And here we go with the final selection of the books you’ll want to read this month.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
Yes, I know, another fantasy. But if you aren’t excited by Pullman returning to the world of His Dark Materials, where have you been hiding for the last 20 years? This is serious, intellectually engaging stuff that really should appeal to every sf fan. And in the first volume of this new trilogy, Pullman starts to tell the story of what led up to The Golden Compass, but also takes the story on to when Lyra is an adult. And along the way, Pullman starts to explore the nature of the mysterious substance, dust, which lay at the heart of His Dark Materials.
2084 edited by George Sandison
What will the world be like 100 years after George Orwell’s 1984? State control, increasing use of artificial intelligence, the depredations of global warming, renewed refugee crises, all of these things are with us now, and all point to the sort of world Orwell imagined. Now 15 writers take us into that future to see the world we are making now. With contributions by Dave Hutchinson, E.J. Swift, Jeff Noon, Anne Charnock, Lavie Tidhar, Aliya Whiteley, and Christopher Priest among others, this is a spectacular collection of stories.
Infinite Stars edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
This book advertises itself as the definitive anthology of space opera and military sf. It’s a big claim, but it comes as close as you’re likely to get by persuading a bunch of big name authors in the field to revisit their most famous creations. There’s a new Ender Wiggin story by Orson Scott Card, a new Honor Harrington story by David Weber, a new Vorkosigan story by Lois McMaster Bujold, along with new stories from David Drake, Elizabeth Moon, Catherine Asaro, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and lots more.
Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns
Space pirates, a malevolent AI, interplanetary war, there’s everything here for a rip-roaring space adventure. It starts when two out-of-work space engineers decide that their best bet for the good life is to join the pirates who are supposedly living a life of luxury at Barbary Station. So they hijack a colony ship and set out for deep space. Only to find that pirate life isn’t anywhere near as luxurious as they’d imagined, and the AI controlling Barbary Station has gone mad and is trying to kill everyone in or around the station. In order to join the pirates, the engineers have to kill the AI, but that’s not as easy as it may sound.
The Sea Peoples by S.M. Stirling
Stirling’s novels of the Change present a gripping picture of humanity trying to rebuild society in a devastated postapocalyptic world without advanced technology. In this latest novel in the series, the kingdoms of Japan, Montival and Hawaii are preparing for war against the mysterious powers that have stripped humanity of its technology. Meanwhile, a motley band of adventurers set out to rescue the kidnapped Prince John, with the fate of the entire world hanging in the balance.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
Thompson’s new novella starts with a chillingly nasty premise and follows it rigorously as it develops a sense of mounting horror. Molly Southbourne is dying, and she knows that a terrible fate awaits her at the hands of someone who looks exactly like her. Because every time Molly bleeds, she gives birth to a molly, a girl who is identical to her in every sense and who is intent on her destruction. Sooner or later, one of these mollies is bound to succeed, unless Molly can find a way to stop bleeding.
The Genius Plague by David Walton
On a trip to the Amazon, Paul Johns falls victim to a fungal infection that nearly kills him. But when he recovers it turns out that his memory, pattern recognition and communication have all greatly improved. And Paul isn’t the only victim, others are falling victim to the same infection and emerging with enhanced abilities. As Paul becomes increasingly erratic, it seems that the victims are all working towards some collective end, and end that has already caused enemy governments to suddenly form an alliance. But what is the end? Paul’s brother, Neil, finds himself pitted against his own brother in an attempt to protect earth from an alien intelligence.
Soonish by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith
What will our future be like. Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, respectively scientist and cartoonist, have joined forces to present a witty and revealing glimpse of 10 emerging technologies, examining what needs to be developed first, what’s getting in the way, how they would work and why they are needed. From space elevators to programmable matter, from robots to augmented reality, this is an always accessible and entertaining journey to how our civilization might be developing.
A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis
Connie Willis has been regularly producing witty Christmas stories for years now. In 1999 she brought out a collection of them, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Now she has expanded that collection by adding five new holiday tales. From office parties and Secret Santas to the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come, these stories capture all the familiar features of Christmas and give them an unfamiliar twist. But in the end, while they may send up Christmas traditions, they also reaffirm the heartwarming spirit of the time.
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.