Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman
Release Date:  Early Sept
Speculative fiction has always been a popular tool to explore social and political dynamics and structures, from Mary Shelley to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and H.G.Wells through to Margaret Atwood and other writers of the modern era. As important as these sorts of books become over time, they’re generally not what you expect to come out of writing fellowships that are not expressly genre-focussed. But that is exactly what the winner of the 2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship Clarie G Coleman did. What she’s created is something that may be a story of an alternate past or perhaps a far future. It’s certainly Australia, but not the one we know. It’s inhabited by people variously labelled Natives and Settlers. There are power disparities and inequities and clashes between people and cultures. It sounds a lot like our world, but there are important differences which only reveal themselves slowly and build to an unexpected and profound revelation. This is a great work of speculative fiction from a new indigenous Australian author and definitely one that I’m eyeing off for a future bookclub. 
Doomed City by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
Release Date: Mid Sept
The folks at Gollancz seem to be rather fond of the Strugatsky brothers since this will be the fourth of their books to be included as part of the SF Masterworks series, but since I’m something of a fan myself, I’m not complaining. This is an unusual book, even for the Strugatsky‘s, in that they themselves said it was the hardest to write and most transgressive in terms of what could be published in Russia at the time. So much so that despite finishing the book in 1975 it sat on a shelf until 1989 and the much less censorious post-Glasnost and Perestroika Russia. The book itself is set in a mysterious city bordered by a massive wall on one side and an abyss on the other. It is inhabited by an assortment of individuals plucked from various times and places in the twentieth-century. They are left to govern themselves for the most part, with occasional advice from the mysterious Mentors. This is all part of a kind of experiment and as the book progresses, the Mentors and by proxy the Strugatksys, mix, agitate and stress a variety of ideas and philosophies with fascinating and disturbing results. 
Urban Enemies by Jim Butcher
Release Date:  Early Sept
Fans have been waiting for a new Harry Dresden novel from Jim Butcher since 2014, and while this is a new book with Butcher‘s name on it, it’s not quite what folks wanted or expected. It’s actually an anthology of short stories by a variety of popular urban fantasy authors though it does have a new Dresden Files story in it. Actually, editor Joseph Nassise has pulled together quite a roster of contributors and it would be a rare urban fantasy reader that didn’t turn out to be a fan of several of them. Generally, collections like this have a unifying theme and in the case of Urban Enemies it’s villains. In each story the author takes a villain or antagonist from their series and makes them the centre of their own story. These are interesting and sometimes surprising insights into the characters we love to hate from urban fantasy favourites like Kelley Armstrong, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire as well as Jim and a dozen more. 


Mamur Zapt And The Return Of The Carpet by Michael Pearce
Release Date:  Late Sept
This one is a bit of an experiment since all I really know about it comes from the listing in the catalogue. I’m a big fan of period detective stories. Whodunits in exotic times and places have always been one of my guilty pleasures. Based on sales in the store, I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d take a punt with this. Mamur Zapt is the title of the head of the secret police in British controlled Cairo. In 1908 that position is held by Welshman Captain Garath Owen. Egypt is moving toward independence from British rule and the whole country is rife with tension. As the capital, Cairo is the focus of most of them, and it’s Captain Owen’s job to keep a lid on it. An attempted assassination and what might be plans to disrupt a major Holy festival are making it rather difficult however, and if he’s going to prevent a disaster he’s going to have to navigate the labyrinthine social and political landscape of Cairo. Sounds like the sort of thing that fans of Jason Goodwin and Jacqueline Winspear would enjoy. Since it’s the first time with this author I’ll only be getting a few, so It’s a good idea to let me know if you’re really keen and want to make sure you get one. 
shen king
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
Release Date:  Late Sept
I think this is a book that’s going to be turning up in a variety of places. I certainly consider it science fiction, but I think it will also tick a lot of boxes for non genre readers and is one of those books that blurs the idea of genre anyway. It’s set in a near future China where the effects of the one-child policy have borne terrible fruit. The nation has a surplus of unmarried men, tens of millions of them. In a culture that values family this is a massive problem, so a cultural solution is devised. Even this solution is difficult, as Wi-Guo is discovering. He is one of the excess males, but still has hope. He has worked hard and saved enough for a dowry for himself, though only at the lowest marriage rung. If successful he may become a third husband, the maximum allowed by law and therefore the least in the household. Perhaps he will find a spouse who will take him as third. Perhaps he will be truly happy, even in such a humble place. Perhaps there are secrets and issues here that will test him to the point of breaking. Perhaps the least in status can be first in love. A powerful and prophetic look at the possible future of a very real problem. 
