What a month this is: new books by some of our biggest names; long awaited sequels; thrillers and traditional space operas and mainstream novels with a twist. These are some of the books that have caught our eye this month.
Infinity Engine by Neal Asher
The final part of Asher’s spectacular Transformation trilogy features humans and aliens, war drones and criminal AIs, all chasing after the deadly and enigmatic Penny Royal. All come together to create an action-packed finale on the very edge of a black hole. Asher has created a name for himself as one of the most reliable authors of modern space opera, and this looks to be no exception.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
The sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet came out in the UK last year, but it is finally appearing in an American edition. At the end of that first novel, Pepper the engineer had to make a drastic decision about Lovelace, the ship’s AI. Now, Lovelace wakes in a body for the first time ever, but she has no memory of how she got there. As Lovelace learns, with Pepper’s help, how to live inside a body, she also discovers that what has been done to her is illegal, and has put them both in danger.
Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Cassandra Rose Clarke has written a string of successful YA fantasies, but with her last novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, she moved into science fiction for adults. Now she continues that trend with this space opera. Set in a small system of terraformed moons, it tells of a young woman on the point of inheriting her father’s business, until she discovers the dark secret behind the company’s use of alien DNA. Now she must decide whether to bring her estranged family together again, or tear it apart forever.
The Return by Joseph Helmreich
It started when a renowned astrophysicist was abducted by aliens right in the middle of a live television broadcast. Now, six years later, he has been found in South America and vehemently denies that he was ever kidnapped by aliens. As one man works to discover the truth he uncovers a vast global conspiracy involving cults and secret organisations, but as for the aliens … This is more thriller than anything else, but it has an intriguing premise.
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
As preparations are made for the first manned expedition to Mars, three astronauts are locked away in the most perfect simulation possible of the conditions they will meet on their 17-month voyage. Under constant 24-hour observation, they struggle to remain in control as their quarters become ever more claustrophobic and personal demons past and present rise up to blur the distinction between reality and the imagination. The novel is being compared to both Station Eleven and The Martian, a curious combination, but it does look interesting.
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
This is a somewhat off-beat take on our future in space. Jakub is the first astronaut from the Czech Republic, but as he sets off on a dangerous solo mission to Venus that will, he hopes, allow him to become the hero he dreams of being, he begins to realise how much he has given up along the way. Then he meets an alien spider who may, in fact, be imaginary, but their conversations could be what Jakub needs to fulfill his mission and get back to Earth where he can put right all the things he did wrong.
Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan
This is Caitlin R. Kiernan’s fourteenth collection of short stories, but unless you are a member of a very select group you won’t have read any of these 28 stories before, because the only place they have appeared is in Sirenia Digest, a subscription-only publication for Kiernan’s most devoted fans. So for most of us this is the first chance we have had to read these tales of dragon lovers and drowned vampires, of the distant past and the far future. An unstable and often disturbing blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror, this collection confirms Kiernan as one of our best short story writers.
The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge
Okay, this isn’t science fiction; but I’ll bet an awful lot of science fiction fans will want to read it. After all, it’s about that most curious of writers, H.P. Lovecraft. It weaves together an extraordinary group of real historical figures: Lovecraft himself, who, for a few months in 1934 lived at the home of a teenage fan, Robert Barlow. Barlow would later become a leading scholar of Mexican culture and also Lovecraft’s collaborator on “The Night Ocean”, but he would eventually kill himself after being blackmailed over his homosexuality. Barlow’s student was William S. Burroughs, and also in the mix is the Canadian sf fan, L.C. Spinks. The novel moves back and forth in time as it attempts to solve the puzzle of their complicated relationships.
Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald
If there’s one book this month that we’ve been waiting for impatiently, surely it is this, the concluding part to Ian McDonald’s tale of battling corporations on the Moon. Luna: New Moon left us with Corta Helio under devastating attack from its rivals. Now it’s eighteen months later, and Corta Helio is dead … or it is. Lucas Corta has managed to survive, and he embarks on a desperate plan to rebuild his family and restore its power, but for that he needs allies, and that in turn results in a daring but dangerous journey back to Earth. Luna: New Moon was a bold and bloody story that left us on the edge of our seats; now, at last, we can discover how this thrilling tale turns out.
Pilot X by Tom Merritt
It takes some doing these days to come up with a new twist on time travel, but Tom Merritt may just have managed it. Pilot X is an alien, an Alendan, who is able to move through space and time as an ambassador bringing peace between different races. But when he discovers a secret dimensional war that threatens the very fabric of the universe itself he has to choose between letting the universe be destroyed, or wiping out three entire races, including his own.
Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer
Ada Palmer made a big splash last year with her first novel, Too Like the Lightning. Now here is the second volume, continuing the story of the mass murderer, Mycroft Canner, who also happens to be on intimate terms with the rulers of the world; of Carlyle Foster, whose religious impulses are at odds with his own society; and of the secret both Mycroft and Carlyle share, the strange child Bridger whose mysterious ability to bring inanimate objects to life could change everything.
Nemesis by Brendan Reichs
Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man walks into Min’s life and murders her in cold blood; yet hours later she always wakes up again, with no sign of the crime. Meanwhile Noah is plagued by nightmares of murder, but even worse, he discovers that everyone has been lying to him. And at the same time an enormous asteroid is heading straight for Earth. And that’s only the beginning. Mystery, conspiracy and apocalypse collide in this intricately plotted thriller that’s going to keep you gripped.
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
By the next century, climate change has changed New York almost beyond recognition. Rising sea levels means that the streets have become canals, and the towering skyscrapers have become like islands. But even in this changed environment, some things don’t change. At least that’s what the residents of one apartment building hope as they try to go about their daily lives, until two people who have been living on the roof suddenly disappear, and everything they have taken for granted is called into question.
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
John Scalzi’s latest is an epic space adventure in which the far flung planets of an interstellar empire are connected by the Flow, a mysterious force running through space-time that allows faster than light speed travel. Sometimes the Flow can change its course, leaving planets cut off from the rest of the empire, but now something is interfering with the entire Flow, and unless a disparate group can find the reason, the entire empire could collapse. This is Scalzi doing what he’s best at: high concept, action-packed sf.
Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks
In a post-apocalypse future, a band of nomadic traders is making its way across a fearsome desert where sentient war machines from a former age still roam. The discovery of one relic machine sets in motion a chain of events that separates one girl from her family and friends, and thrusts her into the company of thieves and desperados where grim secrets from the past begin to emerge. Meanwhile, out in the desert, the deadliest war machine of all is starting to stir, and its plans do not include the survival of humanity.
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.