November & December 2016 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends
CB - Go - Nov - The Hanging Tree
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cc-dec-bone-gap
cn-dec-forever-stardust
cg-nov-neil-gaimans-midnight-days

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for, both being smaller months in publishing releases, November and December. We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

Selections are and text here is by Tim Bayley (London flagship bookstore buyer for over 6 years, central trade buying committee, sales rep for one of the UK’s largest publishers, then created this website here). These highlights are drawn from publisher submissions next to The Bookseller’s own monthly highlights, their Buyer’s Guides and more.

NB. You can find full biblio details and publisher copy via the online shop link. We believe in supporting bricks and mortar stores whether online or in person and a tiny snippet of any purchase comes our way to go towards site upkeep so any and all support very much appreciated! Some products still being uploaded to the retailers sites – links to come.

So read on and see the many wonders in print coming your way in November and December.

Enjoy!

 

Fiction in November

* Author ISBN Bind RRP Pub Series Vol
CB - Go - Nov - The Hanging Tree
THE HANGING TREE
Aaronovitch, Ben
9780575132559
HB
£14.99
Gollancz
We kick off with the delayed and brought forward and either way much anticipated sixth in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant London-based urban fantasy series. Lady Tyburn (of the river) calls in wizardly-policeman PC Grant after a suspicious death occurs at a super-rich party where her daughter is present. There couldn’t possibly be any problems where trafficking in potent esoteric paraphernalia occurs in the scene of the uber-wealthy could there?
Buy from Waterstones
cb-re-nov-europe-in-winter
EUROPE IN WINTER
Dave Hutchinson
9781781084632
PB
£7.99
Solaris
Then it’s the third in Dave ‘Davey Six-Toes’ Hutchinson’s ‘Europe’ series, following ‘in Autumn’ and ‘at Midnight’, both of which were shortlisted for the Clarke Award in their respective years which should say something! An SF espionage thriller set against a rapidly mutating political backdrop on the national scale and in pan-dimensional terms… We’ve yet to read but undoubtedly a highlight of November for us and readers existing and new.
Buy from Waterstones
CBJJ16 - HZ - Mar - The Paper Menagerie
THE PAPER MENAGERIE
Ken Liu
9781784975692
PB
£7.99
Head of Zeus
Meanwhile Head of Zeus, by virtue of publishing, designated November ‘Ken Liu Month’. ‘I know this is going to sound hyperbolic,’ says author Jamie Ford, ‘but when I’m reading Ken Liu’s stories, I feel like I’m reading a once-in-a-generation talent. I’m in awe.’ He’s clearly not the only one of that opinion. The stories herein include a whole bunch of stories that were finalists in the genre’s biggest awards, the titular piece being the only story ever to win the Hugo, Nebula AND World Fantasy awards.
Buy from Waterstones
cb-hoz-nov-invisible-planets
INVISIBLE PLANETS
Ken Liu
9781784978808
HB
£18.99
Head of Zeus
If Ken’s own writing excellence is any indication of taste then – being in addition an award-winning translator of Chinese SF (notably of Liu Cixin’s books, also from Head of Zeus) – his personal highlights of Chinese SF shorts should be of much interest also. The collection is rounded out with a number of essays on the same.
Buy from Waterstones
cb-hoz-nov-the-wall-of-storms
THE WALL OF STORMS
Ken Liu
9781784973254
HB
£20.00
Head of Zeus
So while we’re shouting about those collections it would seem remiss not to tip the hat for and to the Hardback release of Liu’s second book in The Dandelion Dynasty series. It sounds like it partakes of morally ambiguous fantasies like – it must be said – Game of Thrones, but perhaps more akin to Luke Scull’s Grim Company trilogy (see below), also from the HoZ stable. A regime has been overthrown; but can a virtuous rule survive the test of governance and its own threats – and, if not, were the people better off before?
Buy from Waterstones
Oct - Slow Regard of Silent Things
THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS
Rothfuss, Patrick
9781473209336
PB
£7.99
Gollancz
Then Gollancz serve up Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things in paperback. How many accolades does a series need? Massive sales figures? Acclaim from the likes of George RR Martin and Ursula LeGuin? Our own humble endorsement of two books that reminded us of the real joy of fantasy fiction? The TV, Film and Games rights being picked up by Lionsgate and being in development? Anyway, while the world is clamouring for book 3, Gollancz have decided that the Slow Regard, now in print in Hardback for 2 years(!) is due for paperback release, concerning the tale of Auri, the mysterious lady who lives in the labyrinth beneath The University where series lead Kvothe learned magic… and discovered her.
Buy from Waterstones
CBJJ16 - Go - Jan - Occupy Me
OCCUPY ME
Sullivan, Tricia
9781473212978
PB
£8.99
Gollancz
Much is promised by Tricia Sullivan’s OCCUPY ME, also from Gollancz. The set-up – a woman with wings that exist in another dimension tracking a killer-possessed man, all revolving around a briefcase that contains countless possible realities – is undoubtedly fantasy by genre, but with significant appeal beyond the fans. This could be one of the genre’s winners in 2016, showing what it offers to a wider readership.
Buy from Waterstones
cb-or-nov-the-shadow-of-what-was-lost
THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST
James Islington
9780356507750
HB
£16.99
Orbit
In a similar sense while the summary of James Islington’s debut The Shadow of What was Lost speaks of classic fantasy tropes – a protagonist possessed of rare magical ability, the return of a dark and ancient power – there’s clearly something more here, perhaps of that same refreshing fantasy of Patrick Rothfuss who the author straightforwardly cites as a major influence. Certainly publishers Orbit think so: debuts in Hardback as opposed to Trade Paperback are rare these days, so there could well be a real treat in store here…
Buy from Waterstones
cb-go-nov-runemarks
RUNEMARKS
Harris, Joanne M
9781473217041
HB
£14.99
Gollancz
Finally in November is a rarer thing still, a REISSUE in Hardback: less of a surprise when you learn it’s the fabulous Joanne Harris. Runemarks came out some 8 years ago but Gollancz are rereleasing it in the same stylings as the also-Norse-myth-inspired Gospel of Loki ready to capitalise on yuletide budgets. Safe territory to do so with what a book that straddles that YA / adult market in the same way as the otherwise inimitable Neil Gaiman: the world seems to have recovered from Ragnarok but, aside from goblins getting into the cellar, runemarked Maddy is being sent to the World Below to retrieve a relic of the gods by her only friend One-Eye…
Buy from Waterstones

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Fiction in December

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Author
ISBN
Bind
RRP
Pub
Series
Vol
cb-dr-dec-he-she-and-it
HE, SHE AND IT
Marge Piercy
9781785033797
PB
8.99
Del Rey
 
 
It’s December and Del Rey are resurrecting a Clarke Award-winner noted as a ‘classic feminist speculative novel’, having already done so in August for Marge Piercy’s other speculative feminist classic Woman on the Edge of Time for its 40th Anniversary. When bereaved mother Shira Shipman returns to her home town and grandmother she meets ‘a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions – and the ability to kill…’
Buy from Waterstones
cb-dec-the-core-of-the-sun
THE CORE OF THE SUN
Johanna Sinisalo, trans. Lola Rogers
9780802124647
TPB
£12.99
Grove Press
 
 
Tell us a book is something like ‘Finnish Weird’ and it just forces its way into our highlights on curiosity and uniqueness alone. The backdrop of a future society where docile women are bred and independent women sterilized obviously ticks the speculative feminist SF box as well while the secretly intelligent Vanna being an addict and dealer of illegal chilli peppers – with the promise of subversive hallucinatory episodes – drops it into our patented ‘slipstream WTF’ category. A ‘fiendishly engaging read’ publishers Grove promise and kudos to them for picking it up in the first place.
LINK TO COME…
cb-hoz-dec-dead-mans-steel
DEAD MAN’S STEEL
Luke Scull
9781781851593
HB
£18.99
Head of Zeus
 
