Courttia Newland

Canongate, £12.99

Close on the heels of his British Afrofuturist novel A River Called Time, and two episodes of Steve McQueen’s BBC series Small Axe, comes Courttia Newland’s collection of 15 short stories of speculative fiction. Moving freely between various subgenres of sci-fi, he intersperses original flights of imagination with riffs on familiar themes, such as intelligent robots turning on their creators and a story that echoes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to explore the choices humans make when presented with new, unprecedented situations – and we don’t always come out of them looking good. His stories address contemporary concerns, and in one of the standouts, The Sankofa Principle, a spaceship falls back in time to 1794, leaving its crew with the dilemma of whether to interfere with the slave trade. Short stories have long been the bedrock of science fiction, and this batch is full of fresh, intriguing premises around which entire novels could have been based.

The Herald:


Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Tramp Press, £8.99

In Cork in 1773, Irish noblewoman Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill found her murdered husband’s body and, in a frenzy of blood-drinking grief, composed a keening lament later considered one of the great poems of the 18th century. Poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa had known of it since her schooldays, but rediscovered it while adjusting to motherhood and decided to embark on her own translation. A Ghost in the Throat, her first prose work, records beautifully and movingly how her research of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill became an obsession as she found more and more to identify with and found their two voices blending into one. Beginning and ending with the words “This is a female text”, it’s a deeply personal memoir: a journey of self-discovery which becomes a unique and extraordinary paean to motherhood as well as a lament for all the female voices suppressed and erased down the centuries.

The Herald:


Bobby & Cheryl Love

Bantam, £12.99

Born in North Carolina in 1950, Walter Miller was known to the police by the time he was 14. When he graduated from petty crime to bank robbery, he was arrested and given a 25-year sentence. Miller escaped after six years, fleeing to New York with $100 in his pocket and renaming himself Bobby Love. Under that name, he lived a law-abiding, hard-working, happily-married life for nearly 40 years until the morning the FBI and NYPD turned up on his doorstep and took the 64-year-old away in handcuffs. Love’s story is an enthralling read, made even better by the fact that alternate chapters are written by his wife, Cheryl, who knew nothing of his past before his arrest but stuck by him and fought hard to have him paroled. Her contributions add a welcome second perspective to an already engaging memoir of crime, redemption, faith and love.