Wesley Chu, who released his debut novel,The Lives of Tao, in April, rounds up five other newcomers SF&F readers should know.
I love reading books from debut authors. It’s at the same time exciting and terrifying, kind of like going on a blind date. There’s a chance I could have the worst evening of my life, but there’s also a chance that I could fall in love and find my new favorite author. Okay, maybe I’m being a little histrionic, but reading a book from a new author is like starting a relationship that could last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of decades. Committing to a series is serious business, y’all.
Often, like anything else, these relationships can fall apart. I apologize to the book gods but I’ve hurled my fair share of books across the room screaming, “What the hell, dude? You suck and we’re breaking up!” There have been other times when I hit the last page, eyes all misty and red, thinking, “I can’t quit you.”
It’s definitely a mixed bag so it’s always nice to have someone toss me some recommendations. So today, I’m going to try to help out the discerning reader and offer up my 2013 debut author SF&F recommendations. Let’s roll.
1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie Ancillary Justice is making tsunami-sized waves in the SF&F world right now. A definitive space opera for this generation, Ancillary Justice follows Breq, a corpse soldier who once used to be a self-aware starship named Justice of Toren. Betrayed, she is now out to kill the immortal god that she once served.
Between Breq’s quest for vengeance, the history of Justice of Toren’s betrayal, and the philosophical questions asked about military imperialism, obeying unjust orders, and social justice, Ancillary Justice is mindful and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
2. No Return by Zachary Jernigan I first came across No Return during the Nightshade books implosion and later met the man at Readercon in Boston. Zach’s a pretty cool dude, and No Return is one of those genre-bending science fiction novels that says to hell with being put into a box.
It’s a bold and interesting story set in a fascinating world and told through the eyes of five points of views that touch upon gods, identity, sex, and violence, leaving you breathless and a little uncomfortable, but definitely begging for more. Hey Zach, get cracking on a sequel please!
3. The Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan What happens after a military coup? Most stories usually end right when the good guys beat the bad guys, but honestly, who cleans up the mess? Brian McClellan answers that question with his kick-ass debut, The Promise of Blood.
A student of Brandon Sanderson, The Promise of Blood came with high expectations and delivers with a breathtaking epic fantasy that has a little awesome of everything. Set in a world merging flintlock technology and magic, it’s a wildly entertaining introduction to a turbulent world of politics, coups, war, and the aftermaths of cleaning up a country you broke.
4. Pantomime by Laura Lam Here’s fare a little different from the rest. Pantomime is a YA fantasy that follows the story of Micah and Gene, two teenagers running away from their past and end up joining the circus. Emotions and hilarity ensue.
Ok, no hilarity. The book is beautifully written with a plot that will wrench your heart. There’s a twist here which I won’t give away. The book’s an important new addition to the LGBT genre and has been short listed for a few awards.
5. Three by Jay Posey I had the opportunity to read Three and was more than happy to provide a blurb for it.
There’s something grimy and unpleasant about post-apocalyptic worlds, and Jay Posey’s Three captures it perfectly with a setting that seems to leap straight out of Fallout or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It’s a raw, gritty tale about survival in a world after all hell’s broken loose, about a bounty hunter with a driven moral code, and a mother and child on the run.
The world building in Three will draw in and envelop the reader, and keep them turning pages well into the wee hours of the night
So there you have it. Five books that have a little something-something for anyone with a SF&F itch. I’m warning you though. You might lose a little sleep here and there, so pace yourself accordingly. And if you feel I’ve helped you make a literary love connection, feel free to ping me at wesleychu.com or @wes_chu on twitter. If you disagree, let me know as well and I’ll make it up to you. I promise. Really.