Elevator Pitches for Forthcoming Books


Elevator pitches - there's so much content to choose from that it helps us quickly sort the wheat from the chaff and focus on what we like. But they're dangerous because they make it hard to meaningfully convey what's good about something. Still, whaddya gonna do. You have to draw lines somewhere.

Here's a bunch of elevator pitches for forthcoming books. These originally appeared in this Kirkus Review article:
For what it's worth, I've posted my elevator reactions to the elevator pitches. Feel free to post your own thoughts.

February 2019

The City in the Middle of the Night, in which Charlie Jane Anders imagines a harsh world where humanity lives on the sliver of inhabitable land between deadly heat and frozen wastelands.
Yeah, maybe. Such a city was postulated in the KSR novel 2312, and @clash_bowley proposes them in StarCluster 4. Could be a cool Hard SF premise.

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin, a 1985 classic that shows a post-apocalyptic California framed as an anthropologist's report of the survivors of an ecological catastrophe.
Ursula K. LeGuin is almost the only pitch I need. And I'm a sucker for PA.

Ann Leckie offers The Raven Tower,a new epic fantasy that shows what happens when gods meddle in the affairs of humans and vice versa.
Gods meddling in human affairs sure doesn't sound new. Probable pass.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is about a world on the brink of war with dragons and the women who must valiantly lead the fight to save it.
Meh. Dragons, again? Not for me, thanks.

Jenn Lyons's epic The Ruin of Kings sees a thief being declared the missing son of a treasonous prince, a path that could lead to the destruction of the empire.
Zero to hero - been there done that. Betting this is also a cookie cutter euro-fantasy world, too.

The Ingenious by Darius Hinks is an epic fantasy in which desperate political exiles attempt to escape a city set adrift in time and space by alchemists.
I see potential in this, but feel the whole concept is ruined by the 'by alchemists', which suggests yet another Eurofan setting.

For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones, the first book in a new adventure trilogy, the uneasy peace between the people of Darassus and the deadly Naor hordes will be broken unless a quest to retrieve a sword is fulfilled.
I quite liked his Arabian fantasies set during the Caliphate, but this sounds like a recycled plot. The setting could be interesting, but not enough info to be compelling in this pitch.

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock depicts a supernatural war between Nephilim and daimons in 1932 Spain and Germany.
Hmmm. Interesting year, but is it urban fantasy, cause that's not really my thing.

Black Wings by Megan Hart, which explores the relationship between a girl at a school for the gifted and the raven through which she is able to record memories.
Gifted school person with animal companion. Yawners.

All Roads End Here by David Moody is a dark horror novel about humanity's fight for survival amidst an impending apocalypse.
Vaguepost much? That describes 80% of genre fiction.

March 2019

An exciting new space opera, check out Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear, in which a space salvager and her partner make an astounding discovery.
Definite potential here, but too vague to get excited about.

Kameron Hurley posits a future war scenario in which soldiers are converted to light to quickly transport them to the front lines of Mars in The Light Brigade.
This has the ring of cool speculative SF in the vein of Forever War or, dare I say it, Dark Orbit.

The Chaos Function by Jack Skillingstead uses futuristic tech and time travel to explore the dangers of changing the past.
Mixed feelings about this. The main plot element is as old as clay. Is that because the author is just another reclycler of which we see so many these days, or is he going here because he has an interesting new take? Filed under maybe.

A galactic-scale Cold War threatens the galaxy in Dan Moren's amusing and fast-paced thriller The Bayern Agenda.
So it's about humanity's fight for survival amidst an impending apocalypse? Also 'Cold War threatens the galaxy' just sounds weird - aren't cold wars covert?

String City by Graham Edwards posits parallel worlds with alternate realities in which a gumshoe detective sets out to solve a casino heist but ends up racing to stop an apocalypse.
So it's about one human's fight for stop an impending apocalypse? Sounds familiar.

Zero Bomb by M.T Hill asks: what do we do when technology replaces our need to work?
I like books that ask questions, and this one seems timely.

The Women's War by Jenna Glass, which depicts unrest in a patriarchal society in which a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility.
Fighting the patriarchy is cool these days, but I feel like I've read this one, or it's short story treatment, more than once.

