Yurtscope: The Genre Files, Comic-con 2012

You just can’t beat Comic-con, on so many levels – size, fan frenzy, sheer nerd bliss – but I also love The Con for how it gives me the chance to learn about all sorts of genre books I would never hear of otherwise. Genre fare (adult in particular) so often seems to slip through the cracks of the major books events (such as BEA, ALA, and the LA Times Festival of Books) but at Comic-con, genre fare is front and center, for a change – which is just where I like it. So here are a few of the titles I discovered this year:

Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1) by G.T. Almasi

Del Rey, August 28, 2012

They had me at superhero action meets Le Carre intrigue. I just love the sound of this one…

Book Jacket:

In one of the most exciting debuts in years, G. T. Almasi has fused the intricate cat-and-mouse games of a John le Carre novel with the brash style of comic book superheroes to create a kick-ass alternate history that reimagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements.

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes–literally–in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.

The Farm by Emily McKay

Berkeley Trade, December 4, 2012

An adult dystopian thriller with a slight horror vibe? Yes, please.

Book Jacket:

Life was different in the Before: before the Ticks began devouring humans in a deadly swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined “for their own protection.” These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson

Ace, June 26, 2011

I asked Ginjer Buchanan of Ace Books if this series was at all like Elizabeth Moon (whose military sci-fi I adore), and Ginjer said yes! And then Anne Sowards chimed in and said, it has precogs too. SOLD.

Book Jacket:

Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.

Daughter of the Sword (Fated Blades #1) by Steve Bein

Ace, October 2, 2012

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while now – contemporary Tokyo meets historical fantasy? Heck yeah! – but when I learned (at Comic-con) that it was written by a Prof of Asian history, no less, I pretty much started drooling on the spot. Needless to say, I’m all over this one.

Book Jacket:

“A strikingly original saga blending contemporary thriller and historical fantasy” – Stephen Baxter

Tokyo cop Mariko Oshiro investigates the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—forged by the legendary Master Inazuma, a swordsmith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and it threatens to turn against her even as she learns to wield the sword herself…

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Katherine Tegan Books, March 12, 2013

I’ve been on a Ghost in the Shell jag for a while now, so how could I possibly resist another cyborg/human identity crises story?

Book Jacket:

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past-that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run-from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be-and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Random House Children’s, October 9, 2012

First off – just take a look at that cover. How can you resist that? Not to mention I am loving the post-apocalyptic Romeo & Juliet vibe…

Book Jacket:

For fans of Matched, The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Blade Runner comes a tale of a magical city divided. A political rebellion ignited. A love that was meant to last forever.

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Dial, December 6, 2012

A spunky steampunk whodunit? Why, hello…


Book Jacket:

Be your own hero.

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns – and the heroines who use them all

Set in Edwardian London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling “too” much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress’s sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

And there you have it – a tasty genre stack for your TBR pile consideration. Oh Comic-con, I do love you so…