And we complete our run through the new books for January.
Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America by Damien Lincoln Ober
What would it be like if the Founding Fathers had the internet? That’s the intriguing premise behind this debut novel. In 1777, just after a secret Congressional committee uploads the Articles of Confederation, a cyber attack doesn’t just wipe out the internet but kills anyone accessing a networked device. The British take this opportunity to try and attack the rebellion, but at the last minute George Washington secures victory. Still, without the internet, the fledgling states are on the point of collapse, so the Founding Fathers start to work on a foolproof operating system, including Benjamin Franklin’s networking portal designed to revolutionize representative government.
Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
The concluding volume to Okorafor’s multi-award winning trilogy sees Binti back home and hoping to live in peace. But the Khoush fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse. It is up to Binti to step in and prevent conflict breaking out. But can she and her strange new friend, Mwinyi, win the confidence of the elders enough to make a difference? Both Binti and Binti Home have made it onto award shortlists (Binti won both Hugo and Nebula awards) so there’s a good chance this final volume will have equal success.
Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds introduced Tom Dreyfus in his novel, Aurora Rising. Dreyfus is a policeman in the Glitter Band, the near-utopian string of habitats that orbit the planet Yellowstone. But now people across the Glitter Band are dying for no obvious reason; their neural implants are suffering an unprecedented malfunction, leaving behind dead bodies with no clues. Meanwhile, a revolutionary is persuading habitats to break away from the Glitter Band and form independent colonies. What happens next makes for a perfect combination of detective story and high-concept science fiction.
Heartland by Ana Simo
This is where America seems to be heading even as we speak: corruption and greed at the top leads to mass starvation at the bottom; refugees fill camps across the country until they rise up and attack the cities; and new enemies abroad are rising up with America in their sights. Against this dramatic background we have the story of a writer whose solution to writer’s block is to commit murder. Only it’s not as simple as that: for the writer the plan would only be a success if the chosen victim admitted her guilt and begged for execution. But the victim is wilier than the writer supposes.
The Sky is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith
This debut is one of those novels that seems to belong to every genre and to none. So there’s a dystopian futuristic city and there are dragons flying overhead; there are death cults and reality stars and conspiracies; and yet this story of three young people negotiating the burned out futuristic city of Empire Island is also bawdy and funny and full of startlingly vivid images.
Dark State by Charles Stross
This follow-up to his techno-thriller, Empire Games, also sets the series firmly in the Merchant Princes multiverse. Two nuclear powers face off against each other across two different timelines, one timeline is in the middle of a technological revolution, while the other is a dystopian police state. Meanwhile spies move secretly across the timelines, trying to keep control of everything and to stay ahead of the game. But the activation of a new sleeper cell threatens to unravel everything.
Sinless by Sarah Tarkoff
What if you lived in a world in which you could see who is good and who is bad, because the good people are beautiful and the bad people are ugly? What if you then discovered that it’s not as simple as that, if you learned that there are secret forces at play and that there are evils which are not visible? That’s the premise of this debut YA novel, in which Grace stumbles upon information which makes her realise that she cannot take her world at face value ever again.
The Day After Oblivion by Tim Washburn
Tim Washburn seems to have made a career out of imagining catastrophes, and then seeing how they played out. But in this latest novel he goes right to the heart of the nuclear nightmare we are all imagining right now. US Defence and NSA computers are hacked, control is lost on a nuclear armed drone, bombs start to fall, then counterstrikes, and then … There are survivors, but there is no law, there is no power structure, there are no food supplies. The question is: will they be able to survive long enough to start rebuilding civilization?
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
The comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are inevitable, but this is a novel that seems to stand up to the comparison. It imagines that the attack on women’s rights that we are seeing from the right-wing fringe of American politics has succeeded: abortion is now illegal, and every embryo has full legal rights to life, liberty and even property. Against this background five ordinary women struggle to make sense of their role in this new world, a struggle that becomes particularly intense when one of them is arrested and put on trial in a modern day witch hunt.
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.