Top 10 Horror and Fantasy Covers for May and June 2014

A bit late and also spanning two months instead of one, but here are the Top 10 Cover for May and June 2014!  

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1. The Walking-stick Forest

Artist: Karla Ortiz Author: Anna Tambour Publisher: Tor.com

"The Walking-Stick Forest", by Anna Tambour, is a dark fantasy about a recluse who creates collectible walking sticks in post WWI Scotland by manipulating the woods somewhat like bonsais. He refuses a commission from a very rich, powerful man, never considering or caring about the consequences.

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2. Authority: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)

Artist: Eric Nyquist Author: Jeff VanderMeer Publisher: FSG Originals

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X—a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization—has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodrigues (aka "Control") is the Southern Reach's newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he's pledged to serve.

In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Area X's most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.

 

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3. Irregular Verbs and Other Stories

Artist: Erik Mohr Author: Matthew Johnson Publisher: ChiZine Publications

keluarga: to move to a new village

lunak: to search for something without finding it

mencintai: to love for the last time

Meet a guilt-ridden nurse who atones for her sins by joining her zombified patients in exile; a lone soldier standing guard on a desolate Arctic island against an invasion that may be all in his mind; a folksinger who tries to unionize Hell; and a private eye who only takes your case after you die. Visit a resettlement centre for refugees from ancient Rome; a lost country recreated by its last citizen on the Internet; and a restaurant where the owner's ghost lingers for one final party. Discover the inflationary effects of a dragon's hoard, the secret connection between Mark Twain and Frankenstein, and the magic power of blackberry jam-all in this debut collection of strange, funny, and bittersweet tales by acclaimed writer Matthew Johnson.

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4. Libretto Volume 1: Vampirism

Artist: menton3 Author: Multiple Publisher: IDW Publishing

Libretto Volume 1 is curated/edited by Kasra Ghanbari with a theme of Vampirism, being the misuse of power, as well as the objectification and exploitation of others. Featured contributors include Ben Templesmith, David Stoupakis, Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, George Pratt, menton3, and others.

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5. Sword and Mythos

Artist: Nacho Molina Editors: Silvia Moreno Garcia and Paular R. Stiles Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press

The blades of heroes clash against the darkest sorcery.

Aztec warriors ready for battle, intent on conquering a neighboring tribe, but different gods protect the Matlazinca. For Arthur Pendragon, the dream of Camelot has ended. What remains is a nightmarish battle against his own son, who is not quite human. Master Yue, the great swordsman, sets off to discover what happened to a hamlet that was mysteriously abandoned. He finds evil. Sunsorrow, the ancient dreaming sword, pried from the heart of the glass god, yearns for Carcosa.

Fifteen writers, drawing inspiration from the pulp sub-genres of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos, seed stories of adventure, of darkness, of magic and monstrosities. From Africa to realms of neverwhere, here is heroic fantasy with a twist.

 

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6. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Artist: ? Author: Genevieve Valentine Publisher: Atria Books

The Hamilton sisters live a double life—caged in their house by day, they break free at night to hit the dance floors of New York. Following her debut novel, Mechanique (2011), Valentine offers this fanciful reimagining, set in the Roaring Twenties, of the fairy tale of the 12 dancing princesses. The princes have been replaced by bartenders and bootleggers, and the girls wear out catalog-ordered shoes. Their dominating father has kept them shut up at home, virtual prisoners, for their entire lives. When he gets wind of what they’ve been doing, he works to find them more permanent positions as wives—whether or not they like it. The narrative is simple, as befits a modern fairy tale, and the characters are drawn in broad strokes, each dominated by one identifiable personality trait. When the novel shines, it does so by juxtaposing the tension of the imprisoned daughters’ plight against the gimlets and glitter of the underground dance halls they frequent. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is like a jittery Charleston—loose, fast, and fun.

--Bridget Thoreson

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7. The Bees

Artist: ? Author: Laline Paull Publisher: Ecco

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all–daring to challenge the Queen's preeminence–enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the hive's strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by a greater power: a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society–and lead her to perform unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful, and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.

