Author Connie Willis outdoes herself with humor and heart in The Road to Roswell, where a stealthy, desperate first contact happens right outside a particularly large and conspiracy-laden UFO festival.
I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing any more about the plot, but this is excellent, light-hearted fare.
Recommendation: Read it!
Titanium Noir is an excellent near-future alternate-history murder mystery that follows the murder of a Titan, a medically-enhanced person who became physically massive and borderline immortal. Titans are elites, the case is sensitive, and nothing is quite what it seems.
Many authors try to write noir stories with hard-boiled detectives shuffling down rainy streets, occasionally getting beat up while trying to get justice for a murdered little nobody, and many authors fail. It’s harder than it looks. Fortunately, author Nick Hardaway pulls it off. The book is fun, funny, clever, and paced whiplash-fast.
Recommendation: If murder’s your thing, absolutely read this.
Despite its title, Truth of the Divine is not a religious text, but a fun, fast-paced, clever science fiction adventure. It’s the second book in the Noumena (also not a great title) series. The first is Axiom’s End, and you should read it first.
In this alternate-history first-contact yarn, the government continues to be run by jerks, and the one person the aliens are talking to is a snarky, blue-haired young woman, and all the guys in charge HATE that. Of course, the aliens have their own Alien Issues to deal with, but those are now spilling over to affect the rest of humanity, and all indications are that everything is going to get worse.
Recommendation: Read it, if you’ve already read the first one. Author Lindsay Ellis rose from the ashes of being cancelled to become a bestselling writer. Kudos and a huzzah!
More Than Human is widely lauded as the first literary science fiction book, and it won the first Hugo back in 1953. Seventy years later, it holds up.
While the premise sounds a little like X-Men—young outcasts with superhuman powers—this is in no way a superhero book. These are damaged people with inexplicable abilities who are trying to make their way in the world without revealing what they can do. The focus on character and the skill of the writing hasn’t aged at all, making this story an absolute classic.
Recommendation: Read it.
Gravity is mildly retro, having been written in the 1990s and features several space shuttles, but it’s one of the most fast-paced books I’ve ever read. It’s as much a medical thriller as a science fiction adventure.
Estranged from her husband, a brilliant research physician achieves her dream of running experiments on the International Space Station, but one of the experiments turns wildly lethal. Rescue missions run into their own troubles.
I don’t want to give any more away.
Recommendation: Read it! I’m looking forward to reading more of Tess Gerritsen’s books.
I had thought the near-future Daemon was a YA book, but nope, it is definitely not. No Y, all A.
A carefully-crafted artificial intelligence is unleashed after its creator’s death and quickly becomes one of the most powerful forces in the world.
Daemon is a fast-paced thriller with a fascinating villain and a surprising, always-twisting plot. Even with uneven writing and thin character development, I found myself eager to get back to reading it every day.
Author Daniel Suarez has serious computer bona fides, spending years as a senior systems analyst, and his description of what software can and can’t do has the ring of truth, often missing from other stories featuring artificial intelligence.
Recommendation: Read it, if you’re after page-turning fun.
The Gone World is brilliant: part noir murder mystery, part alternate history, part here-comes-the-apocalypse, and part thriller. It’s unique, mind-bending fun.
A time-traveling investigator jumps to the future to find out who committed an especially brutal murder, but she finds far more questions than answers. The longer she stays, the more complicated things become.
Also, the end of the world is coming, and it’s coming sooner all the time.
Recommendation: Read it. This is good, hearty, occasionally brutal stuff.
Sleeping Giants is a great science fiction thriller/mystery with a fun hook: a girl biking through a forest falls in a hole and lands on the palm of a giant metal hand. The more people learn about this artifact, the weirder it gets. And it gets seriously weird.
The book is told through journal entries and interviews, with the interviewer being a nameless interrogator who wields shocking amounts of political and military power via unknown means.
Recommendation: Read it! I haven’t revealed much about the plot or characters because I don’t want to give away any of the juicy reveals of the book. But definitely give this one a try.
This book sells itself as “high fantasy and low stakes” and delivers on both counts. There’s all manner of creatures like goblins, orcs, and elves, along with various spells, monsters, and magical items.
However, it is about a fighter orc who literally hangs up her sword and opens a café. The troubles she encounters are almost entirely about the mundane difficulties of running a business, but with enough fantasy creatures and magic to make it interesting.
I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I’ve read so many hack-and-slash fantasy books, and played enough Dungeons & Dragons that I really enjoyed this low-key approach to things. The characters were fun, grounded, and relatable.
Recommendation: Read it if you’ve read a lot of fantasy and might enjoy a fresh take on things. Or are in the mood for something gentle.
Dr. No reads like the author does not care whether anyone reads this book or not; he had fun writing it, and that’s all that needed to happen. It’s good, absurdist fun with entertaining characters and clever social satire (but didn’t get preachy).
A mathematician who studies the concept of nothing to the point of becoming a world expert on the subject is approached by a billionaire determined to become a Bond villain. The billionaire needs help with nothing, and our mathematician needs the money. Inventive madness ensues.
Recommendation: Read it if you’re in the mood for something a little more literary, inventive, and don’t need aliens or spaceships. I’m definitely planning to read more by this author.