Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Shape of Things to Come: 2014

As usual, this is not an exhaustive list but shows what's on my radar for the coming year. No doubt a lot else will come along of interest on top of what's listed below.


2014 is another year of sequels, with Brandon Sanderson kicking things off with Words of Radiance, the much-delayed second volume of his Stormlight Archive sequence. Sanderson should also be releasing Shadows of Self (the sequel to The Alloy of Law) and Firefight (the sequel to Steelheart) before the end of the year, confirming his status as SFF's most prolific author.

A former holder of that award, Steven Erikson, should grace us with Fall of Light (the middle volume of the Kharkanas Trilogy) at the end of 2014, as well as a short comic SF novel called Willful Child, which sounds like Redshirts but better. Ian Cameron Esslemont should also be giving us Assail, his final (for now) Malazan novel and the one which finally - after thirteen years - explains what happened to Silverfox and her T'lan Imass followers after the end of Memories of Ice.

Another prolific author is Dan Abnett, who kicks off 2014 with Unremembered Empire, Book 627 of The Horus Heresy (seriously, Black Library, it's probably time to start thinking about wrapping this one up) before delivering the next Gaunt's Ghosts novel, The Warmaster in the summer. The second Bequin Trilogy novel may also scrape out in late 2014, but that's more likely to be a 2015 release. However, his next two non-Warhammer 40,000 novels, Monstercide and Triumff: The Double Falsehood remain MIA.

For the other biggest fantasy hitters, 2014 will likely be a quiet year. George R.R. Martin fans should be momentarily sated by the release of The World of Ice and Fire in November (attempts to bring this forwards to April seem to have failed, sadly). This huge tome about the history and geography of Westeros and Essos already looks excellent, with some terrific artwork accompanying information that people have been dying to learn for two decades. The Winds of Winter, however, looks like a late 2015 release at the earliest. European and South American Song of Ice and Fire fans may also be interested by the release of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the omnibus edition of the Dun k and Egg stories, which will be released in 2014. Bizarrely, UK and possibly American fans will have to wait until early-to-mid 2015 to see it appear.

Patrick Rothfuss is also MIA, recently admitting that he had to delay The Doors of Stone by an additional year from his previously hoped-for 2014 release date. That puts the conclusion of the Kingkiller Chronicle back to some time in 2015. Joe Abercrombie will be back in 2014, releasing the first novel in a new world for a new publisher, Half a King in the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, Scott Lynch will be releasing two books in 2014. The Bastards and the Knives is a novella collection which will act as a (non-essential) bridge between The Republic of Thieves and The Thorn of Emberlain. Emberlain itself remains tentatively scheduled for October/November 2014. R. Scott Bakker's eagerly-awaited The Unholy Consult is starting to look like a 2015 release, but could still just slip out at the end of the year if he gets the revisions to the book done quickly.

Other long-awaited books include Destiny's Conflict by Janny Wurts, the penultimate volume of her massive Wars of Light and Shadow mega-series. Kate Elliott is starting a new series with The Black Wolves, whilst Steph Swainston is returning with a new Castle (aka Fourlands) novel. N.K. Jemisin is also starting a new series with The Fifth Season. Col Buchanan made quite a big splash with his first two novels, Farlander and Stands a Shadow, but has been MIA ever since. Fortunately, the third Heart of the World novel should be with us in 2014. Similarly, David Keck's The King in Cobwebs has been missing release date after release date, but the news that the first draft is (just about) complete and he is now working on rewrites means that a late 2014 release date is possible (though not confirmed). Tad Williams concludes (for now) his Bobby Dollar series with Sleeping Late on Judgement Day, due late in the year, whilst for many SF readers the return of Peter Watts with Echopraxia (a 'side-quel' to his well-regarded novel Blindsight) is also a major highlight. Unfortunately, J.V. Jones remains MIA with no word on her next Sword of Shadows novel, despite it now being almost five years since the previous book in the series was published.

For newer authors, Mark Lawrence kicks off a new series with Prince of Fools, whilst Michael J. Sullivan moves to SF with his Kickstarter-funded novel Hollow World. Anne Leckie will be hoping to make the same kind of splash Ancillary Justice did with her sequel, Ancillary Sword, whilst Lauren Beukes also releases a new novel, Broken Monsters. Daniel Abraham continues his conquest of the publishing world with the penultimate Dagger and the Coin novel, The Widow's House, whilst his SF alter-ego James S.A. Corey will be releasing the fourth Expanse novel, Cibola Burn. Corey will also be working on a TV project (not the Expanse TV adaptation), which sounds interesting.

