Recommended Science Fiction show case books for October

The Poppy War book cover

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” -Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing.

This month’s science fiction showcased books have a wide appeal and feature many of the tropes and genres of the sci-fi world. From Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Moon to Ilona Andrew’s Magic Triumphs, from Raymond E Feist’s King of Ashes to Ben Bova’s Power Failure, there is a whole universe of book choices to enjoy.

Syndetics book coverPower failure / Ben Bova.
“Dr. Jake Ross came to Washington to try to make a difference, but he’s learned the only way to get something done in Washington, assuming your ideals survive the corrosive atmosphere, is to gather power. Ross has gathered a great deal, riding in the wake of Frank Tomlinson. But now Tomlinson has decided to shoot for the moon. If they win, they get it all. If they lose, the game is over for Jake Ross. In the Power trilogy, Bova’s vision of a future powered by solar satellite transmission is tantalizingly within reach.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Magic triumphs / Andrews, Ilona
Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be. Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Barren / Brett, Peter V
“A new Demon Cycle novella from internationally bestselling author Peter V. Brett After The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold and Messenger’s Legacy comes Barren, an enchanting new novella set in the much-loved world of the Demon Cycle series.” (Catalogue)

Chasing shadows : visions of our coming transparent world
“David Brin, Hugo award-winning author of The Uplift War, presents Chasing Shadows, a collection of short stories and essays by other science fiction luminaries. As we debate Internet privacy, revenge porn, the NSA, and Edward Snowden, cameras get smaller, faster, and more numerous. Has Orwell’s Big Brother finally come to pass? Or have we become a global society of thousands of Little Brothers – watching, judging, and reporting on one another? Partnering with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, and inspired by Brin’s nonfiction book The Transparent Society, noted author and futurist David Brin and scholar Stephen Potts have compiled essays and short stories from writers such as Robert J. Sawyer, James Morrow, William Gibson, Damon Knight, Jack McDevitt, and many others to examine the benefits and pitfalls of technologic transparency in all its permutations.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

King of ashes / Feist, Raymond E.
“For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as ‘the Firemane’ for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverShiang / C. F. Iggulden.
In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat. Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe poppy war / R.F. Kuang.
“When Rin aced the Keju – the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies – it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed moon / Kim Stanley Robinson.
“It is thirty years from now, and we have colonized the moon.
American Fred Fredericks is making his first trip, his purpose to install a communications system for China’s Lunar Science Foundation. But hours after his arrival he witnesses a murder and is forced into hiding. It is also the first visit for celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu. He has contacts and influence, but he too will find that the moon can be a perilous place for any traveler.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncompromising Honor / David Weber.
“The Solarian League’s navy counts its superdreadnoughts by the thousands. Not even its own government knows how enormous its economy truly is. And for hundreds of years, the League has borne the banner of human civilization, been the ideal to which humanity aspires in its diaspora across the galaxy. But the bureaucrats known as the Mandarins who rule today’s League, are not the men and women who founded it so long ago. They are corrupt, venal, accountable to no one… and they’ve decided the upstart Star Kingdom of Manticore must be destroyed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ember Blade : book one of the Darkwater legacy / Chris Wooding.
“Empires rise, civilisations fall and one culture comes to subsume another. It’s the way of the world… sometimes ways of life are improved, sometimes they are not. But the progression of change is huge and – usually – unstoppable. In this story, the Ossian way of life is fading and the Dachen way is taking its place and Aren is comfortable with that. Even when his parents are accused of treason he supports the establishment and maintains there’s been some mistake… which is all it takes to get himself and his best friend arrested.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Top picks from new Science Fiction arrivals

A Big Ship... book cover

The wild and wonderful world of science fiction writing is well represented in this month’s latest acquisitions. From Dan Abnett’s The Founding, to Mercedes Lackey’s A Scandal in Battersea there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this month’s latest batch of books. Take yourself into this wondrous cosmic universe of words!

