So here we are, a quarter of the way through the year and already we’re seeing some top notch books coming out. So what does April hold for us? Truth is, it’s an incredibly busy month, with more than 20 new books catching our eye; so we’ve decided to split the list, the first part here and the rest in our next post. Let’s get started.
Cosmic Powers edited by John Joseph Adams
This is the month’s big original anthology, a stack of epic adventure stories set in far flung galaxies and written by some of the biggest names in contemporary science fiction, including Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Becky Chambers, Linda Nagata, Charlie Jane Anders, Tobias Buckell anda host of others. If you like your science fiction big and bold and full of action, this anthology has to be for you.
American War by Omar El Akkad
2074, and the second American Civil War has just broken out. Drones fill the skies, Louisiana is largely under water, and it’s never exactly clear who is a friend and who is a foe. The family of six-year-old Sarat Chestnut is forced into one of the new camps for displaced persons. Growing up in the camp isn’t easy, but Sarat makes a friend. Only the friend isn’t all that he appears, and gradually Sarat is shaped into a new weapon in this new war. This is a debut novel from an interesting looking new writer.
What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
Another debut; a collection of stories that occupy that rather strange hinterland. They are mainstream stories, but with a distinct and appealing feel of the fantastic about them. In “Who Will Greet You at Home”, for instance, a woman desperate to have a child ends up weaving one out of hair. And in the title story the world is subject to flooding, people are more divided than ever, and experts have worked out how to “fix the equation of a person”. Sounds intriguing.
Microcosms by Tony Ballantyne & Eric Brown
Two of Britain’s more reliable sf writers have come together with a collection of no less than 42 short stories. Whatever your taste in science fiction, you’re sure to find it here: there are stories set out in space and here in the future, there are robots and aliens, time travellers and rogue computers, and much more besides.
The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron
Another book that comes across as mainstream, but if you’re into science fiction you’re probably as enthralled as I am by prehistoric tales. In this instance the story cuts between the last family of Neanderthals struggling to survive during an unforgivingly hard winter, and a modern day archaeologist in a race to excavate some startling new Neanderthal remains. It sounds like just the thing to entertain anyone with an interest in the alien world of the distant past.
Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
Anne Charnock has been steadily building a reputation over her previous couple of novels, so it will be interesting to see if this third novel cements her place in modern sf. It is set in a near future when there is no such thing as infertility; now men can produce children without women, women can produce children without men, and artificial wombs mean that the risk and the pain of pregnancy is a thing of the past. But what sort of world will this produce? In a series of linked vignettes spread across five generations, Charnock explores the new nature of the family.
Convergence by C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherryh has been developing her Foreigner space opera series for quite a few years now, this is the 18th volume, and for everyone who loves her convincing, big-concept science fiction it is an absolute necessity. As ever in Cherryh, the story is a rich and complex mix of politics and diplomacy involving humans and aliens, as thousands of human refugees must be resettled in the small human enclave on an alien world, something that will stretch alliances to breaking point.
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
In a future where all you need to print the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter – is a computer, there’s nothing to tie you to society any more. So when it looks like modern society is breaking down, with cities deserted due to industrial blight and landscapes destroyed by climate change, the young and disaffected simply walk away. As as the walkaway society starts to flourish out in the wilds, more and more people join them, until they make a startling discovery: how to defeat death. And that brings them into open warfare with the ultra-rich members of the old society. This looks to be another tech-savvy dissection of modern America by Cory Doctorow.
Final Girls by Mira Grant
Virtual Reality is the cure for all your ills. Or so it seems. A brand new technology mixes a unique cocktail of drugs with a carefully supervised VR environment to confront patients with their worst horrors and so cure their psychological ailments. One investigative reporter doesn’t believe it’s that simple, but the more she digs in to the technology the more she exposes other threats, sinister forces as terrifying as any of the horror scenarios. This is a new novella by Mira Grant, with all of the medical twusts and turns of her very best work.
The Moon and the Other by John Kessel
In the middle of the next century there are 20 independent nation states on the Moon, all living just a few feet below the surface. One of these is a matriarchal utopia, the Society of Cousins, in which men have no political power. But outside intrigues and influences are beginning to have their effect upon the Society, and when the Organization of Lunar States sends in a team to investigate the condition of men in the Society, the first moon war erupts.
Void Star by Zachary Mason
In a near future where rising sea levels have changed the shape of the world and San Francisco has largely become the private domain of the rich, life is tenuous for anyone who isn’t rich. But AIs have become ever more complex, so if you have an artificial memory there’s a living to be made acting as a go between between the rich and their AIs. If you’re poor, you can always try your hand at crime, so long as you don’t rob the wrong person. And if you are a political refugee, there are threats you never imagined before. It all comes together in this vivid and violent vision of our technological future.
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.