What! It’s August already? No, it can’t be. Oh well, that means another great selection of wonderful new science fiction due out any day now. I hope you’re keeping up there, because there are books here you’re really won’t want to miss.
As ever, so this whole thing doesn’t become too overwhelming (for me as well as for you), we’ve divided the list into two parts. The second part will follow in a day or two. But for now, here’s the first selection for you to get your teeth into.
The Dying Game by Asa Avdic
Here’s a meaty thriller to start with, a neat conflation of 1984 with Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. It’s the near future, the Soviet Union never collapsed, and the whole of Europe lies under sinister totalitarian rule. A small group of people have been taken to an isolated island to undergo tests that will determine which of them will secure a top secret intelligence position. One of them, Anna, has been given the assignment of faking her own death, then hiding out to observe how her companions react to the idea that one of them might be a murderer. But then a storm brews up, the power goes out, and that’s when things start to go wrong.
The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own. Those intelligences were strange, tentacled creatures from Mars, who arrived on Earth with their dreaded tripod war machines. The story of the invasion, and its eventual defeat, was told by H.G. Wells in one of the very best of his science fiction novels, The War of the Worlds. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Stephen Baxter, who has already written a brilliant sequel to Wells’s The Time Machine, The Time Ships, has now produced this sequel to The War of the Worlds. Fourteen years have passed, and when the Martians return, Earth is ready for them. But the Martians have also learned from their earlier defeat, and the new war of the worlds is deadlier than ever.
The Best of Bova, Volume 3 by Ben Bova
Ben Bova is well over 80 now, and has been one of the most reliable authors of hard sf for nearly 60 years, and he’s still going strong. This volume, the third in the ongoing series, brings together stories from the entire spread of his career. So if you want an introduction to one of the leading authors of technological science fiction, look no further. Here you’ll find stories of astronauts struggling to make a future in space, the power politics that follow humanity to whichever worlds he reaches, the industrialists who make space adventure possible and the engineers who can sabotage it. It’s a classic collection of stories by one of the masters of traditional hard sf.
Binary System by Eric Brown
When her starship suffers a devastating accident, Delia Kemp finds herself stranded on the inhospitable world of Valinda, where hostile aliens will stop at nothing to capture her secrets. With two unlikely alien companions, Delia must make her way a weird and terrible landscape, as snow-bound winter gives way to a brief, burning summer, in the hope of finding other starship survivors and possible help. Over the years, Eric Brown has quietly proved himself adept at ringing the changes on familiar science fictional scenarios, and this looks like it’s going to be another tale to keep you turning the page.
Black Legion by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Unless I’ve been looking in the wrong places, August seems to be fairly quiet month so far as military sf is concerned. But there is this latest contribution to the on-going Horus Heresy sequence that has been coming out with remarkable regularity from a variety of writers (the last one we noticed, Perturabo by Guy Haley, was only last month). Returning from exile, Abaddon emerges from the Eye of Terror with a devastating new warhost. The question is: who can stand against him before he lays waste to the galaxy?
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
The Broken Earth trilogy, which began with the Hugo Award-winning The Fifth Season, followed by the similarly acclaimed The Obelisk Gate, now reaches its dramatic climax. The fate of the world now rests on two women, Essun and her daughter Nassun. The Moon is about to return, and it could herald the end of the world … or something even worse. Essun hopes to forge a better world, but Nassun has seen too much and now believes that the world is so evil it must be destroyed.
Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu
And another Hugo Award winner: after concluding the Three-Body Problem trilogy, Cixin Liu returns with a new standalone novel. It begins when Chen’s parents are killed by ball lightning, a dreadful incident that causes him to devote his life to studying this spectacular natural phenomenon. But his studies open up a new frontier in particle physics, but this in turn brings him into conflict with a beautiful army officer who is obsessed with dangerous weapons, and with a single-minded scientist who has no place for ethics in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.
Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter
An astrophysicist discovers a strange new star that could be artificial. It’s 2088, humankind is at last ready to begin exploring outside the solar system, so the first interstellar expedition is directed towards this strange star. With the journey expected to take centuries, the expedition is made up of clones, and as the centuries pass they are constantly replicated, made anew. But clones are never perfect copies, and each new generation has its own particular quirks and problems. In a series of vignettes, the novel explores how this enclosed society changes over time, while always the mission to discover the meaning of the star remains the same.
Volk by David Nickle
Science fiction often edges into horror, and vice versa, and this is a novel that occupies that chilling borderland. It begins at the start of the twentieth century when an orphaned farm boy and a black physician discover a parasitic alien, the Juke, that consumes humans from within while living off their hopes and dreams. In 1931, the pair encounter the Juke one more time. But now the Juke is being studied by German eugenicists, who plan to fuse the alien parasite with their own dreams of creating a German master race. The result is a terrible synthesis of horrors that could shape the entire world.
Lock and Key by L.R. Nielsen
A rift has opened in the universe, and life as we know it would be doomed if it can’t be sealed up again. Two teenagers, Jared and Kya, find themselves risking their lives to save the universe. Then Kya is kidnapped by aliens, and in his efforts to rescue her, Jared learns that the aliens are also trying to close the rift. But it must be done the right way, otherwise their entire civilisation would be doomed. Unfortunately, the right way means Jared and Kya being trapped within the rift for all eternity.
Look out for the conclusion of this list in the next couple of days.
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.