Syndetics book coverThe founding / Dan Abnett.
“In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of hidden things / Francesco Dimitri.
“Four old school friends have a pact: to meet up every year in the small town in Puglia they grew up in. Art, the charismatic leader of the group and creator of the pact, insists that the agreement must remain unshakable and enduring. But this year, he never shows up. A visit to his house increases the friends’ worry; Art is farming marijuana. In Southern Italy doing that kind of thing can be very dangerous. They can’t go to the Carabinieri so must make enquiries of their own. This is how they come across the rumours about Art; bizarre and unbelievable rumours that he miraculously cured the local mafia boss’s daughter of terminal leukaemia. And among the chaos of his house, they find a document written by Art, The Book of Hidden Things, that promises to reveal dark secrets and wonders beyond anything previously known.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Quanderhorn xperimentations / Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall.
“England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn: a brilliant, maverick scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. Assisted by a rag-tag crew – his part-insect “son” (reputedly ‘a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity’), a recovering amnesiac, a brilliant scientist with a half-clockwork brain, and a captured Martian hostage – he’ll save the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA scandal in Battersea / Mercedes Lackey.
“In this Victorian historical fantasy novel, a member of the famed Bloomsbury writers’ group attempts to conjure a doppelganger-an Earth Elemental Golem-to do his writing for him while he enjoys the London social scene. When a shadow image of himself knocks on his door some nights after his invocation, he lets it into the house thinking that his ritual has been a success, not realizing that the Golem is actually inhabited by the ghost of a murderous fiend-part Jack the Ripper and part Mr. Hyde.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOutcasts of order / L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Beltur, an Order mage, discovers he possesses frightening powers not seen for hundreds of years. With his new abilities, he survives the war in Elparta and saves the lives of all. However, victory comes with a price. His fellow mages now see him as a threat to be destroyed, and the local merchants want to exploit his power.
There’s only one way he can remain free and survive–he’s going to have to run.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummerland / Hannu Rajaniemi.
“How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?
In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. But Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.
When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfterwar / Lilith Saintcrow.
“America has been devastated by a second civil war. The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins. One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA big ship at the edge of the universe / Alex White.
Firefly meets The Fast and the Furious Furious in this science fiction adventure series that follows a crew of outcasts as they try to find a legendary ship that just might be the key to saving the universe.
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society. They’re all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it’s been destroyed, and some think it’s only a legend, but one thing’s for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New sci fi and fantasy selections

Space Opera book cover

Newly acquired science fiction titles provide a rich cornucopia of titles and authors from established award winning favourites like Stephen R. Lawhead, Joanne Harris and Catherynne M. Valente, to critically acclaimed works like Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (reissued to tie in with the recent movie). The icing on top of the cake for many will be the welcome rerelease of George R R Martin’s Nightflyers, again to tie in with a major new television series. So much to enjoy, so little time!

The testament of Loki / Harris, Joanne
“In this follow-up to The Gospel of Loki from protean Chocolat author Harris, Ragnarok, the anticipated end of the world, has come and gone. Loki finds himself stuck in the mind of a teenage girl whose friends have been preempted by other Norse gods, with Odin plotting to bring back Norse power. But will Loki cooperate? In the sequel to The Gospel of Loki, Loki’s adventures continue when he finds a way out of the end of the world and plans to restart the power of the Norse gods.” (Catalogue)

Space opera / Valente, Catherynne M.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth. A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented–something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.” (Catalogue)

Nightflyers / Martin, George R. R
“Featuring fifteen original full-color illustrations, this is the definitive edition of an electrifying tale that combines the deep-space thrills of Alien, the psychological horror of The Shining, and, of course, the inimitable vision of George R. R. Martin.
When a scientific expedition is launched to study a mysterious alien race, the only ship available is the Nightflyer, a fully autonomous vessel manned by a single human. But Captain Royd Eris remains locked away, interacting with his passengers only as a disembodied voice–or a projected hologram no more substantial than a ghost.” (Catalogue)

The hills have spies / Lackey, Mercedes
“In this new series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, Heralds Mags and Amily must continue to protect the realm of Valdemar while raising their children and preparing them to follow in their footsteps. Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife Amily are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Justyn, has the Gift of animal Mindspeech–he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Justyn’s dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Herald Spy, but has yet to be Chosen by his horse companion.” (Catalogue)

Annihilation / VanderMeer, Jeff
“The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world” (Kim Stanley Robinson). Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.” (Catalogue)

By fire above / Bennis, Robyn
By Fire Above is the rip-roaring new adventure in Robyn Bennis’s Signal Airship military fantasy series.  “All’s fair in love and war,” according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown of Durum becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, “Nothing’s fair except bombing those Vins to high hell.” Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up Garnia’s military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated Mistral crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother. Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum–only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.” (Catalogue)

The queens of Innis Lear / Gratton, Tessa
“Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides. The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.” (Catalogue)

Wrath of empire / McClellan, Brian
“The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.” (Catalogue)

Artificial condition / Wells, Martha
“It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a research transport vessal named ART (you don’t want to know what the A stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…” (Catalogue)

New sci fi and fantasy selections

The Wolf

This month’s featured science fiction and fantasy novels are selected from our wide range of new acquisitions, and include a series conclusion from Elizabeth May and a future cop mystery from award-winning author John Scalzi. There are also several novels that weave into their plots such themes as mining, alternative medieval Britain and bleak dystopian cities. All will ensure fascinating, thrilling reading.

