I have a confession to make: I like books. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed this monthly list, but I don’t mean just reading them. I’m fascinated by the form of a book, the book as a technology, and an object that’s changed how we transmit information from one person to another.
Recently, I came across a really interesting book put out by the Library of Congress: The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It’s a history of the card catalog, and it proves to be a really interesting look at not only the system itself, but also the history of public libraries in America. Plus, there are lots of really gorgeous pictures of catalog cards, which makes this book a delight to flip through if reading about the history isn’t your thing.
The card catalog system is one of those things that you don’t ever really think about, but while it seems like an obvious organizational method today, its creation was somewhat controversial at the time. More than that, it helped to cement the purpose of the Library of Congress as a resource for the nation’s libraries, not just a repository for the nation’s books.
The summer is the busy time for publishing, and accordingly, there are a ton of new books that will undoubtably end up in the Library of Congress — or at the very least, on your bookshelf.
Valerian: The Complete Collection, Vol 1. by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres
Luc Besson is set to release his adaptation of Pierre Christian’s French comic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in July, but if you’ve been intrigued by the trailers and can’t wait to check it out, the entire comic series is being rereleased in a series of omnibus editions, the first of which comes out today. This volume contains the first two books: The City of Shifting Waters and The Empire of a Thousand Planets. The book also includes some bonus features: interviews with the author, artist, and Besson.
Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s estate has been steadily releasing new material from his papers, and the latest is one of the earliest stories in his Middle-earth series: Beren and Luthien. It’s a romance between two characters, Beren and Lúthien, and it is based loosely on Tolkien’s own relationship with his wife Edith.
A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff
In this second installment of Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series, Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has walked away from the Confederation Marine Corps after learning what she was fighting for. But she’s not abandoning her mission: she’s assembled a group of loyal friends to take on missions that the Corps wouldn’t. When an archeological team is taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent in, only to find that their mission is far more complicated than previously thought. Publisher’s Weekly calls the book a “fast-paced thriller bristling with treachery and intrigue.”
Image: Resurrection House
Necessary Monsters by Richard A. Kirk
A convicted thief and bibliophile, Lumsden Moss, escaped from prison, and found an opportunity to steal a rare book from the man who put him away. Unfortunately, that’s painted a target on his back from some very bad people, and he’s now on the run. The book contains some secrets from a cursed and long-lost island, in a world where magic and technology are inseparable.
The Rebellion’s Last Traitor by Nik Korpon
Decades of war has shattered Eitan City, and to help restore order, the Tathadann Party rewrites history by outlawing the past. One man, Henraek, is a memory thief, stealing memories from civilians, until he harvests a memory of his own wife’s death. Now, he’s going to do whatever it takes to discover the truth about her killing, even if it means turning on the people he was most loyal to.
Supreme Villainy: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Most (In)Famous Supervillain Memoir Never Published by King Oblivion and Matt D. Wilson
King Oblivion, PhD is the most famous supervillains in the world, and as the CEO of the International Society of Supervillains, he’s responsible for Nixon’s election, the theft of Japan (the entire country), the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and quite a bit more. Author Matt D. Wilson discovered Oblivion’s moldering manifesto in one of his lairs, and with a bit of editing, has published them into a tell-all about the late author’s life.
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Eden’s life was easy before the war. But in 2049, the militant Wolfpack gang controls the Earth and its resources, and Eden knows the location of the last neutral place left, Sanctuary Island. She escapes a labor camp and travels to the island, where she meets others who resist the Wolves. But when her friend goes missing, she discovers that the Sanctuary is more dangerous than it appears. The film rights for the book have already been snapped up by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne Valente has written a number of really unique and interesting novels, and in this latest, she turns her attention to the women of superhero comics. This book is a series of linked stories from the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, as well as female heroes and sidekicks, who have been kicked out of the way to help their male counterpart’s story move forward.
The Sacred Era by Yoshio Aramaki, translated by Baryon Tensor Posadas
In the 1970s, Yoshio Aramaki wrote one of the best-known works of Japanese science fiction, The Sacred Era. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, a student named K journeys to the capital of the Holy Empire to take The Sacred Examination, which will qualify him for metaphysical research service in the court. He’s assigned to a secret department, which sends him on the path of an executed heretic on an interplanetary journey.
