Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
Release Date: Mid Nov
There are few forthcoming books that have as much buzz about them as this one. The previous book in the series revealed the identity of the Faceless Man, who once again evaded capture. But his identity is only the beginning, and armed with this information they can start to unravel just what the events of the last few years mean and it seems that all of his actions have been in the service of a plan that is ready to come to fruition. It’s a plan that pulls together some of the darkest aspects of London’s magical past and result in a city-wide crisis. To thwart it, Peter is going to need the help of the two people he trusts least in the world, his former partner Lesley May, who betrayed him and the Folley and joined forces with the Faceless Man, and the dark malevolent being who haunts his nightmares, the evil and murderous Mr Punch. I’ve not seen a preview of this, so I’m as much in the dark as anyone. I’ve avoided reviews because spoilers, but I’m hoping that this one ends the Faceless Man arc since I think it’s time Peter had something new to obsess about and there’s a lot more I want to know about his world.
Inside Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker
Release Date: Mid Nov
The Black Mirror television series is probably one of the biggest cult programs to come out over the last few years. It’s like a Twilight Zone for the twenty-first century that examines and challenges our social and political structures by confronting them and showing their real implications writ large. In fact, there’s a lot in the series that you wouldn’t expect to actually make it to television due to it’s confrontational nature. And that’s what interests me so much about this book. Inside Black Mirror is the journey of the series from concept to screen, primarily from series creator Charlie Brooker and producer Annabel Jones, but with additional contributions from actors, directors and others involved in creating the Black Mirror world. Over the course of the book they will de-construct each of the episodes working from inspiration and premise, through to end product. In the end it’s both a transgressive look at the problems and issues with the modern world, and how the medium of television was used to do it.
Thin Air by Richard Morgan
Release Date: Early Nov
With this book Richard Morgan returns to the setting of his 2007 book Thirteen, also published as Black Man. It’s not a problem if you haven’t read it though, since this is set generations later and with wholly new characters. It’s a gritty future world with fractured nations and states, a colony on Mars and the usual corporate and criminal organisations up to no good. Our guide is Hakan Veil an ex-corporate enforcer turned bodyguard. When the job goes wrong, his principal is kidnapped and he’s nearly killed, he set sets out with particular determination and extreme brutality to make sure that those responsible regret their actions. Trouble is that as the bodies mount, it becomes apparent that Hakan is way out of his depth and his only option is to fight his way through, whatever the personal cost. This is the kind of gritty crime-noir thriller we’ve come to expect from Richard Morgan. Fast paced and ultra-violent with plenty of profanity and a few vivid sex scenes. It’s tough guy action in space (on Mars actually) Mickey Spillane style. If you’re a fan of that sort of thing, or his earlier books or even the Netflix series based on his book Altered Carbon then it’s definitely worth adding to your summer reading list.
How Long Till Black Future Month? by N K Jemisin
Release Date: Late Nov
With her winning of a third consecutive Hugo Best Novel Award, Nora K Jemisin has cemented her position as one of the most popular speculative fiction writers in the world. Fans have been eagerly awaiting her next book and this month it arrives in the form of her first short story collection. It’s a mix of genres and subject matter but does overall reflect the underlying themes of so much of her work, engaging with ideas of resistance, inequality and otherness. But there is also hope and redemption. In these pages you’ll find a street kid who struggles to give birth to the soul of a city, a flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where magical and malevolent creatures have been washed to the surface by the disaster, a black mother during the Jim Crow era of the American South who must try to protect her daughter from the machinations of the fey, and a strange group of observers from a parallel world who watch and learn from our mistakes. Jemisin’s powerful characterization and ability to show the human aspects of confronting situations is what makes her novels so compelling and in this collection she again shows that while her work may be tagged as fantasy, it deals with thoughts and emotions that are very much real.
Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
Release Date: Early Nov
While Kim Stanley Robinson had already written several earlier books, his nineties Mars series was what brought him to the attention of many readers. Since then he’s garnered a reputation for a keen eye on the interaction of culture and technology, particularly environmental. While he’s been writing primarily about these subjects for more than thirty years, his work continues to evolve and change with developments in science and society. This one could be described as a thriller set on a recently colonised Moon, but that’s only the framework. The real story is the how and why people are on the Moon and how current geopolitics have played out to make it happen. The Moon colony is primarily a Chinese concern since the U.S. squandered their technological lead by abandoning interest in Moon landings. But it’s a twenty-first century colony, some thirty or so years from a general ‘now’, so the cultural and territorial clash is based on the current paradigm. There’s always a lot to digest in Kim Stanley Robinson‘s books, so there’s a lot of dialogue and exposition, though he does break it up in some interesting ways that I won’t spoil for you. It’s set in the future and on the Moon but this book is also about here and now and as with all of his books, leaves you with a lot to think about. It’s also got a bit of fan service for those with a good memory who read his 1997 book Antarctica with a character from it, Ta Shu making an appearance.
Someone Like Me by M R Carey
Release Date: Mid Nov
This is the new one from the author of store favourite The Girl With All the Gifts. To be honest though, it’s much more like his previous book Fellside, in that it’s a horror/suspense thriller. It’s been compared to the classic Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, which kind of works but this is a much more complex nuanced exploration of the idea, and with a lot more surprises. Liz Kendall is a normal woman bringing up her kids and basically doing what ordinary people do. Except Liz has a dark side, dangerous, self-centred and malicious. And sometimes it takes control and bad things happen. Actually, it’s more like a whole different person than a dark side, and there are worrying gaps in Liz’s memory that suggest that this other her may have done a lot of things that Liz knows nothing about. It’s a good set-up for a multiple personality thriller, but there is always more to Carey‘s books and what he does with this idea is stunning. It’s a strange and intense supernatural journey that explores ideas of self and the soul and exactly what I wanted from a new M R Carey book.