 
Then, as promised above, the final volume of Luke Scull’s Grim Company trilogy arrives from Head of Zeus: Dead Man’s Steel. We’ve only read – but entirely enjoyed – book one and can perhaps best describe it as traditional fantasy brutalised by grimdark fantasy. Not unlike Ken Liu’s The Dandelion Dynasty the setting is what happens when the good guys win but remaining good is more than a little tricky – and repeat. The land is polluted by arcane energies from dead gods and demonic creatures are on the move. A dangerous, ragged trio, the remains of the Grim Company, are all that stand between an otherwise abandoned humanity and the rising supernatural threats on all sides…
Buy from Waterstones
CBJJ16 - Go - Feb - Empire V
EMPIRE V
Pelevin, Victor
9781473213081
PB
£8.99
Gollancz
 
 
Always up for giving a shout to some fantastical satire and Victor Pelevin’s Empire V certainly ticks that box. Subtitled The Prince of Hamlet, it still took the cover to get that it involved vampires which, given the incessant publishing, we normally wouldn’t touch with a sharpened bargepole. But given it’s concerned also with ‘cults and corruption of politics, banking and power’ there’s more than enough social relevance to outweigh any reluctance on that score.
Buy from Waterstones
cb-or-dec-the-liberation
THE LIBERATION
Ian Tregillis
9780356502342
PB
8.99
Orbit
The Alchemy Wars
3
December also brings the concluding part of Ian Tregillis’s The Alchemy Wars which began with The Mechanical, the author having been hailed as ‘a major new talent’ by George RR Martin. Think robot revolution – steampunk style.
Buy from Waterstones
cb-to-dec-the-burning-page
THE BURNING PAGE
Genevieve Cogman
9781447256274
PB
£7.99
Pan
The Invisible Library
3
And there’s more than a little of steampunk in Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library series, coming in its third instalment once more in December. ‘Think Dr Who with librarian spies’ say publishers Tor but think also alternate realities and cheerful SFF mash-ups. Also comes with helpful dragon as a tonic to any vampires and fae that might be hanging around.
Buy from Waterstones
Carabas Cover Image to Come width 180
PEACE TALKS
Jim Butcher
9780356500911
HB
18.99
Orbit
The Dresden Files
16
Lastly the long awaited return of Harry Dresden was in the schedule for December from worldwide Urban Fantasy master Jim Butcher. We know no more than that so we’ll be checking in on and updating with more as we can get hold of it. But Harry Dresden’s back!
Buy from Waterstones

 

Non-Fiction in November

* Author ISBN Bind RRP Pub Series Vol
cn-nov-the-2000-ad-script-book
THE 2000AD SCRIPT BOOK
See Below
9781781084670
PB
£19.99
2000 AD
 
 
Scripts by: Pat Mills, John Wagner, John Wagner, Peter Milligan, Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie, Ian Edginton, Alan Grant, Alan Grant
Something a little different from 2000 AD / Rebellion in December – and their publishing has been entirely intriguing over the last few years. History and an inside look at the great stories and scriptwriters of the galaxies greatest comic for the fans but also aspiring writers. Includes scripts by Pat Mills, John Wagner, Peter Milligan, Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie, Ian Edginton and Alan Grant…
Buy from Waterstones
cn-nov-aliens
ALIENS: SCIENCE FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Jim Al-Khalili
9781781256817
TPB
£7.99
Profile Books
 