Elsewhere in SF, Chris Beckett will be releasing Mother of Eden, a companion novel to his superb Dark Eden of a few years ago. David Wingrove publishes the eighth Chung Kuo novel, The White Mountain, but disappointing sales means that a hiatus for that series is likely. However, Wingrove will also be releasing a new SF trilogy, Roads to Moscow, starting with The Empire of Time. Peter F. Hamilton will be releasing the first novel in The Chronicle of the Fallers, a new duology in the Commonwealth universe, at the end of the year as well as his children's series The Book of the Realms.

Unremembered Empire (The Horus Heresy #27) by Dan Abnett
The Queen of Dreams (Book of the Realms #1) by Peter F. Hamilton

Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth #1) by Jon Sprunk
The White Mountain (Chung Kuo #8) by David Wingrove

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
King of Ashes (The War of Five Crowns #1) by Raymond E. Feist
The Empire of Time (Roads to Moscow #1) by David Wingrove

Terra's World (Terra #2) by Mitch Benn

Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4) by James S.A. Corey
Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War #1) by Mark Lawrence

The Warmaster (Gaunt's Ghosts #14) by Dan Abnett
Half a King (YA Grimdark Thing #1) by Joe Abercrombie
Seal of the Worm (Shadows of the Apt #10) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5) by Ben Aaronovitch
Assail (Malazan Empire #6) by Ian Cameron Esslemont

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Echopraxia (Blindsight companion novel) by Peter Watts
The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit For Heroes #3) by Richard Morgan

Bête by Adam Roberts
The Knight: A Tale from the High Kingdom by Pierre Pevel 
Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois 
Fall of Light (Kharkhanas Trilogy #2) by Steven Erikson 

Destiny's Conflict (Sword of the Canon #2/Wars of Light and Shadow #10) by Janny Wurts

The Black Wolves (Black Wolves Trilogy #1) by Kate Elliott
The World of Ice and Fire (A Song of Ice and Fire companion volume) by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson

Willful Child by Steven Erikson 

Late 2014
Sword of the North  (Grim Company #2) by Luke Scull
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Mother of Eden: Gela's Ring (Dark Eden #2) by Chris Beckett
Heart of the World #3 by Col Buchanan
Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Bobby Dollar #3) by Tad Williams
Old Venus edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Ancilliary Sword (Ancilliary Justice #2) by Anne Leckie
The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard novellas) by Scott Lynch
The Thorn of Emberlain (The Gentleman Bastard #4) by Scott Lynch
Castle #5 by Steph Swainston
Chronicle of the Fallers #1 by Peter F. Hamilton

The Unholy Consult (The Aspect-Emperor #3/The Second Apocalypse #6) by R. Scott Bakker
The King in Cobwebs (Durand Col #3) by David Keck


2014 is looking like a good year for games, with a mixture of big-budget, triple-A releases, indie games and Kickstarted titles.

For big-budget games, Thief (which everyone is calling Thief 4 regardless of it's a reboot or not) is resurrecting the classic PC series for the next generation. Unfortunately, early previews and trailers have not been hopeful, suggesting a more generic action title than the stealth-oriented earlier games in the series. However, the developers have good form and hopefully they can deliver something worthwhile. This will be quickly followed up on by Titanfall, the new first-person action game by the creators of the Call of Duty franchise. It may just turn out to be CoD-with-mechs, but it's looking interesting so far.

Watch_Dogs is an open-world action, stealth and hacking game in which players will be able to use hacking to influence their environment. It's looking good, but how good will depend on how much the hacking is an integral part of gameplay and how much of it is a gimmick.

Although still not formally announced, the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V (the worst-kept secret in the gaming industry) should land in the summer with superior graphics and intriguing modding potential. The modding scene is still keeping GTA4 in the public eye - and crucially, selling - on PC six years after release, so it's hoped that Rockstar will include some superior modding support for the game this time around. Open world driving will also play a part in the new Mad Max game, which ordinarily would not attract much attention apart from the fact it's being made by the same team behind the bananas (but awesome) Just Cause 2.

Whilst not technically on the same level of budget, The Witcher III is for many people the RPG of 2014. Having previously seized BioWare's crown as kings of the single-player, linear RPG, CDProjekt Red are now targeting Bethesda's position as masters of the open-world fantasy game. CDPR's ambition cannot be faulted and the early previews of the game are jaw-dropping. That's more than can be said for BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition, which looks rather more tired and redundant with every passing preview. More old-skool RPG fans will be catered for by the tile-based Might and Magic X: Legacy and the Legend of Grimrock sequel.

