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21 Science Fiction And Fantasy Books To Pick Up This Holiday Season!

The holidays are upon us, and as we barrel towards the end of the year, here's 21 science fiction and fantasy books coming out this December to read while the weather turns cold outside!

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Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

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What it's about:A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell, the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program’s data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel's characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.

Why you should buy it: We've been hearing good things about this post-apocalyptic novel: it looks like a neat story with some interesting characters.

Release date: 12/1/2014

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

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What it's about: A girl with a clockwork heart makes every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly died, the brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick managed to implant a brass “Ticker,” transforming her into “the first of the Augmented!” But soon it was discovered that Warwick kidnapped and killed dozens of people striving to perfect another Ticker for Penny.

The last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthing factory is bombed, Warwick disappears, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom demand for all of their Augmentation notes if they want to see their parents again. Who is trying to stop their work? Or to control it? Or is the motive more sinister?

Determined to solve the mystery and reunite their family, the Farthings recruit their closest friends: fiery baker Violet Nesselrode and gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling. Unexpectedly leading the charge is Marcus Kingsley, the young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Why you should buy it: This looks like a really intriguing mystery and post-human story set in the Victorian era.

Release date: 12/1/2014

Undercity by Catherine Asaro

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What it's about: Major Bhaajan, a former military officer with Imperial Space Command, is now a hard-bitten P.I. with a load of baggage to deal with, and clients with woes sometimes personal, sometimes galaxy-shattering, and sometimes both. Bhaajan must sift through the shadows of dark and dangerous Undercity—the enormous capital of a vast star empire—to find answers.

Why you should buy it: Baen is known, for better or worse, for their military SF stories. This first book in a new series from award-winning author Catherine Asaro in her Skolian Empire world looks like an exciting throwback to space opera epics of days past.

Release date: 12/2/2014

Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction eduted by Ben Bova and Eric Choi

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What it's about: Hard science fiction is the literature of change, rigorously examining the impact—both beneficial and dangerous—of science and technology on humanity, the future, and the cosmos. As science advances, expanding our knowledge of the universe, astounding new frontiers in storytelling open up as well.

In Carbide Tipped Pens, over a dozen of today’s most creative imaginations explore these frontiers, carrying on the grand tradition of such legendary masters as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and John W. Campbell, while bringing hard science fiction into the 21st century by extrapolating from the latest scientific developments and discoveries. Ranging from ancient China to the outer reaches of the solar system, this outstanding collection of original stories, written by an international roster of authors, finds wonder, terror, and gripping human drama in topics as diverse as space exploration, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, climate change, alternate history, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, interplanetary war, and even the future of baseball.

From tattoos that treat allergies to hazardous missions to Mars and beyond, from the end of the world to the farthest limits of human invention, Carbide Tipped Pens turns startling new ideas into state-of-the art science fiction.

Includes stories by Ben Bova, Gregory Benford, Robert Reed, Aliette de Bodard, Jack McDevitt, Howard Hendrix, Daniel H. Wilson, and many others!

Why you should buy it: There's been a bunch of anthologies and magazines that focus on hard SF lately, and this new anthology from one of the masters, Ben Bova, looks to be a really excellent collection of stories about a wide range of topics.

Release date: 12/2/2014

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

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What it's about: Man has taken to the stars. Deep in space, humans discover the fearsome Taurans after a transport ship is destroyed. To combat the threat, humanity sends in the United Nations Exploratory Force—a highly trained unit built for revenge. Conscripted into the service, physics student William Mandella fights for his planet against the alien force light years away. However, because of the relative passage of time when one travels at incredibly high speed, the Earth he returns to after his two-year experience has progressed decades and is foreign to him in disturbing ways.

Based in part on the author’s experiences in Vietnam, The Forever War is regarded as one of the greatest military science fiction novels ever written, perfectly capturing the alienation that servicemen and women experience even now upon returning home from battle. The Forever War shines a light not only on the culture of the 1970s, the era in which it was written, but also on our potential future.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Joe Haldeman including rare images from the author’s personal collection.

Why you should buy it: Haldeman's Forever War has been a science fiction classic for decades, and now, it's got an eBook release, with some extras. This is a must-buy.

Release date: 12/2/2014

Spirit of the Wolves: A Novel by Dorothy Hearst

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What it's about: The third and final title in The Wolf Chronicles: Kaala the young wolf fulfills her destiny—to either help humans and wolves to live in peace, or bring war that will destroy them all.

Fourteen thousand years ago in southern Europe, a wolf cub named Kaala discovers that she alone can link wolves and humans, thus keeping humans from growing distant from and destroying the world around them. In Promise of the Wolves and Secrets of the Wolves, Kaala came to understand her role. Born of a forbidden, mixed blood litter, and alone after her mother’s exile, Kaala struggled to earn her place in the Swift River pack. When she saved the life of a human girl, she put her hard-won place in the pack at risk, and responsibility for keeping peace between wolf and humankind fell to her. So far, she has failed.

