent feminist and environmentalist have left an impact on readers and the world. “We want this publication to celebrate the legacy she leaves us and the lessons taught us.”

SF sees military action

Also making a strong showing this fall is military sf with several titles focusing on small unit action rather than battling space armadas. In Pyr’s December release, The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick, Col. Nathan Pretorius and his squad, aka the Dead Enders, must replace an alien general with the clone created and trained by the Democracy. In Greg Bear’s War Dogs (Orbit, Oct.) a small unit of humans must overthrow a beachhead established on Mars by the alien Antagonists.

“In terms of the big, bombastic genre stuff, James Love­grove’s new series starting with World of Fire is sure to make a splash,” says Rebellion’s Oliver. “It’s sort of Jack Reacher in space.” The novel, which Rebellion’s Solaris imprint will publish this month, introduces Dev Harmer, a troubleshooter sent from planet to planet to intervene in crisis situations.

Are dystopian visions peaking?

Recent years have seen an upswing in dystopian visions of the future, powered in part by the huge success of young adult titles like “The Hunger Games” trilogy. Pierce Brown’s debut, Red Rising, received favorable comparisons to Suzanne Collins’s books. In Golden Son (Del Rey, Jan. 2015), the second book in his dystopian trilogy set on Mars, Brown’s rebel hero is now fully embedded in the Gold ruling class as he seeks to overthrow an unjust society. Del Rey’s Narwani praises Brown as “the rare debut author who doesn’t write like a debut author…but [who] writes like a grand master of science fiction.”

Alternatively, Tor editor Palmieri sees a growing weariness with bleak visions of the future and a renewed appetite for cautiously optimistic hard sf and tongue-in-cheek speculative fiction. Fans of Scalzi’s satirical Red Shirts can look forward this November to Steven Erickson’s Willful Child (Tor), a delightful spoof and homage to Star Trek in which the crew of the starship Willful Child embarks on “a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures” across the vastness of space.

The walking dead keep walking

While vampires might be hiding from the light of day this fall, zombies and their ilk continue to stalk the land and dominate the sf/horror genres. Four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Stephen Jones will conclude his “Zombie Apocalypse!” trilogy in December with End Game (Running Pr.) in which the zombie and human armies have their final clash.

Other authors are placing their own twists on the traditional zombie tropes, throwing alternative history and steam­punk into the mix. Joseph Nassise’s 2012 By the Blood of Heros placed zombies in an alternate World War I. In the forthcoming sequel, On Her Majesty’s Behalf (Harper Voyager, Dec.), Captain Burke must rescue the last surviving member of the British royal family from German forces led by the undead Red Baron.

Rajan Khanna’s postapocalyptic debut novel, Falling Sky (Pyr, Oct.), presents a North America devastated by a virulent plague; those humans who escaped infection eke out an existence in airships and flying cities while the rest of the population, now mindless “ferals,” roams below.

Monsters among us

“As long as writers come up with new and exciting ways to use traditional horror monsters, the monsters themselves aren’t going away,” comments Pyr editorial director Anders. Other new monsters include the stars of Mira Grant’s delightfully creepy “Parasitology” series. The genetically engineered disease-fighting tapeworms, introduced in Parasite, are now turning their human hosts into ravening hordes in Symbiont (Orbit, Nov.).

Meanwhile award-winning anthologist Ellen Datlow pays tribute to cinematic horror with The Cutting Room: Dark Reflections of the Silver Screen (Tachyon, Oct.), while spouses Mike and Linda Carey, with their daughter Louise, set their haunted The House of War and Witness (ChiZine, Nov.) on the Prussian border in 1740 as an Austrian regiment is sent to garrison in an ancient house.

Another haunted dwelling story marks the adult fiction debut of accomplished YA author Lauren Oliver. In Rooms (Ecco: HarperCollins, Sept.), Oliver tells the story of a mother and her two teenage children who move into her ex-husband’s house—already occupied by its own ghosts.

Taking a Final Bow

A decade ago, Kim Harrison introduced Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter, in Dead Witch Walking. That debut spawned one of the most popular series in the then-burgeoning subgenre of urban fantasy. It now comes to a close with the September release of The Witch with No Name (see review, LJ 8/14, p. 69), which will tell the story of Rachel’s final battle and most difficult choice. Harrison talks about the journey that led here and her next steps.

After such a successful run, why end your “Hollows” series now?
I’m very much a character-driven, worldbuilding writer, and after ten years of poking, prodding, twisting, and growing both the world and my main character, there simply isn’t much left to do except jump the shark. I’d rather end before that. I’ve also found myself wanting to try different writing techniques. Breaking into a new world will give me the chance to extend my writing skills, something I can’t do in Rachel’s voice.

