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The 2015 Locus Awards are in! Beginning in 1971, the science fiction magazine “Locus” has used reader polls to determine the nominees and winners. This year the nominees represented quite a diverse array of authors and styles.

Here are the winner and nominees for the top categories. Click on the titles to find the book in the DPL catalog, and you can find the complete list here.

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Winner: Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie – FleetCaptainBreqMianaai has acquired both a human body and command of a starship. Not the worst fate in the universe for a several-thousand-year-old AI component (or “ancillary”) separated from her former vessel’s hive mind. Sent to the planet Athoek as an envoy of the many-bodied Lord of the Radch, Breq must prevent a civil war that threatens the stability of the Radchaai Empire while engaging in a more personal quest for answers about the past.

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Fantasy Novel
Winner: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – When his estranged father, Emperor Varenechibel oftheElflands, perishes in an airship crash, 18-year-old MaiaDrazhar is recalled from exile and proclaimed heir to the Elfin imperial throne of Ethuveraz. Maia, whose late mother was a goblin, is immediately transformed from pariah to messiah– attracting sycophants, schemers, and enemies in short order. If Maia is to survive life at court, let alone rule, he’ll need to distinguish false friends from true and use his wits to navigate a treacherous world of conspiracy and political intrigue.

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Winner: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie – Heir to thethroneYarvi, prompted by the murder of his father, embarks on a kingdom-transforming journey to regain the throne, even though having only one good hand means he cannot wield a weapon.

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Winner: The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert – Bay Singer has bigger secrets than most. Not that she knows about them. Her mother, Nan, is sure that the burden of those secrets would be too much, and that’s why she never told anyone the truth … not even Bay. There’s a lot that Nan has kept quiet over the years, especially those times with Mavis and Ruthie–times that were dark and full of guilt. When the three meet again in Nan’s garden, their reunion has spellbinding effects that none of them could have imagined, least of all Bay.

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Collection
Winner: Last Plane to Heaven, Jay Lake (Read my review here) – Lake (1964–2014) was a well-known author of science fiction and fantasy novels, but he was also a prolific short story writer. This final collection shows the range of styles that Lake was comfortable with and showcases his clever way with words.

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the book cover or the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page.

index The Vorrh by B. Caitling – Next to the colonial town of Essenwald sits the Vorrh, a vast—perhaps endless—forest. It is a place of demons and angels, of warriors and priests. Sentient and magical, the Vorrh bends time and wipes  memory. Legend has it that the Garden of Eden still exists at its heart. Now, a renegade English soldier aims to be the first human to traverse its expanse.Listen to Alan Moore read his own introduction to the book here:
index22 Vermilion by Molly Tanzer – Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.Read Andrew Liptak ‘s review on io9 here:

(caution, some spoilers.)

index The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – Carolyn and a dozen other children being raised by “Father,” a cruel man with mysterious powers, begin to think he might be God, so when he dies, they square off against each other to determine who will inherit his library, which they believe holds the power to all Creation.
index The Border by Robert McCammon – Two powerful, mysterious alien races are at war; Earth is caught in the middle, collateral damage. The planet is devastated, its people made nearly extinct. Those who have survived the catastrophic destruction caused by the alien war are succumbing to fallout from the battle, which is turning them into half-human creatures preying on those who are still human. Mankind seems doomed, but there is one small hope: a young boy who possesses powers that could save humanity.
indexQ91V0FBG The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher  – Relegated to a Fleetspace station after saving an Earth of the distant future, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland navigates hostile workers and persistent malfunctions before receiving a mysterious warning from thousands of light-years away.
indexAIB87K3C Desert Rising by Grant Kelley – The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One’s four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective—one that just might be considered heresy, but that is catching on rather quickly …
index Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter – Set in a near-future LA, a man falls in love with a beautiful android — but when she is kidnapped and sold piecemeal on the black market, he must track down her parts to put her back together.
index City of Savages by Lee Kelly – Living in Manhattan, which is now a prisoner-of-war camp, sisters Skyler and Phee set in motion a series of events that forces them to join a group of strangers on an escape mission through a city rife with cannibals and sadistic cults.

