A lot of people love John Varley’s books, and he’s a Hugo- and Nebula-award winner, so I decided to give him another try (I didn’t particularly like one of his other books, Titan).
The Risen Empire has some interesting ideas about the far future. Humanity has split into several factions, one of the largest is the Risen Empire, ruled by a single, immortal emperor for sixteen hundred years. This emperor has the sole power to bestow immortality on any of his subjects. When the emperor’s home planet is attacked and his sister held hostage, military and political gears start turning.
The Grand Dark’s main draw is its steampunk-inspired world-building, which is excellent. Most of the action takes place in the city of Lower Proszawa, which has just won the Great War. The population celebrates with drugs and nonstop parties as fascism strangles the populace. There are semi-intelligent automata and genetically engineered pets and power plants that spew massive clouds of coal dust.
I’ve never been a big military SF fan, but The Lost Fleet: Dauntless does a solid job of changing my mind.
A soldier is woken up after one hundred years of drifting in space in survival hibernation and discovers that he’s been made a hero and a legend for his famous last stand. Not only is the war he fought in still raging, but he’s thrown into the command of a fleet of ships, deep in enemy territory and vastly outnumbered.
This fun, goofy chapter book is the latest (after a ten-year hiatus) in the Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist series. Franny decides to learn about the strangest, craziest thing she knows of: her mother. This results in several adventures involving powerful, shape-shifting, and self-aware hair.
Given a billion more years of evolution, what would plants evolve into? Given that life on Earth went from single-celled organisms to us in a billion years, an intelligent plant evolving in the same period of time seems not only plausible, but likely.