Jan 17, 2011

2011 Debuts: Science Fiction

From self-hating cyborgs and cyberpunk space opera to post-apocalyptic Petrovitches and unexplained alien objects, the 2011 publishing slate is littered with offerings from some of the genre's brightest new talent. Here are some science fiction debuts to watch out for.

Science Fiction

Title: Up Against It
Author: M.J. Locke
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Synopsis: In M. J. Locke’s absorbing debut novel, rogue artificial intelligence and a lethal resource crisis threaten the asteroid colony Phoecea—while, meanwhile, an interplanetary crimesyndicate appears to be pulling the strings. Locke’s background as a resource management specialist in the energy industry gives particular depth to the portrayal of Jane, the bureaucrat-engineer in charge of keeping the plumbing running on her island of humanity in unforgiving space.

In short order, Jane discovers that her colony’s water crisis may have been engineered by the Martian mafia, as a means of executing a coup and turning Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn’t bad enough, an AI that spawned during the industrial emergency has slipped through the distracted safeguards and gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels. There’s never enough SF like this: accessible, fun to read, featuring both young and old characters who we like instantly and care about, plus a constant flow of fascinating invention. Among other things, Up Against It is a “workplace drama,” full of the fascination of watching competent people do their extremely interesting jobs, with lives at stake.

Title: Equations of Life
Author: Simon Morden
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Synopsis: Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor.

He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic.

For example, getting involved = a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London.

And clearly saving the girl = getting involved.

Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex.

Russian mobsters + Yakuza + something called the New Machine Jihad = one dead Petrovitch.

But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one. "

Title: Soft Apocalypse
Author: Will McIntosh
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Synopsis: It’s at a speed-dating service that Jasper realizes he’s living through the apocalypse. He’s not interested in dating the woman who convinces him of this, because she’s in a wheelchair–a victim of Polio-X–and he feels guilty about that. In fact he struggles with the whole notion of looking for love while corpses pile up in the back alleys of Savannah. Maybe finding true love isn’t even possible when Dada terrorists prowl the streets planting bombs in dogs, and voracious strains of bamboo choke the countryside, driving ever more people into the cities. And watch out for dozens of home-cooked viruses, including a brand new one: Doctor Happy. It doesn’t kill you, it just leaves you on a permanent LSD trip.

When the country finally collapses under the weight of a thousand cuts, Jasper flees his home town of Savannah with a tribe of friends. It’s here that he encounters Phoebe, an old girlfriend, and wonders if she might be the one. Both suspect they’re incapable of love after all the things they’ve seen and done. Close to starvation, an opportunity arises–a community that offers food and safety. If they’ll infect themselves with the Doctor Happy virus first.

Title: The Quantum Thief
Author: Hannu Rajaniemi
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Synopsis: Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed ...

Title: Leviathan Wakes
Author: Ty Franck (with Daniel Abraham as James S. A. Corey)
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: June 15, 2011
Synopsis: Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Title: Heaven's Shadow
Author: David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: July 5, 2011
Synopsis: "Heaven's Shadow" begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race - but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined ...What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has travelled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will ead to anything but harm for humanity.

Not Actual Cover Art
Title: Machine
Author: Jennifer Pelland
Publisher: Apex Books
Release Date: August 12, 2011
Synopsis: "When a fast-acting mutation of Alzheimer's threatens to destroy Celia Krajewski's brain, she has her memories copied and downloaded into a perfect mechanical recreation of her body so she can continue to live her life while her flesh body stays in stasis, waiting for the cure. But when she wakes up, she finds her wife has left her, unable to reconcile the thought of Celia being in two places at once. Celia turns her pain inward, mutilating herself so she can see her machine parts. She soon falls in with a group of "mechanicals" who illicitly modify their programming and appearance as they see fit. But losing her humanity is a dangerous game, legally, emotionally, and sexually, and it's a game that Celia is ill-equipped to play."

Based on these books alone, it should be an interesting year for new sci-fi writers. Expect some more details as the release dates creep up. Keep in mind that I can't be aware of the books I'm not aware of, so please mention any debuts I may have missed in the comments.

Come back tomorrow for to see which authors are publishing their first fantasies.

The full index of 2011 debuts can be found here.


  1. You've chosen a fascinating picture to illustrate my book, but the protagonist isn't a white woman. Would you mind noting that this isn't the actual cover image? I'd hate for people to get the wrong idea. Thanks!

  2. Another minor note. As I'm sure you're aware, Ty Franck had a wee bit of help with Leviathan Wakes. :)

  3. Wow, that's the first time I've been given solo credit for the book. Usually it's the other way around.

  4. @Daniel/Ty - Sorry about that, I definitely didn't think it was all Franck. Fixed.


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