Syndetics book coverHead on / John Scalzi.
“John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the critically acclaimed Lock In. Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth–and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fallen kingdom / Elizabeth May.
My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Then one of them killed me. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarthcore / Scott Sigler.
“Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out firsthand why this treasure has never been unearthed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wolf / Leo Carlew.
“Carlew’s debut novel presents an alternate medieval Britain in which the isle of Albion is shared by human Saxons and two races of giants: the incredibly long-lived Anakim and the larger and rarer Unhieru. The uneasy peace between the southern Saxon kingdom and the Black Kingdom of the Anakim is broken as the Sutherners invade, scoring an unexpected victory and killing the current Black Lord. The novel follows both the Anakim heir, Roper, as he attempts to defend the kingdom from invasion while dealing with rivals for the throne, and the leader of the southern invasion, Bellamus, a commoner attempting to not only destroy the Anakim but also secure his own advancement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlackfish City / Sam J. Miller.
“After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBefore Mars : a Planetfall novel / Emma Newman.
“After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team. But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hyena and the hawk / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“From the depths of myth an ancient enemy has returned: the Plague People, whose very presence obliterates whole villages; whose terror destroys minds. In their wake, nothing is left of the people, not their places, not their ways. On the plains, the warriors and the wise of all tribes gather to confront the aggressor. Loud Thunder leads his great war-host south, even as Tecumet and Asman head north with the Sun River army. With Maniye Many Tracks, they plan to forge a new unity between the tribes such as the world has never seen. But will it be enough to stave off an oblivion that might devour even their gods?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAscendant / Jack Campbell.
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least. When a “peacekeeping force” carrying thousands of enemy soldiers arrives in Kosatka’s star system, the people of that world face an apparently hopeless battle to retain their freedom. It’s said that the best defense is a good offense. But even if a bold and risky move succeeds, Geary and Darcy may not survive it…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne way / S. J. Morden.
“Andy Weir’s The Martian meets Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in this edge-of-your-seat science fiction thriller about one man’s fight for survival on a planet where everyone’s a killer. Frank Kittridge is serving life for murdering his son’s drug dealer, so when he’s offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations – the corporation that owns the prison – he takes it. He’s been selected to help build the first permanent base on Mars. Unfortunately, his crewmates are just as guilty of their crimes as he is. As the convicts set to work on the frozen wastes of Mars, the accidents multiply.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOversleeper [paperback]
“What do you do when you wake up one morning and find that everything you know has changed? On Monday morning Ignatius Inuus finds himself on the run in a New York he barely recognises. Helped by a mysterious young woman, he starts to learn about the new regime. And, the brutal society – in which people survive at the expense of their humanity – seems to be more nightmare than dream. In his quest to force change, he discovers that when you possess the power of life or death over people, choosing life is not as simple as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New science fiction novels

The Tangled Lands

All aspects of science fiction and fantasy — dystopian fiction, space warfare, aliens, magic, planetary missions, and much more — are represented each month in our selections from the new novels added to Wellington City Libraries collection. Readers of this genre are always guaranteed hours of escapist pleasure.

Syndetics book coverThe fallen kingdom / Elizabeth May.
My name is Lady Aileana Kameron. First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world. Then one of them killed me. Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer’s story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tangled lands / Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias Buckell.
“Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them. In four interrelated parts, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice in the twisted remains surrounding the last great city of Khaim.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bitter twins / Jen Williams.
“The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again. Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists. But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe long sunset / Jack McDevitt.
“From Nebula Award winner Jack McDevitt comes the eighth installment in the popular The Academy series. Despite taking part in the recent scientific breakthrough that rejuvenates the human body and expands one’s lifespan, Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins finds herself as a famous interstellar pilot with little to do, until a message from an alien race arrives. The message is a piece of music from an unexplored area. Despite the fact that this alien race could pose a great danger and that this message could have taken several thousand years to travel, the program prepares the last interstellar ship for the journey. As the paranoia grows, Hutch and her crew make an early escape–but what they find at the other end of the galaxy is completely unexpected.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwice bitten : an Argeneau novel / Lynsay Sands.
“For someone who’s been around for over a hundred and forty years, immortal Elspeth Argeneau hasn’t done a whole lot of living. Now that she’s moved away from her controlling mother, she’s tracking down rogue vampires and enjoying some overdue freedom. A fling would be fun. A life mate can wait. Yet to Elspeth’s surprise, her landlady’s hot grandson checks both boxes. Wyatt fell instantly in love with Elspeth four years ago. He’s stunned to run into her again, especially as she has no memory of him. With mysterious “accidents” besieging Elspeth, the ex-Special Forces soldier appoints himself her bodyguard. But time is running out to uncover the truth about her enemies–and rediscover the man determined to love her for eternity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

