January! We’ve gotten through the holidays, we’ve begun a new year, and the best possible way to defeat winter is to stay inside, lining our nests with books and drinking as many warm beverages as possible. (At least, that’s how I’ll be spending the next month.) I’ve gathered some of January’s most interesting SFF offerings for you—and these books run a pretty impressive gamut, with stops in Britain’s primeval past, a noir-tinged future Tokyo, and even a journey into the unconscious itself.
Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss
(Saga Press, Jan 1)
Over a long career, Molly Gloss has collected some stellar awards (including a PEN West Fiction Prize, a James Tiptree Jr. Award, and a Whiting Writers Award) and become a mentee and friend of Ursula K. Le Guin. Which makes it all the more surprising that many of her works were unavailable for years. Now, thirty years after its initial publication, Saga Press is re-issuing her novel Outside the Gates with brand new art by Jeffrey Alan Love.
Outside the Gates is a dystopian fantasy. A boy named Vren grows up being told that monsters lie beyond the gates of his village, but when he is cast out of his community, he finds a new home among the very creatures he was taught to fear. As he soon learns, some of them have powers that go far beyond anything “natural,” and there are forces at work in the wider world that want to harness those powers, whatever the cost.
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
(FSG, Jan 8)
It was supposed to be a fun, if somewhat intense, vacation. For the entire two weeks her father had off from work, Silvie and her family would live in rural Northern England, living like ancient Britons, building fires, cooking and cleaning and even hunting with primitive tools, and learning what life was like thousands of years ago.
So…fun. Of a kind.
But when it comes time to enact a timeless ritual and build a ghost wall of sticks and skulls, the lines between present and past blur, and the reality of Iron Age life—with all of its sacrifices—begins to spill into Silvie’s modern world.
Ninth Step Station by Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Curtis Chen
(Serial Box, Jan 9)
Have you tried Serial Box? It’s an innovative book delivery program that combines the short burst of storytelling that TV has perfected with the immersive experience of reading. Basically, when you sign up for a Serial Box book, you’ll get a weekly installment in ebook or audio format that builds to a full narrative. Each installment takes a little less than an hour to read, and there are usually between 10 and 16 chapters.
One of their most interesting offerings is a book called Ninth Step Station, which boasts four co-authors, Malka Older, Fran Wilde, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Curtis Chen, and which is releasing its opening chapter this month. Set in a tense future-Tokyo, with the city caught between powers fighting for control, violent resistance movements, and a powerful black market for body modification, a series of high-profile murders threatens to shatter the delicate balance. The detectives on the case are U.S. officer Emma Higashi and Tokyo Metropolitan Police Detective Miyako Koreda, but they need to find their own balance as partners if they want to have any hope of restoring peace to their city.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
(Random House, Jan 15)
With her debut novel, The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker examined a world cast into a slow doomsday scenario when the Earth’s rotation slowed. In her follow up, she tackles a similar slow-burn theme: a sleeping sickness that gradually overtakes an entire town in California.
But this isn’t a story of fighting against the clock for a cure, or exploring how society copes with the illness. Instead, Walker takes us into the dreams of the sleepers, weaving a story that can only be possible when the rules of waking life are discarded for unfettered imagination.
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
(Mira, Jan 29)
If you met Kin Stewart you’d see a husband and father, juggling his I.T. career with the needs of his family and trying to stay cool enough to maintain a strong relationship with his teen daughter, Miranda. But what you wouldn’t know—what no one knows—is that Kin is actually a secret agent from the year 2142, and that he only has this sunny suburban life because a mission went wrong and stranded him in 1990s San Francisco.
When a rescue team arrives it seems obvious to Kin that he has to stay in the past and live out his life with his beloved family. The only problem is that the time he’s experienced as decades has only been a few weeks to the family he left behind in the future.
How can he choose between two lives? And how can he save his daughter when history itself begins to fall apart?