 
Some more ‘fact behind the fiction’: Professor Jim Al-Khalili seeks what might be the truth that’s out there from experts in the field. Taking in exoplanets, speculative biology and psychology and, of course, fiction, there’s twenty short pieces for readers of science fiction and science fact. Not a orifice-specific probe in sight. Probably.
Buy from Waterstones
cn-dec-sos-alternatives-to-capitalism
SOS ALTERNATIVES TO CAPITALISM (2nd Ed)
Richard Swift
9781780263748
PB
£9.99
New Internationalist
 
 
Differently in the real world and Richard Swift has revised his SOS Alternatives to Capitalism for New Internationalist, previously having been the magazine’s editor. Originally published in 2014, reflecting in part on the financial crisis, a new edition so soon is perhaps evidence of how much is still going wrong that embracing alternatives might well put right. In part a historical guide, also ‘an inspirational manifesto for the future’.
Buy from Waterstones
cn-nov-david-bowie-the-last-interview
DAVID BOWIE: THE LAST INTERVIEW
David Bowie
9781612195759
PB
£11.99
Melville House
 
 
Since the great David Bowie passed not a month has gone by without some new work on him hitting the printing presses. We’re pretty sure we caught the key ones so far in earlier Highlights pages but there’s one each for November and December to round up the year. In November US indie Melville Press compile a final interview with other conversations with and about Bowie. The collection emphasises his ‘fierce intellectualism, artistry, and the humour behind it all.”
Buy from Waterstones

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Non-Fiction in December

* Author ISBN Bind RRP Pub Series Vol
cn-dec-forever-stardust
FOREVER STARDUST: DAVID BOWIE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Will Brooker
9781784531423
PB
£9.99
IB Tauris
 
Then in December IB Tauris proffer Forever Stardust from Will Brooker. It’s set to be published on Bowie’s birthday – or ready for it at least given that’s January and, rather than charting his sequential transformations and development offers an overview of coherent strands of and in his work: “recurring themes, images, motifs and concepts as an artist, across all his creative work, from lyrics and music through to costumes, storyboards, films, plays and painting”. An appropriate end in publishing for a year celebrating a life after its loss.
Buy from Waterstones

 

YA & Middle Grade

* Author ISBN Bind RRP Pub Series Vol
cc-nov-trollhunters
TROLLHUNTERS
Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus; Sean Murray (Ill)
9781471405181
PB
£6.99
Hot Key
 
 
We were pretty much fans, though we didn’t then know his name, of Del Toro the moment we saw the poster for Pan’s Labyrinth. Now the master of cinematic folklore, with co-writer Daniel Krause and illustrations by Sean Murray, brings his vision to fantastical children’s fiction – oh and Netflix as well it seems! Anyone aware of a little series going by the name of Stranger Things that became an immediate sensation upon release? Anyone doubting that a story about trolls in America by Guillermo del Toro is going to be AT LEAST as big? No? Readers and retailers, get your orders in now 😉
Buy from Waterstones
cc-dec-bone-gap
BONE GAP
Laura Ruby
9780571332755
PB
£7.99
Faber
 
 
This was one of the Bookseller Editor’s Highlights in their December Book Preview and its sounds absolutely fantastic. Young Roza has been kidnapped by a man who’s face Finn O’Sullivan can’t remember and no one believes him anyway; because Bone Gap is a place where the bones of the world are a little looser, enough that people slip away. But Petey Willis has a sense that there’s more to the story and sets out to investigate. We’re promised that the truth is stranger than you can possibly imagine – and the Bookseller’s review very much bears that out. Very VERY intrigued…
Buy from Waterstones

 

 