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the book cover or the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page.

seveneves-681x1024 Seveneves by Neal Stephenson – When a catastrophic event dooms the planet, nations around the world band together to devise an ambitious survival plan in outer space 5,000 years before their progeny organize an audacious return.
A1Yo1fulAfL__SL1500_-697x1024 Uprooted by Naomi Novak –  Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
TheWaterKnife-PaoloBacigalupi-687x1024  The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi  – Working as an enforcer for a corrupt developer, Angel Velasquez teams up with a hardened journalist and a street-smart Texan to investigate rumors of California’s imminent monopoly on limited water supplies.
91TULqzHl3L__SL1500_-678x1024  The Book of Phoenix – by Nnedi Okorafor – In a haunting prequel to Who Fears Death, Phoenix, an “accelerated woman” whose abilities far exceed those of a normal human, becomes desperate to escape her “home” in New York’s Tower 7 after the boy she loves, another biologically altered human, takes his own life.
the-gospel-of-loki-9781481449465_hr The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris – The trickster god Loki (sorry, not that Loki) describes the rise and fall of the gods of the Norse, detailing how he left Chaos to serve Odin until the fall of Asgard.
81XbEhMuL2L__SL1500_  The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – The first book in this epic series, tells the story of two men who become friends through rebelling against tyranny and then turn against each other in defense of irreconcilable ideals. Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, the two find themselves the leaders of two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice
unnamed  Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson – Generations after leaving earth, a starship draws near to the planet that may serve as a new home world for those on board. But the journey has brought unexpected changes and their best laid plans may not be enough to survive.
Of-Noble-Family Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal – A conclusion to the series by the award-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey finds Jane and Vincent reluctantly traveling to the West Indies, where Vincent’s family estate has fallen into shambles.

jacketShort story collections can be a hard sell. Unless you’re a reader who already enjoys them, lovers of a longer story often dismiss their briefer cousins and  I admit that I am one of those readers. Even with an intriguing title, I’ll stay on the fence until the end of the first few stories. Science fiction author Gene Wolfe, in his introduction to this collection, acknowledges such readers, and begs us to stay for at least the eponymous story “The Last Plane to Heaven,” if only because this collection truly is the last from Jay Lake, who passed away from cancer in 2014 and because, as the author says in the dedication, “In the end, words are all that survive us.”

This bittersweet acknowledgement of the author’s own mortality (and ours) sets the tone of the wide-ranging collected stories. From a wayward android lost on Earth, to a futile mission against the agents of a Lovecraftian horror,  these stories express both a love of discovering what is over the next horizon and the liberating act of giving one’s life for such adventure. These are not stories that necessarily have happy endings. As with many short stories, they leave you wanting to know what happens next. There is a yearning that suffuses this collection, an admission that we will never know what happens next, at least in this life.

But while we don’t leave with all the answers, Lakes’ stories tell fantastic tales of the past and future. Lewis and Clark’s famous westward expedition uncovers a place that the human race is not yet ready to know of in “Jefferson’s West.” In “The Women Who Ate Stone Squid,” set in the far future, evidence of an ancient, long-dead intelligent species is uncovered, but in this discovery, humankind might invite the same destruction. “Testaments” tells the stories of the Six Sleeping Kings, each who have ushered in seismic changes in human society at the direction of a higher power, and the Seventh, who has yet to wake. The firing of a boson gun in the 1960s sets off the unraveling of the universe centuries later – but who could have imagined?

Lake gives brief introductions to his stories – the hows and whys and wheres of story writing, as well as a rueful admission that the chemotherapy that granted him a few more years of life also destroyed his “writing brain” in a truly Faustian bargain . His voice is strongest in the “Angels” stories that begin and end each section. His final words (for us at least) are written  in “The Cancer Catechism” at the end.

This not just a collection of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk and spirituality, nor is it a joyless recounting of an author’s past glory. Each story piques the imagination, and stays with you long after the tale is over. And what more could an author ask for?

making of middle earthJ. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings consistently tops polls as the best-loved literary work of all time. Now in The Making of Middle Earth, medieval scholar and Tolkien expert Christopher Snyder presents the most in-depth exploration yet of Tolkien’s source materials for Middle-earth – from the languages, poetry, and mythology of medieval Europe and ancient Greece to the halls of Oxford and the battlefields of World War I.

