Sci-Fi new releases for July show an uptick in genre benders

Science fiction is no longer just about science. Photo: (RT) New sci-fi titles for July 2013

DOTHAN, Ala., July 4, 2013 How would you like a nice hot and steamy romance to go with that alien invasion novel? Perhaps you would prefer alien zombies, vampires, flying dragons or even deep space murder mysteries. Cross-over genres in science fiction are referred to as genre benders, and they are showing up with increasing frequency in publishers’ new release schedules. 

Purists still have hard science-based sci-fi in the style of Arthur C. Clarke or Robert Heinlein, but as the genre has become more and more mainstream it has picked up quite a few additional themes. Cross-over themes started a long time ago when the lines between pure sci-fi and fantasy stories were blurred by authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne. 

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Today, you can find speculative science-based fiction blended with genres like horror, the supernatural, Christian principles and the number one popular genre, romance. History gets mixed in with sci-fi too, ranging from alternate worlds of comic heroes to steampunk, which supposes that modern-style mechanical devices could have been powered by steam during the Victorian era. 

The evolution of the sci-fi world can best be described with just one word: fun. If you have not read sci-fi since it was still only known as the long form “science fiction,” you are going to find a wonderful new galaxy of stories to choose from. If you remember finding sci-fi books relegated to just a few shelves at the bookstore, you are in for a treat because it has become one of the biggest genres in publishing. 

If you have never tried sci-fi, start with a another genre you like and work backwards toward the sci-fi section. In all likelihood you will easily find romance, history or mysteries with a sci-fi or fantasy setting. Also try a graphic novel or two. They are not your father’s comic books and more and more mainstream authors are partnering with illustrators to create an entirely new reading experience. 

The following list represents just a fraction of new releases coming in July and you are encouraged to launch your own search from here. Be careful though, once you catch the sci-fi and fantasy bug and start the journey, there is no coming back. 

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The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis, Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, Available July 9, 2013 
This is a collection of the best short stories by Connie Willis, recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her stories range from comedy to tragedy with clever plot twists, memorable characters and leading-edge science themes. 

Witch Wraith, The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Del Rey, Available July 16, 2013
This is the third volume in Brooks’ latest trilogy about a kingdom protected for centuries by magic from horrible monsters of the past, now threatened as the magical boundaries start to deteriorate. Brooks is a master at bringing magic and fantasy into the sci-fi arena.

Crucible: Star Wars by Troy Denning, Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra and LucasBooks, Available July 9, 2013
Han Solo, Leia (now Mrs. Solo) and Luke Skywalker go to help Lando Calrissian stave off a hostile takeover at his remote mining facility, but the fight turns into warfare with monstrous aliens. Star Wars was one of the biggest genre bender sci-fi movies ever and convinced audiences everywhere that sword fights do indeed belong in space adventures. 

V-Wars by Jonathan Maberry, Open Road Integrated Media, IDW Publishing, Available July 9, 2013
Not to be confused with the television series V, this is a story about mutant DNA that turns some people into creatures that are the basis of legends about werewolves and vampires. V-Wars blends SF with horror and the possibility of a dystopian future if humans lose the war with the creatures.  

Two Fronts (The War That Came Early Series) by Harry Turtledove, Del Rey, Available July 23, 2013
Turtledove is the master of alternative history in which he takes actual historical situations and imagines “what if” things had happened differently. This story speculates what might have happened if France and England had entered WWII against Germany eleven months sooner than they did. 

The Hero’s Lot by Patrick W. Carr, Bethany House Publishers, Available July 1, 2013
An imaginary historical kingdom, a corrupt church leader, political intrigue and a hero’s quest are all part of Carr’s latest volume in his Christian fiction series The Staff and the Sword. Bethany House has over 1,100 Christian titles in print ranging from historical fiction to romantic suspense and Amish fiction. 

The Night Is Alive by Heather Graham, Harlequin MIRA, Available July 30, 2013
Including Heather Graham in a list of sci-fi and fantasy titles is admittedly a stretch, but her publisher, Harlequin, insists some of her titles belong in the sci-fi and fantasy category. Graham is better known for suspense thrillers and seems to write faster than most people can read. This story is set at an historic Savannah inn and involves a murder, a ghost, and a requisite sweet but tough young woman in training for the FBI who is called in to help solve the crime. 

Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello, JG Jones, Lee Bermejo, DC Entertainment/DC Comics, Available July 16, 2013
Watchmen was a short-run comic book series in the late 1980s. It portrayed a complex alternate universe in which a post-Vietnam era was edging closer to nuclear war and costumed superheroes had to come out of retirement to investigate the murder of one of their own. This volume collects several recent comic series as a prequel to the original Watchmen saga.

New Earth by Ben Bova, Doherty, Tom Associates, Available July 16, 2013
Bova is a six-time Hugo Award winner, former editorial director of Omni and author of over 100 books. His latest novel is classic style sci-fi about the discovery of a distant planet that seems similar to earth and is capable of supporting human life. An expedition sets out to explore the planet, nicknamed New Earth, and discovers creatures living there that resemble humans but may not be friendly.

From History’s Shadow, Star Trek: The Original Series by Dayton Ward, Simon & Schuster, Available July 30, 2013
James T. Kirk and crew are startled when two visitors arrive from 1968, one claiming to be a Vulcan the other an alien who reveals she has been working for 20 years to destroy humanity. Then Gary Seven’s young protégé, Roberta Lincoln, shows up asking for Kirk’s help. The Star Trek franchise is very much alive and this is just one of several different series in print.

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Rick Townley

Rick Townley was a bookseller before switching to electronic publishing with The New York Times, Reuters, Grolier and others. He is the author of a humor book, For Boomers Only – Exploring Life in the New Millennium, a supernatural novel, Stepping Out of Time, and numerous short stories. In addition to contributing to the Washington Times Communities, Rick is working on a fiction series called Stigma and resides in southern Alabama with his 7-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.


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