Breathe in that crisp air! It’s fall! …almost. It’s nigh-decorative gourd season. Autumn Man will soon stalk the orchards! Pumpkin spice everything will crash over us in a glorious burnt siena wave. (And yes, I will ALSO be celebrating the glories of Fall next month, because it’s the only season in which I am comfortable. Leave me my small happinesses.) Here, ever closer to The Best Month, I have gathered up some appropriately spooooky titles, including a giddy mashup of necromancy and Clue, a novella featuring not one but TWO monsters, and a book that stars a literal grave robber. However, in reluctant deference to it being Not Quite Halloween Yet, I also found a punky time travel story and a space opera from a Hugo Award-winner.
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
(Harper Voyager, September 3)
Fall kicks off with a new title from Becky Chambers, who just won a Hugo for Best Series for her “Wayfarers” books last month! To Be Taught, If Fortunate looks at a different way to make space travel possible. By using “somaforming” astronauts can take biological supplements that allow them to produce antifreeze, adapt to different levels of gravity, and even transform radiation into food. Fifteen light years from Sol, a small team uses this technology to survey four planets that might support Earthlings in the near future. But what about life back on Earth? Well, time has passed. The mission, and its intrepid explorers, are a note in history textbooks. What will happen when the explorers come back to report their findings? Will anyone remember? Will anyone care? Terrified at returning to a planet even more alien than the ones she’s explored, Ariadne O’Neill decides to chronicle her journey and its lessons, hoping that she can tell her story when she gets back—and that the people of Earth will want to hear it.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
(Tor, September 10)
Do you like swordfights? How about lesbian necromancers? How about enough fighting skeletons to make Ray Harryhausen clap with unbridled glee? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to look into Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. For background’s sake: there are nine Houses, each with their own sworn mission. When the undying Emperor calls representatives from each house to compete for the role of Lyctor—which would mean a highly prestigious, nearly eternal advisory position—the Ninth’s only heir, Harrowhark Nonagesimus must answer the summons. And the only person she can bring as her bodyguard is Gideon Nav, the bitter, sarcastic foundling who Harrow has been torturing since the two were children together. Gideon would like nothing more than to watch Harrow die as slowly as possible, but if she wants a chance to get off the planet and out from under the Ninth House, she has to do as she’s told, protect her greatest enemy, and possibly solve a murder mystery and live through a ridiculous amount of court intrigue. And that’s before she even deals with battling an army of undead skeletons…
The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga
(Angry Robot, September 10)
This twisty piece of fantasy-noir-Victoriana comes from a pair of debut authors, Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga. Resurrectionist Roger Weathersby is living a perfectly practical life of digging up bodies for science (and profit) and eschewing any form of magic—which is after all, just a myth. But when he’s framed for murder (you spend too much time around illegal cadavers and that bound to happen) his ex-friend Sibylla, a princess who is quite convinced magic does exist, has to step in and save him with a blood ritual. Now if Roger can just get over his prejudices the two of them can get down to the serious task of hunting the murderer haunting the streets of Caligo, solve a crime, save the city, and maybe clear Roger’s name in the process.
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
(Tor, September 24)
This dark fantasy takes us to Elendhaven, a ruined port city abandoned by its government and struggling in the aftermath of a plague. When a nameless…thing…washes up onto the city’s banks, it encounters a young man named Florian Leickenbloom, who would have been the powerful heir to a fortune, if there was still a fortune. Instead, he’s a sickly, stunted boy with no future, trapped in a fallen city. But what Florian does have is magic, and a harrowing plan for vengeance. And so the Monster of Elendhaven is born, as the nameless thing is driven by Florian’s uncanny skill to stalk the streets looking to punish those who let the city die. How long can their reign of terror last? And should the reader root for the monsters or for the Mage Hunter sent from the south to stop Florian and his creation by any means necessary?
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
(Tor, September 24)
In the dim and distant year of 1992, Beth heads off to a riot grrl show expecting a night of ragey fun with her friends, not to end up wedged into her BFF’s backseat with the corpse of said BFF’s abusive boyfriend, looking for a place to stash a body. This act of self-defense changes the course of the friends’ lives, as they set out to make sure other women can live lives free of violence—even if it means enacting a little violence of their own. Meanwhile, in 2022, Tess spends her days changing time, traveling back to important moments in history in an attempt to create a perfect timeline. Beth’s life becomes entangled with Tess’s, intersecting in startling ways as the professional time traveler and the accidental vigilante are sucked into a battle that might destroy the future of time travel entirely, leaving only a tiny group of genuine bastards with the power to shape history. But against all of time, what chance do two women have?