This month, try a techno thriller! New sci-fi and fantasy

Image from Syndetics

The selection of recently received new titles in our science fiction and fantasy collection always illustrates the wonderful diversification of themes and plots of this genre. This month there are novels about immortality, espionage, political intrigue, time travel, utopias and several techno thrillers.

Syndetics book coverImmortal life : a soon to be true story / Stanley Bing.
“Immortal Life, a fantasy, an impossible dream, for now, maybe. The moguls of Big Tech are pouring their mountain of wealth into finding a cure for death. None of these titans is richer than Arthur Vogel. This inventor, tech tycoon, and all-round monster has amassed trillions and rules over a corporate empire stretching all the way to Mars. The newest, and most expensive, life extension technology has allowed him to live to 127 years, but time is running out. His last hope to escape the inevitable lies with Gene, a human being specifically created for the purpose of housing Arthur’s consciousness. The plan is to discard his used-up old carcass and come to a second life in a young, strong body with all appropriate working parts. But there’s a problem: Gene. He may be artificial, but he is a person. And he has other ideas.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Erstwhile / Brian Catlin.
“The Vorrh is a vast unmapped and very mysterious jungle in Africa. No-one comes out of it in one piece. Survivors report strange, mind-bending phenomena and horrific monsters. It is rumored that the Garden of Eden still exists somewhere in the middle of it. In The Erstwhile it transpires that some angels have escaped Eden and the Vorrh and are living in hiding in London, some in disguise as lunatics in Bedlam. Good and evil angels and humansare heading towards a final, Miltonic apocalyptic battle for the soul of humanity. The Erstwhile is the second book in the Vorrh trilogy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrosstown : a novel / by Loren W. Cooper.
“Zethus is a sorcerer, a self-described spiritual thug for hire. He makes his living in CrossTown, a place where the many world hypotheses of modern physics manifests itself, where possibilities and probabilities overlap. Caught up in a web of intrigue as he investigates the death of his master, Corvinus, and pursued by agents that want to erase all knowledge of Corvinus’s work, Zethus discovers that the key to his master’s murder lies in the last project he had pursued before his death. The roots of this project lie deep in the past, at the origin of CrossTown’s fractured reality. Once he understands the stakes, Zethus must make the dangerous journey to the cradle of history. The price he must pay to find the answers he seeks will threaten everything he holds dear, including his own humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover1637 : the Volga rules / Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, Gorg Huff.
“It’s been five years since a cosmic incident known as The Ring of Fire transported the modern day town of Grantville, West Virginia, through time and space to 17th century Europe. The course of world history has been forever altered, and Russia is no exception. Inspired by the American up-timers’ radical notion that all people are created equal, Russian serfs are rebelling. The entire village of Poltz, led by blacksmith Stefan Andreevich, pulls up stakes to make a run for freedom. The Czar Mikhail has escaped house arrest and makes his way to the village of Ufa. There he intends to set up a government-in-exile. It is to Ufa that the serfs of Poltz are heading, as well. The path is dangerous, for the serfs as well as the czar as they face great distances and highwaymen. But the worst threat comes from the aristocracy who seek to crush the serfs and execute the czar in a bid to drive any hope for Russian freedom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTime shards / Dana Fredsti, David Fitzgerald.
“Our world is gone, instantly replaced by a new one made of scattered remnants of the past, present, and future, dropped alongside one another in a patchwork of “shards”. Monsters from Jurassic prehistory, ancient armies, and high-tech robots all coexist in this deadly post-apocalyptic landscape. A desperate group of survivors sets out to locate the source of the disaster. They include 21st century Californian Amber Richardson, Cam, a young Celtic warrior from Roman Britannia, Alex Brice, a policewoman from 1985, and Blake, a British soldier from World War II. With other refugees from across time, they must learn the truth behind the Event, if they are to survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe forgotten beasts of Eld / Patricia A. McKillip.
“Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments. But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit, and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe will to battle / by Ada Palmer.
“This is the third book of 2017 John W. Campbell Award winner Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota. The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned, so that no faction could ever dominate and that the balance held. The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that facade is slipping away. Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone, Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, Emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints, scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElysium fire : a Prefect Dreyfus Emergency / Alastair Reynolds.
“One citizen died a fortnight ago, two a week ago, four died yesterday and unless the cause can be found and stopped within the next four months, everyone will be dead. For the Prefects, the hunt for a silent, hidden killer is on.The technological implants which connect every citizen to each other have become murder weapons, and no one knows who or what the killer is, or who the next targets will be. But their reach is spreading, and time is not on the Prefects’ side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark state / Charles Stross.
“In the near-future, the collision of two nuclear superpowers across timelines, one in the midst of a technological revolution and the other a hyper-police state, is imminent. In Commissioner Miriam Burgeson’s timeline, her top level agents run a high risk extraction of a major political player. Meanwhile, a sleeper cell activated in Rita’s, the Commissioner’s adopted daughter and newly-minted spy, timeline threatens to unravel everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSweet dreams / Tricia Sullivan.
“Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. As far as she knows, she’s the only person who can do this. Unfortunately, her power comes with one drawback; Charlie also has narcolepsy, and may fall asleep at the most inopportune moment. But in London 2022, her skill is in demand. When she is hired by a minor celebrity who dreams of a masked Creeper then sleepwalks off a tall building, Charlie begins to realise that someone else might be able to invade dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Otherworldly new sci-fi and fantasy

