Autumn is here, and the publishing calendar is full of delights. You know There’s Always Room For One More around here, but here are some books you may want to make some room for too…
October is another month of blockbuster releases in the world of fantasy and science fiction publishing, full of what looks (to my practiced eye) like Subjective Chaos Kind of Award bait. Even better – for my current preferences, at least – many of them are stand-alones, offering a perfect excuse to try out some stellar authors if you haven’t already made their acquaintance.
First out of the gates on October 1st is the UK release of the first volume of Kate Elliott’s gender-swapped Alexander the Great in space opera. I can vouch for Unconquerable Sun as I was lucky enough to get an advance copy. After a stately opening act laying the groundwork, it rewards patient readers with treacherous politics and fierce action.
Next up we have two authors who never fail to grab my attention. October 6th sees the release of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, the new stand-alone fantasy from powerhouse V E Schwab. Never trust the devil: a deal for immortality curses Addie to live forever but be forgotten by everyone she meets… Nina Allan goes head to head with Ruby, a biography of a fictional horror actress told in vignettes by the people who fall under her spell. This is Nina Allan though, so it’s safe to say we can’t take anything at face value in what promises to be another genre-tinged literary read.
Mark October 13th in your calendars: it sees the release of all four of my next picks in a mid-month flurry of excellence. Alix E Harrow is back with another stand-alone feminist fantasy of women’s suffrage and witchcraft in The Once and Future Witches, which sounds like a combination to make my heart sing.
CL Polk brings us new characters and a new world in Midnight Bargain. Period romance meets feminist dilemma as impoverished sorceress Beatrice finds herself caught between her duty to marry – and give up her magic – and her ambition to be the first female Magus. This promises to be the sort of tortured romance even I can get behind.
Rebecca Roanhorse kicks off a new fantasy trilogy with Black Sun, this time in a secondary world inspired by the pre-Columbian Pueblo cultures (which I am even more excited about than I was Trail of Lightning). Prophecy, magic, ritual and politics – not least thee blisteringly positive advance reviews – puts this top of the books I want to read before year’s end.
Rounding out the mid-month is The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez, a space opera debut that promises epic adventure and found family with a hint that it may deliver all the feelings along the way. You know how I love FEELINGS, so here’s hoping I can lay hands on a copy for SciFiMonth.
October 15th sees the much-delayed release of Yoon Ha Lee’s fantasy stand-alone Phoenix Extravagant. A nonbinary artist finds themselves hired to paint the sigils that animate a repressive government’s automaton soldiers, used to keep the population in check. Art, rebellion and a mechanical dragon? It couldn’t get much more up my street if it flew there.
October 20th sees a cross-over I can get behind: Escape Pod have put together a birthday anthology of favourite stories they’ve featured on the podcast over the past 15 years, edited by Mur Lafferty and SB Divya. It’s also the release day for a new novella by Sarah Tolmie (also a contender for Cover Art of the Month). The Fourth Island lies off the Irish coast, found only by the lost and despairing, and this promises to be a haunting tale full of poetic beauty.
I’ll close out with a book I mentioned last month, but which appears to have slipped down the schedule. Natalie Zina Walschots’s debut Hench is now due out on October 29th to show that all you need to succeed at evil is some solid marketing and a damn good spreadsheet.
What are you looking forward to in October?
All release dates quoted are for the UK.