Sarah Beth Durst's The Deepest Blue, a standalone fantasy novel set in her Queens of Renthia universe, is about a magical island in an ocean full of malicious spirits.
Vague, but on a conceptual level this appeals to me.

Titanshade by Dan Stout, described as a noir fantasy thriller, offers readers a police procedural in an alternate urban fantasy setting.
Pros: Thriller. Cons: urban fantasy, compound naming. Mehs: Noir, police procedural, alternate.

Kim Harrison's Perfunctory Affection questions our quest for perfection, especially when said perfection may not even coincide with reality.
Vague, but at least someone's asking an interesting question.

The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab, a reprint of the now-popular author's debut, mixes horror with fantasy in a story about disappearing children and a legend about a witch that just might be true.
Meh. I could go either way on this concept.

April 2019

Motherland by Lauren Beukes posits a future America transformed by a super-virus that has decimated the male population.
Maybe. Not a new theme by any means, but I'm a sucker for dystopian futures.

The Last by Hanna Jameson, a whodunnit set in a Swiss hotel against the backdrop of a world descending into nuclear war.
This sounds like the plot of the Strugatsky Brother's novel The Dead Mountaineers Inn which actually makes me want to read it.

Finder by Suzanne Palmer is a science fiction caper featuring an interstellar repo man.
Kinda like the interstellar salvager mentioned in March? I guess if I was really into all things repo-men I'd jump on it.

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan (and translated by Ken Liu) offers a thought-provoking story about the disastrous effects of climate change.
Care to distinguish this from the other millions of current books about disastrous climate change? No? I'll pass then.

C. A. Fletcher's A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World follows a boy's search for his missing dog in a post-apocalyptic world.
Is there a nod to Ellison in here? If so it could be intriguing. Or could just be another story about a youth with powers and an animal companion.

Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton is about an artificial intelligence designed for emotional support that may actually be the answer to saving the human race from its dying sun.
AKA a thought-provoking story about the disastrous effects of climate change - with a twist. I'd buy this before the one described above.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling cleverly blends science fiction and horror when a caver finds herself fighting for survival on an alien planet.
Mmmmmaybe. Though the title makes me think of sparkly vampires.

Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes features an outcast magician seeking revenge on the seven wizards who stole her powers.
Depending on the setting I'd love it or hate it. If this was set in Lyonesse I'd read it.

Pola Oloixarac's magic realism story Dark Constellations looks at human evolution and the quest for greater knowledge.
Maybe. Magic realism's not really my thing, but evolution sound like an interesting theme, and a wizard named Oloixarac will definitely appear in my next S&S gaming venture.

Ashok K. Banker's Upon a Burning Throne sees an Empire fighting for survival as the competence of the ruling family is questioned.
Pretty vague on the setting or even genre, but has a historical feel that I might enjoy.


  • 0

    You're wanting a vote?

  • 0

    @RichardAbbott said:
    You're wanting a vote?

    Oh, no. I wasn't intending to propose these as reads so much as provoke a little discussion and/or share some upcoming novels. But maybe someone will be inspired to make nomination - who knows.

  • 1

    If you like post-apocalyptic, there's always Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, which is not only PA but also super-weird in terms of language - a bit like Iain M Banks did with Feersum Endjinn, but (IMHO) more successfully. The downside is that it might be too heavily rooted in the south-east UK (a future Kent) and it's hard for me to know how far non-UK readers would enjoy it.

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    edited January 2019

    For the most part, @Apocryphal seems pretty snarky, so these seem to be more elevator bitches.. :wink:

  • 2

    @clash_bowley said:
    For the most part, @Apocryphal seems pretty snarky, so these seem to be more elevator bitches.. :wink:

    Filing under: I wish I'd thought of that.

  • 1

    Lotta goodness here.

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    If anyone reads Always coming home, I'd listen to what you have to say, good or bad.

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    If anyone reads Always coming home, I'd listen to what you have to say, good or bad.

    Why not pitch it and run it?

  • 1

    @Apocryphal said:
    Why not pitch it and run it?

    Still thinking about this. I thought it was worth reading, and good, but not very 'likeable'. It's not a novel or story, though there is a novel and several stories in it. It's pricey - 22$CAN for the eBook, 40$ for the HC. Will get back to you in a couple of weeks.

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