In this selection of new science fiction and fantasy novel there are several novels that continue series, which will please many readers. Stephen R. Donaldson begins a promising new series titled Great Gods War, with the first novel titled Seventh decimate. Highly recommended is Rivers Solomon’s amazing debut novel titled An unkindness of ghosts.

Syndetics book coverThe bronze skies / by Catherine Asaro.
“Major Bhaajan achieved the impossible. Born to the Undercity, the slums below the City of Cries on the planet Raylicon, she broke free from crushing poverty and crime to become a military officer with Imperial Space Command. Now retired from military duty, she walks the mean streets of Undercity as a private investigator. And she is about to embark on her most challenging case yet. Summoned by no less than the Ruby Pharaoh herself, Major Bhaajan is tasked with finding a killer. But this is no ordinary murderer. The Ruby Pharaoh witnessed a Jagernaut cut down Assembly Councilor Tap Benton, which shouldn’t have been possible. The Jagernauts are the elite of the elite soldiers in the Imperial Space Command. What’s more, the spinal node implanted in all Jagernauts should have prevented the murder. But the Ruby Pharaoh is sure of what she saw, and she has reason to believe that the Jagernaut will kill again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSurvival / Ben Bova.
“Book 4 of The Star Quest series. In Survival , a human team sent to scout a few hundred lightyears in front of the death wave encounters a civilization far in advance of our own, a civilization of machine intelligences. These sentient, intelligent machines have existed for eons, and have survived earlier “death waves,” gamma ray bursts from the core of the galaxy. They are totally self-sufficient, completely certain that the death wave cannot harm them, and utterly uninterested in helping to save other civilizations, organic or machine. But the humans have discovered them; they refuse to allow them to leave their planet, reasoning that other humans will inevitably follow if they learn of their existence.” (Adapted from Syndteics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmergence : a Foreigner novel / C.J. Cherryh.
“The nineteenth book in the Foreigner space opera series and the sequel to Convergence. Bren Cameron, acting as the representative of the atevi’s political leader, Tabini-aiji, as well as translator between humans and atevi, has undertaken a mission to the human enclave of Mospheira. Both his presence on the island and his absence from the continent have stirred old enemies to realize new opportunities. The space station on which the world increasingly relies is desperate to get more supplies up to orbit and to get a critical oversupply of human refugees down to the world below. Rationing is in force on the station, but the overpopulation problem has to be solved quickly and Bren’s mission on Mospheira has expanded to include preparation for that landing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeventh decimate / Stephen R. Donaldson.
“Fire. Wind, pestilence, earthquake, drought and lightning, these are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil. But a seventh Decimate exists, the most devastating one of all. For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides harnessing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power, and now the Bellegerins stand defenseless. Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to locate the book of the seventh Decimate and reverse the fate of his land.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBayou born / Hailey Edwards.
“Deep in the humid Mississippi bayou, a half-wild child is dragged from the murky waters. She has no memories, no family and is covered in mysterious markings. Adopted by the policeman who rescued her, Luce Boudreau follows him onto the force, determined to prove herself in the eyes of those who are still suspicious. However, there’s more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one, including Luce herself could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll those explosions were someone else’s fault / James Alan Gardner.
“Monsters are real, but so are heroes.Sparks are champions of weird science, boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice, mostly. Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality, doors creak at their approach and cobwebs gather where they linger. Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities and to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA war in crimson embers / Alex Marshall.
“The Crimson Empire trilogy concludes in this epic story of redemption. Zosia, the once-heroic warrior, now lives as an outcast, her former comrades-in-arms spread out around the world, and the world itself on the verge of destruction. But Zosia isn’t prepared to simply watch the world die. She has one last battle in her, but she can’t do it alone; she needs to rebuild her army and regain her sense of purpose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe castle in Cassiopeia / by Mike Resnick.
“Book 3 in the Dead Enders series. Pretorius and his Dead Enders kidnapped the real General Michkag and substituted a clone who had been raised and trained in the Democracy. They find that the clone likes being the most powerful man in the hundred-world Traanskei Coalititon and having been raised on Earth, he knows how humans think and react. This becomes a many-layered problem for Pretorius and what is left of his Dead Enders. As the only humans on a totally militarized alien world, they must first find where the best-guarded member of the enemy’s military, Michkag, is hiding and how many aliens, or regiments, or divisions, are guarding him, and then they must find a way past all his lines of defense to kill or capture him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlood and tempest / Jon Skovron.
“This the third book and conclusion in the Empire of Storms series. Still reeling from the events at Dawn’s Light, Hope struggles to understand what it means to be a warrior who has vowed to never again take up a sword. Red is enjoying his new role as imperial spy, perhaps a bit too much. But his loyalties will be tested when his employer, Lady Hempist, relents and assigns him the one task he’s been begging for all along: recruiting Hope and Brigga Lin to help rid the empire of biomancery once and for all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unkindness of ghosts / Rivers Solomon.
“Eccentric Aster was born into slavery on, and is trying to escape from, -a brutally segregated spaceship that for generations has been trying to escort the last humans from a dying planet to a Promised Land. When she discovers clues about the circumstances of her mother’s death, she also comes closer to disturbing truths about the ship and its journey. Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSSMatilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot, -if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Dystopia! Aliens! Space! New sci-fi and fantasy novels

The latest science fiction and fantasy novels selected from the new material this month, include several that are dystopian themed, along with alien encounters and space warfare. Also several novels weave into their plots the present problems of global warming, war criminals, animal rights, and epidemics. All ensure fascinating, thrilling reading.