Lost Gods by Gerald Brom
Release Date:  Late Sept
Gerald Brom or just Brom used to be famous for his work as an artist, often on the covers of other peoples books. Recently he’s began to make name for himself as a talented author as well and his latest book, Lost Gods is only going to add to that perception. The short description is that it’s part Orpheus, part Dante and filtered through Brom‘s dark and vivid imagination. Chet Moran is an ex-con trying to make a new life with his pregnant wife, Trish. But his death at the hands of a demonic creature is the beginning of this story, not the end. Chet finds himself in a wholly new reality full of dark and ancient magic. Basically, he’s in Hell. There is no way that Chet can return to the land of the living, but he knows that those who killed him are a danger to Trish as well and maybe in his new state he can protect them. If the demons can travel to our world to destroy lives, then maybe he can make the same journey to save them. Full of all sorts of imagery from multiple afterlife/underworld mythologies this is a very cool adventure-redemption story. It’s also got some amazing interior artwork that you can guarantee are exactly what the author envisioned, ‘cos he did them. 


Mysteries of the Quantum Universe by Thibault Damour
Release Date:  Mid Sept
This is one that I would have expected closer to Christmas, since it’s the sort of thing that would make a wonderful gift. It’s also not the kind of book I usually carry a lot of, what with the fiction specialty thing, but some things are just too cool not to have. Thibault Damour is a theoretical physicist who teaches at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies) in Paris, and has collaborated with illustrator Mathieu Burniat to create this remarkable book. Mysteries of the Quantum Universe is a graphic novel about the adventures of Bob the explorer and his dog Rick. They’ve been around the world and even to the Moon, but on this journey they’ll go deep into the quantum universe. With a guide in the form of a odd little ‘h’ (which bears a striking resemblance to the symbol for the Planck Constant), Bob and Rick will chat about physics over crepes with Max Planck, learn about atoms from Einstein and hang out with Heisenberg. Along the way they’ll find out how a cat, and a dog for that matter, can be alive and dead at the same time and how looking at things can change them. This is a science adventure in comic book form and is fun and informative for kids of all ages. 
Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
Release Date:  Late Sept
This is and odd one since it’s what a lot of people want and not, at the same time. It’s a new Peter Grant adventure (yay!), but it’s a novella rather than a book (boo!). That means it’s about half the length of an actual novel and this one will also be a small format hard cover. Still, all Ben Aaronovitch fans are going to want it so here are a few more details. As with the previous book, The Hanging Tree, Peter finds himself brought into a case by someone whom he owes a favour. The person in question is Sergeant Jagat Kumar of the British Transport Police, who fans will remember from Whispers Underground and Broken Homes. Some commuters on morning trains have been reporting disturbing encounters with strangely dressed people who are apparently trying to deliver an urgent message. At least that’s what their panicked calls to the police say, though when later interviewed the same people have no memory of the event at all. Luckily Sgt Kumar knows just who to call when things get weird and now it’s Peter’s problem too. With the aid of his occasionally effective ghost sniffing dog Toby and Abigail, the nosy girl from next door Peter sets out to solve an odd problem that soon turns out to be an urgent one. Just another day at The Folly. 
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Release Date:  Early Sept
There’s been a recent trend in crime fiction away from the profiler or police protagonist. It’s not a new thing but since fans met Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there has certainly been more non-detective protagonist crime fiction about. This time our protagonist is a child called Annie. She lives with her mother, who kidnaps and murders children. Annie becomes fully aware of this when her mother takes one of her little school friends. Annie knows something bad will happen to him, so she does the only thing she can do to save him. She goes to the police. The aftermath sees her with a new name and a new family, people who hope that she can overcome the horror of her past. Not everyone is kind however and Milly as she is now called has very little experience in dealing with social situations and problems. Milly is a good girl, a quiet girl, a girl who doesn’t make any trouble. As the date for her mother’s trial approaches and the problems in Milly’s life come to a head she’ll have to confront the truth about what she fears she might be. This is not quite as polished as some of the other books of this sort, but it’s got a few nice twists and the right level of strange. If you liked The Method and The Girl on the Train, you’ll enjoy this. 


dark crystal
The Dark Crystal Ultimate Visual History
Release Date:  Late Sept
When the Labyrinth Ultimate Visual History book came out in April, I discovered much to my dismay that I’d under-ordered and under promoted it. Since I imagine that this new book is going to hit a similar sweet-spot I’m not going to be caught unprepared, so here it is. This is a hard cover coffee table book, and about 200 pages long. As with the earlier books in this range, it will have a mix of new and archived material, interviews and correspondence with the cast and crew as well as a wealth of photographs and drawings. The Dark Crystal will hit it’s thirty fifth anniversary later this year, and there’s a new television series by Brian Froud‘s son Toby and Jim Henson‘s son Brian in pre-production with Netflix. This book really couldn’t have come out at a better time for fans of the movie or as a gift for someone who is. Be warned though, the level of trivia and detail in these books is amazing, so by giving one to someone you are also agreeing to listen to all the fascinating little back-story tidbits they learn while reading it. And really cool pictures. You’ll probably have to look at a lot of those too. One final word on this one. I have ordered quite a lot of these, but stocks at the supplier will be limited so if this is one you want for yourself or as a gift, you’ll want to get in early. 