The Black Elfstone by Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks is bringing his epic Shannara series to a close with a four-part mini-series, The Fall of Shannara. The Black Elfstone is the first installment, and sees an unknown enemy threatening the peace that has lasted for generations. A party is dispatched to investigate this threat and to figure out how to save the Four Lands.
Image: Pyr Books
Wilders by Brenda Cooper
The first installment of the new Project Earth series, Wilders follows Coryn Williams, who grew up in the megacity of Seacouver. While everything is provided in Seacouver, she’s unhappy. So when her parents commit suicide, she decides to search for her sister, who left the city to join a “rewilding” crew that works to restore the land. When she leaves the city, Coryn finds that life is far more dangerous than she expected, and discovers a plot that could threaten her home.
The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
In this debut novel, Jamie Allenby just wants to go to space. She emigrates from Earth and finds work on a distant frontier planet, coping with the loneliness of space when a virus decimates the local population. A garbled message from home gives her some hope that someone from her past might still be alive, and along with a band of survivors, they return home to find that in their absence, they’ve changed just as much as Earth has.
Prey of the Gods by Nicky Drayden
South Africa has a promising future in Nicky Drayden’s debut novel, Prey of the Gods. People have personal robots, the poor are helped by renewable energy initiatives, and genetic engineering has opened up a huge industry in the region. There are some problems on the horizon, however, such as a new hallucinogenic drug and an AI uprising. It’s up to a powerful Zulu girl, a mind-reading teenager, a pop singer, and a politician to help save the country.
Soleri by Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston’s new epic fantasy draws from Egyptian history. In it, the ruling family of the Soleri Empire hasn’t been seen for centuries, but they rule the four kingdoms with a tight grip. When an expected eclipse doesn’t occur, political infighting begin to tear apart a dynasty that’s stood for millennia.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Victor LaValle made a splash recently with horror novella The Ballad of Black Tom. His latest novel begins with a new father, Apollo Kagwa, dreaming of his childhood. When his wife abruptly vanishes, he goes on a quest to find her, which leads him to fantastic places that connect back to his own missing father. Kirkus Reviews gave it a coveted star rating, saying that “LaValle has successfully delivered a tale of wonder and thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a parent.”
Image: Solaris Books
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee’s debut novel Ninefox Gambit earned a pair of Hugo and Nebula nominations, and its follow-up, Raven Stratagem, picks up right after its end. Captain Kel Cheris has summoned Shuos Jedao, a long-dead general, to put down a rebellion, only to be possessed by the ghost. At the same time, aliens known as the Hafn are invading, and Jedao might be the only person who can stop them. Lee’s take on space opera and military science fiction was intriguingly different, and this new book looks just as exciting. Publisher’s Weekly awarded the book a star rating, calling it “a stunning sequel,” saying that it “contains a satisfying mixture of interstellar battles, politics, intrigue, and arcane technology.”
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
McGuire recently earned a Nebula Award and a Hugo nomination for her novella Every Heart A Doorway, which is part of her Wayward Children series. This is the story of what happened to Jack and Jill before they arrived at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Jacqueline is quiet and police, while Jillian is a thrill-seeker. As children, they discover an impossible staircase and step into a fantastic world complete with vampires and mad scientists. The novella earned a star rating from Publisher’s Weekly, which described the novel as an “exquisitely written fairy tale … about the choices that can alter the course of a life forever.”
Want by Cindy Pon
Set in a near-future Taipei, Jason Zhou lives in a world where only the wealthy can afford to stay alive, protected by suits from pollution and disease. He’s resolved to change things after his mother dies. Along with a group of friends, he infiltrates the ranks of the wealthy in an attempt to destroy the Jin Corporation, which manufactures the suits that the rich rely on. Along the way, he falls for the daughter of the company’s CEO, Daiyu, and he’s forced to choose between his heart and his values.
Cormorant Run by Lilith Saintcrow
Years ago, there was an event — something that opened up a void, killing everyone inside of it. Those who enter are known as Rifters, who often come back with fantastic technologies. Svinga is one such Rifter, and she’s hauled out of prison to search for a legendary piece of technology, the Cormorant. It’s a dangerous mission, but she has plans of her own.
Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom by Bradley W. Schenck
This novel imagines the future as predicted in the 1939 World Fair, complete with mad scientists, robots, rocket engineers, and space pirates. It’s an homage to the era of pulp fiction, and when the Info-Slate switchboard operators are abruptly fired, Nola Gardner hires freelance adventurer Kelvin “Dash” Kent to find out why. When they dig deeper, they find that there’s a plot in play that threatens the entire city of Retropolis.
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
In this sequel to Victoria Schwab’s novel This Savage Song, Kate Harker is a monster hunter who was thrown together with a monster named August Flynn. Six months later, the war between humanity and monsters has come, and the two are pitted against one another. However, there’s a new, terrifying monster that’s emerged from the shadows, one that will test them all.
Image: Saga Books
The Witch Who Came In From The Cold by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick
Serial Box is a publisher that’s been releasing serialized stories online for a couple of years now, and their latest, The Witch Who Came In From The Cold, is an intriguing spy thriller set at the height of the Cold War. Now collected into a single volume, the story follows spies and sorcerers in 1970s Prague, holding the balance of the East and West in their hands. Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a star rating, noting that the individual “installments are easy to read one at a time, but the tangles of alliances, secrets, and shocking double-crosses will have readers up all night mumbling, ‘Just one more.’”
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
Neal Stephenson has teamed up with historical novelist Nicole Galland (they previously worked on Mongoliad) for a new novel: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. Set in the near future, Melisandre Stokes, a linguistics and language expert, is approached by the military to translate some old documents. What they contain is earth-shattering: they prove that magic existed before the scientific revolution, and that the industrial revolution essentially weakened magic. The Department of Diachronic Operations has a plan and a device: they want to bring magic back, and to send an operative back in time to ensure that magic never went away in the first place. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a star rating, saying that the book is a “departure for both authors and a pleasing combination of much appeal to fans of speculative fiction.”
Virology by Ren Warom
In this follow-up to Ren Warom’s Escapology, Shock Pao opened up the virtual world known as the Slip, and with some stolen tech, he’s the one in charge of the world’s systems. That’s put a target on his back, and he’s running out of places to hide.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
Theodora Goss is an acclaimed short story writer, and in her debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, she mashes up a bunch of classic science fiction characters. Mary Jekyll, daughter of Dr. Henry Jekyll, is orphaned, and she decides to go after her father’s murderer, Edward Hyde. She comes across Hyde’s daughter Diana, and with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, she finds other women who were created through experiments: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. Along the way, she comes across a secret society of mad scientists, and it’s time for the monsters to take on their creators.
Transformation by James Gunn
James Gunn (not the director of Guardians of the Galaxy) is one of the last authors from the original golden age of science fiction, and with Transformation, he brings to a close a trilogy that he opened with Transcendental and Transgalactic. Riley and Asha crossed the galaxy, discovered the Transcendental Machine, and have been turned into something more than human. The worlds at the end of the Federation have gone quiet, and they’re dispatched to investigate. Along with a planetary AI, a Federation agent, and a member of a group bent on destroying the AI, they have to come together to fend off a more powerful threat than the Transcendentals. Clarkesworld Magazine spoke with Gunn about the series last year, if you want to know more.
Indigo by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James A. Moore, and Mark Morris
What stands out about Indigo is the fact that it was written by 11 separate authors. The collaborative novel follows Investigative reporter Nora Hesper who moonlights as Indigo, a vigilante who can manipulate shadows. She’s after a cult called the Children of Phonos, and after one battle, she learns a secret from a dying cultist that makes her question her own origins.
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Last month, we posted an excerpt from Stephen Graham Jones’ upcoming novella, and we’re really excited to dig into it. The story is about a 15-year-old boy who catches a glimpse of someone he thinks is his mysteriously deceased father. When he investigates, he discovers that his house is much bigger and more dangerous than he imagined. Publisher’s Weekly says that “the immediacy of Jones’s fiction is wonderfully refreshing and not to be missed.”
Shattered Minds by Laura Lam
Laura Lam returns to her futuristic world of Pacifica, which we last saw in her novel False Hearts. Carina was a biohacker who became disillusioned with her work on brain recording and the disturbing things she saw. She quits and becomes addicted to Zeal, and acts out horrific fantasies in the digital dream world. When a co-worker sends her pictures of a murdered girl and is then killed by her former employer, Carina has to track down the clue to the murder, a case that could have a profound impact on herself and the world.
