There are tons of great new books in January. These are all the science fiction and fantasy books that should be on your radar this month.
A conman and his sidekick need to get out of the oasis city of Aransa in a hurry, because he’s pulled one con too many. Luckily, there’s a totally beautiful airship moored in town, just waiting to be stolen. Too bad a shapeshifter is murdering everybody in sight, and things are about to get messy. Koeur’s Book Reviews says, “Holy shjtballz this was good. The storyline and world building were impeccable as were the depth of the characters that inhabited it.”
Tim Powers is one of the greats, and with this novel he takes us back to the Hollywood of the silent film era, for a story about addiction, obsession and time travel. Two orphaned siblings go to visit their cousins, who are a recovering addict and a hermit, in a grand old house in the Hollywood hills. The result, writes Catherynne M. Valente, is “a twisted journey” in which “delights abound.”
In this novel, a family is hauling their messed-up uncle across the country for one last attempt at rehab, but they get caught in a snow storm. They’re forced to spend the night at a mysterious Shining-esque hotel, where they get lost in its confusing corridors and lulled by its weird powers. The Portland Mercury says, “the fallible and relatable characters make for good company in the punchy cabin-fever atmosphere.”
When aliens want to move among us on Earth, they often cause a lot of trouble — so they’ve created their own race of fake humans, known as Servs, to clean up after them. Lucy was left on Earth as a baby and raised by human parents, and she doesn’t realize she’s actually an alien plant until she reaches adulthood. And then she gets implicated in the death of a Serv child, and everything goes sideways. Kirkus calls it “high-caliber, often engrossing literary sci-fi,” but warns it’s a bit slow at first.
Publishers Weekly calls this book “astonishingly good” in its starred review. A retired general goes looking for a spy that’s gone missing in a country that used to be ruled by the goddess of war and death. Once there, she reunites with an old comrade in arms, along with the daughter of a great assassin.
David is a very unusual burglar — he’s a lucid dreamer who has dreams of being at the bottom of the sea, where the vividness of his imagination keeps a bubble of breathable atmosphere around him. And in the city that he dreams up, he breaks into houses and steals things — and then, when he wakes up, he coughs up whatever he’s stolen. There’s a whole organization that fences ectoplasmic stolen goods. Edward Gauvin, who translated this book into English, writes that “An air of noir black as squid ink suffuses Serge Brussolo’s most celebrated novel… Word by word, phrase by phrase, Brussolo’s world seeps in through your pores, gets under your skin, and starts crawling around.”
This short story collection not only has a fantastic title, it’s also getting rave reviews. In one story, a woman turns herself into a giant panda to help with breeding efforts. In another, a man is growing a horn on his head and this causes some distress. A lot of the stories deal with the question of life after death. Publishers Weekly’s starred review calls this book “witty” and “insightful.”
This book has a neat concept: Nat Morgan is a CIA agent who can’t be remembered, thanks to some weird quantum thingy. If you meet him, you forget a moment later that you ever saw him. Even his boss needs constant reminding that he exists. Until Nat meets a Russian spy named Yalena whose mission is in conflict with his own — and she remembers him. And they’re handcuffed together. The Deseret News says, “Overall,Unforgettable is a memorable novel in which Stone packs many adventures and new technology that is both exciting and frightening if it gets into the wrong hands.”
This is another one of those novels that jumps between different time periods. In 1878, a woman living in an old New England house gets obsessed with a gruesome murder involving a severed face and arsenic. In 2014, another woman living in that same house starts delving into its weird history after a series of unexplained happenings, such as her daughter’s bruise. Publishers Weekly gives it a starred review and says, “Arsenualt’s gift for letting readers feel the characters’ anguish from the inside while showing their irrational strangeness from the outside makes for terror that sticks.”
I hope some of them you’ll find interesting enough. Have a good reading.