Connie Willis is one of the few authors capable of humor, humanity, and what must be an ungodly amount of research, and she brings all these skills together in the masterful Doomsday Book.
In near-future Oxford, where time travel for purposes of historical research is relatively common, an eager young historian travels to medieval times. Unfortunately, things immediately go very wrong for her. Then a devastating pandemic hits the present day, and no one is able to help her, or even know she’s in trouble.
Recommendation: Read it. The characters range from deeply human to hilariously Dickensian, and the descriptions of the horrors of daily life in medieval times are some of the best I’ve ever read. Oh, and it’s a great story that won both the Hugo and Nebula awards.
The Sky is Yours is a genre-bending book that takes place in a wild, post-apocalyptic world with both dragons and sci-fi elements. Its fun, imaginative, and completely horrifying settings seethe with colorful, well-developed, and deeply flawed characters. It’s hard to believe a tour de force like this is from a debut author.
On a dystopian island (not dissimilar to a surreal Manhattan), the lives of three very different young people (a rich, spoiled brat, star of his own reality show; his sheltered but whip-smart fiancée who hasn’t met him yet; and a feral beauty raised on an island of garbage), collide as they learn about the truths and lies of the burning world around them.
Recommendation: Read it. It’s strange, but fantastic.
I’m a big fan of author David Wong, and his latest family-friendly-read-aloud-to-the-kids book, Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick, is awesome. As usual, Wong combines outrageous humor with surprisingly deep, three-dimensional characters, and very little literal dick-punching.
I’m a big fan of Alastair Reynold’s earlier books like Revelation Space. I didn’t like Terminal World, his foray into steampunk, and unfortunately, I had a similar reaction to Revenger. Continue reading
This YA novel is surprisingly inventive with a great, trouble-causing, mouthy protagonist, the kind you can’t wait to see what she does next.
As a straight white middle-aged male, I’ve often felt like science fiction’s target demographic. Most SF feels like it’s aimed right at me.
Midnight Robber is definitely not aimed at me. Which, honestly, made it a lot more interesting. Being extremely well written helped a lot, too.
Six Wakes is a good old-fashioned murder mystery in space that starts with everyone on the ship being murdered. Everyone’s backup clones then wake up to the bloody massacre and have to figure out who killed everybody and why. Any one of them could be the killer, and not even know it. As the clones appear to work together to piece together clues, secrets and ulterior motives slowly come to light.
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.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is brilliant, fast-paced, and will give you sore wrists because it’s a thick, heavy book, but you will not want to put it down.
An expert in ancient languages is hired by a mysterious government agency to translate some documents that suggest that magic actually once existed in the world. But the advance of science caused magic to disappear in 1851. However, the existence of a two-hundred-year-old witch and some fancy technology allow a limited amount of magic to occur in this world, and soon the language expert and others are being sent back in time to repair history. And, if they’re lucky, bring magic back to the world. Continue reading
The Breach is a fast-paced thriller, a firehose of plot unburdened with character development. A lone hiker in Alaska comes across a downed airliner with the dead bodies of the American First Lady and several others, along with an empty box that suggests a strange missing item. Continue reading