The watch list

My weekly[-ish] list of speculative fiction novels that I think are worth looking out for. They are mainly – but not always! – new or forthcoming releases.

Sketch-Book-icon The watch list

Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

Rivers Michael Farris SmithIt had been raining for weeks. Maybe months. He had forgotten the last day that it hadn’t rained, when the storms gave way to the pale blue of the Gulf sky, when the birds flew and the clouds were white and sunshine glistened across the drenched land.

Following years of catastrophic hurricanes, the Gulf Coast—stretching from the Florida panhandle to the western Louisiana border—has been brought to its knees. The region is so punished and depleted that the government has drawn a new boundary ninety miles north of the coastline. Life below the Line offers no services, no electricity, and no resources, and those who stay behind live by their own rules.

Cohen is one who stayed. Unable to overcome the crushing loss of his wife and unborn child who were killed during an evacuation, he returned home to Mississippi to bury them on family land. Until now he hasn’t had the strength to leave them behind, even to save himself.  But after his home is ransacked and all of his carefully accumulated supplies stolen, Cohen is finally forced from his shelter. On the road north, he encounters a colony of survivors led by a fanatical, snake-handling preacher named Aggie who has dangerous visions of repopulating the barren region.

Eerily prophetic in its depiction of a southern landscape ravaged by extreme weather, Rivers is a masterful tale of survival and redemption in a world where the next devastating storm is never far behind. (description from Goodreads)

Sounds like a cross between Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, which is more than enough to intrigue me.

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett

David Barnett Gideon Smith and the Mechanical GirlNineteenth century London is the centre of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world – including
the East Coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775. London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, told in Gideon’s favourite “penny dreadful.”

When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him, Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities. Together they make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger. But Trigger is little more than an aging fraud, providing cover for the covert activities of his lover, Dr. John Reed, a privateer and sometime agent of the British Crown. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day …but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?

Steampunk adventure? Why not!

Revival: You’re Among Friends (volume 1) by Tim Seeley (author), Mike Norton (artist),  Mark Englert (artist)

Revival vol 1For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. The sell-out hit series created by “New York Times” Bestselling author Tim Seeley and Eisner-winning artist Mike Norton is collected with bonus material! Collects “Revival” numbered 1-5, and the “Free Comic Book Day” short story.

I have little experience reading graphic novels, so I tend avoid them.  I feel I miss a lot of the visual cues and information, because I am simply not terribly attuned to analysing pictures, as opposed to text, when reading. But I have to get over this hump, because there is so much good stuff out there in graphic novel format! I heard about this one over at readerling. Zombies? Yes please!

In related news, I will be starting a [free!] short course via Coursera later this month:  Comic Books and Graphic Novels.

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