Fueled by the author’s passion for all things Tolkien, this richly illustrated book also reveals the surprisingly pervasive influence of Tolkien’s timeless fantasies on modern culture. (description from publisher)

APRIL 1

anchorman2Anchorman 2 – Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner

Ron and Veronica’s romance falls apart as the duo anchors a weekend broadcast at a New York-based network in 1980. Ron is fired for being the worst anchor anyone has ever seen and so he leaves Veronica rather than live in her shadow. So he re-creates himself at a CNN-type network in the eighties and accidentally invents the soul-sucking brand of non-news that now rules cable as he tries to win back Veronica’s love. Rated PG-13

APRIL 8

hobbit smaugThe Hobbit – the Desolation of Smaug – Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Stephen Fry, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett

Bilbo Baggins continues on in his journey with the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim their lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Rated PG-13

 

homefrontHomefront – Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth,

An action-packed thriller about how far one man will go to protect his family. Widowed ex-DEA agent Phil Broker retires to a quiet Southern town with his ten-year-old daughter and discovers that the idyllic setting is riddled with drugs and violence. When a riveting chain of events forces him to face off with psychotic local drug lord Gator Bodine, Broker must retaliate using the fearsome skills he hoped to keep in his past. Rated R

 

paranormalParanormal Activity – The Marked Ones – Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral

The same malevolent demon who claimed Kristi and Katie is back. Jesse starts experiencing several disconcerting and indescribable things after his neighbor’s death. As he looks into these occurrences, he discovers that he has been chosen for possession by this malicious demon. It’s inevitable that he will be under its control; it’s only a matter of time. Rated R

 

august osage countyAugust : Osage County – Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis

The dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Rated R

 

 

APRIL 15

philomenaPhilomena – Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark

In 1952, a young Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea in Ireland after giving birth to her first child. When her son became a toddler, the nuns sent him to America for adoption. Philomena then spent the next fifty years seeking for him in vain. Rated PG-13

 

 

secret life of walter mittySecret Life of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, John Daly, Gary Wilmes

Watch the classic story by James Thurber, about a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance, and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Rated PG

 

flowers in the atticFlowers in the Attic – Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye, Dylan Bruce

A gothic story of four siblings who, after the death of their father, are torn from a peaceful life and subjected to abuse resulting from a dark family secret. Abandoned by their mother and forced to endure unimaginable treatment living in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion, the children form their own family unit. But as the oldest boy and girl come of age, they are entrapped by their family’s sordid past as they try to survive and escape the harsh living conditions.

APRIL 29

47 ronin47 Ronin – Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki

Kai is an outcast who joins Oishi, the leader of 47 outcast samurai. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. They embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors. Rated PG-13

 

 

legend of herculesThe Legend of Hercules – Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins

In ancient Greece, 1200 B.C., a queen succumbs to the lust of Zeus to bear a son promised to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the king and restore peace to a land in hardship. But this prince, Hercules, knows nothing of his real identity or his destiny. He desires only one thing: the love of Hebe, Princess of Crete, who is promised to his brother. When Hercules learns of his greater purpose, he must choose: to flee with his true love or fulfill his destiny and become the true hero of his time. Rated PG-13

 

gimme shelterGimme Shelter – Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones

Based on inspiring true events, a teenage girl flees life with her drug-addicted mother to find the wealthy father she’s never known. Tells the extraordinary and courageous tale of one girl’s fight against the odds to find redemption and, ultimately, to create a family she can call her own. Rated PG-13

 

 

boneseasonI read a lot about The Bone Season before I started reading the book, which means that I read a lot about the book’s author, Samantha Shannon.  A twenty-one year old recent graduate from Oxford University, Shannon has been marketed as a literary wunderkind. Every interview and review mentions her age or her status as a “young writer”.  As a first-time published author, that is to be expected (here I am doing the same), and I would be lying if I didn’t say that influenced my decision to pick it up.

But this novel stands on its own (well, at least until the next six books in the series are released.)  Shannon has created a fascinating near-future paranormal fantasy novel that includes elements of revisionist history and dystopian science fiction.  Set in Scion controlled London in 2059, this fast-paced novel introduces readers to Paige Mahoney, a member of the clairvoyant criminal underworld.  Scion was formed to find and eliminate clairvoyants like Paige, so being a member of Jaxon Hall’s Seven Dials based gang keeps her a protected and fed member of a family.  But when Paige commits a crime that leads to her arrest and capture, she finds herself in Sheol I, a penal colony for voyants run by Rephaim, a race of non-human clairvoyants.  While in Sheol I, Paige is assigned to the Warden for training and care and she has to decide if she can trust him, as she tries to find a way to save herself and the other humans imprisoned for life in Sheol I.

Shannon has been called the next J.K. Rowling (pressure anyone?) and The Bone Season has been compared to the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games series.  I understand why, and I would recommend that fans of both series check out The Bone Season.  But I think that while there are elements of each in this book (magical powers, dystopian future, strong female protagonist), Shannon has created something different.  She has said that she was influenced by Margaret Atwood, and this is apparent in her intelligent, literary take on urban fantasy.  This might be my favorite read this year (but there are two more months to go, so don’t hold me to that.)