Image: Mythic Island Press
The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata
One of my favorite trilogies of all time is Linda Nagata’s three The Red novels, a near-future, military science fiction series. She’s returning to military SF with The Last Good Man, about former Army pilot True Brighton. Brighton is employed at a private military company called Requisite Operations, which uses robots, artificial intelligence, and big data to enhance soldiers in the field. When she makes a scientific breakthrough, it leaves her questioning everything. Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a coveted star rating, saying that the book is a “thrilling novel that lays bare the imminent future of warfare.”
Godblind by Anna Stephens
A thousand ago, the Mireces were exiled from Rilpor for worshipping the bloodthirsty Red Gods. When Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, arrives at the border, she threatens to undo the life that Watcher Dom Templeson has set up, letting his followers learn some of his darkest secrets. And as political tensions within Rilpor flare, the Mireces are plotting to return.
Unbreakable by Will McIntosh
Will McIntosh has written some of my favorite science fiction novels, and for his latest, Unrbeakable, he’s turning to self-publishing. Celia has never left the walls of her town: all she knows of it is that there’s an audience out there that come in once a week to watch her and her fellow residents attempt to break world records. A friend of hers is dying, and she escapes to help him. Aided by a mysterious stranger and a hostile clown, she’s going to be pushed to her limits in a strange new world.
Image: Penguin Random House
The Waking Land by Callie Bates
In this debut novel from Callie Bates, a girl named Elanna Valtai grew up in the court of King Antoine, a hostage to keep her father in check. She discovers that she has fantastic powers: she can make flowers grow in her hands, and more. However, magic has been forbidden ever since her home was conquered by the Paladis Empires two centuries ago. When the King is murdered, she flees to her homeland when she’s accused, only to find that that she no longer recognizes her home.
The Bones of the Earth by Rachel Dunne
The next entry in Rachel Dunne’s Bound Gods series, a priest named Joros has assembled a team of fighters to win the coming fight for control of the world and its mortal residents. In the preceding novel, In the Shadow of the Gods, Joros and his company burned the hand of one of the evil twin gods, Fratarro, and they’re dealing with the outcome. As they lick their wounds, Joros has to try and hold the group together, because things are going to get much harder from here on out.
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
Daryl Gregory’s has written some fantastic novels in his career, and his next looks to be just as interesting. Teddy Telemachus conned his way into a classified governmental study about telekinesis, where he met his wife, Maureen McKinnon, a real psychic. They marry, have children, and make their way around the country as performers. Then, everything changes. After withdrawing from the public eye, they’re forced to use their powers to protect themselves from criminals, the government, and the general public.
Escape Velocity by Jason M. Hough
Jason Hough’s novel Injection Burn came out earlier this week, but you won’t have long to wait for its sequel: Escape Velocity comes out at the end of June. In the first novel, Skyler Luiken is the captain of a starship headed to a distant planet to make it through the Swarm Blockage and rescue them. Along the way, they discover fellow ship captain Gloria Tsandi and her crews on the same mission.
In this second novel, they (spoilers) make their way through the Blockage, but but now they have to contend with enemies on the ground, and the return back to Earth.
Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
An alien lands on Earth and finds that he’s incredibly lonely, and works to make himself at home when he realizes that he’s not quite alone. Along the way, he finds a whole bunch of other creatures who in strange places in their lives, such as a bear who’s sad that everyone runs away from him, and a tadpole who’s contending with turning into a frog. The book is based off of the popular Twitter account, @jonnysun.
Amatka by Karin Tidbeck
Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck has written some of the best fantastic fiction that I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read her collection of Weird short stories, Jagganath, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately. Now, her novel Amatka has been translated into English for the first time. An information assistant named Vanja goes to the winter colony of Amatka to collect some intelligence on behalf of the government. However, something strange is going on, and as her visit lengthens, she discovers evidence of a plot and coverup that threatens the colony.
