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22 Science Fiction And Fantasy Books For March 2014

With a new month comes a new mix of books to look forward to. March brings us new stories from Star Wars, Lovecraftian weirdness, epic fantasy, dragons, Amazons and more!

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The End is Nigh, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey

What it's about: The first of a truly epic-sounding trilogy of anthologies from John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, this volume contains stories about what happens just before the end of the world.

Why you should get it: The table of contents alone make this one worth it: Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu, Jake Kerr, Tananarive Due, Tobias S. Buckell, Hugh Howey, Will McIntosh, Jack McDevitt, Nancy Kress, Seanan McGuire and Paolo Bacigalupi, just to name a couple.

Release date: 3/1/2014

The Memory of Sky: A Great Ship Trilogy by Robert Reed

What it's about: Diamond: a small weak child, a fragile little shadow of an odd boy sure to die any time…who proves to be anything but. An epic story begins when he steps into the world his parents have so carefully kept him from, a world where gigantic trees each house thousands of humans…and another human species, the papio, live on a great coral reef. Much of civilization’s needs are provided by the coronas, strange huge beasts that—for reasons unknown—float into the human world only to be slain for the riches they provide.

But Diamond, in Corona’s Children, becomes an irresistible prize. A human who isn’t quite human, a blessing…or a curse…who holds the promise to remake one species and, perhaps, all of the Creation. As with anything of great value to so many, conflict arises. With conflict comes drastic change—but no one is prepared for what that conflict ultimately brings or what will happen in the final book, The Great Day.

Why you should buy it: Reed is a prolific author, and this collection of novels looks like it'll be an impressive read.

Release date: 3/1/2014

The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

What it's about: Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

Why you should get it: The first book in this series, A Natural History of Dragons was an exciting story of a female adventurer in Victorian England. This one looks just as excellent.

Release date: 3/4/2014

Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

What it's about: Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows. Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world. Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness. Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend. All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had.

Why you should get it: This looks like it'll be a particularly interesting take on a post-apocalyptic tale, and from the description, it looks like there's a particular focus on the impact on society and the survivors that goes beyond harrowed survivors.

Release date: 3/4/2014

Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves by James S. A. Corey

What it's about: When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

Why you should get it: James S.A. Corey is best known for the Expanse novels (#4 is coming out this year!), and jumping to Star Wars feels like a natural choice. It looks as though there's a new push for 'Classic Era' stories, and this may just be the book to get us reading in a Galaxy Far Far Away again.

Release date: 3/4/2014

Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty

What it's about: Zoe Norris writes travel guides for the undead. And she's good at it too -- her new-found ability to talk to cities seems to help. After the success of The Sbambling Guide to New York City, Zoe and her team are sent to New Orleans to write the sequel.

Work isn't all that brings Zoe to the Big Easy. The only person who can save her boyfriend from zombism is rumored to live in the city's swamps, but Zoe's out of her element in the wilderness. With her supernatural colleagues waiting to see her fail, and rumors of a new threat hunting city talkers, can Zoe stay alive long enough to finish her next book?

Why you should get it: Lafferty's first book hit with a splash, and it sounded like it was an excellent urban fantasy. This one looks like it'll be just as good.

Release date: 3/4/2014

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

What it's about: Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Read that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.

Why you should get it: After that description, it looks like Sanderson is going to deliver this year's doorstop fantasy novel. Fans of the weighty tomes should have plenty of pages to go through!

Release date: 3/4/2014

Descent by Ken MacLeod

What it's about: Ball lightning. Weather balloons. Secret military aircraft. Ryan knows all the justifications for UFO sightings. But when something falls out of the sky on the hills near his small Scottish town, he finds his cynicism can't identify or explain the phenomenon.

And in a future where nothing is a secret, where everything is recorded on CCTV or reported online, why can he find no evidence of the UFO, nor anything to shed light on what occurred? Is it the political revolutionaries, is it the government or is it aliens themselves who are creating the cover-up? Or does the very idea of a cover-up hide the biggest secret of all?

Why you should get it: MacLeod has put together some fantastic, paranoid-inspired novels in the recent past, and UFOs seem like they'd be a logical target for him.

