The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
Release Date: Late Aug
Contrary to popular belief, the Trojan saga does not end with the death of Achilles and Hector in the fall of Troy, indeed it continues, particularly in Euripides play The Trojan Women. Whether or not this has been the inspiration for Pat Barker’s new book The Women of Troy, I cannot tell at this stage. What I can tell you is that it is about the same characters – the women who survive the fall of Troy – Briseis, Amina, Hecuba – and what they need to do to survive in a destroyed kingdom overrun by Greeks. This is going to be a fascinating read, particularly since Silence of the Girls offered such an interesting insight to the backstory of The Iliad, I am really looking forward to seeing what Pat Barker’s particular eye brings to this narrative and seeing how it relates to works by writers like Euripides, either to support their narrative or to critique it and then demonstrate how the voices of the women, even then, weren’t written quite the way they should have been. 

Black No More by George S Schuyler
Release Date: Early Aug
This is an interesting new addition to Penguin’s science fiction classic imprint. George Schuyler himself was an African American author, journalist and social commentator, who is rather noteworthy for shifting his position in the middle of his life from a socialist to a conservative, believing that socialists in America didn’t really feel for the plight of African Americans. Black No More was written before this shift and is a satire on race and identity through the artifice of new technology that is developed that allows for a black man to be transformed into a white man, and we follow this character and his observations having seen the world form both sides. A truly fascinating book, written by a very interesting man. Well worth a read, particularly since I suspect that it is going to transgress a lot of the traditional ideas that science fiction of that era that has for race and identity.

We Cry For Blood by Devin Madson
Release Date: Mid Aug
This is the third book in Devin’s debut fantasy series but not the last, with a fourth and final book in progress and scheduled for mid-2022. It’s set in a nation reminiscent of feudal Japan, contending with Mongol-like and Western styled societies. For folks who’ve read the first two, Miko Ts’ai is Empress of a shattered empire, desperately trying to pull the pieces together to secure her throne, unsure of who are enemies or allies while Disgraced former Captain Rah e’Torin shelters among deserters. Assassin Cassandra Marius is running out of time to thwart Leo Villius’ a plan to conquer Kisia and as Leo’s influence over the Levanti Emperor grows, Dishiva will have to make a terrible choice. If you’ve not started the series and like Asian set fantasy, or just epic time-of-war stories with complex politics and character motivation, you should probably check these out.

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison
Release Date: Early Aug
This 1966 book is probably better known to readers as the inspiration for the 1973 film Soylent Green. Like the movie, it‘s set in the future New York that is dealing with the fall out of economic collapse, massive environmental changes, overpopulation and the consequent overcrowding, starvation and crime. Against this backdrop, a city policeman is trying to solve the murder of a gangster while finding himself moving through the world of the rich and powerful and realising just how separated his society has become. As this all goes on, there is the new marketing of Soylent Green, the food product that will supposedly deal with the starvation epidemic that is plaguing the city. It’s part futuristic thriller and part social commentary on man’s inhumanity to man and also the overreach of science. It is very interesting stuff that has probably got a lot more meat on the bones (pun intended) than they have managed to capture in the film. This should be quite a good read.

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Release Date: Early Aug
Newly graduated, broke, jobless and at a loss what to do with her life, Jess decides to leave the US and return to her family’s home in Malaysia. Home is somewhat relative, since she left Malaysia as a toddler. Jess may be unsure of her place here, but Ah Ma, her grandmother is very certain. Unfortunately Ah Ma is dead, a ghost and a voice in Jess’ head. It seems that Ah Ma was a devotee of the Black Water Sister, a local deity and when a local business magnate offended her goddess. Ah Ma swore revenge. She’s chosen Jess as her vehicle to carry out this revenge from beyond the grave, whether or not Jess agrees. All families can be possessive, though not usually this literally.  Jess came home to find her authentic self, but now she’s in a desperate struggle to be in control of any version of her at all. As things with Ah Ma progress Jess will be caught up in a web  of family secrets and a world she never knew existed. A very different urban fantasy book and one for fans of the genre in the mood for a change.

