October looks as if it is going to be every bit as exciting a month in science fiction as September was. These are ten of the books we’ve got our eyes on for the coming weeks.
Daughter of Eden – Chris Beckett
The first novel in this sequence, Dark Eden, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, so the third book has got to be an event. Things have changed on Eden, the tensions between the colonists at New Earth and those at Mainground has now burst into open warfare. Angie Redlantern and her family are forced to flee through Snowy Dark, until they reach the site of the first landing. What they discover there could change the entire history of Eden.
The Terranauts – T.C. Boyle
Given that we’ve already seen a number of experiments where volunteers have spent time in an enclosed environment to simulate the experience of life on Mars, it’s only surprising that it has taken so long to turn the idea into a novel. But it is no surprise that Boyle has done, one of the most interesting and exciting of contemporary American novelists, his work has often flirted with science fiction. So here he tells the story of the eight people chosen to occupy E2, a prototype off-Earth colony set up in the Arizona desert in 1994. Under constant surveillance, and struggling to survive a series of disasters that could wreck the entire enterprise, it’s a high pressure environment in which everyone is pushed to breaking point.
A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
This is another case of an inexplicable gap between British and American publishing schedules. British readers will be able to enjoy the sequel to The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet in October, American readers will have to wait until April next year. At the close of the first novel, the engineer Pepper had to shut down the ship’s AI, Lovelace; but now Lovelace has been illegally awakened in a synthetic body. Only Pepper can help her adjust to her new life, and help her avoid the dangers that threaten. The easy charm that got Chambers’s first novel onto the shortlists for the Kitschies and the Arthur C. Clarke Award should make this new novel a sure hit.
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy – ed Karen Joy Fowler
We seem to be awash with Best of the Year anthologies, but this series, under the general editorship of John Joseph Adams, is one of the more interesting, particularly because of its habit of getting a different guest editor each year, which allows for a quirky and individual taste to show through. That’s certainly the case with Karen Joy Fowler, co-founder of the Tiptree Award. Her selection includes the Sturgeon award winner, “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link, along with stories by Ted Chiang, Catherynne M. Valente, Charlie Jane Anders, Salman Rushdie and a host of others.
Europe in Winter – Dave Hutchinson
Okay, strictly speaking this comes out right at the beginning of November, but it’s close enough. Besides, I’m too impatient to wait. The two previous volumes in the sequence, Europe in Autumn and Europe at Midnight, were both shortlisted for a fistful of awards (and, frankly, I think it’s inexplicable that they didn’t pick up any of them), so maybe this third book will go one better. Rudi, the chef turned coureur from the first volume, returns to centre stage as he seeks to find the reason behind a series of terrorist outrages, ad why Europe and the Community meet in secret to exchange hostages. This is what we would have got if John Le Carre had taken to writing science fiction.
The Found and the Lost – Ursula K. Le Guin
Last month we had The Complete Orsinia from Library of America; this month it is the collected novellas. All 13 of her novellas, including “Vaster than Empires and More Slow”, “Buffalo Gals, Won’t you Come Out Tonight”, “The Matter of Seggri”, “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” among others, have all been gathered into this one 800-page collection. If there is anyone out there who genuinely hasn’t encountered the work of Le Guin before now, then this has to be an absolutely essential addition yo your library.
Replica – Lauren Oliver
In a clandestine research establishment tucked away on a private island off the Florida coast, thousands of replicas, artificial humans, are being raised and studied. But after a terrorist attack on the building, two of the replicas, Lyra and a nameless boy, escape. When you’ve finished reading Lyra’s story, turn the book over, and start reading about Gemma. She’s a lonely teenager who has been in and out of hospital all of her life, but when she is nearly kidnapped by a complete stranger who claims to know her, she starts to investigate her family history. And that brings her to a secret research establishment in Florida. Yes, I know, reading one story one way then turning the book over to read another story the other way is a gimmick, but if the two stories mirror each other, and if you can carry it off, it’s still pretty neat.
Everything Belongs to the Future – Laurie Penny
Let’s face it, being rich has its advantages. But what if those advantages included being able to live a lot longer? What if there was a treatment you could buy that would let you live for centuries? Well, for one thing the rich would use up even more resources, while the poor would be even more disadvantaged. But what if the scientists who discovered the treatment have a secret that hasn’t been revealed yet? And what is a bunch of scruffy anarchists in Oxford likely to get up to? This is one of those novels that seems to cast a glaring allegorical light upon our modern, everyday world.
Pirate Utopia – Bruce Sterling
What if the Futurist art movement in 1920s Italy, a movement not entirely separated from the Fascist movement of the same period, was something a little more dynamic? What if a coterie of brilliant but mad idealists built their own rogue state around the Adriatic? Their leaders include an engineering genius who is a veteran of World War I, the owner of a factory run by and for women who makes torpedos, a dashing aristocrat and spy, and a glamorous warrior-poet who preaches free love. Together in this action-packed, wide-ranging satire, they plot world domination.
Crosstalk – Connie Willis
Sometimes it seems that the only place you find fast talking, fast moving screwball comedies any more is in the novels of Connie Willis. At her best, when hilarious mishaps get in the way of romantic dramas, she is one of the funniest writers in science fiction. And this new novel does promise to be one of her very best. Briddey and Trent have been together for six whole wonderful weeks, and already they’re thinking of trying EDD. This is an exciting, cutting-edge technology that lets them experience each other’s feelings. But how is Briddey going to break the news to her family, who have dramas of their own to talk about. And will true love really win out in the end?
One final word of warning: as you can see from the fact that UK and US publication dates for the same book can vary by months, publication dates are not set in stone until the book has actually gone on sale. For instance, Pirate Utopia appears in three places on Amazon with three different dates, one in October, one in November and one in December;other books seem to be listed for both September and October. So there’s no guarantee that all of these books will be available actually in October, but they are all coming soon.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.