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Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Science Fiction


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Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Science Fiction


Published on September 26, 2011

Every month, Fiction Affliction provides a handy reference of the science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and young adult paranormal coming out in the ensuing month. Today’s column examines SCIENCE FICTION.

The Symptoms: That isn’t thunder—it’s the sound of battle for bragging rights. What will rule science fiction as the real Last Frontier? Dystopian Earth, or Deep Space?

The Diagnosis: Twelve new science fiction books launch in October: six dystopian or post-apocalyptic tales, with and without resultant zombies; five space operas; and a jack-of-all-trades anthology.

The Cure: Send the zombies into space, bring the noble space warriors back home to terra firma, and—voila—all is well.

Firestorm: Destroyermen, by Taylor Anderson (Oct. 4, Roc)

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker find themselves caught between the nation they swore to defend and the allies they promised to protect. For even as the Allies and the Empire of New Britain Isles stand united against the attacks of both the savage Grik and the tenacious Japanese, the “Holy Dominion”—a warped mixture of human cultures whose lust for power overshadows even the Grik—is threatening to destroy them both with a devastating weapon neither can withstand.

Necropolis, by Michael Dempsey (Oct. 4, Night Shade)

Fifty years ago, before being shot in a “random” crime, Paul Donner was an NYPD detective with a drinking problem and a marriage on the rocks. Now, revived by the Shift, a process that reanimates dead DNA, Donner searches for those responsible for the destruction of his life. His quest for retribution leads him to the heart of the mystery surrounding the Shift’s origin and up against those who would use it to control a terrified nation.

Survivors, by James Wesley Rawles (Oct. 4, Atria)

In this followup to Patriots, James Wesley Rawles tells the story of a group of people who must rise above incredible odds if they are to survive the collapse of the world we live in. America is in the thrall of a full-scale socioeconomic breakdown. The stock market plummets, hyperinflation destroys the value of the dollar, and the population, unprepared for hardship, panics. Practically overnight, the high technology infrastructure and chains of supply collapse and wholesale rioting and looting grip every city. Law enforcement, transportation, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies are all in the past now, as the country staggers beneath its own weight. Lawless bands of killers roam the countryside, leaving devastation in their wake and now that the government is gone, the Constitution is at stake. Who will carry on?

Frail, by Joan Frances Turner (Oct. 4, Ace)

Being human is a disadvantage in post-apocalyptic America. Now that the Feeding Plague has swept through human and zombie societies, it seems like everyone is an “ex” these days. Ex-human. Ex-zombie. Except for Amy. She’s the only human survivor from her town—a frail. And if the feral dogs, the flesh-eating exes, and the elements don’t get her, she just may discover how this all began. Because in this America, life is what you make it. Second in the Dust series.

Phobos, by Steve Alten (Oct. 11, Tor)

For two thousand years, the Mayan Calendar has prophesied the end of mankind on a date equating to Dec. 21, 2012. Steve Alten’s third book in the Mayan Prophecy series, is a doomsday rollercoaster ride that follows Immanuel Gabriel to the end of the world and back again for one last shot at salvation. During Immanuel’s journey with his deceased grandfather, archaeologist Julius Gabriel, Julius reveals everything the Mayans knew and feared—from the secrets of creation that predate the Big Bang to the existence of extraterrestrials that have come to Earth to save our species. The universe is not what it seems, nor is human existence. The ticking clock of physicality that begins at conception and terminates with our final breath is neither the end nor the beginning, but an elaborate ruse constructed as a test—and we are failing miserably.

The Children of the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (Oct. 11, Tor)

After nearly twenty years, Vernor Vinge has produced a sequel to his memorable bestselling novel A Fire Upon the Deep. Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power, no matter the cost.

Technicolor Ultra Mall, by Ryan Oakley (Oct. 15, Edge)

The world’s ecosystems have been destroyed by genetic pollution and cities have evolved into mega malls. Budgie is a knife wielding, brass knuckled young man from the impoverished and brutal red section of Toronto’s T-Dot Center. When his best friend is murdered and Budgie falls in love with the woman responsible, he learns that there’s more to life than drugs, blood or money. To escape his past he must give up everything and everyone he knows and sell his perceptions to an enigmatic and dangerous gang leader.

The Butcher of Anderson Station, by James S.A. Corey (Oct. 17, Orbit)

A new story set in the world of the Expanse. One day, Colonel Fred Johnson will be hailed as a hero to the system. One day, he will meet a desperate man in possession of a stolen spaceship and a deadly secret and extend a hand of friendship. But long before he became the leader of the Outer Planets Alliance, Fred Johnson had a very different name: The Butcher of Anderson Station. James S.A. Corey is a pen name for the writing collaboration of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Zone One, by Colson Whitehead (Oct. 18, Doubleday)

In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilization under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world. And then things start to go wrong.

The Clone Redemption, by Steven L. Kent (Oct. 25, Ace)

Earth, 2516 A.D.: The Unified Authority has spread human colonies across the Milky Way, keeping strict order with a powerful military made up almost entirely of clones. But now the clones have formed their own empire, and they aim to keep it…no matter who they must defeat. Seventh in the Rogue Clone series.

Kris Longknife: Daring, by Mike Shepherd (Oct. 25, Ace)

Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife leads a reconnaissance mission of the vast uncharted regions of space. No one, least of all Kris, expects to find a hostile alien starship. Now, she must determine the extent of the alien threat—and whether to start an interstellar war. Ninth in the Kris Longknife series.

Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ian Whates (Oct. 25, Solaris)

Solaris Rising is the first in a new series of anthologies to feature all-original short stories. Authors in this volume include Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Paul di Filippo, Adam Roberts, Lavie Tidhar, Ian Watson, Ken MacLeod, Mike Resnick, Tricia Sullivan, Eric Brown, and Steve Rasnic Tem.

Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.

About the Author

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Suzanne Johnson


Urban fantasy author with a new series, set in immediate post-Katrina New Orleans, starting with ROYAL STREET on April 10, 2012, from Tor Books. Urban fantasy author with a new series, set in immediate post-Katrina New Orleans, starting with ROYAL STREET on April 10, 2012, from Tor Books.
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