For indie games, The Banner Saga opens the year with its turn-based, fantasy-meets-Vikings-meets-XCOM-by-way-of-The-Oregon-Trail gameplay looking pretty solid. However, early previews have been cool on the game, citing problems with a lack of a tutorial and random story turns. No Man's Sky, a stunning open-world, procedurally-generated space game, was also looking good until the developers' studio was recently flooded. Hopefully they can get back on track to deliver a good game. Later in the year we should also get the already-controversial Hotline Miami 2, whilst a new, expanded edition of FTL launches later in the year.

2014 will be the first big test of Kickstarter as a games development platform. Pillars of Eternity looks absolutely stunning and will be the game to finally make or break Obsidian Entertainment's reputation as the heirs to Black Isle. Wasteland 2 will come out before that, however, and is looking quite impressive as well. Dragonfall, the first major expansion for Shadowrun Returns, is promising more open-world gameplay, player choice and - finally! - a proper save system. Broken Age, Tim Schafer's adventure game, has run into more problems and is launching as two parts, with the second half potentially not out until 2015. Note: Torment: Tides of Numenera won't be out until 2015.

Kickstarter has also resurrected the space flight sim, with Elite: Dangerous being first out of the gate in the spring. Late in the year we should - hopefully - get Squadron 42, the single-player, combat-focused part of Star Citizen, but to be frank Elite is looking a lot more interesting at the moment with its focus on using real astronomy and procedural generation being used to populate a realistic galaxy of billions of star systems. Late in the year we should also get Satellite Reign, the spiritual successor to the Syndicate games.

MMORPGs have, unexpectedly, taken a turn for the more interesting in 2014. The Elder Scrolls Online brings the most detailed, beloved single-player RPG universe into the multiplayer sphere with lots of rich lore and gameplay that is more derived from the single-player games than comparable titles like World of WarCraft. More fascinating is EverQuest Next, which will allow players to both destroy chunks of the landscape and create entire new universes accessible via portals. If SOE can pull off their desire to marry MMORPG mechanics to Minecraft, the results could be amazing. Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous will also be attempting to bring MMORPG elements into space combat and trading without turning into EVE Online.

If one company looks set to dominate 2014, it's Telltale Games. They start the year with both The Wolf Among Us and the second season of The Walking Dead already underway, and will launch both Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones later in the year. Hopefully they haven't overextended themselves.

Strategy fans have a few things to look forwards to this year: the Kickstarted Planetary Annihilation should hit the market, whilst Age of Wonders III unexpectedly resurrects the classic RTS/RPG crossbreed series. Galactic Civilizations III should also launch towards the end of the year. A larger Rome II expansion may also launch this year, which hopefully will solve the base game's ongoing bugs and technical issues. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void will almost certainly be a 2015 - if not 2016 - release.

The Banner Saga
Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall
Might and Magic X: Legacy
Broken Age: Part I
Wasteland 2


South Park: The Stick of Truth
Dark Souls II

Pillars of Eternity
Elite: Dangerous
The Elder Scrolls Online

Grand Theft Auto 5: PC Edition
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
EverQuest Next
The Wolf Among Us
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Adventure Game


Late 2014
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey
Star Citizen: Squadron 42
Mad Max
Age of Wonders III
EVE: Valkyrie
Galactica Civilizations III
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Satellite Reign


TV looks like it'll be interesting in 2014, with both Orphan Black and The Returned looking to prove that their excellent first seasons weren't just flukes (that said, The Returned likely will not air in the UK and USA until 2015). However, Agents of SHIELD and Under the Dome both need to see rapid improvement after initial outings that can be best described as 'disappointing'.

Game of Thrones enters its fourth season, which will cover the latter half of A Storm of Swords, as well as introducing multiple characters and storylines from the later books. After this season, the TV show will be about two years from overtaking George R.R. Martin, hopefully providing the impetus for the final two novels to be published soon. However, in the meantime the show should give us a whole host of classic moments from the novels which should make this season easily as popular and as memorable as the last one. Personally, I'm most looking forward to the introduction of the Dornish characters.