Graphic Novels

* Author ISBN Bind RRP Pub
cg-nov-cages
CAGES (SECOND EDITION)
McKean, Dave
9781506700847
PB
£22.50
Dark Horse
With so many books publishing we are selective about the reissues we include in these highlights, but thought the 25th Anniversary of Dave McKean’s Cages deserved a place here. It was originally published in ten issues over just under 3 years (93-96) and is a story of artists, belief, creativity and cats, written and drawn by McKean himself. McKean (in case you didn’t know) has worked extensively with Neil Gaiman on comics, children’s books and film adaptations and originals also, as well as memorably providing illustrations for SF Said’s wonderful Varjak Paw and its sequel. Most recently, also from Dark Horse, he’s created Black Dog, a biographical work on artist Paul Nash.
Buy from Forbidden Planet
cg-nov-the-artist
THE ARTIST
Haifisch, Anna
9781911081005
HB
£12.99
Breakdown Press
We’ve read good things about Anna Haifisch’s, added to which we have every hope that indie publisher Breakdown Press’s promise of ‘A hilarious and heart-wrenching comedy exposing the absurdity of the fine art world’ will deliver. I’m sure many of us will enjoy seeing it taken down more than a peg or two by someone on the inside. Looking forward to this…
Logo - Buy from hive.co.uk
cg-nov-black-widow-v1-waid-samnee
BLACK WIDOW VOL. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.’S MOST WANTED
Waid, Mark & Samnee, Chris
9780785199755
PB
£13.50
Marvel
9781846537431
PB
£12.99
Panini Uk Ltd / Marvel
On to more mainstream comics and Marvel and Mark Waid. One of those creators who is ALWAYS worth checking out, Waid brings something uniquely different and yet absolutely true of any character he touches. Now the Eisner Award-winning collaborative team of Waid and Chris Samnee, who did great things with Daredevil now take on his one-time girlfriend, the super-spy Black Widow. She’s on the run from her one-time employers SHIELD and looking for answers. The creative team will bring in the fans, the character’s prominence from the Avengers film franchise the general reader.
 Buy from Forbidden PlanetBuy from Forbidden Planet
cg-nov-civil-war-ii
CIVIL WAR II
Bendis, Brian Michael & Marquez, David
9781302901561
HB
£37.99
Marvel
9781846537554
PB
£16.99
Panini Uk Ltd / Marvel
The main course of Marvel’s year post Secret Wars, Civil War II was inevitable at some point but the ‘House of Ideas’ – and writer Brian Michael Bendis – were committed to finding the right idea before going anywhere with it. The first Civil War was the blockbuster hit by comics super A-lister Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, taking superhuman registration as the theme around which the hero vs hero drama – lead in that instance by Captain America and Iron Man – could unfold, something along those lines being taken up in the Captain America film of the same subtitle. CW II similarly takes a morally-neutral conceit with Iron Man and Captain Marvel gathering heroes behind themselves to do battle over it. A new superpowered individual has emerged who can accurately predict the future. Captain Marvel wants to use them to save lives – Iron Man (for once) is concerned at the consequences of doing exactly that. Bendis is joined by his talented artist collaborator on Iron Man David Marquez. It’s currently scheduled for November (Hardback from Marvel, Paperback from Panini) but the series has been delayed after Marquez became a father and Bendis agreed a different ending – requiring an extra issue – with editorial. December is possible but might well slip again.
MARVEL EDITION LINK TO COME /  
Buy from Forbidden Planet
CG - Ma - Apr - Karnak
KARNAK VOL. 1: THE FLAW IN ALL THINGS
Ellis, Warren & Zaffino, Gerardo
9780785198482
PB
£13.50
Marvel
“My curse is that I see the flaw in all things. Systems. Philosophies. Structures. People. Everything. Never forget who I am. I am Karnak of the Inhumans.” We’re tenuously including this much-slipped collection as a November highlight (having already been in two previously) but it is Warren Ellis. Ellis tends to do short runs on select Marvel characters but he’s an excellent writer and always does something interesting with them. Doubtless a worthy recommend and very much looking forward to reading (finally).
Buy from Forbidden Planet
cg-literary-life
LITERARY LIFE (reissue)
Posy Simmonds
9781911214380
HB
£16.99
Jonathan Cape
