10 Recent Sci-Fi Books I Am Ready To Devour — Or Maybe Just Read

12 03 2014

Ever since I walked into a movie theater in Tipton, Iowa, at the age of 4 and watched “Star Wars,” I have been a fan of science fiction. Many of my favorite TV shows, books and movies are from the genre. I have always been drawn to the tales of adventure, often wrapped in a larger social message.

As a teen, I devoured books by Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke. I don’t read as much sci-fi as I used to, but there has been a large number of science fiction books released in the past few months that definitely caught my eye and are at the top of my seemingly-infinite To Be Read list.

For this post, I have picked the 10 science fiction books that have released in the past two months that I definitely want to read. It is a varied list, with dystopian futures, licensed products and alternative views of the afterlife, among other things. But they all have some aspect that caught my eye and made their way to my TBR list.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

red-rising Book description from the publisher: Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to  infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

13638125Book description from the publisher: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their  thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

Alien — Out of The Shadows by Tim Lebbon

Out_of_the_Shadows_CoverBook description from the publisher: The massively acclaimed Alien franchise is one of the most successful of all time, beginning with the first film in 1979.

In a dramatic twist, this novel will return us to that time, to Ellen Ripley, and to never-before-revealed secrets of the Weyland-Yutani Corporations…secrets that lead into the events of the second film, Aliens…and beyond!

The Martian by Andy Weir

martianBook description from the publisher: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die
there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

flightsilversBook description from the publisher: Without warning, the world comes to an end for Hannah and Amanda Given. The sky looms frigid white. The electricity falters. Airplanes everywhere crash to the ground. But the Givens are saved by mysterious strangers, three fearsome and beautiful beings who force a plain silver bracelet onto each sister’s wrist. Within moments, the sky comes down in a crushing sheet of light and everything around them is gone.

Shielded from the devastation by their silver adornments, the Givens suddenly find themselves elsewhere, a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances.

Soon Hannah and Amanda are joined by four other survivors from their world—a mordant cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions begin a cross-country journey to find the one man who can save them—before time runs out.

Influx by Daniel Suarez

influxBook description from the publisher: Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century–fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common disease, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances–have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that
seemed imminent in the 1960’s failed to arrive?

Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few.

Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they’ve been working toward for years: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics–the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission.

They are living in our future.

Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady balks, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age?

And when they do, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?

Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler

17910119Book description from the publisher: Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke live in a world where the sun never set on the Egyptian Empire. In the year 1877 of Our Lord Julius Caesar, Pharaoh Djoser-George governs a sprawling realm that spans Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. When the European terrorist Otto von Bismarck touches off an international conspiracy, Scott and Mik are charged with exposing the plot against the Empire.

Their adventure takes them from the sands of Memphis to a lush New World, home of the Incan Tawantinsuyu, a rival empire across the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Encompassing Quetzal airships, operas, blood sacrifice and high diplomacy, Ramona Wheeler’s Three Princes is a richly imagined, cinematic vision of a modern Egyptian Empire.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

annihilationBook description from the publisher: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as
its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: volume two (Authority) in June, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.

Archetype by M.D. Waters

18079523Book description from the publisher: Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe
possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.

The Waking Engine by David Edison

waking-engineBook description from the publisher: Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come
at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.

Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.

Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True
Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.

Richly imaginative, David Edison’s The Waking Engine is a stunning debut by a major new talent.

What are some of your favorite sci-fi books of the recent past? Or what science fiction books are about to be released that you are really looking forward to? Please share your thoughts. I’m always looking for new genre books to devour. Or at least read.





Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was inspired

18 08 2010

One of the first movies I saw as a child was the original “Star Wars.” At that time, it was simply known as “Star Wars.” Now the official name of that movie I love is “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.” Over the years, as home video technology has grown and changed, the movie has been released in various formats. First it was released on VHS. Then George Lucas decided to remaster the movies with extra special effects that weren’t available when they were released. Extra scenes also were added. Eventually, all 6 of the movies were released in a box set in 2004 and even more subtle changes were made.

Last week, George Lucas announced that all six movies will be released on Blu-Ray next year. As part of the announcement, he showed a clip of a deleted scene that will be added to “The Return of the Jedi” for the Blu-Ray edition. The scene toward the beginning of the movie shows Darth Vader attempting to contact Luke, and also Luke building his new lightsaber after losing his father’s lightsaber when his hand was cut off at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back.”  You can view the scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5XR-M-_UpE 

Personally, I prefer the original versions of the original trilogy. There’s something about the raw, old-school feel of the movie that can not be duplicated using today’s CGI. The second trilogy and the special versions of the older movies feel, I don’t know, too sterile. Too fake. The original movies make you feel like you are really there. Like you could be in the movie. The new ones, with all their fancy special effects, just feel too sanitary. Like you can tell it’s not real. Much harder to suspend disbelief and throw yourself into the movie. At least for me. However, this deleted scene is pretty cool. I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet. But one day when I do, I’m sure this version of the movies will end up in my collection.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for “Star Wars.” It was one of the things that first inspired me as a storyteller. Some of the first stories I wrote in elementary school were my version of what happened after “The Return of the Jedi.” More than 10 years later, George Lucas would allow for the creation of a trilogy of novels known as The Heir to the Empire series, written by Timothy Zahn. They were the true beginning of what now is knowns as The Expanded Universe. Hundreds of novels, dozens of comic book series and several video games have told the ongoing saga of the beloved characters. But long before that, I was making up my own version of their adventures. Now they have a name for that: fan fiction. At the time, I didn’t know that. It was just me and my typewriter or pad of paper, making up the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. I’ve since moved on to creating my own characters in their own life-changing situations.

While my stories may not happen long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I hope some day, some little boy or girl will read one of them and become inspired to make up their own story. As a writer, what better legacy could you ask for? So in spite of my feelings about your later work, George Lucas, thank you for the original trilogy and thank you for inpsiring my imagination.








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