Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King
Release Date:  Early May
I’m already on record as being a fan of Stephen King, and his son Joe Hill, so it’s hardly going to be surprising that I’m pretty excited about this new collaboration he’s written with his other son Owen. Even if I wasn’t already a fan however, this book would still have caught my eye. Sleeping Beauties is set a world just like ours, not long in the future. The big difference is that when women go to sleep they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. Try to remove it or wake them up and they fly into a violent feral rage. The abandoned men can only watch as the women seem to hover between life and death or perhaps between this world and another. It has been calculated by some that, if you include all domestic purchases and labour, that as much as 70% of the world’s economic activity is carried out by women. The rift caused by their comatose state is catastrophic and potentially apocalyptic. In the chaos, word spreads of a mysterious woman named Evie who is immune to the sleeping disease, if that’s what it is. In a small Appalachian town a group of men will have to decide what Evie is. Should she be hunted or studied? Is she the cause or the cure, demon or angel? A peculiar yet pertinent new book from the world’s favourite horror writer collaborating for the first time with his son. 
star wars
Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
Release Date:  Mid may
For many people the release of Star Wars and their subsequent viewing of it was a transformative experience, it certainly was for me. The movie was a shade over two hours long, but managed to give the audience an experience that felt much bigger. This book takes that feeling and makes it real. It’s a collection of forty stories from forty authors, all of which happen during the film. These are the stories out of our line of sight or perhaps the parts that happened before we arrived, sometimes told by characters we barely noticed. But all of them tie to the Star Wars we know while delivering something new. A bartender shouts at a pair of droids entering his cantina, and a moment later sees something that reminds him of a day from his youth. A day of battledroids and fear and swords of light. What happened to the Stormtroopers that couldn’t find the droids they were looking for? What did that tiny squeeking droid on the Deathstar actually do? What was the thing in the garbage disposal? They all have stories to tell, as do Grand Moff Tarkin, Captain Antilles and others you’ll know though you don’t know their names. Authors like Ken LiuChuck WendigChristie GoldenNnedi OkoroforPierce BrownMur Lafferty and more than thirty others, have each taken a tiny moment of Star Wars and made it bigger. The stories themselves are quite short, but still great fun and I dare any serious Star Wars fan not be completely drawn into this book. 
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Release Date:  Early Apr
This is not a new book, but since there’s a new television series based on it on the way I thought it worth mentioning. The book is based on the events of Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition while attempting to find the theorised North-West Passage. In reality, the details of how the expedition became trapped and perished are sketchy and based on relics and examined bodies. There are multiple scenarios that are possible from the evidence including lead poisoning induced madness and cannibalism. Dan Simmons adds a further element in the form of a malign supernatural force, as if the perfectly real situations were not terrifying enough. This is intense atmospheric horror over nine hundred pages, with a lot of characters (at the beginning anyway). The Terror was published in 2007 and Simmons used all the information available at the time. Since then however the two ships of the expedition have been found, one in 2014 and the other in 2016 and the series writers have said that they’ve incorporated new information from the discoveries. I’m not sure how different the series will be from the book, but the book is seriously creepy and definitely worth a look on its own merits. 


84K by Claire North
Release Date:  Late May
I’m a big fan of Claire North but I’d struggle to fit her books into any neat genre slot. She uses science fiction and supernatural elements in her books, and because they’re all stand-alone books it’s a different thing each time. In 84K we are introduced to a world where the capitalist model had been applied to everything, even crime. It is the job of those at the Criminal Audit Office to work out exactly what the negative impact of a crime is, and assign it a monetary value. That value is the debt owed to society by the criminal. The effect is that if you are rich enough you can get away with just about anything perfectly legally. Theo works for the CAO and is used to these sorts of calculations, but when his ex-lover is killed he finds that it’s a lot harder to trust in the numbers and the system. Told through multiple voices in different timelines, this is dystopian book that explores the impact that wealth and power inequities can have a society. 
Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden
Release Date:  Mid May
When I first heard about this I was expecting yet another treatment of the battles of Marathon and/or Thermopylae (The 300 etc). When a bit more information arrived I discovered that it was in fact a book about one of my favourite stories from antiquity, Xenophon’s March of the Ten Thousand also known as the Anabasis. About eighty years after the end of the Persian Wars with Greece and Persia at peace Cyrus, the brother of the Current King of Persia Ataxerxes II, hires ten thousand mercenaries from a variety of Greek City States with the intent of using them to overthrow his brother. One of them is an Athenian named Xenophon. Things go awry, and the Greeks soon find themselves stranded 1500 miles from home in a hostile land. What they do to survive and their journey back to Greece under constant threat and danger is one of the great military stories. Conn Iggulden‘s ability to evoke the ancient world and its people is well established, and I can think of no-one I’d rather see tell this story. Like last year’s book Dunstan, Falcon of Sparta is a standalone title and not part of a series. 