Release date: 3/6/2014 (UK)

The Lord Came at Twilight by Daniel Mills

What it's about: In the foothills of the Green Mountains, a child grows up in an abandoned village, haunted by memories of his absent parents. In a wayside tavern, a murderous innkeeper raises a young girl among the ghosts of his past victims. Elsewhere the village of Whistler’s Gore is swept up in the tumult of religious fervor, while in rural Falmouth, the souls of the buried dead fall prey to a fungal infestation.

This is New England as it was once envisioned by Hawthorne and Lovecraft, a twilit country of wild hills and barren farmland where madness and repression abound. The Lord Came at Twilight presents 14 stories of doubt and despair, haunter and haunted, the deranged and the devout.

Why you should buy it: Daniel is an astonishingly good Weird / Gothic author, and this collection of short fiction from him brings together some of his best stories. This is a must-buy for us.

Release date: 3/10/2014

Questionable Practices: Stories by Eileen Gunn

What it's about: Good intentions aren’t everything. Sometimes things don’t quite go the way you planned. And sometimes you don’t plan. . . . This collection of sixteen stories (and one lonely poem) wittily chart the ways trouble can ensue. No actual human beings were harmed in the creation of this book.

Stories from Eileen Gunn are always a cause for celebration. Where will she lead us? “Up the Fire Road” to a slightly alternate world. Four stories into steampunk’s heart. Into the golem’s heart. Yet never where we might expect.

Why you should get it: Gunn is a fantastic short story author and editor, and anytime we see a collection from someone of her stature, we know that it's going to be a collection to buy.

Release date: 3/11/2014

For Honor We Stand by H. Paul Honsinger

What it's about: In 2315, the Earth Union is losing a thirty-year-long war with the Krag Hegemony.

Having encountered the Krag before, Space Commander Max Robicheaux now faces daunting challenges aboard the USS Cumberland: the dangers from the enemy without… and clashes with crew and superiors within.

Meanwhile, Doctor Sahin receives a coded message summoning him to a secret meeting that aims to forge an alliance that could change the balance of power in Known Space. But first, he must circumvent the fighter ships and heavily armed troops of the traitorous emir bent on killing him before he reaches the negotiating table.

Both men must call upon their developing skills and growing friendship to bear the burden of carrying between the Krag Hegemony and the Earth Union a fateful ultimatum and the shocking answer—an answer that could spell eternal slavery, or even extinction, for all humankind.

Why you should buy it: The second novel in a new Military SF series, this one looks as though it'll have the right balance of action and intelligence behind it.

Release date: 3/11/2014

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

What it's about: Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Why you should get it: The premise here looks really interesting, and it's not often that we see Amazons and fantasy mix. It looks like a pretty good literary tale.

Release date: 3/11/2014

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

What it's about: Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages. Something Wookiee this way comes!

Why you should get it: The first Shakespeare Star Wars was quite a bit of fun to read, and this one looks just as much fun.

Release date: 3/18/2014

The Pilgrims by Will Elliott

What it's about: Eric Albright is a twenty-six-year-old journalist living in London. That is to say he would be a journalist if he got off his backside. But this luckless slacker isn’t all bad—he has a soft spot for his sometimes friend Stuart Casey, the homeless old drunk who mostly lives under the railway bridge near his flat. Eric is willing to let his life just drift by…until the day a small red door appears on the graffiti-covered wall of the bridge, and a gang of strange-looking people—Eric's pretty sure one of them is a giant—dash out of the door and rob the nearby newsagent. From that day on Eric and Case haunt the arch, waiting for the door to reappear.

Why you should get it: The cover alone is worth the price of admission, but we're suckers for second-world / portal fantasies. This looks like a really neat addition to that subgenre.

Release date: 3/18/2014

A Mountain Walked edited by S.T. Joshi

What it's about: There is no bigger name in horror fiction than H.P. Lovecraft. This new collection of fiction assembles a handful of reprints and over a dozen new stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos. Authors include T.E.D. Klein, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Lois Gresh, Thomas Ligotti, Patrick McGrath, and many others. Loaded with illustrations by David Ho, Thomas Ott, Denis Tiani, and John Kenn Mortensen, this is an oversized, gorgeous clothbound book.

Why you should get it: For fans of the Weird, this looks like it'll be a pretty astonishing collection. It'll cost you though, this limited run will go for around $200 a copy.