star wars
Star Wars: Phasma: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Delilah S Dawson
Release Date:  Mid Sept
The Star Wars franchise has a long history of characters snatching more of the audiences imagination than the writers thought they would. One of the recent examples of this is Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens. Despite not really having much to do and only a few scenes on camera, the large chrome-armoured form made a massive impression on fans. This could be partly because the role of Phasma is played by Gwendoline Christie, who has already shown that she’s very good at being menacing and obviously dangerous. I think there is also something of the implacable aura that’s reminiscent of Darth Vader here too, one that despite being the major villain of the piece, Kylo Ren just doesn’t have. Which is where this book comes in. In the Star Wars universe, as well as to fans Phasma is something of a mystery. There are hints that some of the events in the forthcoming film The Last Jedi are connected with her hidden past. The publishers have been pretty quiet about what that might be, but this book is designed to set up the events of the new film and Phasma looks to be a big part of that. To me, this looks like two cool things at the same time; more detail and back-story for a fan favourite and story set up and teasers for the new film. 
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King
Release Date:  Late Sept
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. 


ashby town
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Release Date:  Early Sept
Madeline Ashby appeared on science fiction reader’s radar five years ago with the first of her Machine Dynasty trilogy vN (the third of which ReV is out this month!) which could be described as a post cyberpunk robot thriller though that doesn’t really do it justice. It was cool, clever and innovative and a lot of readers raved about it. While we were waiting for the final Machine Dynasty book she offered us this one instead, an unrelated though very cool SF thriller called Company Town. The title derives from the setting for the book, a city-sized oil rig off the coast of Canada. Company Town is owned by the mega wealthy Lynch family, who effectively also own the large community who live and work on it. One of these is Hwa. In a world where everyone has opted for bio-engineered enhancements, she has none. This is not her only notable feature as she also has a remarkable level of skill in self defence and a fighting record that assures that her services are always in demand. When the youngest of the Lynch dynasty starts getting death threats Hwa is the obvious choice for trainer and bodyguard. As she delves deeper into the threats and what follows, she finds herself looking for killer that seems to defy the normal laws of physics, causality and perhaps even time. As tensions rise, the whole of Company Town could be in danger, but the more she learns about her employers and her home the harder her choices become. Save a life, save a town, save herself. 
Son of the Night by Mark Adler
Release Date:  Early Sept
This is the second book in the Banners of Blood series, and you’re forgiven if it doesn’t ring any bells. The first book, Son of the Morning came out in 2014 and to be honest most folks weren’t sure what to make of it. As a result it didn’t get the attention it deserved, but hopefully the arrival of book two will be the cause of renewed interest. The books are what I’d call historical fantasy, but drawing heavily on early Christian beliefs about the supernatural forces in their world. The setting is Europe at the early part of the Fourteenth Century, and as in history a conflict rages between the French and English monarchs. In this version of the world however, the powers and the intercession of the divine are manifest. Philip of Valois, King of France holds his throne by divine right, the evidence of which is seen in his ability to call angels to his side in battle. Edward III of England should be able to call angels of his own, but god seems to no longer favour the English and is silent. In the first book, with no other choice if he wanted to pursue his ambitions, Edward solicited help from another source that he hoped could best the angels. Book two begins in the aftermath of Edward’s victory. The dark forces he unleashed have left the French in ruins, the flower of their nobility dead and scattered. Edward has won at a terrible price that he is only beginning to understand. A fascinating mix of historical events and figures and medieval mythology and religion this is a stunningly original series and well worth adding to you reading list if you’re looking for something different. 
Three by Laumer by Keith Laumer
Release Date:  Mid Sept
As most of you probably know, I’m always looking out for reprints, reissues or revivals of classic science fiction and fantasy. This month’s offering is a book that I honestly never thought I’d see back in print. This volume actually contains three of Keith Laumer‘s books. Worlds of the Imperium (1962) is the first in the Imperium series and a story of espionage and politics in a world where agents cross over to alternate Earths with different historical outcomes in order to amass the resources required to depose the dictator who rules in their reality. Envoy to New Worlds (1963) is a collection of short stories featuring Earth diplomat James Retief. There are the sorts of misunderstandings, danger and adventure you’d imagine from those situations but also some comments on nationalism and race that are very much a product of when they were written. The final book BOLO (1976), also known as The Annals of the Dinochome Brigade is another collection of short stories and is perhaps Laumer‘s best remembered work. BOLOs are massive tanks on the front line of a far future war. Gradual increases in automation have finally produced a totally self aware war machine. What the BOLOs themselves make of their consciousness and how this affects how they understand and perform, or in some cases don’t perform, their missions is a fascinating insight into early ideas of artificial intelligence. These are important and interesting books and though the writing may not be as polished as we’re used to now, it’s part of the path by which modern science fiction got to where it is now. If you’re a fan of older genre fiction or just interested in a sixties take on Aliens and A.I. this is one you want to add to your collection.