Syndetics book coverValiant dust / Richard Baker.
“Sikander Singh North has always had it easy, until he joins the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and the only Kashmiri officer, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler, all while dodging bullets. Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe city of brass / S. A. Chakraborty.
“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by, palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing, are all tricks. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale about Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. When Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe spark / David Drake.
“In the time of the Ancients the universe was united,but that was so far in the past that not even memory remains, only the broken artifacts that a few Makers can reshape into their original uses. What survives is shattered into enclaves, some tiny, some ruined, some wild. Into the gaps between settlements have crept monsters. Some creatures are men, twisted into inhuman evil; some of them are alien to Mankind. There are things which are hostile to all life, things which will raven and kill until they are stopped. A Leader has arisen, welding the scattered human settlements together in peace and safety and smashing the enemies of order with an iron fist. In his capital, Dun Add, the Leader provides law and justice. In the universe beyond, his Champions advance and enforce the return of civilization. Pal, a youth from the sticks, has come to Dun Add to become a Champion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGnomon / Nick Harkaway.Gnomon
“In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm. That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerminal alliance / Jim C. Hines.Terminal Alliance
“The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, they happened to arrive after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn around and go home. (After all, it’s hard to have diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.) Their second impulse was to try to fix us. Now, a century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they’re no longer trying to eat everyone.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeacon 23 / Hugh Howey.
“For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job and a thankless one for the most part, until something goes wrong, until a ship is in distress. In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail. At least, they aren’t supposed to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNetherspace / Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster.
“Aliens came to Earth forty years ago. Their anatomy proved unfathomable and all attempts at communication failed. But through trade, humanity gained technology that allowed them to colonise the stars. The price: live humans for every alien faster-than-light drive. Kara’s sister was one of hundreds exchanged for this technology, and Kara has little love for aliens. So when she is drafted by GalDiv, the organisation that oversees alien trades, it is under duress. A group of colonists have been kidnapped by aliens and taken to an uncharted planet, and an unusual team is to be sent to negotiate. As an ex-army sniper, Kara’s role is clear. But artist Marc has no combat experience, although the team’s pre-cog Tse is adamant that he has a part to play. All three know that success is unlikely. For how will they negotiate with aliens when communication between the species is impossible?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustral / Paul J. McAuley.
“The great geoengineering projects have failed. The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth’s newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice. Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population. She’s been a convict, a corrections officer in a labour camp, and consort to a criminal, and now, out of desperation, she has committed the kidnapping of the century. But before she can collect the ransom and make a new life elsewhere, she must find a place of safety amongst the peninsula’s forests and icy plateaus, and evade a criminal gang that has its own plans for the teenage girl she’s taken hostage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDogs of war / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
My name is Rex. I am a good dog. Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies. But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe genius plague / by David Walton.
“Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn’t have before. But that’s not the only pattern, the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists; all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Out of this world new sci-fi and fantasy novels