 

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8. The Devil in the Details

Artist: Dominick Saponaro Author: Debra Doyle, James D. Macdonald Publisher: Tor.com

A new adventure of Peter Crossman, special agent of the Knights Templar — a man prepared to administer last rites with one hand while wielding a flamethrower with the other. Now an ancient manuscript of peculiar power has surfaced, and Crossman’s assignment is simple: Get it for the Temple at all costs. This will lead to conflict with entities secular and otherwise — and to a new encounter with Sister Mary Magdalene of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares.

 

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9. In the Dark

Artist: ? Publisher: IDW Publishing

In The Dark is a monstrous collection of all-new original terror tales from the darkest and most brilliant minds in comics and prose. Featuring an introduction by American Vampire, The Wake, and Severed writer Scott Snyder, and a frightful feature on the history of horror comics, through their rotten rise and dreadful decline by comic book historian Mike Howlett!

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10. Unbreakable

Artist: ? Author: Kami Garcia Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I never believed in ghosts.
Until one tried to kill me.
 
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, she doesn't realize that paranormal forces are responsible--not until mysterious identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her room and destroy a deadly spirit sent to kill her.
Kennedy learns that her mother's death was no accident, and now she has to take her place in the Legion of the Black Dove--a secret society formed to protect the world from a vengeful demon. A society left in the hands of a misfit group of teens with unique skills: Jared, combat trained, with a temper to match; Lukas, rogue hacker and code breaker; Alara, whose attitude is as powerful as her voodoo protections; and Priest, an engineer capable of making a weapon out of a soda can.
As the teens use their individual talents to battle paranormal entities, they earn their rightful places in the Legion--except for Kennedy, who is left wondering if she is truly one of them.
Can she stay alive long enough to find out--without losing her heart in the process?
Protect Yourself.
What you can't see CAN hurt you.

 

Best Fantasy and Horror Book Covers for April 2014

A new feature for the Aghast blog: A Book Cover Top 10 of the month. Each month, I check out the upcoming releases in the genres of horror, fantasy and sci-fi and pick my favorite 10 covers to feature.

Tracking down the artists is the hardest part of the whole thing and I have failed in more than one case this month. A few words about the list: I included only novels, novellas and anthologies. So no comic books or magazines. I tried to link to each book's Amazon page, each artist's portfolio and each publisher's website. I didn't always succeed in finding them.

If you find an omission, please let me know.

In any case, check out these covers and maybe buy some cool books!

 

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1. Dragon Age: The Masked Empire

Artist: Ramil Sunga Author: Patrick Weekes Publisher: Tor Books

Journey into the darkest and deadliest part of Orlais, where the weight of titles matters less than the strength of blades. Empress Celene of Orlais rose to the throne of the most powerful nation in Thedas through wisdom, wit, and ruthless manipulation. Now the empire she has guided into an age of enlightenment is threatened from within by imminent war between the templars and the mages, even as rebellion stirs among the downtrodden elves. To save Orlais, Celene must keep her hold on the throne by any means necessary.

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2. Lovecraft's Monsters

Artist: John Coulthart Editor: Ellen Datlow Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Prepare to meet the wicked progeny of the master of modern horror. In Lovecraft's Monsters, H. P. Lovecraft's most famous creations—Cthulhu, Shoggoths, Deep Ones, Elder Things, Yog-Sothoth, and more, appear in all their terrifying glory. Each story is a gripping new take on a classic Lovecraftian creature, and each is accompanied by a spectacular original illustration that captures the monsters' unique visage.

Contributors include such literary luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Karl Edward Wagner, Elizabeth Bear, and Nick Mamatas. The monsters are lovingly rendered in spectacular original art by World Fantasy Award–winning artist John Coulthart (The Steampunk Bible).

Legions of Lovecraft fans continue to visit his bizarre landscapes and encounter his unrelenting monsters. Now join them in their journey...if you dare.

 

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3. The Crimson Shield

Artist: Alejandro Colucci Author: Nathan Hawke Publisher: Gollancz

I have been Truesword to my friends, Griefbringer to my enemies. To most of you I am just another Northlander bastard here to take your women and drink your mead, but to those who know me, my name is Gallow. I fought for my king for seven long years. I have served lords and held my shield beside common men. I have fled in defeat and I have tasted victory and I will tell you which is sweeter. Despise me then, for I have slain more of your kin than I can count, though I remember every single face. For my king I will travel to the end of the world. I will find the fabled Crimson Shield so that his legions may carry it to battle, and when Sword and Shield must finally clash, there you will find me. I will not make pacts with devils or bargains with demons for I do not believe in such things, and yet I will see them all around me, in men and in their deeds. Remember me then, for I will not suffer such monsters to live. Even if they are the ones I serve.

