Hi, have a good break? I did, but I’m glad to be back at the blog. Particularly as there’s so much going on this year. And if the books coming out in January are anything to go by, it’s going to be a great year in science fiction. Just look at these books:
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
What, you don’t expect to see Paul Auster in a list like this? You forget that he’s edged into sf and the fantastic before in works like In the Country of Last Things and Travels in the Scriptorium. Now he’s developing an idea that’s cropped up in quite a bit of recent literary fiction, most notably in Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: multiple versions of one person’s life. In this case, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, born in 1947, goes on to experience four divergent versions of the same life as he experiences the troubled history of late-20th century America in four different ways.
Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World edited by David Brin & Stephen W. Potts
Back in 1999, David Brin wrote The Transparent Society, which examined how we might remain a free society in in a world in which the web watches everything. Now he has followed up with a collection of essays and stories that develop those ideas even further. And what a stunning collection of authors he has got to contribute to the book, including William Gibson, Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Aliette de Bodard, Cat Rambo and more.
Galactic Empires edited by Neil Clarke
A superb collection of 22 new and reprint stories that between them examine what it is like to live in a galactic empire, the politics and economics, the communications and speed of travel, the size of the imperial bureaucracy, all play into these remarkable stories. The contributors include Ann Leckie, Paul McAuley, Yoon Ha Lee, Greg Egan, Naomi Novik, Ian McDonald and many more.
Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Octavia Butler’s time travel novel, Kindred, is one of the great classics of feminist science fiction, the story of a black woman from the 1970s who suddenly finds herself transported back to the slave plantations of the mid-19th century. As she moves between her free life in the 20th century and the life of a slave in the 19th century, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the story of the slaveholder who is also one of her own ancestors. Now this unforgettable novel has been brilliantly adapted as a stunning graphic novel.
The Final Day by William R. Forstchen
The latest volume in Forstchen’s series about what happens after an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electricity in the United States. By now the country is disintegrating, a new autocratic regime talks of selling large parts of the country to Mexico or China, many states are in rebellion, and amid all of this one small community in North Carolina is trying to restore their world to how it was before the EMP. Whether they will succeed, and what this new America will look like is anybody’s guess.
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
Ellen Klages has previously written deft and moving science fiction stories that weave around the gay experience in early 20th century America, but here she uses it as the setting for what may be her best work to date. It’s San Francisco in 1940, the US hasn’t yet been caught up in the Second World War, but the city is still a place of secrets, of alien and exotic experiences, a place where people from the unlikeliest of backgrounds can meet.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
There are six members of the crew of the starship “Dormire”, and when they die a clone is awakened from the vat. But now it seems that their previous bodies were murdered, and the clones have to find out which of them is a killer before they strike again.
The Fortress at the End of Time by Joe M. McDermott
At the very edge of human space is a fortress, a relic of the war against an enemy that is still mysterious, and a listening post in case that enemy should return. For young Ensign Aldo it’s a prison, a glum and unhappy posting from which his only escape may be an unforgivable crime.
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
The sequel to Binti, her Hugo and Nebula winning novella, is set a year after Binti united two warring planets, now she returns home to Earth. But with her she brings her friend, Okwu, the first representative of his people ever to visit Earth in peace. The question is, after generations of conflict, what sort of reception will he receive?
Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
This collection of 18 very short stories, none of them longer than 2,300 words, covers Scalzi’s entire career to date, including four stories that have never previously been published. Short, sharp, funny and disturbing, they tell us how AIs plan not to destroy humanity, how yoghurt takes over the world, how many different ways Hitler has died, and much much more. Entire universes in just a few words.
Empire Games by Charles Stross
The start of a new alternate history series is set in 2020, when the head of the Ministry of Intertemporal Research and Intelligence, the body in charge of the paratemporal agents who are aiding the North American Commonwealth to bring democracy to a troubled world, discovers that her own daughter has been recruited by the United States in a parallel universe to bring down those same paratemporal agents.
Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn
The start of a new YA series, in which young Polly Newton, who dreams of being a spaceship pilot, is sent from Mars to the Galileo Academy on Earth. But there she finds herself at the centre of a dangerous conspiracy that could have wide-ranging consequences is she isn’t able to get to the truth.
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.