UN­MISS­ABLE BOOKS PRE­VIEW

Clear some shelf space! Jonathan Wright looks ahead to 10 of next year’s hottest nov­els

SFX - - The Unmissable 2018 Preview -

bbc books

He was rub­bish at fin­ish­ing projects, but Dou­glas Adams was rarely stumped for ideas. Based on newly dis­cov­ered material in the Adams ar­chive, James Goss works up a tale in which the Doc­tor prom­ises to take Ro­mana to the end of the uni­verse. As the ti­tle hints, cricket is in­volved in a tale that cer­tainly has fa­mil­iar el­e­ments if you’re a Hitch­hik­ers fan.

blooms­bury chil­dren’s books

Read­ing YA books after her youngest child was born, Ir­ish res­i­dent and South African émi­gré Wat­son re­alised she wanted to write her own YA fan­tasy. The Wren Hunt, the tale of Wren Silke, a girl caught be­tween two an­cient mag­ics, is the re­sult. With Blooms­bury’s track record, we sus­pect this may find an adult au­di­ence along the way, too.

harper­voy­ager

is re­ceiv­ing rave pre-pub­li­ca­tion re­views. It’s the first vol­ume in a fan­tasy tril­ogy that draws on Mughal Em­pire his­tory, the Sunni-Shia conflict, and both Per­sian and In­dian folk­lore. Ex­pect a tale of djinns and spir­its seen through the eyes of a hu­man con artist. Chakraborty her­self is a his­tory buff based in Queens, New York.

or­bit

Still min­ing the rich vein of high-con­cept ideas that have taken her slip­stream fic­tion to the main­stream with the likes of The First Fif­teen

Lives Of Harry Au­gust, Touch and The Sud­den Ap­pear­ance Of Hope, North imag­ines a dystopian world where any crime can be com­mit­ted with­out pun­ish­ment – so long as you have the means to pay a fee. But what will asses­sor Theo, who works in the Crim­i­nal Au­dit Of­fice, do when his ex-lover is mur­dered?

ti­tan books

It’s been more than a decade since we heard from Levy, one of the most orig­i­nal yet mys­ti­fy­ingly un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated voices in Brit SF. His new novel is set in a fu­ture where hu­man­ity has colonised space, but nev­er­the­less re­mains con­nected via the “Af­ter­Life”. On the planet Bleak, a po­lice­man is mur­dered, lead­ing a writer, Raisa, to a story span­ning cen­turies of cor­rup­tion.

Jo Fletcher books

Hus­tle meets Fire­fly. Yes, that’s a hell of an el­e­va­tor pitch that will take some liv­ing up to. Still, ed­i­tor and Fletcher books supremo Jo was the per­son who pub­lished Alas­tair Reynolds over at Gol­lancz back in the day, so if she’s choos­ing War­wick­based Dul­ley’s de­but as her im­print’s first space opera, we’re in. Ex­pect a space grifter, a ship that’s seen bet­ter days and lots of ad­ven­ture.

gol­lancz

It’s 1938 and the Bri­tish Em­pire en­com­passes Sum­mer­land, a metropo­lis for the re­cently de­ceased. But power in the af­ter­life is be­ing con­tested via Soviet in­fil­tra­tion, which sets a pretty prob­lem for SIS agent Rachel White: how do you catch a dead man? Ra­janiemi’s fol­low-up to his Quan­tum Thief tril­ogy should fur­ther es­tab­lish him as one of SF’s lead­ing lights.

hod­der & stoughton

The third stand­alone of­fer­ing in the Way­far­ers series finds those aboard the gen­er­a­tional Ex­o­dus Fleet, de­scended from hu­mans who left Earth, ask­ing dif­fi­cult ques­tions of the what’s-it-all-about? va­ri­ety. Thank heav­ens Cham­bers’ Kick­starter cam­paign to get her de­but pub­lished suc­ceeded back in 2014 be­cause her meld­ing of so­ci­o­log­i­cal SF and space opera sto­ries set in the Ga­lac­tic Com­mons makes for spell­bind­ing fic­tion.

macmil­lan

The big beast of Brit space opera re­turns with a tril­ogy set in a new fic­tional uni­verse. The set-up alone makes us want to know more: in 2204, an aban­doned alien space­ship is lo­cated in an un­in­hab­ited star sys­tem 90 light years from Earth. Mys­te­ri­ously, it car­ries hu­mans held in sus­pen­sion. A team is sent to in­ves­ti­gate. We doubt this will end well.

head oF zeus

In 1967, four fe­male sci­en­tists, dubbed the pi­o­neers, in­vent a time ma­chine in Cum­bria. Fast-for­ward to 2016 and Ruby Re­bello’s gran doesn’t talk much about her work back then. Then Ruby re­ceives a news­pa­per clip­ping from the fu­ture, which re­ports the mur­der of an el­derly lady – could it be Ruby’s Granny B? A slip­stream de­but that looks hugely in­trigu­ing.

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