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4. House of Ivy and Sorrow

Artist: God forbid HarperTeen mention their artist Author: Natalia Whipple Publisher: HarperTeen

Transparent author Natalie Whipple is back with another refreshing blend of realistic romance and light-hearted humor with a one-of-a-kind paranormal touch. Fans of Charmed, Kiersten White's Paranormalcy trilogy, and Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys won't want to miss this spellbinding contemporary tale of magic, first love, and high-stakes danger.

Jo Hemlock is not your typical witch. Outside the walls of her grandmother's ivy-covered house, she's kept her magical life completely separate from her life in high school. But when the Curse that killed her mother resurfaces, it threatens to destroy not only her life but her grandmother's too—and keeping her secret may no longer be an option.

 

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5. Masters of the Weird Tale: Carl Jacobi

Artist: David Ho Author: Carl Jacobi Publisher: Centipede Press

This title in our Masters of the Weird Tale series focuses on the weird fiction of pulp master Carl Jacobi, and is introduced by John Pelan. Over sixty stories are collected in a large hardcover edition, featuring original artwork. A large number of stories have never before been collected in book format.

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6. The Last Weekend

Artist: Pedro Marques Author: Nick Mamatas Publisher: PSPublishing

Meet Vasilis ‘Billy’ Kostopolos: Bay Area Rust Belt refugee, failed sci-fi writer, successful barfly and, since an exceptionally American zombie apocalypse, accomplished ‘driller’ of reanimated corpses. Now that all the sane, well-adjusted human beings are hunted to extinction, he's found his vocation trepanning zombies, peddling his one and only published short story and drinking himself to death—that is, until both his girlfriends turn out to be homicidal revolutionaries, he collides with a gang of Berkeley scientists gone berserker, the long-awaited ‘Big One’ finally strikes San Francisco, and what’s left of local government can no longer hide the awful secret lurking deep in the basement of City Hall. Can Bill unearth the truth about America’s demise and San Francisco’s survival—and will he destroy what little’s left of it in the process? Is he legend, the last man, or just another sucker on the vine? Nick Mamatas’ The Last Weekend takes a high-powered drill to the lurching, groaning conventions of zombie dystopias and conspiracy thrillers, sparing no cliché about tortured artists, alcoholic ‘genius’, noir action heroes, survivalist dogma, or starry-eyed California dreaming. Starting in booze-soaked but very clear-eyed cynicism and ending in gloriously uncozy catastrophe, this tale of a man and his city’s last living days is merciless, uncomfortably perceptive, and bleakly hilarious.

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7. City of the Iron Fish

Artist: Jeffery Alan Love Author: Simon Ings Publisher: Gollancz

Simon Ings has written a surreal adventure probing the very fabric of existence, tearing it open to reveal a sometimes horrifying world within. It is a work that will delight any fan of China Mieville. Only a fool would question the strange magics that maintain the cool haven of the City of the Iron Fish in the middle of an inferno of scorching heat and splintered rock, for the well-watered streets of the city hide secrets in their shadows. Thomas Kemp is just such a fool...And embarks on a journey that will take him to the limits of reality. It may kill him, worse, that may not be enough. Especially as it is his only friend, Blythe, who may discover the secret of the city's isolation.

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8. The Bird Eater

Artist: Cyanotype Book Architects Author: Ania Ahlborn Publisher: 47North

Twenty years ago, the mysterious death of his aunt left Aaron Holbrook orphaned and alone. He abandoned his rural Arkansas hometown vowing never to return, until his seven-year-old son died in an accident, plunging Aaron into a nightmare of addiction and grief. Desperate to reclaim a piece of himself, he returns to the hills of his childhood, to Holbrook House, where he hopes to find peace among the memories of his youth. But solace doesn’t come easy. Someone—or something—has other plans.

Like Aaron, Holbrook House is but a shell of what it once was, a target for vandals and ghost hunters who have nicknamed it “the devil’s den.” Aaron doesn’t believe in the paranormal—at least, not until a strange boy begins following him wherever he goes. Plagued by violent dreams and disturbing visions, Aaron begins to wonder if he’s losing his mind. But a festering darkness lurks at the heart of Holbrook House…a darkness that grins from within the shadows, delighting in Aaron’s sorrow, biding its time.

 

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9. The Keys to the Realms

Artist: Mark Winters Author: Roberta Trahan Publisher: 47North

In this sequel to The Well of Tears, the last bastion of magic standing against the dark forces threatening the prophecy of the Ancients has narrowly escaped destruction—wrought by the sorcery of one of its own. Reeling from loss and betrayal, the Stewardry at Fane Gramarye is in chaos. The young acolyte Glain is called to replace the traitor as Proctor and serve the new Sovereign. It has fallen to Alwen to lead the order and find the remaining Guardians of the Realms and their keys of power. Only then will the king of the prophecy win his throne.

When assassins breach the protective veil surrounding the Fane, an unexpected evil is revealed. The renegade mage Machreth has garnered new allies and his agents might already have infiltrated the ranks of the order. Glain must discover where the treachery lies before Machreth bends destiny to his will, but the truth is shrouded by secrets. Though her visionary powers are strong, there are things Glain can’t foresee. Can she still trust those she calls her friends—or her own heart? For even Glain has something to hide…

 

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10. Dorothy Must Die

Artist: Pokemon slave labor Author: Danielle Paige Publisher: HarperCollins

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling. What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe. My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas. I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I've been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman's heart. Steal the Scarecrow's brain. Take the Lion's courage. Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

 

Top 10 Book Covers of 2013

It's finally done. It was a lot of work, collecting suggestions, scouring the 2013 release lists, deciding which covers to include, narrowing it down and finally, coming up with an actual Top Ten list of Book Covers for 2013. This is the first year I'm doing this, but I hope I can make this an annual thing, which I suppose will depend on how many people agree with my choices and thus decide to follow my blog and read my rants and generally feed my ego.

By far the hardest thing was to track down who the artist was in the majority of the cases. I failed to do so in one case.

A few words about the list: I included only novels, novellas and anthologies. So no comic books or magazines. I didn't include any books published in December 2012, though beginning next year, I will start from December 2013 for the 2014 list. I tried to link to each book's Amazon page, each artist's portfolio and each publisher's website. I didn't always succeed in finding them. I (of course) didn't include any of my own covers.

If you find an omission, please let me know.

21. Sci-Fidelity

Artist: Matthew Woodson Author: Alex Sargeant Publisher: Black Hill Press

Ryan Singer sits on the edge of that terrible time in everyone’s life when they realize they’ve either already started their career or need to. Ryan tries his best to navigate this world where awkwardness, New Media, science fiction, love, drugs and intrigue all slam together with hilarious and tragic consequences.

 

52. Cruel

Artist: Chris Walker Author: Eli Wilde Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

When he was a very young child, Evan Jameson believed in angels. He thought they were watching out for him, protecting more than merely his innocence, he thought they were supposed to stop bad people from doing bad things to him. After his family moved house and he went to school for the first time, he started to believe in monsters. Seeing them each day as they cruelled their way through his formative years, he realised angels were not looking out for him after all. And God too, He seemed to be looking out for someone other than Evan. Despite the sun searing images of his childhood nightmares into his mind like a laser etched from hell, Evan managed to hide them from his conscience, never gazing upon them until he was older and his first child was born. Even then, it was not until he felt the first urge to cruel his baby son that he began to search for reasons why. What he revealed when he gazed into his dark past, was not only the reason why he could become a monster, but also the reason why he awakened each day wanting to end his life.

 

33. Mountain Home

Artist: Joanne-McKenna Howard at Small Dog Design Author: Bracken MacLeod Publisher: Books of the Dead Press

Lyn works at an isolated roadside diner. When a retired combat veteran stages an assault there her world is turned upside down. Surviving the sniper’s bullets is only the beginning of Lyn's nightmare. Navigating hostilities, she establishes herself as the disputed leader of a diverse group of people that are at odds with the situation and each other. Will she - or anyone else - survive the attack?

 

44. The Lost

Artist: Jeff Himmelman Authors: Anthology Publisher: Gallileo Games

The Lost is stories of hope, tragedy, and the people the world turns away from. From a young woman struggling with addiction to a streetwise Santa looking out for his friends, these stories range from literary to magical realism. The Lost is an anthology of stories that confront issues of homelessness and the people our society ignores.