Now, in Spirit of the Wolves, Kaala has one last chance. She leaves her home in the Wide Valley with her packmates, the human girl she loves, and an obnoxious raven. Together, they travel to the land outside the valley, only to discover that new challenges await them. Kaala’s mother has no answers, a faction of ruthless Greatwolves will stop at nothing to maintain control, odd little wolves seek to take Kaala’s place, and, in the mysterious village of Kaar, humans are undergoing a transformation that could destroy everything she is working for. Only by calling on all of her strength and on the bonds of love with her human, raven, and wolf companions can Kaala hope to succeed. But it might not be enough.

In this satisfying conclusion to The Wolf Chronicles, Kaala will have to fight and sacrifice in ways she never imagined, and she must decide how far she is willing to go for peace…when every step she takes leads wolfkind and humankind toward war.

Why you should buy it: The final book in this fantasy trilogy, the setting is thousands of years ago - this looks like it will appeal to the Cave of the Clan Bear novels.

Release date: 12/2/2014

Vacant: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by Alex Hughes

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What it's about: Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…

Why you should buy it: Hughes' series of telepaths in a cyberpunk world continues forward with Vacant. These have been fun procedural, and it looks like this one should be just as entertaining as the ones which came before it.

Release date: 12/2/2014

The Genome: A Novel by Sergei Lukyanenko

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What it's about: Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror. Alex is a spesh—a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks. As a captain and pilot, Alex has a genetic imperative to care for passengers and crew—no matter what the cost.

His first mission aboard Mirror is to ferry two representatives of the alien race Zzygou on a tour of human worlds. His task will not be an easy one, for aboard the craft are several speshes who have reason to hate the Others. Dark pasts, deadly secrets, and a stolen gel-crystal worth more than Alex’s entire ship combine to challenge him at every turn. And as the tension escalates, it becomes apparent that greater forces are at work to bring the captain’s world crashing down.

Why you should buy it: Lukyanenko is known for his fantastic novel Night Watch, and now, he's taken to space opera. This looks like a kick-ass read.

Release date: 12/2/2014

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, translated by Ted Goossen

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What it's about: A lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plot their escape from the nightmarish library of internationally acclaimed, best-selling Haruki Murakami's wild imagination.

Why you should buy it: This is a bit different from Murakami's usual books such as Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and 1Q84. It's shorter, intimate and very, very cool looking.

Release date: 12/2/2014

City of Eternal Night by Kristen Painter

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What it's about: Still coming to terms with their unexpected partnership, Augustine and Harlow have a tentative truce. Although with Harlow slowly working to accept being fae, Augustine still learning how to be Guardian, and feelings growing on both sides, they do not have an easy road ahead.

But when a young girl is stolen from the Mardi Gras Exemplar Ball -- the biggest fae event of the year -- Harlow and Augustine must put all their issues aside to bring her home alive. Harlow's father, Branzino, is of course their number one suspect, but evil lurks in every corner of the city and time is running out. Their only choices: Either find a way to rescue the girl, or Augustine must die.

Why you should buy it: This second installment of the Crescent City Series takes place in a fantastical New Orleans, delving into its fae world with plenty of drama and danger.

Release date: 12/2/2014

The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick

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What it's about: The Democracy is at war with the alien Traanskei Coalition. War hero Colonel Nathan Pretorius has a record of success on dangerous behind-enemy-lines missions, missions that usually leave him in the hospital. Now he's recruited for a near-impossible assignment that may well leave him dead.

At the cost of many lives, the Democracy has managed to clone and train General Michkag, one of the Traanskei's master strategists. Colonel Pretorius and a hand-picked team must kidnap the real Michkag if they can, assassinate him if they can't, but no matter which, put the clone in his place, where he will misdirect the enemy's forces and funnel vital information to the Democracy.

Against the odds, Pretorius, along with Cyborg Felix Ortega, computer expert Toni Levi, convict and contortionist Sally "Snake" Kowalski, the near-human empath Marlowe, the alien Gzychurlyx, and Madam Methuselah - the Dead Enders - must infiltrate the Fortress in Orion, accomplish their mission, and escape with their lives.

Why you should buy it: The first in a new series from Mike Resnik, this novel looks like a solid sci-fi action thriller

Release date: 12/2/2014

Into the Night by Suzanne Rigdon

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What it's about: When Selina Baker, a coordinator for a Boston non-profit, goes out on the town with her friend Jess, she never expects to meet the man of her dreams. And she certainly never expects him to be undead.

When things go from flirty to majorly flawed on her first date with James Lawton, he is forced to save her the only way he can--by killing her. Selina suddenly finds herself in the mix with the creatures she thought were made up solely for late-night TV.Into the Nightfollows Selina’s transformation from a wallflower into an impulsive and dangerous new vampire. With no choice in the matter, Selina becomes trapped between a new man, his wary brothers, and his cruel and controlling Queen, who wants nothing more than to watch her suffer. Selina must walk the fine line between adjusting to her new powers, life after death, and following the rules--all while avoiding disaster.

Why you should buy it: Here's another urban fantasy involving a woman turned into a vampire and thrust into a new world of trouble. It looks like this has a bit of a new twist on the subgenre, and it'll be interesting to see what this brings to the table.

