Here are my picks in science fiction and fantasy for next month.
In Existence, David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction – and what is also one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed (Vernor Vinge )
Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity… Add a beautiful alien artifact that turns out to be the spearpoint of a very dangerous, very ancient invasion… Hotwire with wisdom and wonder… Existence is as urgent and as relevant as anything by Stross or Doctorow, but with the cosmic vision of Bear or Benford. Brin is back. (Steven Baxter )
The discovery of alien artifacts pushes an already troubled Earth to the brink of chaos in bestseller Brin’s exciting story of first contact . . . His longtime fans will especially appreciate that this story could be read as a prequel to 1983’s Startide Rising, while those not familiar with his work will find it an impressive introduction to one of SF’s major talents
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to theUniversal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of theUniversal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting,and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to theship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on thefact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethalconfrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chiefscience officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky alwayssurvive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.
Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy belowdecks is expendedon avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission.Then Andrew stumbles on information that completelytransforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what thestarship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-riskchance to save their own lives.
We are not alone.
On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.
In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .
Caliban’s War is a breakneck science fiction adventure following the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.
The Thousand Emperors
(Final Days 2) by Garry Gibson (Tor UK) – uk us
Archivist Luc Gabion has finally achieved his life’s goal — of bringing down Winchell Antonov, head of the Black Lotus terrorist organisation, and the scourge of the Tian Di’s stellar empire for countless years. But instead of feeling victorious, the encounter has left him scarred. Forcibly implanted with a technology far in advance of anything he’s encountered before, Luc sees and hears things he knows he’s not supposed to. Worse, the technology is killing him, slowly. So when he finds himself investigating the murder of one of the Tian Di’s ruling clique, the Thousand Emperors, he knows he’s in real trouble. Any one of them could be the killer, and any one of them could have him put to death on a whim. Worse, the dead man is the architect of the coming Reunification: two great civilisations, separated for centuries by old enmities, are about to reunite in a new age of peace and prosperity. But it soon becomes clear that someone out there is willing to do anything to make sure that day never comes.
The Shadowed Sun
Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. And nightmares: a mysterious and deadly plague haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Trapped between dark dreams and cruel overlords, the people yearn to rise up — but Gujaareh has known peace for too long.
Someone must show them the way.
Hope lies with two outcasts: the first woman ever allowed to join the dream goddess’ priesthood and an exiled prince who longs to reclaim his birthright. Together, they must resist the Kisuati occupation and uncover the source of the killing dreams… before Gujaareh is lost forever.
Possessing technology that allows him to travel across alternate worlds, John Rayburn begins building a transdimensional commercial empire, led by him, his closest friends, and their doppelgangers from several different parallel universes. But not every version of every person is the same, and their agendas do not always coincide. Despite their benign intentions, the group’s activities draw unwanted attention from other dimensional travellers who covet their technology and will kill anyone to control it, a threat that culminates in a nuclear standoff for dominance throughout the multiverse.
Judgment at Proteus
The climactic novel of the star-spanning Quadrail space opera
In Timothy Zahn’s Judgment at Proteus, the Quadrail that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy has been the flashpoint of a battle for dominance fought mostly unnoticed by humankind. But Frank Compton of Earth, aided by the enigmatic woman Bayta, has fought on the front lines, using every bit of his human ingenuity and secret agent skills to outwit the Modhri, a group intelligence that would control the minds of every sentient being it can touch.
Following a trail of deception and death to Proteus Station, Compton has discovered a conspiracy that threatens all life in the galaxy: the Shonkla’raa, an ancient enemy thought to be long dead, is rising again. So serious is the danger that the Modhri, the enemy of his enemy, may now be his friend, as the burgeoning threat of a race of invincible soldiers emerges.
If Compton and Bayta can’t stop them, the Shonkla’raa will decimate all who oppose them, destroying the Quadrail and billions of lives throughout the galaxy.
Juno Mozambe once had a life. That was when he was a dirty cop, married to a woman who suffered such profound abuse that she murdered her vile, drug kingpin father. Juno loved his wife and did his best to help her survive her guilt, her drug habit, and her desire to end her life on the dead-end planet of Lagarto. When she died, however, Juno’s life went downhill. And then his first partner, the corrupt chief of the Koba Office of Police, was murdered. The man responsible, Emil Mota, is using the KOP for his personal gain. Juno has been lying low, but now he’s ready to do whatever it takes to take down the bastard. Rather than working from inside the system, he’s decided that the only way to take down the KOP is to create an independent base of power. So he gets involved with a team of dirty cops and starts working as a rent-a-thug for a whorehouse that needs protection. Juno’s last partner knows that his risky plan has a purpose, but she’s that rarest of creatures on the hothouse planet of Lagarto: an honest cop. She can’t help him. When Juno discovers a series of profoundly twisted murders, he faces a bleak possibility: in his desperate quest for vengeance against the man who targeted him for death, Juno may have placed himself beyond any hope of redemption…
Alexander Outland: Space Pirate
Captain Alexander Outland of the Sixty-Nine (short for Space Vessel 3369, of course) is the best pilot in the galaxy. He’s also a pirate, a smuggler, and loved and loathed by women in umpteen solar systems. His crew of strays and misfits includes an engineer of dubious sanity, a deposed planetary governor, an annoyingly unflappable Sexbot copilot, and a slinky weapons chief who stubbornly refuses to give the captain a tumble.
Outland just wants to make a decent living skirting the law, but when an invisible space armada starts cutting into his business, he soon finds himself in hot water with the military, the mob, mad bombers, and an extended family of would-be conquerors. And that’s not counting an occasionally telepathic spy . . . .
Like any sensible scoundrel, he hates heroics. They’re risky and they don’t pay well. But to keep his ship and crew in one piece, and make time with a certain hard-to-get weapons chief, he might just have to make an exception–and save the galaxy in spite of himself!
“Nobody leaves Osiris. Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and world has lost her . . .”
Rising high above the frigid waters, the ocean city of Osiris has been cut off from the land since the Great Storm 50 years ago. Most believe that Osiris is the last city on Earth. Adelaide is the black-sheep granddaughter of the city’s Architect. A jaded socialite, she wants little to do with her powerful relatives — until her troubled twin brother disappears mysteriously. Vikram, a third-generation storm refugee, sees his own people dying of cold and starvation. He hopes to use Adelaide to bring about much-needed reforms — but who is using whom? As another brutal winter brings Osiris closer to riot and revolution, two very different people attempt to bridge the gap dividing the city, only to find a future far more complicated than either of them ever imagined.