 

65. Jane

Artist: Nimit Malavia Author: P.F. Jeffery Publisher: Chômu Press

Thousands of years in the future, the division between the sexes is entrenched, turning to warfare. Many technologies are lost and much history forgotten, but gynogenesis (by which two women may have a child) is becoming the scientific foundation for the Empire of Her Majesty, Berenice I. Amidst the haunted marshes of outlying Essex, the routine and romance of homes and offices in the Surrey heartland, and the crumbling feudal heritage of Lundin town, the action unfolds like the panorama from a stagecoach window.

Jane is a sixteen-year-old civil servant under Her Majesty. Sent to audit the spoils of battle, she falls for Captain Modesty Clay, precipitating a maelstrom of events that force her to grow up fast, and in which she catches the eye of the Empress herself.

 

76. Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Artist: Erik Mohr Author: Stephen Graham Jones & Paul Tremblay Publisher: CZP

Mary's life is going fine. Except for being a freshman in high school. And having anxiety attacks. And her dad having no job. So, introduce one boy who can fly, kidnap the little brother she's supposed to be babysitting, and drop a military quarantine on her town and that should make her anxiety completely disappear, right? Wrong.

 

97. The Last Night of October

Artist: Luke Spooner Author: Greg Chapman Publisher: Bad Moon Books

Seventy-year-old Gerald Forsyth dreads Halloween. Every year, on October 31st, a lone child has knocked on his door – a nightmarish reminder of a tragedy from Gerald’s past. As each Halloween came and went, Gerald has been able to keep his door locked and the monstrous memory at bay, but the ravages of emphysema have left him a disgruntled and feeble-minded old man. When a new hospice nurse named Kelli arrives unexpectedly to replace his regular nurse on Halloween night, Gerald is caught unawares and before he can warn her, Kelli is inviting the threat into his home. The horrors that unfold will be no trick and the only treat the child will accept is the old man’s soul. Before the night ends, Gerald will have no choice but to bring his dark secret into the light.

 

18. You

Artist: Superbrothers Author: Austin Grossman Publisher: Mulholland Books

When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he's finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, his strangest and most gifted friend, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts' breakout hit.

As the company's revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a software glitch, Russell finds himself in a race to save his job, Black Arts' legacy, and the people he has grown to care about. The deeper Russell digs, the more dangerous the glitch appears--and soon, Russell comes to realize there's much more is at stake than just one software company's bottom line.

 

89. Earth Thirst

Artist: Cody Tilson Author: Mark Teppo Publisher: Night Shade Books

 The Earth is dying. Humanity — over-breeding, over-consuming — is destroying the very planet they call home. Multinational corporations despoil the environment, market genetically modified crops to control the food supply, and use their wealth and influence and private armies to crush anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of their profits. Nothing human can stop them. But something unhuman might. Once they did not fear the sun. Once they could breathe the air and sleep where they chose. But now they can rest only within the uncontaminated soil of Mother Earth—and the time has come for them to fight back against the ruthless corporations that threaten their immortal existence.

They are the last guardians of paradise, more than human but less than angels. They call themselves the Arcadians. We know them as vampires. . .

 

1010. The One-Eyed Man

Artist: John Jude Palencar Author: L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Publisher: Tor Books

The colony world of Stittara is no ordinary planet. For the interstellar Unity of the Ceylesian Arm, Stittara is the primary source of anagathics: drugs that have more than doubled the human life span. But the ecological balance that makes anagathics possible on Stittara is fragile, and the Unity government has a vital interest in making sure the flow of longevity drugs remains uninterrupted, even if it means uprooting the human settlements.

Offered the job of assessing the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, freelance consultant Dr. Paulo Verano jumps at the chance to escape the ruin of his personal life. He gets far more than he bargained for: Stittara’s atmosphere is populated with skytubes—gigantic, mysterious airborne organisms that drift like clouds above the surface of the planet. Their exact nature has eluded humanity for centuries, but Verano believes his conclusions about Stittara may hinge on understanding the skytubes’ role in the planet’s ecology—if he survives the hurricane winds, distrustful settlers, and secret agendas that impede his investigation at every turn.