Doctor Who returns for its 34th season with the arrival of a new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. Hopefully Steven Moffat will jettison the confusing and contradictory continuity of the previous three seasons and start with a clean slate, but we'll see. Meanwhile, BSG veteran Ronald D. Moore is launching an SF show, Helix, and a time-travelling romance epic, Outlander, based on Diana Gabaldon's bestselling novels. Guillermo Del Toro is also giving us his first proper TV project, The Strain, based on his novels of the same name. Elsewhere, The Walking Dead and The Legend of Korra are set to return for new seasons.


For films for next year, superheroes are again - tiresomely - dominating everything in sight. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is intriguing, however, and the new Godzilla  movie is starting to build a lot of momentum after a genuinely impressive, atmospheric trailer and actors like Bryan Cranston (late of Breaking Bad, so he knows good writing when he sees it) praising the unusually good script. At the other end of the budget scale is the Veronica Mars theatrical film, funded by fans via Kickstarter.

For superhero movies, Guardians of the Galaxy will be a litmus test of how successfully Marvel can bring even really obscure comic characters (to the general public) to the screen. The second Captain America movie is also promising, as it will apparently feature a much darker take on SHIELD. X-Men: Days of Future Past will be either amazing or an incoherent mess featuring too many characters. Later in the year, the third Hobbit movie will make or break the trilogy, and it'll be interesting to see if The Hunger Games can maintain the momentum of the well-received second film through its final two parts.

Elsewhere, a RoboCop remake, a 300 sequel/prequel and a fourth Transformers movie are all things that inspire only despair in the soul. However, there is a small chance they might be good, or lacking that, brainlessly entertaining.


300: Rise of an Empire
Veronica Mars   

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Edge of Tomorrow
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Transformers: Edge of Extinction 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Jupiter Ascending 

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I 

The Hobbit: There and Back Again


Cronium said...

Don't forget The Fell Sword, in two weeks or so.

Kathryn said...

Katie's additions:

Books -
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach sees its UK MMPB release in a few weeks, coming off the HUGE buzz it's generated in the US.
There's also the fourth Witcher book (third novel), Baptism of Fire, around the same time.

Games -
Major quibble with the Might & Magic X being listed. It is utterly terrible. Seriously. Grimrock looks and plays a billion times better despite what's likely a lower budget. I seriously CANNOT recommend it to anyone, and this is experience I've got from playing the Early Access (which I jumped at the chance to get). The devs seem somewhat incompetent, too. Did you know that to have any real chance of modding it, you have to buy a $1.5k software suite? Seriously. The developers have said you need to do that to mod it.
GTA V gets a huge strike from me because of its near-violently transphobic content.

So those are my little quibbles.

Mitchell Hundred said...

Another prolific author is Dan Abnett, who kicks off 2014 with Unremembered Empire, Book 627 of The Horus Heresy.

I'm guessing you meant to type a slightly smaller number there, but it's a funny Freudian slip nonetheless. Don't worry, I'm sure the series only feels 627 books long.

Anonymous said...

According to Angry Robot, Abnett's Monstercide comes out in April.


Peter said...

Great summary! Lots of good books coming!

Pallav said...

looking forward to Richard K Morgan, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and Scott Lynch's books. I think you missed Jim Butcher's Skin Game...that's releasing in 2014 , too :)

Lsrry said...

So you're not reading the Sapkowski translations anymore, or you just forgot that Baptism of Fire is coming out next month? ;)

Darkstar said...

Interesting article, as always. Thanks!

By the way: German George R. R. Martin fans already received their "Dunk & Egg"-Anthology last year:

Unknown said...

Do you have it on good authority that there will actually be a fifth Castle novel? All I read is Steph Swainston bitterly complaining about not being able to write because of having to toil away at her day job on twitter, so I thought the prospect of a new novel was highly unlikely ... all the better if I was mistaken.

Ghost said...

I disagree with the statement that the third Hobbit movie will make or break the trilogy. Considering the money it already bought in, I think it's safe to say The Hobbit trilogy is a bloody success.

Garneac said...

What about K. J. Parker's 670 page collection, Academic Exercises? Any news there? :o

Anonymous said...

Brent Weeks - The Broken Eye - Lightbringer, book 3 is also due out the week of 8/26/2014

Claire said...

Also new books by Barbara Hambly, Brent Weeks and possibly Robin Hobb I believe? Looking forward to many of these books but I've lost the faith with GRRM and Rothfuss is going the same way I fear.

David Wagner said...

That's an impressive compilation and preview. Thanks for taking the time to assemble such a thorough post. I read every word.

Phil said...

Think Robin Hobb has the first book in the third Fitz and Fool trilogy out in August called "The Fool's Assassin"