Margo Lanagan is an artist, and Tender Morsels is a potent story, rich in magic and full of feeling. Liga, with a babe in arms and another on the way – both forced on her in the most unpleasant ways you care to imagine – is rescued from her miserable life by an elemental creature, removed to her Heart’s Desire: her personal heaven, a world that narrowly overlaps her real pre-industrial, vaguely-historical, sort-of-European one. The boundary is firm for a while and Liga raises her daughters in peace and safety, but eventually people start poking their way through – in both directions. What follows is a meditative, surprising, totally unique tale of self discovery, familial and romantic love, magic, fear, and growing up. It’s slow paced and knotted with complex, beautiful language. It’s brilliant and mature and devastating, but uplifting at the same time. Tender Morsels is based on the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red. It fills in the bones of that story, adding motivation to the characters and a reason to the movements of the plot, which always bends to fit the whims of the magic, and never the other way around.

 “You are a living creature, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart.”

This book isn’t for everyone: the plot hinges on violence and sexual abuse, so those who are uncomfortable with those topics will be unhappy with this book. It’s written for a teenage audience, but the complexity of the writing and some mature content mean that it’s better suited for older teens or adults who read YA.

Some more novels based on fairy tales:

I can’t believe I’m about to recommend a horror movie. This feels weird. But The Cabin in the Woods is the kind of movie that creates a lot of confusing emotions, and I bet that’s the kind of praise that producer and co-writer Joss Whedon would hope for. Five college kids enjoy a road trip to an isolated mountaintop cabin, complete with a peaceful lake, sinister locals, and a cellar full to bursting with creepy memorabilia. If it sounds too much like a stereotypical slasher, that’s because it is: this cabin is being controlled remotely by a full staff of suited, vaguely government-looking people who are manipulating the kids’ behavior the way the Gamemakers manipulated The Hunger Games (Push the red button for more fire, pull the green handle to unleash monsters, that kind of thing).

This film was shot in 2009 – well before the success of Thor and The Avengers made Chris Hemsworth bigger than his small but hilarious role as the not-so-stereotypical jock – but it wasn’t released until 2012. If you’ve remained unspoiled since then, somehow, I won’t ruin your fun in watching this movie unspoiled. But I will say: it’s darned surprising. Every time you think you have this film figured out, you find out it goes just a little bit further, and gets a little bit better, than you’d imagined. But this recommendation comes with a warning: The Cabin in the Woods is funny, and smart, and satirical, and downright fun, but the fun of lampooning horror movies can’t be had without actually showing a horror movie, so there are lots of seriously graphic scenes here – definitely stay away if you can’t handle on-screen violence. But if you can, and if you’ve ever wondered: “why?! Why on earth do people like these dumb slasher flicks? What are we, as a society, and as an artistic culture, getting out of it?!” here’s a well-made movie that will offer some interesting answers.

Luke Pearson’s Hilda graphic novel series is whimsical, funny, and excruciatingly charming.  Hilda is a blue haired girl living in a magical world filled with trolls, invisible tiny people, exotic birds, flying giant cats, and a lonely wooden man.  Hilda is a kind, thoughtful person, and her character develops nicely throughout the series. Although created for children, this series is a delight for all ages.

hildafolkHildafolk is the first and the shortest book in the series.  This quick introduction to our curious heroine takes the reader on an adventure through (what Pearson calls) the Scandinavian wilderness (with a large dose of magic).  Hilda camps in the rain, draws some interesting rock formations, and has a run-in with a troll.

Hildafolk is followed by the remarkable Hilda and the Midnight Giant.  In this hildamidnightsequel, Hilda begins finding tiny letters demanding that she and her mother move away.  Isolated in the countryside, Hilda cannot figure out who would be demanding that they move (particularly in such a tiny fashion.)  As Hilda solves the mystery, a beautiful hidden world is revealed and Hilda and her mother must decide if they should stay in their beloved home and risk stepping on their neighbors, or moving on to start a new life in the city.

hildabirdHilda and the Bird Parade takes place (spoiler!following their move to the city, where Hilda is trying to learn to fit in.  Used to being able to roam the countryside free of supervision, Hilda and her mother are both trying to navigate city the new dangers and lifestyle changes brought on by city life.  When Hilda befriends a talking raven, she has an adventure that shows her that her new home could be just as exciting and beautiful as the one that she left behind.