Virga: Cities of the Air by Karl Schroeder
It is the distant future. The world known as Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and “towns” —enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for centripetal gravity.
This complex and fascinating world is the setting for the novels of Virga, Karl Schroeder’s interstellar far-future space habitat sealed off from contamination by the rest of the inhabited universe. These books have set a high standard for hard SF adventure in the last decade, and now the first two novels, Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce, are brought out for the first time in one trade paper omnibus.
The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker
The Anvil of the World is the tale of Smith and his feud-prone people, the Children of the Sun. Smith, formerly a successful assassin, is trying to retire, hoping to live an honest life in obscurity in spite of all those who have sworn to kill him. But when he agrees to be the master of a caravan from traveling from the inland city of Troon to Salesh by the sea, trouble follows.
As always, Baker’s approach is charmingly distinctive. Smith’s adventure is certainly the only fantasy featuring a white-uniformed nurse, gourmet cuisine, one hundred and forty-four glass butterflies, and a steamboat.
Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .
That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?
On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.