We’re getting literary this week so prepare for stories that don’t follow genre rules. But they’re joined by the return of a writer who makes the rules: Guy Gavriel Kay! And, best of all (for me) this week features lots and lots of WEREWOLVES. I might be biased towards the SFF BOOK RELEASES THIS WEEK but I think you can see why!
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Albina and the Dog-Men
by Alejandro Jodorowsky, translated by Alfred MacAdam
When two women—a beautiful amnesiac albino giantess and her protector, a leather-tough woman called Crabby—arrive in this South American desert town, Albina’s otherworldly allure and unfettered sensuality turns men into wild animals. Chased at the same time by a clubfoot criminal, Albina and Crabby must fend off their aggressors before the town consumes itself in an orgy of lust and violence.
The Alchemists’ Council
by Cynthea Masson
As a new Initiate with the Alchemists’ Council, Jaden is trained to maintain the elemental balance of the world, while fending off interference by the malevolent Rebel Branch. Bees are disappearing from the pages of the ancient manuscripts in Council dimension and from the outside world, threatening its very existence. Jaden navigates alchemy’s complexities, but the more she learns, the more she begins to question Council practices. Erasure — a procedure designed not only to remove individuals from Council dimension but also from the memories of other alchemists — troubles Jaden, and she uses her ingenuity to remember one of the erased people. In doing so, she realizes the Rebel Branch might not be the enemy she was taught to fight against.
Jaden is caught between her responsibility to the Council and her growing allegiance to the rebels, as the Council finds itself at the brink of war. She is faced with an ethical dilemma involving the free will of all humanity and must decide whether or not she can save the worlds.
by Lavie Tidhar
A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.
When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.
Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.
At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive…and even evolve.
Children of Earth and Sky
by Guy Gavriel Kay
From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.
The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.
As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world.
The Last Remnant (The Fourline Trilogy 3)
by Pam Brondos
Following her forced departure from Fourline, Natalie Barns has been aching to rejoin the struggle to overthrow its evil dictator. With Soris and those she left behind constantly on her mind, Nat bides her time, determined to find a cure for the duozi—those infected by the terrifying Nala.
An unexpected discovery propels her back to those she has sworn to protect, but her reappearance in Fourline is anything but straightforward, particularly when familiar faces appear when least expected. Despite the warnings of her friends and the looming threat of the vengeful Nala queen, Nat joins the fight in Fourline, both in her mind as well as on the field of battle. Her decisions may salvage Fourline’s future but at the risk of her own horrifying fate.
The Mercy Journals
by Claudia Casper
This novel is set thirty years in the future, in the wake of a third world war. Runaway effects of climate change have triggered the collapse of nation/states and wiped out over a third of the global population. One of the survivors, a former soldier nicknamed Mercy, suffers from PTSD and is haunted by guilt and lingering memories of his family. His pain is eased when he meets a dancer named Ruby, a performer who breathes new life into his carefully constructed existence. But when his long-lost brother Leo arrives with news that Mercy’s children have been spotted, the two brothers travel into the wilderness to look for them, only to find that the line between truth and lies is trespassed, challenging Mercy’s own moral code about the things that matter amid the wreckage of war and tragedy.
by Stephen Graham Jones
He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.
For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes—always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.
The Pier Falls: And Other Stories
by Mark Haddon
The tales in Mark Haddon’s lyrical and uncompromising new collection take many forms—Victorian adventure story, science fiction, morality tale, contemporary realism—but they all showcase his virtuoso gifts as a stylist and the deep well of empathy that made his three bestselling novels so compelling.
The characters here are often isolated physically or estranged from their families, yet they yearn for connection. In aggregate the stories become a meditation on the essential aloneness of the human condition but also on the connections, however tenuous and imperfect, that link people to one another. In the title story, an unnamed narrator describes with cool precision a catastrophe that strikes a seaside town, both tearing lives apart and bringing them together.
In the prizewinning story “The Gun,” a boy’s life is marked by the afternoon he encounters a semiautomatic pistol belonging to his friend’s older brother; in “The Island,” a Greek princess is abandoned on an island by her abductor; in “The Boys Who Left Home to Learn Fear,” a group of adventurers travel deep into the Amazonian jungle but discover the gravest danger lurking among their own number; and in “The Woodpecker and the Wolf,” a woman wonders whether she has chosen to travel to Mars only to escape the entanglement of human relationships back here on Earth.
The Stealers’ War (Far Called Trilogy 3)
by Stephen Hunt
Weyland has been at war. Invaded by a technologically advanced enemy, the cities sacked, and what fragile peace remained torn apart by a civil war.
All anyone should want is a return to peace.
But Jacob Carneham still wants his revenge; and if he can lure the invaders into the mountain he can have it. He can kill them all.
If he does, there may never be peace again.
If he doesn’t, Weyland will never be free of the threat of invasion.
The northern horse lords are planning an attack. A future Empress is fighting to save her daughter. Jacob’s son is trying to restore peace and stability to Weyland, alongside the rightful King. And behind it all is a greater struggle, which may spell the end for them all.
Too Like The Lightning (Terra Ignota 1)
by Ada Palmer
Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.
The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.
And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life.
A Whisper of Southern Lights (The Assassins 2)
Death and destruction follow the demon wherever he treads, and Gabriel is rarely far behind, waiting for his chance to extinguish the creature known as Temple once and for all.
But in Singapore during the Second World War, a lone soldier in possession of a shattering secret gets caught up in their battle. The knowledge he holds could change the course of their ancient conflict… and the fate of the world.
A Whisper of Southern Lights is a standalone tale in the Assassins series
The Wolf in the Attic
by Paul Kearney
1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien… and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them.
Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake. Once upon a time, she had a mother and a brother, and they all lived together in the most beautiful city in the world, by the shores of Homer’s wine-dark sea.
But that is all gone now, and only to her doll does she ever speak of it, because her father cannot bear to hear. She sits in the shadows of the tall house and watches the rain on the windows, creating worlds for herself to fill out the loneliness. The house becomes her own little kingdom, an island full of dreams and half-forgotten memories. And then one winter day, she finds an interloper in the topmost, dustiest attic of the house. A boy named Luca with yellow eyes, who is as alone in the world as she is.
That day, she’ll lose everything in her life, and find the only real friend she may ever know.
Byron Dunn is an AISFP contributor and a friend to werewolves but, and he must stress this vigorously, he is NOT in love with an albino giantess, he is NOT running from the law with his aunt and uncle, and he is NOT hiding in an attic in 1920s Oxford.