The suggestions for our next round of books are below. Scroll down for book descriptions. Please vote for your favourites using our Doodle Poll:
- Roadside Picnic by Boris Strugatsky (224p)
- The Rift by Nina Allan (432p)
- Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift (320p)
- All Systems Red by Martha Wells (160p)
- Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (96p)
- Behind the Throne: The Indranan War, Book 1
by K. B. Wagers (432p)
- The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency) by John Scalzi (336p)
- Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (320p)
- Vurt by Jeff Noon (400p)
- Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan (288p)
- Planetfall by Emma Newman (352p)
- Noumenon (Noumenon 1) by Marina J. Lostetter (432p)
- Semiosis by Sue Burke (336p)
- Borne by Jeff Vandermear (368p)
- American War by Omar El Akkad (352p)
- Daughters by Jennie Melamed (448p)
- Blackfish City by Sam J Miller (368p)
1. Roadside Picnic by Boris Strugatsky (224p)
Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits who are compelled by some unknown force to venture illegally into the Zone and, in spite of the extreme danger, collect the mysterious artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the Zone and the thriving black market in the alien products. Even the nature of his daughter has been determined by the Zone. And it is for her that Red makes his last, tragic foray into the hazardous and hostile depths.
2. The Rift by Nina Allan (432p)
Julie, a seventeen-year-old who goes missing. When she reappears twenty years later, she has an incredible story to tell about her time on another planet.
Selena and Julie are sisters. As children they were closest companions, but as they grow towards maturity, a rift develops between them.
There are greater rifts, however. Julie goes missing at the age of seventeen. It will be twenty years before Selena sees her again. When Julie reappears, she tells Selena an incredible story about how she has spent time on another planet. Selena has an impossible choice to make: does she dismiss her sister as a damaged person, the victim of delusions, or believe her, and risk her own sanity in the process? Is Julie really who she says she is, and if she isn’t, what does she have to gain by claiming her sister’s identity?
The Rift is a novel about the illusion we call reality, the memories shared between people and the places where those memories diverge, a story about what might happen when the assumptions we make about the world and our place in it are called into question.
3. Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift (320p)
Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge. Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris. Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.
4. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (160p)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie’s Imperial Raadch series, or lain M. Banks’ Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. In a corporate dominated space faring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid – a self aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as ‘Murderbot.1 Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighbouring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
5. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (96p)
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
6. Behind the Throne: The Indranan War, Book 1 by K. B. Wagers (432p)
Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.
But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can’t do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She’ll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.
A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy – not to mention an all-out galactic war – Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .
7. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency) by John Scalzi (336p)
DOES THE BIGGEST THREAT LIE WITHIN?
In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glorious empire. Now this interstellar network of worlds faces disaster – but can three individuals save their people?
The empire’s outposts are utterly dependent on each other for resources, a safeguard against war, and a way in which rulers can exert control. This relies on extra-dimensional pathways between the stars, connecting worlds. But this ‘Flow’ is changing course, which could plunge every colony into fatal isolation.
A scientist will risk his life to inform the empire’s ruler. A scion of a Merchant House stumbles upon conspirators seeking power. And the new Empress of the Interdependency must battle lies, rebellion and treason. Yet as they work to save a civilization on the brink of collapse, others have very different plans . . .
8. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (320p)
Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap medicines for those who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.
Hot on her trail is an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his indentured robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understands.
And underlying it all is one fundamental question: is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?
9. Vurt by Jeff Noon (400p)
Take a trip in a stranger’s head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn’t listening. He has to find his lost love. His journey is a mission to find Curious Yellow, the ultimate, perhaps even mythical Vurt feather. As the most powerful narcotic of all, Scribble must be prepared to leave his current reality behind.
10. Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan (288p)
A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.
Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.
And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.
Tricia Sullivan returns to the genre with a book that will define the conversation within the genre and will show what it is capable of for years to come. This is the best book yet from a writer of exceedingly rare talent who is much loved in the genre world.
11. Planetfall by Emma Newman (352p)
A novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.
More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.
Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.
The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…
12. Noumenon (Noumenon 1) by Marina J. Lostetter (432p)
Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has discovered a mysterious object in deep space: a strange star, blinking in a seemingly impossible pattern. As humanity plans its first adventures beyond the solar system, Reggie and thousands of others join NOUMENON – a convoy of nine ships on a mission to reveal the origins of this anomalous star. Is its strobing a natural phenomenon or something far more alien?
NOUMENON’s voyage will take centuries. To preserve their talents, the convoy is populated by clones of its original crew. Born and reborn in a sealed society with a single purpose, every individual and every generation must come to terms with inheritances that go far beyond DNA.
Marina J. Lostetter’s stunning debut explores the wonders of deep space and the obsessions, fears and desires of humanity’s first interstellar travellers as they speed toward a single blinking star and a discovery beyond their wildest imaginings.
13. Semiosis by Sue Burke (336p)
(might be difficult to get)
Escaping conflict on Earth, an idealistic group of settlers arrive on a distant planet – Pax – with plans for a perfect society.
The world they discover is rich with life, but this is not the Eden they were hoping for. The plants on Pax are smart – smart enough to domesticate, and even slaughter, its many extraordinary animals.
To survive, the colonists realize that they must strike bargains of their own. But if they are to make Pax their home, they must go further, searching for a way to communicate and coexist with these utterly alien intelligences.
14. Borne by Jeff Vandermear (368p)
The dark, dangerous, funny and uplifting new novel from the author of Annihilation, the inspiration for the major motion picture directed by Alex Garland.
‘Neither of us had control of our monsters anymore’
In a ruined city of the future, Rachel scavenges a strange creature from the fur of a despotic bear.
She names him Borne.
He reminds her of her homeland lost to rising seas, but her lover Wick is intent on rendering him down as raw material for the special drugs he sells. Nothing is quite what it seems, and if Wick is hiding secrets, so too is Rachel – and Borne most of all.
15. American War by Omar El Akkad (352p)
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war – part of the Miraculous Generation – now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past, his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.
16. Daughters by Jennie Melamed (448p)
On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.
But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.
At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.
17. Blackfish City by Sam J Miller (368p)
After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering it is now rife with corruption and the population simmers with unrest.
Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will change Blackfish City forever.