Release date: 12/2/2014

The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

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What it's about: The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus includes the novels: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods, and a brand new novella set in the same world: The Awakened Kingdom.

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

Why you should buy it: Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy first came out a couple of years ago, but now, it's being released as a single omnibus edition. These are really fantastic books, and it's excellent to see them all together, along with some new material.

Release date: 12/9/2014

Hellboy: Weird Tales by Mike Mignola

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What it's about: Some of the best writers and artists in comics team up to present stories of Hellboy with giant bats, demon children, jet packs, haunted circuses, and rusted-out spaceships. Old-fashioned pulp fun featuring one of the greatest heroes of modern comics.

Why you should buy it: I love Hellboy, and this latest anthology of comic stories from him looks to be pretty excellent.

Release date: 12/9/2014

Severance by Chris Bucholz

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What it's about: After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they're morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she'd rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.

Why you should buy it: This generation-ship novel follows a murder of a passenger (right in time for SyFy's Ascension to come out!) and a conspiracy comes to light. This looks like a lot of fun to read.

Release date: 12/9/2014

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones

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What it's about: All over the multiverse the Magids, powerful magicians, are at work to maintain the balance between positive and negative magic, for the good of all.

Rupert Venables is the junior Magid assigned to Earth and to the troublesome planets of the Koyrfonic Empire. When the Emperor dies without a known heir, Rupert is called into service to help prevent the descent of the Empire into chaos. At the same time, the senior Magid on Earth dies, making Rupert a new senior desperately in need of a junior. Rupert thinks his problems are partially solved when he discovers he can meet all five of the potential Magids on Earth by attending one SF convention in England. However, the convention hotel sits on a node, a nexus of the universes. Rupert soon finds that other forces, some of them completely out of control, are there too....

Why you should buy it: This classic novel is coming back into print, and with a fantastic new cover. It looks like it's a good edition for rediscovery.

Release date: 12/16/2014

Making History by Stephen Fry

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What it's about: Michael Young is a graduate student at Cambridge who is completing his dissertation on the early life of Adolf Hitler. Leo Zuckerman is an aging German physicist and Holocaust survivor. Together they idealistically embark on an experiment to change the course of history. And with their success is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours—but in most ways even worse. Fry’s sci-fi-tinged experiment in history makes for an ambitious and deeply affecting novel.

Why you should buy it: Stephen Fry is known for his comedy, but now, he's turning to alternate history, where his characters take on the classic question: what if Hitler was never born?

Release date: 12/30/2014

The Tejano Conflict by Steve Perry

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What it's about: At the end of the twenty-fourth century, war is fought in a civilized manner: Each side hires mercenaries to engage in combat in specifically designated areas. To the victor go the spoils—whatever they may be…

After a couple of assignments involving more intrigue and skulduggery than the Cutter Force Initiative ever wanted, the unit is looking forward to being part of a straight-up, short-term industrial war on Earth.

Cutter agrees to a support role offered by an old Army comrade who’s now a general in a larger military force. The pay is good, the unit happy. All they have to do is basic ranger stuff: sneak and peek, shoot and scoot.

But what starts out as a corporate fight to occupy a valuable piece of contested territory quickly goes sideways, and once again Cutter and crew find themselves in the middle of situations in which things aren’t as they seem, and the unit must determine the truth—or lose more than just a battle.

Why you should buy it: The latest novel in Perry's Cutter's Wars series, this looks like a kick-ass military SF title.

Release date: 12/30/2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel by Menna van Praag

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What it's about: Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

Why you should buy it: I'm not sure what to make of this story: it looks like an interesting blend of fantasy, fairy tale and science. It looks like an intriguing story of cause-and-effect.

Release date: 12/30/2014

Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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What it's about: The #1 New York Times bestseller returns! Visit new planets, meet new adversaries, and explore a very new direction as Hazel becomes a toddler, while her family struggles to stay on their feet.

Why you should buy it: Saga flat out rocks. This is a must-buy graphic novel.

Release date: 12/30/2014

Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn

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What it's about: Cormac, the Kitty Norville series' most popular supporting character, stars in his first solo adventure.

Carrie Vaughn's Low Midnight spins out of the series on the wave of popularity surrounding Kitty’s most popular supporting character, Cormac Bennett, a two-minded assassin of the paranormal who specializes in killing lycanthropes. In his first solo adventure, Cormac, struggling with a foreign consciousness trapped inside him, investigates a century-old crime in a Colorado mining town which could be the key to translating a mysterious coded diary…a tome with secrets that could shatter Kitty’s world and all who inhabit it. With a framing sequence that features Kitty Norville herself, Low Midnight not only pushes the Kitty saga forward, but also illuminates Cormac’s past and lays the groundwork for Kitty's future.

Why you should buy it: Vaughn is well-known for her urban fantasy stories, and this new one picks up one of the supporting characters for his own adventure. I've always appreciated books that shift gears in a series or shared world, and it looks like this one has some major consequences for her world.

Release date: 12/30/2014

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