Release date: 3/18/2014

The Lascar's Dagger: The Forsaken Lands by Glenda Larke

What it's about: Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he's a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor's blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.

The dagger puts Saker on a journey to distant shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and destroy the life he knows. The Lascar's dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.

Why you should get it: A magical dagger that follows the story's protagonist around. Tools in fantasy are often important, and this looks like it'll be a particularly fun story.

Release date: 3/18/2014

Citadel by Kate Mosse

What it's about: France, 1942. In Carcassonne, a colorful historic village nestled deep in the Pyrenees, a group of courageous women are engaged in a lethal battle. Like their ancestors who fought to protect their land from Northern invaders seven hundred years before, these members of the resistance—codenamed Citadel—fight to liberate their home from the Nazis.

But smuggling refugees over the mountains into neutral territory and sabotaging their German occupiers at every opportunity is only part of their mission. These women must also protect an ancient secret that, if discovered by their ruthless enemies, could change the course of history.

Why you should get it: We do love parallel stories: where microcosm - type stories reveal a much larger one. Labyrinth was well regarded, and we're sure this one will be as well.

Release date: 3/18/2014

The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector

What it's about: Welcome to Star Island, where Miami's wealthiest residents lead private lives behind the tall gates of their sprawling mansions. It's a blissful escape from the hot and dirty city—or it was, until New Year's Day 2015, when twelve of the most powerful people in the world were found murdered in the basement of a Star Island mansion.

The massacre shocked the nation and destroyed the life of investigator Lila Day. Her hunt for the Star Island killer consumed her. But the case went unsolved, resulting in her dismissal from the Miami PD.

Now, three years later, life hands Lila an unexpected second chance: reclusive billionaire Teddy Hawkins approaches Lila and asks her to solve the case. But how do you investigate a crime when all the leads have long ago gone cold? The answer, Teddy tells her, is to solve the case before it happens. He's going to send Lila back in time.

With nothing left to lose, an incredulous Lila travels back to 2014, determined to find the Star Island killer once and for all. But as she goes undercover among the members of Miami's high society, she finds herself caring for—and falling for—people who are destined to die that fateful night. Now she must either say good-bye or risk altering the future forever.

Why you should get it: Time travel stories are always interesting, and when you throw a crime into the mix, the 'what would have happened if something else changes' element becomes life or death.

Release date: 3/18/2014

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

What it's about: Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

Why you should get it: Adam Christopher has penned some interesting books thus far. Now, he turns over to military SF for what looks like a really cool story.

Release date: 3/25/2014

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

What it's about: Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

Why you should get it: As we noted above, we do love time travel stories, and this one, with its epic love story split across centuries, looks like it'll be fascinating.

Release date: 3/25/2014

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

What it's about: When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still—that he’s been asleep for 14,000 years.

Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millennia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.

Toby’s brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.

Why you should get it: Schroeder has put together some excellent science fiction in the recent past, and it looks like he's constructed a really cool world, with an interesting take on a man out of time.

Release date: 3/25/2014

The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith

What it's about: Not just any fantasy, horror, and science fiction author could impress H. P. Lovecraft into calling him “unexcelled by any other writer, dead or living” or compel Fritz Lieber to employ the worthy term sui generis. Clark Ashton Smith—autodidact, prolific poet, amateur philosopher, bizarre sculptor, and unmatched storyteller—simply wrote like no one else, before or since. This new collection of his very best tales and poems is selected and introduced by supernatural literature scholar S. T. Joshi and allows readers to encounter Smith’s visionary brand of fantastical, phantasmagorical worlds, each one filled with invention, terror, and a superlative sense of metaphysical wonder.

Why you should get it: Clark Ashton Smith is one of the pivotal early horror authors, and Penguin has collected together a number of his short stories into a nice looking volume, edited by S.T. Josti, one of the foremost experts in Lovecraftian fiction.

Release date: 3/25/2014

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

What it's about: The first book in a new series, picking up Veronica Mars at the age of 28 as she does what she does best: solving mysteries.

Why you should buy it: This technically isn't SF/F, but hey, it's Veronica Mars! Before it was a television show, Veronica Mars was intended as a book, so it's nice to see this loop around to the beginning. This just became a must-buy.

Release date: 3/25/2014

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