26th November 2019
Summer Reads: Sci-Fi
From time travel to space exploration, sci-fi stories have a unique way of teaching us about our world and possible futures. Here are some intriguing new or soon-to-be-released titles!
Supernova Era – Liu Cixin
“In those days, Earth was a planet in space.
In those days, Beijing was a city on Earth.
On this night, history as known to humanity came to an end.”
Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.
And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge they’ll need to keep the world running.But the last generation may not want to carry the legacy of their parents’ world. And though they imagine a better, brighter world, they may bring about a future so dark humanity won’t survive.
Dead Astronauts – Jeff VanderMeer
“Nothing. what a nothing you made out of the world you were given.”
A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden.
In the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth – all the Earths.
Here and Now and Then – Mike Chen
“Did a missing past even matter anymore compared to human touch in the here and now?”
Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.
Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember. Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both.
A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart, and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.
Star Wars: Master & Apprentice – Claudia Gray
“Obi-Wan had given up trying to come up with any coherent thoughts. It made more sense to just yell, “AAAAAAUUUGHHHH!”
An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future. Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.
When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.
The Last Astronaut – David Wellington
“There was no clear delineation between the darkness external and internal.”
Sally Jansen was NASA’s leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she lives in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over. She’s wrong.
A large alien object has entered the solar system on a straight course toward Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate and is ignoring all incoming transmissions. Out of time and out of options, NASA turns to Jansen. For all the dangers of the mission, it’s the shot at redemption she always longed for. But as the object slowly begins to reveal its secrets, one thing becomes horribly clear: the future of humanity lies in Jansen’s hands.
The Future of Another Timeline – Annalee Newitz
“My pain didn’t seem to come from holding those two histories in my mind. It was from holding two sets of feelings.”
1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend’s abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance.
2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn’t as simple as editing one person or event. And just when Tess believes she’s found a way to make an edit that actually sticks, she encounters a group of dangerous travelers bent on stopping her at any cost.
Tess and Beth’s lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline–a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person’s actions to echo throughout the timeline?
Winter World – A. G. Riddle
“Growing, like a storm on the horizon, gathering, the echo of thunder distant but present. For whatever reason, it doesn’t affect me. I am certain that there is something out there, waiting for us. We press on, into the darkness, barrelling at maximum speed…”
In the near future, an ice age pushes the human race to the edge of extinction. Scientists search for the cause–and any hope of stopping the Long Winter. They send probes into the solar system to take readings. Near Mars, one of the probes makes a shocking discovery: a mysterious object, drifting toward the Sun. Is it the cause of the Long Winter? Or could it be our only hope of survival?
With time running out, NASA launches a mission to make contact with the artifact. But it isn’t what anyone thought. Humanity faces a new kind of threat–and an event that will reveal a dark truth about our future.
The Andromeda Evolution – Michael Crichton, Daniel H. Wilson
“Technically, it’s doable. It’s insane. But it’s doable.”
In 1967, an extraterrestrial microbe came crashing down to Earth and nearly ended the human race. Accidental exposure to the particle—designated The Andromeda Strain—killed every resident of the town of Piedmont, Arizona, save for an elderly man and an infant boy. Over the next five days, a team of top scientists assigned to Project Wildfire worked valiantly to save the world from an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. In the moments before a catastrophic nuclear detonation, they succeeded.
In the ensuing decades, research on the microparticle continued. And the world thought it was safe… but now, a Brazilian terrain-mapping drone has detected a bizarre anomaly of otherworldly matter in the middle of the jungle, and, worse yet, the tell-tale chemical signature of the deadly microparticle. With this shocking discovery, the next-generation Project Wildfire is activated, and a diverse team of experts hailing from all over the world is dispatched to investigate the potentially apocalyptic threat.
But the microbe is growing—evolving. And if the Wildfire team can’t reach the quarantine zone, enter the anomaly, and figure out how to stop it, this new Andromeda Evolution will annihilate all life as we know it.
The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal
“Nathaniel and I were a healthy young married couple, so most of the stars I saw were painted across the inside of my eyelids.”
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.
Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
3zekiel – Peter Cawdron
“All of these is an illusion. Trees. Monkeys. Snakes. Centipedes. Birds. None of that is real in itself. Every animal is a hodgepodge of individual cells–a collection of trillions upon trillions of microscopic lifeforms that combine like Lego blocks to form living creatures like you and me.”
Deep within the Congo, a team of scientists prepares for the greatest event in the history of humanity, making First Contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial species, only the jungle is no place for doubts.
Could First Contact be our last?
Anyone by Charles Soule
“Today is the day you change the world.”
Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…
Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose – sex, drugs, crime… or worse.
If you’re after a different genre, check out the other reading lists in our Summer Reads Series!
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Get Your Life Together
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Memoir
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Mystery & Thriller
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Short Stories
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Sci-Fi
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Fantasy
- Summer Reads 2019/20: Fiction
- Most Popular Books of 2019
And follow Surly on FB for more new books & recommendations ?