From this month’s selection from the new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, Malka Older’s debut novel set in the not too distant future, titled Infomocracy comes highly recommend. Also included is the latest work from Wesley Chu and Eric Flint, along with many other great writers, all giving wonderful plot and character diversity to this genre.
Ninth City burning / J. Patrick Black.
“Generations after Earth has been attacked by an unknown alien force, the world is a different place. Most cities were instantly destroyed by the invaders using an element known as “thelemity,” and human survival depends on a few who can wield this power as well. In the intervening centuries, those who use thelemity are sought and put into military service. But while the surviving cities lead the ongoing war efforts, the rural settlements resent being employed as a supply source of resources and soldiers. Two young sisters from the unincorporated wild country are dragged into the conflict.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Zero-G / Rob Boffard.
“Former space station courier Riley Hale is once again caught up in deadly plots complicated by competing loyalties. Six months after Riley saved the Outer Earth space station, the last refuge of humankind after eco-collapse on Earth, she’s now employed as a “stomper,” part of local law enforcement. But her past has made her a target for vigilante Morgan Knox, who wants Riley’s help in taking his revenge on jailed terrorist leader Janice Okwembu. To force Riley to help him, Knox has surgically implanted explosive charges in Riley’s knees. To complicate matters, a deadly virus is sweeping across the station. When Knox falls ill, Riley must find a cure to save herself as well as the rest of the station.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
A shadow all of light / Fred Chappell.
“Falco is the apprentice to Maestro Astolfo in the shadow trade in the Italianate fantasy city of Tardocco. Here, shadows are stolen, bought, and sold, and a person can surrender their shadow and don a different one for a special purpose. Astolfo is a master of the business, equal parts thief, scholar, magician, and detective, and under his tutelage and that of his henchman, Mutano, Falco grows from “a bumpkin, trying on the airs of a town bravo” to a shadow adept over the course of a series of episodic adventures.” (Adapted from Syndetic sunmmary)
The rise of Io / Wesley Chu.
“The Prophus and the Genjix, two aspects of a stranded alien species, have secretly been guiding human evolution since the beginning and are now fighting a war intended to raise humans to the level where they can create the technological necessary to return the aliens to their home world. The aliens, who are immaterial and ride their human vessels, have instigated many of humans’ greatest triumphs and horrors. Now Io, a perennial incompetent, has chosen Ella to make her play for greatness, but Ella has her own agenda.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)
Castaway odyssey / Eric Flint, Ryk E. Spoor.
“Sergeant Samuel Morgan Campbell had been in plenty of tight spots before, but nothing like this. It had happened in a few terrifying seconds: the starship he and his crew travelled on, the Outward Initiative, shattered to pieces before their eyes and disappeared, leaving them stranded in the endless night of deep space on Lifeboat LS-88 all systems dead, light-years from any known colony. Somehow, Sergeant Campbell and his crew of half-trained children ranging from freshly graduated Xander Bird down to eight-year-old Francisco have to repair systems with no tools, navigate with no computers, and if they could find a planet they could live on land a shuttle whose controls were more than half-destroyed. And if they manage all of that, then the real challenge begins; the only planet in range has secrets that even Sergeant Campbell cannot imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The obelisk gate / N.K. Jemisin.
“In the world called the Stillness-which the first book hints may actually be our world, thousands of years in the future-orogenes are hated and feared for their ability to control the geological forces that shape the land. Powerful orogene Essun desperately searches for her eight-year-old daughter, Nassun, who was stolen away by her father. He hopes to find someone to “fix” the girl and excise her burgeoning orogene talent. But Essun’s search is interrupted by her old mentor, Alabaster. Alabaster is dying, and he hopes to use Essun’s powers to end the current “season,” a disastrous change in global climate that could destroy all life, by recapturing the planet’s long-lost moon, whose absence is the cause of the ironically named Stillness’s geological instability.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Ghost talkers / Mary Robinette Kowal.
“In the summer of 1916, American heiress Ginger Stuyvesant is engaged to British intelligence officer Benjamin Hartshorne and working in France as a medium in the top secret Spirit Corps, a force that gathers intelligence from fallen soldiers at the moment of death. It is grisly, exhausting work that puts the souls of the mediums in danger of becoming permanently separated from their physical forms, and it is made more dangerous by the discovery that the German army is not only aware of the Spirit Corps but has a double agent assisting them. When Ben is murdered, it falls to Ginger to help him move on by finding his killer and discovering the traitor in the corps while keeping her soul intact.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Sleeping giants / Sylvain Neuvel.Sleeping Giants
“When Dr. Rose Franklin was a little girl, she made a startling discovery in the woods near her home: the gigantic hand of a robot that appeared to be of alien manufacture. Now that she has grown up and become a prominent scientist, she has, perhaps by coincidence, been put in charge of secretly recovering other parts of the robot, which have apparently been hidden around the world for thousands of years, and returning the behemoth to working order. When the robot’s human pilots accidentally blow a hole in Denver, Colo., thus revealing the machine’s existence, other nations demand access and tensions mount.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Infomocracy / Malka Older.
“In the (slightly implausible) future, most of the world is part of a massive democracy divided into “centenals” of 100,000 people. Governments are global and overlapping, and each centenal decides which government to belong to. A worldwide organization known as Information manages elections and attempts to keep governments’ campaign promises in check; the governments themselves range from corporate ones such as PhilipMorris to more traditional ones with names like Liberty and Policy1st. Ken, a Brazilian of Japanese descent who works for the Policy1st government, is attempting to research non-Policy1st centenals that might be willing to change governments in the upcoming election. After he learns of a potential conspiracy involving the election, he ends up working with (and falling for) Information agent Mishima.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The high ground / Melinda Snodgrass.
“A future interstellar empire is the setting of this military space opera, told from the perspective of two misfits in the prestigious military academy known as the High Ground. One is Thracius “Tracy” Belmanor, a tailor’s son and scholarship student treated with contempt by the sons of the nobility around him; the other is Mercedes de Arango, the first woman to attend the High Ground, from which she must graduate to succeed her father, the emperor of the Solar League. As Tracy and Mercedes struggle with classism, sexism, and the weight of familial expectations and dreams, alien and human conspiracies threaten to undermine Mercedes’s future and that of the empire itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)