UNMISSABLE BOOKS PREVIEW
Clear some shelf space! Jonathan Wright looks ahead to 10 of next year’s hottest novels
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.