How long have you known that the series was coming to an end?
I’ve known for a few years, expecting The Undead Pool to be the last. But as
I was finishing [the] rough draft, I realized that not only had I failed to explain the source of magical power, but I was ending the entire series with “I got my man.” Not that “I got my man” isn’t a great ending, but it wasn’t among the major themes I’d been exploring over the course of the series. I wrote The Witch with No Name not only to flesh out how a communal mind living in one dimension can fuel an entire magic system in another but also to shift the ending to “love empowers us to conquer evil,” which may sound just as romantic and done, but it’s the thread that connects all the books.

Will you continue a successful “Hollows” graphic novel series? Are there plans to develop the “Hollows” in other formats?
I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to learn how to put a graphic novel together, taking the time to script Blood Work and Blood Crime myself. It was fun to try to shift my perspective and bring what I always saw in my mind to a more visual medium, and I enjoyed working with the artists to achieve it. Unfortunately, I lost my original graphic novel editor, Betsy Mitchell, when she left Del Rey, and a lot of the excitement went out of it for me. Also, I like structuring my story with dialog, and the 130 words per page limitation was beginning to chafe.

As for seeing the “Hollows” on the screen? I’ve set that hope aside for the chance of possibly seeing my next project there instead. CW had the rights to the “Hollows” for a time, getting as far as a pilot on paper before it was dropped. One of my few stipulations to my agent was that if my rights were going to sit in a drawer, I’d rather they be in my drawer. And that’s where they are. Not everything translates well to the screen, and that’s okay.

What are your next project(s)?
I’m sticking with a female protagonist because it can be hard to make a woman confident without her sliding into bitchy, and if you can pull it off once, you should try to do it again. There will be elements of science so extended from what we know that it feels like magic. I’m losing the vampires and witches so the reader might not be so inclined to typecast and just let the characters develop with no preconceived expectations. But these are just my goals. The real story is of Peri Reed, who makes good decisions, is renowned in her field, and knows who she is and where she is going. That all changes about page eight. You’ll have to wait for the rest.—Eric Norton

Blurred lines

Are the lines between “genre” and “literary fiction” beginning to blur as more literary writers adopt genre tropes? Paula Guran of Prime Books cites the best-selling and critical success of Jeff Vandermeer’s “Southern Reach Trilogy” (Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance). “It is cross-genre—suspenseful, even horrific, but mixed with sf and literary—and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, not noted for ‘genre.’ FSG gave the three books much more support than a genre imprint would have and experimented with releasing them closely together,” Guran says.

But Tor’s Palmieri disagrees, saying genre and literary fiction have never been mutually exclusive. “What is changing, I think, are perceptions and attitudes, with ever more voices being raised acknowledging the literary achievements and artistic merits of genre.”

However, there is definitely more crossover between certain genres, especially between crime and speculative fiction. Robert Jackson Bennett wraps up a murder mystery in an imaginary metropolis once ruled by gods in City of Stairs (Broadway, Sept.; see review, p. 68). Stephen Blackmore pens another tale of deities and crime, Gods and Monsters (Abaddon: Rebellion, Dec.), in which Louie, a drug runner trying to take money from the mob, is now being called on by gods both old and new. Rod Duncan’s steampunk/mystery crossover The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter (Angry Robot, Sept.; see review, p. 69) introduces quick-change artist/private enquiry agent Elizabeth Barnabus as she seeks to find a missing aristocrat and a number of arcane machines. Madeline Ashby’s Company Town (Angry Robot, Oct.) is an sf/mystery mashup set on a city-sized oil rig off the coast of Canada.

Crossover YA

Despite signs that the YA market is becoming saturated (Angry Robot recently shuttered its YA imprint Strange Chemistry), most publishers and authors continue to court the young adult market. Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning author Tricia Sullivan joins Rebellion’s Ravenstone YA imprint with her debut YA novel, Shadow Boxer, set in the gritty world of mixed martial arts. “It’s a coming-of-age story featuring a truly kick-ass protagonist and a mythological realm.”

Arriving in September from Tor is Exo, the fourth volume in Steven Gould’s “Jumper” series. High school student Cent is determined to use her teleportation powers to change the world, despite the danger from government agencies that want her powers for their own ends. And the Harper Voyager editorial and marketing team is strongly backing Katherine Harbour’s Thorn Jack (Jun.). “Katherine is a bookseller from Florida whom we discovered in an open call last fall,” explains executive editor ­Pomerico. “The book absolutely sang to us—great YA/romance crossover. Dark fantasy readers will really enjoy this modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ‘Tam Lin’ legend.”