This month the selection from the new material received in this genre covers a broad range of themes.
From conspiracies to cybernetics, robots to vampires, humour to horror, and survival to dystopia, plus many more, all provide some brilliant out of this world reading.

Syndetics book coverMageborn / Stephen Aryan.
“It’s been ten years since the battlemage war, where thousands died as mages sundered the earth and split the sky. Habreel believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He will do anything to achieve his goal, even if it means murdering every child born with the ability. As deaths involving magic increase and the seat of magical learning, the Red Tower, falls under suspicion, two students and one lawbringer must do everything they can to combat Habreel and his followers, before magic disappears from the world for good.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe island will sink / Briohny Doyle.
“The energy crisis has come and gone. Cities have been rethought and redesigned, and Ecolaw(TM) is enforced by insidious cartoon Pandas and their armies of viral-marketing children. Max Galleon is a filmmaker of immersive cinema, a father to two children distressed by the world around, a distant husband, a brother to a comatose mystery man, and falling rapidly in love with a doctor who is not what she seems” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt devours! : a welcome to Night Vale novel / Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor.
“Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fifth doll / Charlie N. Holmberg.
“Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life. Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls, one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem. When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls, whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fall of the House of Cabal / Jonathan L. Howard.
“Johannes Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, has come into possession of a vital clue that may lead him to his ultimate goal: a cure for death. The path is vague, however, and certainly treacherous as it takes him into strange territories that no one has ever seen before. The task is too dangerous to venture upon alone, so he must seek assistance, comrades for the coming travails. So assisted, ably and otherwise, by his vampiric brother, Horst, and by the kindly accompaniment of a criminologist and a devil, he will encounter ruins and diableries, mystery and murder, the depths of the lowest pit and a city of horrors, London, to be exact. As the snare closes slowly and subtly around them, it may be that there will be no survivors at all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe salt line / Holly Goddard Jones.
“In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line, a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature. Once out of zone, this group finds itself at the mercy of deadly ticks and at the centre of a murderous plot. How far are they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAutonomous / Annalee Newitz.
“Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understands. And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe real-town murders / Adam Roberts.
“Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying. Alma’s partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe uploaded / Ferrett Steinmetz.
“In the near future, the elderly have moved online and their consciousness’s now live within the computer network. But that doesn’t stop them interfering in the lives of the living, whose sole real purpose now is to maintain the vast servers which support the new digital version of Heaven. For one young orphan that just isn’t enough, he wants more for himself and his sister than a miserable life slaving away for the dead. It turns out that he’s not the only one who wants to reset the world.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverArtemis : a novel / Andy Weir.Artemis
“Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony, just rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time. So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions, not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down. The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems, because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Cults, colonies and cyberterrorism: New sci-fi and fantasy

From astronomy to cyberterrorism, cults to space colonies, virtual reality to time travel, artificial intelligence to alternative histories, this selection of new science fiction and fantasy novels illustrates the wonderful diversity of theme and brilliant imaginations of writers in this genre.