Okay so we’re allowing another reissue here but talk with any genuine expert on comics and sooner or later Posy Simmonds turns up. Literary Life became an instant classic and brings insight and humour as regards the writer’s vocation. This edition also collects additional material, including those of “two very different heroes attempt to right the wrongs afflicting the writing world, one by brute force and skulduggery, the other with a silky bedside manner.” Satire for the reader and no little catharsis one might hope for the writers out there and not just of comics.
Logo - Buy from hive.co.uk
cg-nov-saving-grace
SAVING GRACE
Grace Wilson
9780224102544
HB
£16.99
Jonathan Cape
And then we just had to include Saving Grace, set as it is in our stomping ground of the capital and the all too familiar (for many of us) challenges of house-sharing and having to move with escalating property prices and sketchy job prospects. It’s a story of the four female sharers but particularly Grace who’s having the least easy time of it. Sounds autobiographical. In which case we can well sympathise with Grace before we’ve even read it.
Buy from Forbidden Planet
cg-nov-neil-gaimans-midnight-days
NEIL GAIMAN’S MIDNIGHT DAYS TP
Neil Gaiman & various
9781401265014
PB
£14.99
Vertigo
Meanwhile DC – this month in the form of their Vertigo imprint – have trawled their vaults for Neil Gaiman’s early work both within the brand (which he part-founded along with other British creators and editor Karen Berger) and when it was simply DC’s ‘Mature Readers’ line. We gave a little whisper about this in our October Highlights while giving a shout to mainstream DC’s Gaiman collection (Batman and Superman / Green Lantern stories) which is released that month. This volume collects Hellblazer#27, Swamp Thing Annual #5, Sandman Mystery Theatre One-Shot – featuring Gaiman’s Sandman and the Golden Age character of the same name – and Welcome Back To The House Of Mystery#1. Happy Christmas Gaiman fans!
Buy from Forbidden Planet
CG - V - Nov - Sandman Overture Deluxe Not Final
SANDMAN OVERTURE TP
Neil Gaiman & JH Williams III
9781401265199
PB
£17.99
Vertigo
Then on its heels is the main course, the paperback of Sandman: Overture. After The Sandman finished its astonishing original run, Gaiman did put out two subsequent original graphic novel volumes: Endless Lives and illustrated Novella The Dream Hunters. It turned out however that when the 25th Anniversary of the series’ launch approached and Gaiman was asked there was another (last?) story he had in mind to tell of Dream of the Endless. Turns out he did – a prelude to the whole sequence. The story, and the art by JH Williams III, are just absolutely STUNNING. A must read graphic novel, though we might suggest you just go ahead and treat yourself to the hardback, whether or not the paperback has published at the time you read this.
Buy from Forbidden Planet
cg-nov-multiversity
MULTIVERSITY TP
Grant Morrison with Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart and Doug Mahnke
9781401265250
PB
£26.99
DC Comics
And it really is an A-List month for DC now-in-paperbacks because Grant Morrison’s Multiversity finally arrives in mass market form. While giving the briefest explanation of one of DC’s most recent ‘event’ collections in October we alluded to the almost corporate obsession with repeatedly reinventing, retconning and rebooting their universe. Not than Neil Gamain’s fellow Vertigo architect Grant Morrison wasn’t happily and gainfully employed previously with contributing much to that effort, Multiversity is something else again. It’s best understood as Morrison’s DC multiverse magnum opus, a work that reframes various alternate realities into a new scheme which steps beyond the fourth wall and includes the reader in it as the ‘greatest superhero of Earth Prime’. The series, Morrison sensationalised ahead of its release, was haunted (quite whether the graphic novel is similarly we can only guess but probably would be in the ‘opinion’ of Morrison). Perfect standalone mainstream insanity in comic form. Art provided by big names through to industry legends of Morrison’s calibre: Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart and Doug Mahnke.
Buy from Forbidden Planet

 

 

Tim Bayley

@timbayley1

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Hope some or all of that’s of interest / help! Do also check out our highlights of previous and forthcoming months this year via the links below…

JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

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JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE

 

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