Thursday, January 14, 2016

Most Anticipated Books (and other things) for 2016

Hello, January! What a nice year you've brought behind you. Today I want to share the books I'm most looking forward to this year. Like every year there will be huge surprises, but there's already outrageous promise for what we can read. I've added a couple of games and movies to the end, because anticipation isn't reserved just for writing. But damned if I won't be unreachable the week Children of Earth and Sky releases.

The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
(Right Now,

The first book on my list is actually releasing this week! One of's hot novellas, The Drowning Eyes is a tale of the high seas, and the people that control the wind behind your sails. Wind mages are a great idea for pirate stories. Their power stopped raiders for years, but that magic has been stolen, forcing an intrepid captain to risk her ship and crew to get it back.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
(May, New American Library)

Considering his previous novel, River of Stars, is one of the greatest Epic Fantasies I've ever read, I'm predisposed to pine for Children of Earth and Sky. But Kay's next novel speaks to a particular point often overlooked in Fantasy: the lives of small people, like poor artists, in the face of a war they can't change and have no power over.

At World Fantasy I had the privilege of hearing him read an excerpt, and in a short period he brought a trifling painter's existence into more exquisite detail and conflict than most writers can wring out of a battle of armies. That the novel will follow raiders and armies excites, but it's the intimate and disparate lives within conflicts that always brings me to Kay.

Wall of Storms by Ken Liu
(Book 2 in the Dandelion Dynasty Trilogy)
(October, Saga Press)

Okay, so that's the cover for his previous novel. But there isn't a cover reveal for Wall of Storms yet! I read Grace of Kings early in 2015, and in late December I was still thinking about some of its trickiest bits. It has some of the best payoffs in the history of Epic Fantasy. It also sets up Wall of Storms to do what the new Star Wars trilogy should have: deal with heroes who have responsibility.

After the two great wars of the first book, now we have to deal with a new class of rulers, and what their ethos means when the country bends to their will. Liu is a profound thinker, whom I trust has interesting things in store. It's more ominous, too, that we're the authority going into the middle book of a trilogy.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
(July, Tor Books)

It's been fun to read Kowal's Twitter feed as she's thought this over and researched it, but I'm quite ready to actually read her take a war through mediums. Psychic spiritualists are dispatched to read troops and spy abroad. What happens when their findings go unbelieved by their powers that be? It's going to be fun to visit a new world from her.

The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch
(Book Four in the Gentleman Bastards Sequence)
(July, Gollancz)

The novel Lynch originally intended his Gentleman Bastards series to start with, even if now it's Book 4. Locke and Jean are the loving, protective, and hysterical buddies we've always needed them to be, now well over their heads in the mythology of a world headed to conflict. A couple of thieves getting sucked into a battle of what sound like adorkable vikings is right up my alley. There are few writers in Fantasy today who can swing styles as sharply and well as Lynch; he can be damningly funny, and then fearsomely eloquent, in the turn of a paragraph. While the end of Book 3 left some people curious, I'm convinced he's conning us. It's what Locke and Jean would do.

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories by Caroline M. Yoachim
(Date Pending, Fairwood Press)

If you haven't experienced Yoachim's short fiction yet, she's easy to find. One of my favorite voices in short stories today, she's been publishing by Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Daily Science Fiction, Apex, and The Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy. I'm not surprised that a publisher jumped on the opportunity to collect her best stories, and they've given it a brilliant cover. This should be a great introduction to a special writer of the form.

End of Watch by Stephen King
(Book 3 in the Bill Hodges Trilogy)
(July, Scribner)
A little silly that the cover refers to him as the author of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, right? The author of The Stand, The Shining, Carrie, The Green Mile - yes. But those two are the first and second books in a trilogy that's kept me turning pages. This summer I'll finish the story of Bill Hodges, a detective who poured so much of his life into his work that when he retired, he only had the ghosts of old failures to chase. We expect the killer that feigned dormancy through Book 2 is about to sit up and follow Hodges home. A fitting end to a series that's seen some of King's best plotting.

Four Roads Cross
by Max Gladstone
(Book 5 in the Craft Sequence)
(July, Tor Books)
If you don't know my fondness for the Craft Sequence, you must be pretty new around here. But Four Roads Cross (cruelly, the fifth book in Gladstone's playfully titled series) has a distinct promise: continuity is coming for our heroes. Consequences we've anticipated since the end of Book One come knocking in the opening chapters. Gladstone is doing some of the most innovative work in all of Fantasy today.

Hyper Light Drifter
(Heart Machine)
Delayed for the cardiac problems of its lead developer, the latest trailer shows what you're waiting for. That music is impeccable. Too many indie games emulate older visual styles, but Hyper Light Drifter is pulling on an older era to build imagery that we've never seen, like the gigantic pixel skeleton reaching out from the lake. Demos have shown it's fast-paced after the heart of Supergiant Games's Bastion. Everything about it looks like it should be a pleasure to exist in.

Grim Dawn
(Crate Entertainment)
The project I'm most happy to have Kickstarted. Not only did the team make good on their promises for a Diablo-like, but when pre-orders and Early Access got them excess money, they reinvested it, scrapping their plans for an expansion and putting that content into the existing game at no extra charge to anyone.

If I allowed beta versions of games onto Game of the Year lists, this would have ranked highly in 2014 and 2015. It's in the mold of Titan Quest, one of the finest Diablo-style games in existence, but has a fresh aesthetic. The world is broken and haunted, equal parts abandoned and post-apocalyptic; your armor is often discarded clothing or repurposed metal. One of the first shields in the game is clearly the door from a furnace. You cobble together survival, forging out into Cthonic world.

(February, 20th Century Fox)
Excited as I am for another Bryan Singer X-Men movie, Deadpool is the superhero film I want. It's irreverent, not a pure comedy, but putting a comedic character in dire circumstances and letting him survive. There's also wish fulfillment, as he comes through exploitation of a chronic illness to turn into the red-suited goofball. Superhero movies are taking themselves too damned seriously right now: Batman Vs. Superman, Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse all promise to be joyless. Deadpool promises to actually have a good time as he tries to subvert the tropes of a broody genre.

The Witch
(February, A24)
I'm still not sure why A24 didn't release this in October 2015, but I've been waiting eagerly for it since the first trailer hit. It's a period piece grounded in the religion and superstition of its time in the pioneer era of the United States. The necessary isolation and limited reasoning available to the family makes the disappearing children far more unnerving. They are alone in a place they don't understand, but the place may understand them better.

I'll stop before gushing about how good Ms. Marvel and Grayson have gotten. But before you go, what are you looking forward to this year?


  1. Very excited about the next Lynch novel. And Deadpool! Looks wicked.

  2. You have given me a lot to track down and savour. Thank you.
    I am waiting (and have been waiting for a while) for the next in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers in London series.

  3. Dove for The Drowning Eyes on Amazon as soon as I read your review! Something to look forward to after the Three Body Problem and Embassytown!

  4. Another Guy Gavriel Kay book to devour!! Several other very interesting-looking books too - thanks, John.

  5. After seeing the unrated trailer for deadpool I'm praying it's that funny!

  6. I'm looking forward to Deadpool, too. It's a role made for Ryan Reynolds, despite the original mishandling of him in that guise. So the King series is worth it? I'll have to check them out. I admit that I'm behind on the new King books.

  7. Wow. There is a lot to look forward to this year. I really must check out Caroline Yoachim's stories and the Craft Sequence. The Witch looks like my kind of show, too. Thanks for the tips.

  8. The Drowning Eyes looks very interesting.


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