Digital comes of age

For Rebellion editor in chief Oliver, the most surprising trends he’s found are those in which publishing itself is evolving. “I was always an ebook skeptic back when I started in genre almost ten years ago, but now it’s a hugely important part of the market, and I’m as happy to read in ‘e’ as I am in paper.” All of Rebellion’s titles have DRM-free ebook/EPUB versions as well as the Amazon Kindle format.

The major houses have recently launched no fewer than four digital imprints: Simon451 from Simon & Schuster, Hydra from Random House, Impulse from Harper Voyager, and Tor’s most recently announced initiative, Tor.com the Imprint. Expanding on the website’s original fiction program, the new imprint is dedicated to publishing novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words). Major authors, too, are finding ebooks the perfect venue for their shorter works. In late July, Open Road released Walter Mosley’s novella Jack Strong, about a man whose body and mind are composed of bits and pieces of dozens of other men and women.

Starting this summer and continuing through winter 2015, Harper Voyager is expanding its Impulse digital-first program with the launch of 31 e-original titles, including Jack Heckel’s “Charming Tales” series launch, Once Upon a Rhyme (Aug.), in which readers learn that Prince Charming’s deeds of derring-do were actually accomplished by another, and Erik Williams’s Demon (Sept.), which pits a CIA assassin against a true fiend.

Simon451’s inaugural list debuts this fall with fan-favorite actress Gillian Anderson’s A Vision of Fire (Oct.), coauthored with Jeff Rovin, which follows child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara as she travels the world following the mystical links between teenagers’ visions. Hardcover and audio editions will be released as well. Also coming from Simon451 is Ethan Reid’s dystopian Paris-set The Undying: An Apocalyptic Thriller. Meanwhile, Hydra associate editor Sarah Peed raves about debut author Alis Franklin’s Liesmith (Oct.) as “a fantastically fun novel that reimagines mythology for a modern world.” Tech support drone Sigmund Sussman is charmed by the new staffer who just happens to be Norse god Loki.

New multicultural voices

If speculative fiction’s subgenres and formats are diversifying, so, too, are the voices telling their unique stories. Harper Voyager’s Pomerico has been encouraged by a recent call-to-arms for members of the genre to step up in terms of not only diversifying the types of stories they’re telling but what the stories are saying. “While it’s a steep road, I’m excited about the growing awareness for important things like race and gender that actually explore what those things mean, rather than token head-nods in their direction.”

Two works from Prime’s digital imprint, Masque, exemplify this diversity by departing from standard Western tropes. Matthew Rivett’s Nova Byzantium (Aug.) tells the story of archivists of the orbiting Islamic Caliphate who attempt to preserve humanity’s knowledge while the last empire, Nova Byzantium, struggles against barbarians. In September’s Fingerbones by ­Erzebet YellowBoy, Nusht is exiled to the island of Karbesh, but one of her magical constructs is able to return to her homeland.

Pyr editorial director Anders also cites K.V. Johansen’s The Leopard, which pubbed in June. “It is as lush and complex as anything Tolkien ever wrote but steps away from the traditional white Western milieu to take its inspiration from Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures.” Its sequel, The Lady, comes out this December.

Richard Park draws on Japanese history and culture in Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate (Prime, Dec.), a historical fantasy about a samurai who must battle demons and monsters to fulfill a vow to his dead wife. Husband and wife Mike and Rachel Grinti (Claws) set their new fantasy Jala’s Mask (Pyr, Nov.) in an island culture in which the inhabitants can magically shape their reefs into ships with which to raid the mainland.

Found in translation

Speculative fiction in translation can be viewed as the ultimate source for diversity in the genre, but they aren’t necessarily easy to achieve. Tor editors Liz Gorinsky and Marco Palmieri both note the difficulties of producing translations, including the high cost of securing first-rate translators. Still, Palmieri would like to see it become more common. “Genre can only be enriched by the sharing of stories told beyond the English-speaking world, written from perspectives outside the bubble of Western experience.”

High on Tor’s fall list is The Three-Body Problem (Oct.) by Cixin Liu. Gorinsky notes that this novel in which aliens make contact during the Cultural Revolution is the best-selling sf title in China. “The translation is by Ken Liu, a fast-rising author of American sf, and the translation was arranged by the Chinese government.”

Harper Voyager is also foreseeing an upswing in material from non-English-writing authors. In June the publisher, in tandem with its UK and Australia branches, launched Emmi Itäranta, a debut novelist from Finland, whose first dystopian/fantasy novel, Memory of Water, fits into the “Finnish Weird” category. Russia will be represented this December by best-selling author (Night Watch) Sergei Lukyanenko’s The Genome (Open Road), an sf thriller about a “spesh,” or genetically modified human created for a specific purpose, in this case, piloting spacecraft.

