Science fiction thrillers are fast-paced yarns with aliens breathing down your neck, nanobots already cruising through your bloodstream, and world-killer asteroids that just entered the atmosphere.
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, with tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization.
But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival—a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known…
“Take your earthquakes, waterlogged condominiums, swarms of bugs, colliding airplanes and flaming what-nots, wrap them up and they wouldn’t match one page of Lucifer’s Hammer for sweaty-palmed suspense.”
—Chicago Daily News (note this is from the 1970s)
Note that this is Book 4 of Wyman Ford Series, but it can be read on its own.
NASA is building a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. It is one of the most promising habitats for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, but the surface is unpredictable and dangerous, requiring the probe to contain artificial intelligence software. To this end, Melissa Shepherd, a brilliant programmer, has developed “Dorothy,” a powerful, self-modifying AI whose true potential is both revolutionary and terrifying. When miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing, Dorothy flees into the internet.
Former CIA agent Wyman Ford is tapped to track down the rogue AI. As Ford and Shepherd search for Dorothy, they realize that her horrific experiences in the wasteland of the internet have changed her in ways they can barely imagine. And they’re not the only ones looking for the wayward software: the AI is also being pursued by a pair of Wall Street traders, who want to capture her code and turn her into a high-speed trading bot.
Traumatized, angry, and relentlessly hunted, Dorothy has an extraordinary revelation―and devises a plan. As the pursuit of Dorothy converges on a deserted house on the coast of Northern California, Ford must face the ultimate question: is rescuing Dorothy the right thing? Is the AI bent on saving the world, or on wiping out the cancer that is humankind?
“Chilling and all too convincing, this brilliant, nightmarish take on the future of cyber-consciousness is one of the few thrillers that truly thrills—while raising questions that should unsettle every one of us.”
—Booklist, starred review
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives: the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
“Shunning misogynistic horror tropes in favor of genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire [Mira Grant is a pen name] has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on Earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.
Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.
There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.
“In this fast-paced novel, rapid and catastrophic changes to human reproduction make the survival of the race uncertain…Erdrich imagines an America in which winter is a casualty of climate change, borders are sealed, men are ‘militantly insecure,’ and women’s freedom is evaporating…Vivid…Compelling.”
—The New Yorker
In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.
After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness―stored for that inevitable transition―something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her?
The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder―all over again.
“In this timely thriller, tantalizing clues, complex motives, and shifting views of the truth flow around such issues as the relationship between money and power, the right to life, and the definition of self. FitzSimmons has upped his game with this one.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In fifty years, Myrra will be free.
Until then, she’s a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract—butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles.
But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated—and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles’ orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world—and embrace what’s left before it’s too late.
“[A] staggering marvel, an action-packed cat-and-mouse chase on a doomed generation ship the size of Switzerland”
—The New York Times
The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of Earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.
And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.
“Set amid the horrors of war in a world ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster, this heart-wrenching and complex page-turner, drawn from the 1960s Nigerian civil war, will leave readers stunned and awaiting the second installment.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In the future you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it.
But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date, and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn’t get much worse.
Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate.
Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he’s in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he’ll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder.
“A breathlessly paced techno-thriller characterized by stunning, spiky worldbuilding.”
Wally Stephens’s tenth year high-school reunion is looming, but he’s not where he hoped to be. No significant accomplishments, no love life, no future goals. Suddenly, he has the opportunity to take a time-out and go back in time six years. Romance with the woman of his dreams begins to appear possible, but first he has to deal with the humorous complications of being out of his time, as well as facing a mysterious man threatening the lives of those he has come to know.
Sometimes guided by a computer program called MyFate, but not always when he needs it, Wally discovers that his goal in going back in time may not be the real purpose behind his trip. Not only must he solve the mystery of why he was the one sent back, but he also has to figure out how to return to his own time. In time.
“[A] humorous take on the time travel concept, combining science fiction, mystery, and romance to create an entertaining package.”
—Sublime Book Review
In the year 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. Cutting-edge technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transportation—including starships—virtually obsolete.
Every place on Earth, every distant planet humankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. All seems wonderful—until a crashed alien spaceship of unknown origin is found on a newly located world eighty-nine light-years from Earth, carrying a cargo as strange as it is horrifying.
To assess the potential of the threat, a high-powered team is dispatched to investigate. But one of them may not be all they seem.
“Exciting, wildly imaginative and quite possibly Hamilton’s best book to date.”
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.
Instead, she got Em.
Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .
As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.
But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?
“This claustrophobic, horror-leaning tour de force is highly recommended for fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and Andy Weir’s The Martian.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
“Ancillary Justice is the mind-blowing space opera you’ve been needing… This is a novel that will thrill you like the page-turner it is, but stick with you for a long time afterward.”
Jack Four—one of twenty human clones—has been created to be sold. His purchasers are the alien species prador and they only want him for their experimentation program. But there is something different about Jack.
The prador’s king has been mutated by the Spatterjay virus into a monstrous creature, along with his children. They were infected by the virus during the last humans-versus-prador war, now lapsed into an uneasy truce. But the prador are always looking for new weapons – and their experimentation program might give them the edge they seek.
Suzeal trades human slaves out of the Stratogaster Space Station. She thinks the rewards are worth the risks, but all that is about to change. The Station was once a zoo, containing monsters from across known space. All the monsters now dwell on the planet below, but they aren’t as contained as they seem. And a vengeful clone may be the worst danger of all.
A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.
That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.
Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…
“Just try to put this gripping thriller down once you pick it up.”
Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
“This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”), making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.
Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold.
“A fascinating trip… Pure high-octane science fiction mixes with the classic noir private-eye tale.”
Oh, you know this one.
When the obituary of legendary computer game architect Matthew Sobol appears online, a previously dormant daemon (a computer program that runs in the background) activates, initiating a chain of events that begins to unravel our interconnected world. This daemon reads news headlines, recruits human followers, and orders assassinations. With Sobol’s secrets buried with him, and as new layers of his daemon are unleashed, it’s up to Detective Peter Sebeck to stop a self-replicating virtual killer before it achieves its ultimate purpose—one that goes far beyond anything Sebeck could have imagined…
“A riveting debut.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
I’m a huge fan of Andy Weir’s first book, The Martian, and his new book, Project Hail Mary, is even better. It’s fast-paced, fun, smart, and bold.
Project Hail Mary shares some themes with The Martian, namely Astronaut In Trouble and Science Saves The Day. The main character in both books is also charming, funny, geeky, and brilliant.
The math and science may be too much for some readers. I loved it, but my wife was totally uninterested. Here’s a measure you might use: if I say “high school physics” and you do not scream and run away, this book might be for you.
“Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting. An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science fiction masterwork.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The idea was to terraform a world to prepare it for human life (check, done), send in a supervirus that makes some creatures really smart (check, also done), and finally, land some Earth monkeys on it and watch them get really smart and do amazing things (whoops, nope, total disaster).
Many years later, a spaceship filled with the last humans fleeing a dying Earth arrives at the planet. The humans have been told the planet has been prepped for them, but there’s a whole alien civilization down there, and it’s not what anyone is ready for.
Children of Time is clever, fast-paced, and wildly entertaining. I had a great time reading it.
“This is superior stuff, tackling big themes—gods, messiahs, artificial intelligence, alienness—with brio.”
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
“You’ll gulp Dark Matter down in one afternoon, or more likely one night… Alternate-universe science fiction [and] a countdown thriller in which the hero must accomplish an impossible task to save his family. There’s always another door to open, and another page to turn.”
—New York Times Book Review
Rabbits is a wild, surreal story that combines the bizarre conspiracies of X-Files and geeky fun of Ready Player One. It’s ridiculously entertaining.
Rabbits is the name of a game where you, in the real world, could find strange coincidences like this:
It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air—4:44 p.m. You check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize the date is April 4: 4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444.
While this could just be an unlikely number of meaningless coincidences, in the world of Rabbits, it means you’ve seen the edge of the game. Following these clues to the game’s end could result in immortality, vast riches, or even bigger prizes. Of course, the game can also be deadly. People have reportedly won the game, but many more have died.
Rabbits follows K, who’s been trying to get into the game for years. But when a reclusive billionaire tells K that there’s something wrong with the game and that K needs to fix it before the game starts, K is pulled into a game even larger than what he’d imagined.
“A wild ride… impossible to put down.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Vurt is a drug accessed by sucking on color-coded feathers. Effects of Vurt are hallucinations or maybe a shared alternate reality—it’s never explained precisely what’s going on. A few of Vurt’s colors: Blues for lullaby dreams; Blacks, filled with tenderness and pain; Pinks, doorways to bliss. Silver feathers for techies who know how to remix colors and open new dimensions. And Yellows—the feathers from which there is no escape.
The beautiful young Desdemona is trapped in Curious Yellow, the ultimate Metavurt, a feather few have ever seen and fewer still have dared ingest. Her brother Scribble will risk everything to rescue his beloved sister. Helped by his gang, the Stash Riders, hindered by shadowcops, robos, rock and roll dogmen, and his own dread, Scribble searches along the edges of civilization for a feather that, if it exists at all, must be bought with the one thing no sane person would willingly give.
Vurt won the Arthur C. Clarke award and has been compared to A Clockwork Orange and Neuromancer, but it has its detractors: Kirkus Reviews called the plot “wildly kaleidoscopic” but unsatisfying, and Entertainment Weekly said the book’s “sentimental incest and adolescent self-congratulation…is never really startling or disturbing.”
Like the title drug, you can’t be completely sure how you’re going to react to it until you try it.
Shannon Moss is part of a clandestine division within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In western Pennsylvania, 1997, she is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family—and to locate his vanished teenage daughter. Though she can’t share the information with conventional law enforcement, Moss discovers that the missing SEAL was an astronaut aboard the spaceship U.S.S. Libra—a ship assumed lost to the currents of Deep Time. Moss knows first-hand the mental trauma of time-travel and believes the SEAL’s experience with the future has triggered this violence.
Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels ahead in time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence to crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it’s not only the fate of a family that hinges on her work, for what she witnesses rising over time’s horizon and hurtling toward the present is the Terminus: the terrifying and cataclysmic end of humanity itself.
“A fascinating blend that doesn’t skimp on the criminal investigation or the [sci fi]… Describing much more than [the] simple setup would rob the reader of the trippy experience of navigating the time-travel intricacies of this nail-biting speculative thriller.”
—Library Journal, starred review
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointed at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
“Original, thrilling and powerful.”
Humanity has colonized the solar system—Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond—but the stars are still out of our reach.
Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for—and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.
Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.
Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations—and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.
“As close as you’ll get to a Hollywood blockbuster in book form.”
Case was the sharpest data-thief in the matrix—until he crossed the wrong people and they crippled his nervous system, banishing him from cyberspace. Now a mysterious new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run at an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case is ready for the adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.
“A revolutionary novel.”