This week’s picks cover everything from video game franchises to a sequel to a science fiction classic. I am particularly looking forward to Margaret Atwood’s unpublished essays and a truly unique graphic novel from Jonathan Case. In addition, one of my absolute favorite sci-fi writers makes a return to swords and sorcery epics in his latest.  Here are the best Science Fiction  books being released the second full week in October from the 10th to the 14th.

Carnelians (Skolian Empire) by  Catherine Asaro (Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 384 pages Publisher: Baen

The leaders of the Eubians and the Skolians have finally put aside their differences  to create a peace treaty that will bring five-hundred years of hatred to an end. Now all they have to do is make it a reality.  Unfortunately, Assassins have taken position to eliminate those leaders considered responsible for this crime as violence in all three civilizations rises. The Skolian Empire books are an entertaining mix of science fiction and romance that has been compared to Dune.

The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 448 pages Publisher: Tor Books

A decade has passed since the events in the classic A Fire Upon the Deep. On the world of Tines the human known as Ravna and the dog-like creatures who call the planet home have survived a low-tech war between the two species. In that time, Ravna has managed to save more than a hundred children who were in suspended- animation when their ship crash landed on the planet. The peace can’t last forever, as there are certain elements on both sides who are desperate for a chance at true power. Publishers Weekly says: “With uninterrupted pacing, suspense without contrivance, and deftly drawn aliens who can be pleasantly comical without becoming cute, Vinge offers heart-pounding, mind-expanding science fiction at its best.”

Dear Creature by Jonathan Case (Oct 11, 2011)

Paperback: 192 pages Publisher: Tor Books

A sea creature named Grue is tired of eating lusty beach-goers in this graphic novel that reminds one of the pulpy drive-in monster movies of the 50s. Grue has found copies of Shakespeare’s plays in soda bottles tossed into the ocean. Deeply affected by the works, he searches for the person responsible. Fighting his urges to eat humans, he finds love in the arms of Giuetta, a woman as trapped in her own world as Grue is in his. This is sure to be one of the quirkiest love stories ever.

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood(Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 272 pages Publisher: Nan A. Talese

In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination collects Margaret Atwood’s unpublished Ellmann Lectures of 2010—“Flying Rabbits,” which begins with Atwood’s early rabbit superhero creations and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; “Burning Bushes,” which follows her into Victorian other-lands and beyond; and “Dire Cartographies,” which investi­gates utopias and dystopias. In Other Worlds also includes some of Atwood’s key reviews and musings about the form, including her elucidation of the differences (as she sees them) between “science fiction” proper and “speculative fiction,” as well as “sword and sorcery/fantasy” and “slip­stream fiction.”

Phobos: Mayan Fear (Domain Trilogy) by Steve Alten (Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 384 pages Publisher: Tor Books

I usually can’t stand doomsday books based on the end of the Mayan calendar. We all know its bunk, right? But I find this title intriguing. In his third book in his Mayan Prophesy series, we follow Immanuel Gabriel to the end of the world with Julius, his deceased grandfather, as they discover the secrets of creation and the aliens that have come to Earth to save humanity.

The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan (Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 512 pages Publisher: Del Rey

Morgan continues  the story of Gil Eskiath from the swords and sorcery novel The Steel Remains. Gil teams up with a couple of his few remaining friends to find the lost island of the Illwrack Changeling before the Aldrain do.

Snuff: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett (Oct 11, 2011)

Hardcover: 416 pages Publisher: Harper

Terry Pratchett delivers another hilarious satire set in the Discworld universe. Lady Sybil and her husband /City-watch commander Sam go off on a long overdue vacation. But it is anything but relaxing as a body is soon discovered and Sam takes it upon himself to see that justice is served.

Salvations Reach (Warhammer 40000 Gaunt Ghosts) by Dan Abnett(Oct 13, 2011)

Hardcover: 320 pages Publisher: Black Library Hardbacks

In the thirteenth book of the Imperial Guard series the Ghosts of the Tanith First-and-Only have been offered a mission that will have them take on  the impenetrable fortress known as Salvation’s Reach. Success would make this raid the tipping point in the Sabbat Worlds campaign but Colonel-Commissar Gaunt and his Ghosts know that this may very well be a suicide mission.