2007 promises to be pretty big in SF&F literature. Here's the books on my to-get list for next year.
1. A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin
ETA: Late 2007
The fifth book (of seven) in GRRM's epic fantasy masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire, brings back all the characters you missed in 2005's A Feast for Crows, including fan-favourites Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister (not to mention Bran Stark and Davos Seaworth). Compared to the bloodbath that was the writing of AFFC, work on the new novel has progressed much more smoothly, although sadly the book has slipped from its original release date of this year. ADWD will be the book to beat in 2007.
2. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
ETA: 21 June 2007
The only book with even a reasonable chance of dislodging GRRM from his pedastal is likely to be the second installment of newcomer Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series of crime fantasy novels. The Lies of Locke Lamora was the SF&F book of 2006, and its already-completed sequel is eagerly awaited by many.
3. The Aspect-Emperor: Book One by R. Scott Bakker
ETA: Very late 2007
Although not due in the UK until May 2008, the second part of Scott Bakker's trilogy-of-series begins in the USA and Canada at the end of 2007 (touch wood), picking up the storyline 20 years after the end of The Thousandfold Thought. Expect more gritty warfare and intricate worldbuilding as the threat of the Second Apocalypse looms ever closer. Ansurimbor Kellhus, the Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas, may be the greatest hope for the salvation of mankind...or a threat beyond that even of the No-God. Bakker's dark, controversial take on epic fantasy continues. Before then, if we are lucky, we may also get to see Bakker's SF thriller, Neuropath, which has generated interesting press across the blogosphere (although no, as yet, proper reviews).
4. Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson
ETA: 2 April 2007
The seventh book of ten in the Malazan Book of the Fallen sees the vast, intricate web of plotlines in this gargantuam series slowly converging as the series moves towards a definitive conclusion. The Bonehunters may have been the big disappointment of 2006, but there is plenty to suggest that the seventh volume will be a return to form, with the return of Tehol and Bugg (a comedy duo out of the Pratchett school of comedy) and the stage being set for an enormous gathering of some of the most powerful forces in the six books to date. May also sees the arrival of Erikson's collaborator Ian Cameron Esslemont, with the first big-print publication of Night of Knives, his prequel to the Malazan saga. American publishers Tor continue to lag behind however: Book 5, Midnight Tides, is not out until 17 April over there.
5. Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
ETA: 5 March 2007
Kay's first urban fantasy has already attracted rave advance reviews, although the UK edition isn't out until February.
6. The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
ETA: Autumn 2007
Hamilton's new Void Trilogy is set in the same world as his Commonwealth Saga, 1,200 years further on from the events of Judas Unchained. Hamilton remains one of the best space opera authors around, writing fast-paced thriller-esque stories full of technical wizardry and explosive space battles (not to mention enormous page counts). However, Judas Unchained was slightly mispaced and the ending seemed rushed. Hopefully Hamilton can recover his equilibrium to deliver a much more polished epic story. Set much further into the future than his other works, it will be interesting to see Hamilton handles the challenge of far-future storytelling whilst retaining his trademark identifiably human characters.
7. The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds
ETA: 19 April 2007
Alastair Reynolds' first foray back into his Revelation Space universe, his recent Galactic North collection excepted, since 2003's Absolution Gap, which attracted a mixed reception. The Prefect is a new stand-alone novel set in the same mileu as his earlier books, which bodes well. The previous stand-alone RS novel, Chasm City, remains his best work.