Science fiction and fantasy have long been among the most popular, well-loved and fervently-supported book genres, with good reason. Nothing takes readers away on escapist adventures like lush new worlds with people, situations and rules entirely different from what we know. With generous, extensive detail consuming the pages of any fantasy, it is far too easy to become completely immersed and rapt within the universe presented by the visionary minds behind the stories. Although occasionally chided for being a bit geeky, sci fi and fantasy books offer new worlds and opportunities like no other genre can provide. We say let your nerd flag fly and check out some of our fantastic, out-of-this-world selections!
By Kevin J. Anderson,
Based on a story and lyrics Neil Peart
ECW Press, 9781770411210, h/b, £16.99 (October 2012)
Soon to be released, Clockwork Angels is a project like no other. For starters, it was created in a unique collaboration between Neil Peart (yes, we are most definitely talking about the legendary drummer and lyricist of Rush) and prolific sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson.
Working closely with Peart, Anderson has adapted the epic adventure told in Rush’s latest concept album into an immense, full-length literary journey. Imagine if someone had written the novel of The Wall, Tommy or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when those classic albums were released. For fans of the multi-platinum band Rush, Clockwork Angels: The Novel is that project. A legend in his own right, Kevin J. Anderson is responsible for over 115 novels – more than 50 of them are bestsellers, but who’s counting? – including spinoff novels for Star Wars and The X Files, as well as the prequels for Dune. His original works include, among others, the massively popular The Saga of Seven Suns series (Simon & Schuster) and the Terra Incognita series (Orbit). Phew. Too much talent for one little blog post.
And now for the story… The novel centres on a young man’s quest to follow his dreams. He cries out both in the novel and in the album’s first single, Caravan: “I can’t stop thinking big in a world where I feel so small.” He is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos, travelling through a lavish and colourful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals and a rigid watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. Released in conjunction with the album of the same name, Clockwork Angels: The Novel is the perfect compendium to Rush’s newest progressive rock masterpiece. However, you don’t have to be a Rush fan to enjoy the novel on its own.
By Rudy Rucker
PM Press, 9781604863093, p/b, £8.99
In this outrageous new Cyberpunk adventure, Rudy Rucker (a.k.a. the original “Mad Professor” of cyberpunk) infiltrates fundamentalist Virginia to witness the apocalyptic clash between Bible-thumpers and Saucer Demons at a country club barbecue. In case that isn’t enough, he also manages to undress in orbit to explore the future of foreplay in freefall, only to later don the robe of a Transreal Lifestyle Adviser with how-to tips on how one can manipulate the Fourth Dimension to master everyday tasks like finding an apartment and dispatching a tiresome lover! In short, Surfing the Gnarl is a surreal, noir-esque, quantum physics-infused novel from an author who has not once, but twice won the Phillip K. Dick Award.
By Jonathan Pinnock
Salt, 9781907773136, p/b, £8.99
A year or two into her marriage, Elizabeth Darcy has much on her mind: she has still not produced an heir to Mr. Darcy, there are preparations to be made for the Pemberly summer ball and her youngest sister, Lydia, has been abducted by aliens. Yes. We said “aliens.” As Regency England sleepwalks toward tentacle oblivion, will Elizabeth be able to reunite with her old foe Wickham and put a stop to their evil, extraterrestrial plans? Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens is probably the most unconventional sequel to a Jane Austen novel ever written. It is certainly the funniest.
By Stephan Wul
Creation Oneiros Books, 9781902197319, p/b, £9.95
Stephan Wul’s Oms En Série is a classic of Science Fiction from the glory days in the late 50’s. It is also the inspiration for the award-winning 1973 animated film La Planète Sauvage. Fantastic Planet is the first English translation of this book, which depicts a tale of the last surviving humans being taken from Earth to the wild planet Ygam by the traags, a race of blue-skinned, red-eyed giants. Here they become known as oms, used as lowly servants and regarded as savages. But little by little, led by a young man of superior intelligence named Terr, the oms regain their thirst for liberty and rise up against the draags to affirm their humanity in the face of oppression. Fantastic Planet’s simple story-line is vividly depicted by author Wul with fantastic detail and a stirring mythopoeic resonance.
Sparks Fly: A Novel of the Light Dragons
By Katie MacAlister
Signet US, 9780451236531, p/b, £6.99
If your idea of fantasy is less science fiction and more along the lines of a steamy paranormal romance, then we can’t recommend Katie MacAlister enough. She has more than 30 books under her belt, many of which have been on bestseller lists. In her most recently published book, Sparks Fly, Hell hath no fury like an angry dragon. When the First Dragon has Ysolde de Bouchier in his sights, demanding that she must right her former wrongs. With time running out, Ysolde solicits the help of some familiar friends and sets into motion an elaborate plan that will have repercussions throughout both the mortal and immortal worlds. But when a member of her family is held hostage, no one is safe from the fire of her rage. Check out the whole Light Dragons series, or take your pick of plenty of other Katie MacAlister titles on our website.