Last Hour by Harry Sidebottom
Release Date:  Early May
When I first heard about this one I was expecting yet another book set in Rome set somewhere between Julius Caesar and Vespasian like so much of the Roman historical fiction at the moment. I was in for a bit of a surprise because this is set in AD265 at a time when the Roman Empire has split into three competing states and was beset by civil war, invasion and plague. It’s middle of a chaotic period known as the Crisis of the Third Century, AD235-284. A time of near endless turmoil and power struggles, a fifty year span that had twenty six claimants to the title of Emperor with reigns that ranged from fifteen years to twenty-one days. Conspirators and assassination plots are everywhere. A wounded man is chased to a precipice over a river and jumps. He crawls from the river barely alive but sure of three things. 1: He has been betrayed, 2: those responsible have convinced the authorities he is a dangerous criminal and 3: He has twenty four hours to stop them from killing the Emperor. This is a classic thriller idea, just relocated to 3rd Century Rome. I can see this one being popular with historical fiction fans and thriller fans open to a new kind of setting.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Release Date:  Late May
I’m a big fan of Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. So much so that it was one of the early books I set for our store book club. It was first published in 1818, which make this year its bicentennial. To celebrate this Penguin are releasing a special edition of the original 1818 text along with a selection of commentaries and essays. It seems that the book that Mary Shelley initially sought to publish is not the same as the one we all know. I don’t know how different this version is from the one I know, which is part of why I’m so eager to get a copy of this. I’m expecting to learn a lot about Mary Shelley‘s thoughts on society and politics, as well as how publishers had an effect on what ended up in print. 
Semiosis by Sue Burke
Release Date:  Early May
There is quite a lot of buzz about this debut science fiction novel, and for a lot of good reasons. Firstly, it’s got some very cool alien first contact in the form of intelligent plant and insect life. Secondly, it’s got a multi-generational narrative structure which allow the book to explore really big ideas about colonisation and species interaction. It begins with a group of people fleeing a troubled Earth to settle the idyllic planet Pax. They’ve plans for a perfect and fair society but discover that the planet is already home to intelligent life that has its own ideas about what should and shouldn’t happen on the world. Over the book we follow successive generations as they explore and learn more about the planet and eventually find their place in it. The book reads a bit like a collection of linked short stories as it moves from era to era, but there is a bigger linking narrative and it feels more like a novel than a collection. I’m always up for new and clever science fiction and this certainly fits the bill. 
Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
Release Date: Early May
This is the small format version of a book I reviewed last year. Since it’s a cheaper price point and a great book I think it’s worth mentioning again. The short description is that it’s a bit like if Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Midsomer Murders. The rural English town of Rotherweird is home to more than the usual number of eccentrics, except that many of the strange things they say happen to be true. There is magic on the moors and unnatural sounds from the woods and the new school teacher from out of town has heard some disturbing things about what happened to his predecessor. This is the first in a new series with the second Wyntertyde, due out in large format this month. It’s quirky and odd with a little bit of magic and quite a lot of country England. It’s a light read but good fun and episodic, so there is an ending of sorts at the end of the book as well as a set up for future stories. 


Fight Club 2 by Chuk Palahniuk
Release Date:  Early May
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the shelves in the store will know that aside from a few book tie-ins I don’t really do graphic novels and comic books anymore. This is because there are already some very good stores nearby who specialise in that sort of thing, and I’d rather concentrate on what we do best. That said, I’m also a monster Chuck Palahniuk fan and since this particular story is only available as a graphic novel I’m getting some. Fight Club was set in the late nineties, and the anarchistic Tyler Durden was its apocalyptic angel. It the aftermath of his failure (if he did fail, at the end of the book there are hints that suggest otherwise) Tyler, or at least the Tyler personality, dies. Now we live in a world with even more political and social tension, a greater gap between rich and poor and with an even more self destructive addiction to vacuous entertainment and pointless consumption. It’s one where Tyler’s former host lives a heavily medicated, boring and empty life, just the environment that could call Tyler forth. 
The Legend of Zelda Encyclopaedia
Release Date:  Mid June
This one is not out until June but there are a few reasons why I want folks to know about it a bit early. Firstly it’s expensive so I won’t be getting lots of them until I know how many Zelda fans there are out there who want one. Also there are two editions, a $70 one and a super deluxe one for $130. These 320 page hardcovers gather together concept art, screencaps, maps as well as notes on lore and characters form thirty years of The Legend of Zelda game franchise. I really have no idea how many of these are going to be available and for how long, particularly the deluxe edition so I’m giving folks a heads up to let me know if you want one so I can get all my orders in for the first wave. 
Circe by Madeline Miller
Release Date:  Early May
This is one for folklore fans, particularly if you like Greek mythology. It’s the story of Circe the sorceress who, in The Odyssey, seduces Odysseus and turns his crew into pigs. Eventually he escapes, but the question remains. Who is Circe and how did she come to have such power and yet be exiled on a remote island? In this book we get to see Circe‘s journey from her childhood among the gods to becoming a witch who can bend an entire island to her will. Full of drama and magic, this is a book that evokes the supernatural world of the classical Greeks where gods, monsters and mortals co-existed. This is another book that will appeal to a variety of readers, folklore fans of course but also those who like richly woven drama with exotic locations an characters and anyone who enjoys  the powerful and interesting women of legend getting to tell their own stories.