The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams
The first installment of the new Osten Ard series from Tad Williams is set more than 30 years after the last installment of the series, To Green Angel Tower. An envoy to the rulers of Osten Ard is attacked and left for dead, and dark rumors are swirling around the kingdom about forbidden magic. War is coming, all while King Simon works to prevent his kingdom from falling into chaos. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a star rating, saying that it’s a “richly described, meticulously plotted, and multilayered narrative tapestry featuring a diversity of adeptly developed characters and multiple storylines, this is flawless epic fantasy.”
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Known for his vocal range, the singer was found dead after a concert Wednesday night.
Chris Cornell, frontman of Soundgarden and Audioslave — and a pillar of the grunge-rock movement — has died unexpectedly at 52, reports the Associated Press. The musician was found dead at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel on Wednesday night, following a Soundgarden concert earlier that night. A medical examiner determined that Cornell killed himself by hanging; a full autopsy has yet to be completed as of Thursday afternoon.
Along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden was instrumental in shaping the Seattle rock movement that would come to be known as grunge in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Co-founded by singer and rhythm guitarist Cornell, who was born in Seattle, Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label, A&M Records — a move that some grunge purists looked at askance, but that also helped facilitate the group’s ascension to the rock mainstream.
The apex of that mainstream success was 1994’s Superunknown, an album that “both redefined and transcended grunge.” The group’s fourth album, Superunknown propelled Soundgarden to enormous commercial success, on the back of No. 1 singles like “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun,” which dominated modern-rock radio and earned the band two Grammys.
Part of what made Soundgarden stand out amid the era’s swelling grunge-rock hordes was Cornell’s voice, an extraordinarily powerful instrument with a four-octave range — he could pivot between a crystal-clear wail and a gritty rumble seemingly in the same syllable. Listening to the isolated vocals of “Black Hole Sun,” it’s easier to appreciate the astounding dynamism and control Cornell brought to a genre that was rarely associated with pristine vocals:
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 but reunited in 2010 and has been playing shows regularly since then, including the concert the night of Cornell’s death (where Cornell’s voice was reportedly still on fine display). In the interim, Cornell formed Audioslave in 2001 alongside members of Rage Against the Machine, after that band’s frontman, Zack de la Rocha, departed the group. Audioslave’s first release, the self-titled 2002 album, went triple platinum in the US and was succeeded by two follow-ups, Out of Exile and Revelations, before the band broke up in 2007.
Cornell released several solo albums following the dissolution of Audioslave, to varying degrees of success. (2009’s Scream, produced by Timbaland, was a particularly notorious flop — Trent Reznor famously called it embarrassing, provoking a feud between the two frontmen — but even the critics savaging it usually had a kind word for Cornell’s vocals.) His last full album was 2015’s generally well-received Higher Truth, which found the singer living comfortably in the territory he’d staked out in recent years: stripped-down, intimately arranged acoustic rock that allowed his vocals to take center stage.
But Cornell’s solo career never consistently hit the commercial or critical highs of his work with Soundgarden and Audioslave, which is perhaps why the singer kept returning to the rock band model via other projects. In addition to reforming Soundgarden, Cornell reunited with Audioslave earlier this year at the Trump-protesting Anti-Inaugural Ball, the band’s first performance in more than a decade.
Cornell famously struggled with both drug abuse and alcoholism throughout his career; he claimed in 1994 to have been a daily drug user by age 13, and reportedly sobered up and relapsed multiple times over the years. In 2009, he dryly described himself as a “pioneer” of OxyContin, an addiction to which nearly torpedoed his life and career until he went to rehab in 2002. He had reportedly remained sober from then until his death.
While the details of Cornell’s death are still coming to light, the music world is loudly mourning a man, and a voice, who helped redefine modern rock music. Despite a restless career and personal life, Cornell was a near-constant, almost comforting presence in the rock scene, consistently bouncing back and releasing new music and performing live — literally up until the night he died.
RIP Chris Cornell
Incredibly Missed. http://pic.twitter.com/pKNI4tKiXz
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) May 18, 2017
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) May 18, 2017
Chris Cornell. Damn. Was legit just playing "Outshined" yesterday. Such a loss.
— St. Vincent (@st_vincent) May 18, 2017
Chris Cornell? Doesn’t even seem possible. What an incredible talent. Me and teenage me are both heartbroken.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) May 18, 2017
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