With digital publishing expanding reading options and the quest for diversity presenting a wider range of readers with images of themselves, the genre has the potential for exciting growth. “The great thing about speculative fiction,” says Harper Voyager’s Pomerico, “is that it’s a big sandbox to play in.” Rebellion’s Oliver agrees. “Now more than any time in genre fiction, there has been broadening of what we see as sf, fantasy, and horror. I think that can only be a good thing.”

Keys to Speculative Realms

Mentioned in this article are 55 recently published and forthcoming sf/fantasy/horror titles that illustrate the genres’ diversity in all their forms.

Anderson, Gillian & Jeff Rovin A Vision of Fire Simon451:
S. & S.
Ashby, Madeline Company Town Angry Robot Oct.
Bear, Greg War Dogs Orbit: Hachette Oct.
Bennett, Robert Jackson City of Stairs Broadway Sept.
Bernobich, Beth The Time Roads Tor Oct.
Blackmore, Stephen Gods and Monsters Abaddon: Rebellion Dec.
Brown, Pierce Golden Son Del Rey Jan. 2015
Brust, Steven Hawk Tor Oct.
Carey, Mike & others The House of War and Witness ChiZine Nov.
Carriger, Gail Prudence Orbit: Hachette Mar. 2015
Cato, Beth The Clockwork Dagger Harper Voyager Sept.
Datlow, Ellen, ed. The Cutting Room Tachyon Oct.
Duncan, Rod The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter Angry Robot Sept.
Enge, James The Wide World’s End Pyr: Prometheus Feb. 2015
Erickson, Steven Willful Child Tor Nov.
Franklin, Alis Liesmith Hydra: Random Oct.
Gould, Steven Exo Tor Sept.
Grant, Mira Symbiont Orbit: Hachette Nov.
Grinti, Mike & Rachel Grinti Jala’s Mask Pyr: Prometheus Nov.
Harbour, Katherine Thorn Jack Harper Voyager Jun.
Harrison, Kim The Witch with No Name Harper Voyager Sept.
Heckel, Jack Once Upon a Rhyme Impulse: Harper Voyager Aug.
Hurley, Kameron The Mirror Empire Angry Robot Sept.
Itäranta, Emmi Memory of Water Harper Voyager Jun.
Johansen, K.V. The Lady Pyr: Prometheus Dec.
Johansen, K.V. The Leopard Pyr: Prometheus Jun.
Jones, Stephen End Game Running Pr. Dec.
Khanna, Rajan Falling Sky Pyr: Prometheus Oct.
Kittredge, Caitlin Black Dog Harper Voyager Oct.
Kress, Nancy Yesterday’s Kin Tachyon Sept.
Leckie, Ann Ancillary Sword Orbit: Hachette Oct.
Liu Cixin The Three-Body Problem Tor Oct.
Lovegrove, James World of Fire Solaris: Rebellion Aug.
Lukyanenko, Sergei The Genome Open Road Dec.
MacFarlane, Alex Daily, ed. The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women Running Pr. Dec.
Martin, George R.R. & others The World of Ice & Fire Bantam Oct.
Miller, Karen The Falcon Throne Orbit: Hachette Sept.
Moore, David, ed. Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets Abaddon: Rebellion Oct.
Mosley, Walter Jack Strong Open Road Jul.
Nassise, Joseph On Her Majesty’s Behalf Harper Voyager Dec.
Oliver, Lauren Rooms Ecco: HarperCollins Sept.
Park, Richard Yamada Monogatari Prime Dec.
Reid, Ethan The Undying Simon451:
S. & S.
Resnick, Mike The Fortress in Orion Pyr: Prometheus Dec.
Rice, Anne Prince Lestat Knopf Oct.
Rivett, Mathew Nova Byzantium Masque: Prime Aug.
Smale, Alan Clash of Eagles Del Rey Mar. 2015
Steinmetz, Ferrett Flex Angry Robot Sept.
Spjut, Stefan Stallo Harcourt Mifflin spring 2015
Sullivan, Tricia Shadow Boxer Ravenstone: Rebellion Oct.
Sykes, Sam The City Stained Red Orbit: Hachette Jan. 2015
Tepper, Sheri S. Fish Tails Harper Voyager Oct.
Wallace, Sean, ed. The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures Running Pr. Oct.
Williams, Erik Demon Impulse: Harper Voyager Sept.
YellowBoy, Erzebet Fingerbones Masque: Prime Sept.

Eric Norton is the Head of Customer Service, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, where he has also served as a department head for adult and youth services. He is a longtime reviewer for LJ and sister publication School Library Journal and a lifelong fan of speculative fiction

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