The end of Summer is here and it is bringing with it  everything from space opera, adventure quests, speculative fiction, mythology, and, yes, more vampires. There’s a couple of funny novels and a contender for best debut novel of the year. These are some of the best books coming out the week of September 11th through the 17th.

Crack’d Pot Trail: A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach by Steven Erikson (Sep 13, 2011)

208 pages Tor Books

Bauchelain and Korbal are necromancers that are being hunted by a group known as the Nehemothanai in this humorous novella from archaeologist and anthropologist Steven Erikson. The hunting party, which includes Tulgord Vise, a knight named Arpo Relent, and Huntsman Steck Marynd must traverse the Crack’d Pot Trail that stretches between the Gates of Nowhere and the Shrine of a Different God. If it’s half as funny as The Crippled God and Reaper’s Gale, I can’t wait to read this one.

The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski (Sep 13, 2011)

448 pages Tor Books

Welcome to the future! In Slonczewski’s first novel in a decade, the planet is altered by global warming and an alien species has infected Earth and is destroying the ecosystem. Jennifer, whose twin brother has died, is attending  a college in orbit while being groomed for greatness. The Minneapolis Star says that this book  mixes cutting-edge biological issues with attempts at nonviolent conflict resolution.

How Firm a Foundation (Safehold) by David Weber (Sep 13, 2011)

608 pages Tor Books

Emperor Cayleb and his inner circle are the heads of the Charisian Empire during a brutal war against the Church of God Awaiting and the evil men who control it. Charis has an impressive naval fleet but can’t manage to defeat the Church on its own ground. How can it prevent the enemy from attacking yet again when they outnumber Charis fifteen to one? Sounds like an epic story of Military Science Fiction to me.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Sep 13, 2011)

400 pages Doubleday

Le Cirque des Reves is a dark and mysterious circus that seemingly appears without warning only at night to thrill and amaze its audiences. In the debut novel from Morgenstern, Celia and Marco are two young magicians who have been trained since birth to duel against each other in a dangerous competition. Despite falling in love with each other, the game must be played out, with the lives of everyone involved hanging in the balance. The Library Journal says it’s a cross between Something Wicked This Way Comes and Harry Potter. This will be big.

Prospero Regained (Prospero’s Daughter) by L. Jagi Lamplighter (Sep 13, 2011)

480 pages Tor Books

Miranda (from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’) has been running Prospero, Inc, the family business, for the hundreds of years since her father’s exile, protecting earth from disaster after disaster. That is, until some demons kidnap Prospero and take him to Hell. It is up to Miranda and her siblings to follow them and save the sorcerer from certain doom. This is the third book in the Prospero’s Daughter series that does a great job of mixing history, literature and mythology.

Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sep 14, 2011)

160 pages Ballentine Books

While most famous for Tarzan, I believe the Barsoom series was ERB’s best work. Soon to be adapted into a major motion picture, the John Carter series of short stories and novellas tell the tale of ancient races living in to world of Barsoom (Mars) a million years ago. The land is divided into territories Black, Red, Green, and White skinned races. In this book, John Carter sets out to find the captured princess Dejah Thoris when he discovers that a new race, Yellows, have been living in domed cites at the planets poles. Needless to say, they are not friendly.

Briarpatch by Tim Pratt (Sep 15, 2011)

300 pages ChiZine Publications

To say that the past six months of Darrin’s life have been a bummer would be an understatement. His girlfriend, Bridget, dumped him for no reason, he lost his job, and his car was stolen. Then he sees Bridget for the first time since the break-up… right before she jumps from a bridge. Darrin sets out to discover why Bridget took her own life. His quest takes him into the Briarpatch which, depending on who you ask, is a cluster of alternate realities, an abandoned building project of God’s, or the deep, dank crawlspace of the universe. Along the way, Darrin crosses paths with an immortal cult leader, a damaged babe with a chrome-plated shotgun, and a dude with a car that can traverse the multiverse.

The Falstaff Vampire Files by Lynne Murray (Sep 15, 2011)

282 pages Pearlsong Press

When a psychologist is attacked by a gang of brutal monsters, she must look for help from Sir John Falstaff, the most famous undead rogue in history. Author John Miller calls it “Alternatively funny and creepy, with a little sexy romance thrown in for good measure.”

The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet (Sep 15, 2011)

375 pages ChiZine Publications

When Nola was born her mother discovers that her newborn has the gift of Othersight. So of course she sells her future-seeing daughter to a seer who runs a brothel. She grows up under his tutelage, learning to harness this gift. Until one of her friends is murdered. Then a handsome young Otherseer from the castle offers to take her away from that life and teach her to hone her skills. She then is drawn into a life of murder and treachery. Nola learns that predicting the future means nothing if you cannot prevent it.

Riddle Me This, Batman!: Essays on the Universe of the Dark Knight by Kevin K. Durand and Mary K. Leigh (Sep 15, 2011)

224 pages McFarland and Co Inc. Pub

Since his first appearance in Detective Comics in 1939, Batman has been an American icon. He has shaped the way the world views movies, television, and comic books. He has defined the Anti-hero and redefined the Hero. He is a reflection of society and pop culture. Durand and Leigh examine the Caped Crusader’s effect on philosophy, psychology, literature, and society in a number of entertaining essays.