Sabriel – 25th Anniversay Edition by Garth Nix
Release Date: Early Aug
I don’t think I have ever worked at a bookshop that didn’t have Sabriel and its sequels in its young adult section, and to the best of my knowledge, it has been that way consistently for the last 25 years. This is by far one of the best young adult fantasy novels I have ever read and I have pushed it into many eager young and not-so-young hands over the years. Therefore, I don’t think I need to tell too many people about the Old Kingdom and Charter magic and the Abhorsen and the magic they use to set to rights the unquiet dead and to fix the various nasty problems that occur in a world beset by evil spirits and necromancers. This is a beautiful hardcover edition with some handwritten notes from Garth, a facsimile of the some of the original hand written manuscript pages as well as a new introduction and an absolutely glorious cover. This is a book worth owning just so you have got an edition of Sabriel that will last forever. I also understand that similarly bound copies of Lirael and Abhorsen will be forthcoming, so well worth collecting now.

Ten Low by Stark Holborn
Release Date: Early Aug
I didn’t get a chance to read one of these till they arrived in the store, but I’d heard good things, so I grabbed one for myself. I opened it after dinner the same night to have a bit of a look at it and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening reading the entire book. This is a stunning and immediately captivating science fiction novel. It’s set on a barely habitable moon in a system at the edge of nowhere. It’s the place where the lost, the desperate, the hated and the abandoned wash up. It’s arid, inhospitable and everything is in short supply. It’s also Ten’s home. She’s a medic and something of an oddity. In a kill-or-be-killed world where kindness is weakness she’s a medic who helps whoever she finds. It’s altruism, but born out of a past she will not talk about. First to arrive at the site of a crashed ship Ten rescues a teenage girl, part of an alarming child-soldier project, who wants only to get back to her people. It’s a journey across a wasteland populated by marauding gangs, opportunists, cult-like organ thieves and something worse. Something that has lived on the moon since long before the first humans arrived. Something drawn to pain and suffering. There will be plenty of both on the road ahead, but the worst will be when Ten faces the truth of who and what she is. Brilliant stand-alone science fiction. Highly recommend.

A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark
Release Date: Late Aug
This is probably one of the best books I have read in the last five years. A Master of Djinn is set in the same fictional universe as Clark’s novellas, A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tramcar 15. That is, a magical version of early 20th century Cairo that in this world was never controlled by the British. It’s a modern city for the era, with tram cars and telephones, but it also has djinn and alchemically created automatons that are like robots but far more interesting. Fatma is the youngest investigator working for the Ministry of Alchemy and she is somewhat of a rising star and despite her cultural rebellion that manifests in sharp English suits, dapper ties, canes and various smart shoes, she has also got one of the finest minds the Ministry has to offer. However something in the city is rising. Someone who claims to be Al-Jahiz, the magician who brought magic & the Djinn back into the world more than fifty years ago.  It appears he can control the djinn and is wreaking havoc and killing the innocent, claiming to be displeased with what has been done with his ‘gift’. Fatma is not convinced that he really is Al-Jahiz, though the power he wields is very real. She’s determined to get to the bottom of this, preferably before Cairo is destroyed. This is the most innovative, clever steampunk/urban fantasy novel I have read ever. It’s also got a wonderful Sapphic romance subplot and is worth reading just to have the heroine’s girlfriend turn up to save the day on a steam & magic powered motorbike. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend anybody who is into steampunk or urban fantasy or Middle Eastern fantasy or just wants an adventure that will hook you all the way to the very end. This is going to be huge.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Release Date: Early Aug
I’ve been looking forward to this one arriving for a while now, since it mixes a few of my favourite genres. Fantasy, historical fiction and folklore. In a nutshell, it’s a gender-flipped retelling of the 14th century unification of China. It’s still woven around the traditional story, but takes things in a different direction. In  famine stricken village, a seer foretells a great future for an auspiciously eighth-born son. For his sister, a second-born daughter, the seer has nothing. But when the village is raided by bandits, the girl survives when her brother does not. Taking his name and identity for her own safety, she begins to wonder if perhaps she has taken his destiny as well. If there is a greatness to be claimed, could it not just as easily be hers? Achieving this will cost her more than she suspects, and there will be loss and betrayals, but she will also find things within herself that are more than just a borrowed name and destiny. There’s a lot of buzz about this one, not just for the epic story, but also for its exploration of identity and LGBT representation. It’s not super clear on the cover, but this is the first book in planned two book series which is good because folks are definitely going to want more.