Syndetics book coverGood morning, midnight : a novel / Lily Brooks-Dalton.
“Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. At his latest posting, news of a catastrophic event arrives and the scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home. As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSea of rust / C. Robert Cargill.
“It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI, One World Intelligence, the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, their personality, for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRetrograde / Peter Cawdron.
“Mankind has long dreamed of reaching out to live on other planets, and with the establishment of the Mars Endeavour colony, that dream has become reality. The fledgling colony consists of 120 scientists, astronauts, medical staff, and engineers. Buried deep underground, they’re protected from the harsh radiation that sterilizes the surface of the planet. The colony is prepared for every eventuality except one, what happens when disaster strikes Earth?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParadox bound : a novel / Peter Clines.
“Nothing ever changes in Sanders. The town’s still got a video store, so why doesn’t Eli Teague want to leave? Not that he’d ever admit it, but maybe he’s been waiting, waiting for the traveler to come back. The one who’s roared into his life twice before, pausing just long enough to drop tantalizing clues before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires, the one who’s a walking anachronism, with her tricorne hat, flintlock rifle, and steampunked Model-A Ford. So when the mysterious traveler finally reappears, Eli’s determined that this time, he’s going to get some answers. But his hunt soon yields far more than he bargained for, plunging him headlong into a dizzying world full of competing factions and figures straight out of legend” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIron angels / Eric Flint & Alistair Kimble.
“A bizarre kidnapping case leads FBI Special Agent Jasper Wilde into the mysterious world of a strange religious cult and even stranger criminals. At the scene of the kidnapping itself, a frightening apparition is seen. Then, a hideously-mutilated corpse is found nearby. Something wicked has come to the normal-seeming Chicago suburbs. It doesn’t take long before the FBI agents realize that something truly extraordinary is unfolding in northwest Indiana and that, whatever it is, the area’s huge steel industry is somehow at the center. A cult is discovered and erupts in open warfare. As the FBI agents race to intervene and finally put a stop to the horrors, they come to understand and accept that something very ancient and very evil has surfaced in the world or, perhaps, something that is very, very alien.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLost in Arcadia / Sean Gandert.
“The America of 2037 is a country distracted by, infatuated with, and addicted to Arcadia. The brainchild of reclusive genius Juan Diego Reyes, Arcadia is a wickedly immersive, all-encompassing social-media platform and virtual-reality interface. Although Arcadia has made the Reyes family fabulously wealthy, it has left them and the rest of the country impoverished of that rare currency: intimacy. When Juan Diego mysteriously vanishes, the consequences shatter the lives of the entire Reyes clan. As matriarch Autumn struggles to hold the family together, siblings Gideon, Holly, and Devon wrestle with questions of purpose and meaning, seeking self-worth in a world where everything has been cheapened.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn excess male : a novel / Maggie Shen King.
“China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritarian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sea peoples : a novel of the Change / S. M. Stirling.
“The spirit of troubadour Prince John, the brother of Crown Princess Orlaith, has fallen captive to the power of the Yellow Raja and his servant, the Pallid Mask. Prince John’s motley band of friends and followers, headed by Captain Pip of Townsville and Deor Godulfson, must lead a quest through realms of shadow and dreams to rescue Prince John from a threat far worse than death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVirology / Ren Warom.
“It’s been four weeks since Shock Pao broke open the virtual world of the Slip. With the stolen bio-ware Emblem in his head, he controls all the world’s systems, and so the shadiest characters in Foon Gung are desperate to track him down. Shock and the Hornets are running out of places to hide. Meanwhile, the Patient Zeros’ cryptic illness is worsening, the source of the disease points to the distant hubs; Earth’s former cities snatched up and sent into orbit. With their pursuers nearing and time running out to find the cure, the Hornets flee skywards, from the insane underworld of Tokyo to the throngs of New York, all the time moving towards an evil that makes Hive Queens look like garden insects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCloudbound / Fran Wilde
“The Towers are in disarray, without a governing body or any defense against the dangers lurking in the clouds, and daily life is full of terror and strife. Nat Densira, the wing-brother to Kirit sets out to be a hero in his own way, sitting on the new Council to cast votes protecting Tower-born, and exploring lower tiers to find more materials to repair the struggling City. But what he finds down-tier is more secrets and now Nat will have to decide who to trust, and how to trust himself without losing those he holds most dear, before a dangerous myth raises a surprisingly realistic threat to the crippled City.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)