2011 is shaping up to an amazing year for Speculative Fiction at large not just Fantasy although that is looking damn good all by itself. My Sci-Fi list last year was only 7 books long, which grew a little with the year, but it was so short I combined it with UR and Steampunk picks. This year Sci-Fi warrants a post all its own with loads of debuts and returning stars. The people claiming Sci-fi is dying or already dead should shear the wool off their eyes and see what is brewing.
God's War by Kameron Hurley | January 18, Night Shade | DEBUT
Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn t make any difference...
On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--There's not a chance in hell of ending it.
Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price? The world is about to find out.
Up Against It by M. J. Locke | March 1, Tor | DEBUT
Up Against It is a disaster novel set four hundred years from now, deep in interplanetary space. A hardy group of souls has carved out a life for themselves in the Phocaean asteroid cluster. Among them are Geoff, a teen rocketbiker who can’t seem to keep out of trouble, and Jane, head of resource management, whose decisions can mean life or death for her fellow stroiders.
When an explosion wipes out nearly all their methane ice–the source of their energy, air, and water–the Phocaeans’ lives are changed forever. Worse, it turns out to have been sabotage–and the disaster spawned a rogue artificial sapient that is wreaking havoc in their computer systems.
The citizens of Phocaea have only three weeks to live–unless they can team up to outwit the saboteurs, subdue the artificial sapient, and replace their missing ice stores in time.
Equations of Life by Simon Morden | March 29, Orbit | DEBUT
Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor.
He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic.
For example, getting involved = a bad idea.
But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London.
And clearly saving the girl = getting involved.
Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex.
Russian mobsters + Yakuza + something called the New Machine Jihad = one dead Petrovitch.
But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one.
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh | April, Night Shade | DEBUT
McIntosh is the writer of "Bridesicle", which won the Hugo in 2010 for best short story of the year as well as being nominated for a Nebula. Soft Apocalyse is based on a short story that was a finalist for the 2005 British Sci-Fi Association Awards. The idea of a slow decline is a take not often seen in apocalyptic fiction.
What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.
"It's so hard to believe," Colin said as we crossed the steaming, empty parking lot toward the bowling alley.
"That we're poor. That we're homeless."
"I mean, we have college degrees," he said.
"I know," I said.
There was an ancient miniature golf course choked in weeds alongside the bowling alley. The astroturf had completely rotted away in places. The windmill had one spoke. We looked it over for a minute (both of us had once been avid mini golfers), then continued toward the door. "By the way," I added. "We're not homeless, we're nomads. Keep your labels straight."
New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the South East of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi | May 10, Tor
Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.
Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.
But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.
Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.
The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi | May 10, Tor | US DEBUT
just a few weeks back. Sufficed to say I absolutely loved this Sci-Fi caper. He is a major new voice that could take some getting use to, but it is definitely worth it in the end.
Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed ...The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy.
Embassytown by China Mieville | May 10, Del Rey
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.
City of Ruins by Kathryn Kristine Rusch | May 24, Pyr
Following a hunch, Boss and her team come to investigate the city of Vaycehn, where fourteen archaeologists have died exploring the endless caves below the city. Mysterious “death holes” explode into the city itself for no apparent reason, and Boss believes stealth tech is involved. As Boss searches for the answer to the mystery of the death holes, she will uncover the answer to her Dignity Vessel quest as well—and one more thing, something so important that it will change her life—and the universe—forever…
Timecaster by Joe Kimball | May 31, Ace
Chicago, 2064: Talon Avalon is bored.
Talon is a timecaster—one of a select few peace officers who can operate a TEV—the Tachyon Emission Visualizer—which allows the user to record events (most specifically, crimes) that have already happened. Violent crime is at an all-time low and there hasn’t been an unsolved murder in seven years. So Talon has little to do except give lectures to school kids—and obsess about his beloved wife’s profession as a licensed sex partner.
Then one of her clients asks Talon to investigate a possible murder. And when Talon uses the TEV to view the crime, the identity of the killer is unmistakable—it’s him, Talon Avalon. Someone is taking timecasting to a whole new level and using it to frame Talon. And the only way he can prove his innocence is to go off the grid—which even in 2064 is a very dangerous thing to do…
Heaven's Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt | July 5, Ace | DEBUT
Heaven's Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race - but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined ...What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has traveled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will end with anything but harm for humanity.
Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson | July 5, Tor
Vortex tells the story of Turk Findley, the protagonist introduced in Axis, who is transported ten thousand years into the future by the mysterious entities called “the Hypotheticals.” In this future humanity exists on a chain of planets connected by Hypothetical gateways; but Earth itself is a dying world, effectively quarantined.
Turk and his young friend Isaac Dvali are taken up by a community of fanatics who use them to enable a passage to the dying Earth, where they believe a prophecy of human/Hypothetical contact will be fulfilled. The prophecy is only partly true, however, and Turk must unravel the truth about the nature and purpose of the Hypotheticals before they carry him on a journey through warped time to the end of the universe itself.
7th Sigma by Steven Gould | July 5, Tor
Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they’ll go right through you to get it…. Don’t carry it, don’t wear it, and for god’s sake don’t come here if you’ve got a pacemaker.
The bugs showed up about fifty years ago—self-replicating, solar-powered, metal-eating machines. No one knows where they came from. They don’t like water, though, so they’ve stayed in the desert Southwest. The territory. People still live here, but they do it without metal. Log cabins, ceramics, what plastic they can get that will survive the sun and heat. Technology has adapted, and so have the people.
Kimble Monroe has chosen to live in the territory. He was born here, and he is extraordinarily well adapted to it. He’s one in a million. Maybe one in a billion. In 7th Sigma, Gould builds an extraordinary SF novel of survival and personal triumph against all the odds.
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey | July 15, Orbit
Welcome to the future. 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.
Machine Man by Max Barry | August 9, Vintage
Barry is the author of Jennifer Government and Company both of which skewered corporate politics with JG giving it a nice Sci-Fi twist. Machine Man has an interesting pedigree in that Barry serialized it online (pay only) and has already sold the movie rights to Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky was at one time trying to do a reboot of Robocop, which fell through. Now that he is on board he probably has all sorts of sly ideas for Machine Man in his quiver.
One Tuesday afternoon my left leg was severed. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. Well, it was. It was agonizing. There was a lot of screaming and flopping around and trying to tear my shirt into pieces to stem the bleeding. While I was busy with this, my co-workers stared through two-inch polycarbonate security glass and beat on the door. They couldn't get in. It was sealed for their safety. I had to apply my own tourniquet and try not to pass out for eight minutes. While I lay there, waiting for the time-release, I could see the top of what used to be my leg poking out from between two thick slabs of steel, gently dripping blood to the floor. I felt sorry for it. My leg hadn't asked for this. It had been a good leg. A faithful leg. And now look at it.
But in the weeks afterward, as I lay in my hospital bed, I came to see the bright side. I remembered that expression: A setback is just an opportunity in disguise. I decided that was true. Because while I was sad to lose my leg, now I could build a better one.
The Recollection by Gareth L. Powell | August, Solaris
I guess this would be Powell's novel length debut although he had a rather beautifully produced novella called Silversands come out last year that reminded me a lot of Gateway. I'm eager to see how his writing matures to a longer length.
In modern-day London, failed artist Ed Rico is secretly in love with his brother’s wife, Alice. When his brother disappears on a London Underground escalator, Ed and Alice have to put aside their personal feelings in order to find him. Their quest reveals to them terrifying glimpses of alien worlds and the far future. Meanwhile, 400 years in the future, Katherine Abdulov must travel to a remote planet in order to regain the trust of her influential family. The only person standing in her way is her former lover, Victor Luciano, the ruthless employee of a rival trading firm. And in the unforgiving depths of space, an ancient evil stirs...
Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge | October, Tor
Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone--but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unguessable, godlike "Powers." When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilizations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.
Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band--heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the doglike aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.
Vinge's climax is suitably mind boggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness.
You Might Also Like:
LOOKING FORWARD | Fantasy & Cross Genre Novels in 2011
Best Books of 2010 (That I've read)
REVIEW | The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi