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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Top Five Expected Novels of 2015 - First Half (by Liviu Suciu)


While I keep a continually updated list of wanted books on Goodreads, I thought about presenting my top five expected novels of the first half of 2015. In the later part of the year there are some hugely anticipated releases like the next Safehold book by David Weber (Hell's Foundations Quiver), the new announced novel from Kate Morton, a possible new book from KJ Parker (Savages, announced a while ago though nothing heard since), new books from Christian Cameron (Salamis, Tom Swan 10-12, maybe more), Serge Brussolo's sequel to Frontiere Barbare - Anges de Fer, Paradis d'Acier, but for now I will limit myself to books that have clear publication dates until June 2015. 

The five choices below comprise two sf novels from favorite authors Neal Stephenson and Neal Asher, where after some books which did not interest me that much (Reamde and The Owner trilogy respectively), I expect a return to what put these authors on my asap list.

Then two literary novels with sff overtones, one from Sarah Hall who has been a must since her awesome How to Paint a Dead Man and then the debut novel from Laura van den Berg which seems quite interesting, while I really enjoyed the several short stories I've read from her. I will also note that an excerpt from Sarah Hall's upcoming The Wolf Border has appeared in the Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4, excerpt that made me want the novel asap.

Finally, the one must fantasy for me in the next several months is the new novel from LE Modesitt, as I loved the 8 Imager books to date quite a lot and their universe has become one of my all time favorite fantasy setting.

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When the moon blows up, the earth’s atmosphere is predicted to go through changes that will eventually lead to a Hard Rain, a meteorite storm that could last for thousands of years, rendering the earth’s surface uninhabitable. In preparation, the nations of the earth send an ark of humans to an International Space Station. But the Station isn’t immune to the galactic catastrophe and many of its people are lost, mostly men. When stability is reached, only seven humans remain, all of them women. 

Jump forward thirty thousand years. Two peoples exist: those who survived on Earth, living rustic, primitive lives; and those who derived from the Seven Eves of the space station, affluent, sophisticated, organized sects looking to colonize the surface of earth. Stephenson’s next novel is an epic potboiler, with political and military intrigue, and plenty to say about evolution, genetic engineering, and civilization as we know it.

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For almost a decade Rachel Caine has turned her back on home, kept distant by family disputes and her work monitoring wolves on an Idaho reservation. But now, summoned by the eccentric Earl of Annerdale and his controversial scheme to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to the English countryside, she is back in the peat and wet light of the Lake District. 

The earl's project harks back to an ancient idyll of untamed British wilderness - though Rachel must contend with modern-day concessions to health and safety, public outrage and political gain - and the return of the Grey after hundreds of years coincides with her own regeneration: impending motherhood, and reconciliation with her estranged family.

The Wolf Border investigates the fundamental nature of wilderness and wildness, both animal and human. It seeks to understand the most obsessive aspects of humanity: sex, love, and conflict; the desire to find answers to the question of our existence; those complex systems that govern the most superior creature on earth.

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Four centuries after its founding, Solidar’s Collegium of Imagers is in decline, the exploits of its founder, the legendary Quaeryt, largely forgotten. The Collegium is so lacking in leadership that the dying Maitre must summon Alastar, an obscure but talented senior imager from Westisle far to the south who has little knowledge of politics in the capital, as his successor. When Alastar arrives in L’Excelsis and becomes the new Maitre, he finds disarray and lack of discipline within the Collegium, and the ruler of Solidar so hated by the High Holders that they openly refer to him as being mad.

To make matters worse, neither Rex Ryen, ridiculed as Rex Dafou, nor the High Holders have any respect for the Collegium, and Alastar finds himself in the middle of a power struggle, with Ryen demanding that the Collegium remove the strongest High Holders and the military leadership in turn plotting to topple Ryen and destroy the Collegium. At the same time, Ryen is demanding the High Holders pay a massive increase in taxes while he initiates a grandiose building project. And all that, Alastar discovers, is only a fraction of the problems he and the Collegium face.

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After two acclaimed story collections, Laura van den Berg brings us Find Me, her highly anticipated debut novel—a gripping, imaginative, darkly funny tale of a young woman struggling to find her place in the world.

Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune. When Joy’s immunity gains her admittance to a hospital in rural Kansas, she sees a chance to escape her bleak existence. There she submits to peculiar treatments and follows seemingly arbitrary rules, forming cautious bonds with other patients—including her roommate, whom she turns to in the night for comfort, and twin boys who are digging a secret tunnel.

As winter descends, the hospital’s fragile order breaks down and Joy breaks free, embarking on a journey from Kansas to Florida, where she believes she can find her birth mother, the woman who abandoned her as a child. On the road in a devastated America, she encounters mysterious companions, cities turned strange, and one very eerie house. As Joy closes in on Florida, she must confront her own damaged memory and the secrets she has been keeping from herself.

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Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost.

Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human…

Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her cross-hairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it’s clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?

Dark Intelligence is the explosive first novel in a brand new trilogy from military SF master Neal Asher and a new chapter in his epic Polity Universe.

2 comments:

Bob R Milne said...

Neal Stephenson is always such a challenging read, but utterly compelling - I always come away having learned something. As for the Safehold series, I have some serious catching up to do there.

Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard said...

Nice choices, and all new to me (though of course some of the authors' names are quite familiar.) I'm looking forward to Jim C. Hines's Unbound (just out on Tuesday) and Rachel Hartman's Shadow Scale (if it's as good as Seraphina, it will be fantastic).

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