The number of science fiction books hitting the shelves this days can come fast and furious, making it hard to keep up. Fortunately, Recursor is here to help you get your sci-fi fix. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy list of several great sci-fi books that came out in the past year—books you should catch up on over spring break or summer vacation.
BORNE by Jeff VanderMeer
VanderMeer is known for writing sci-fi that is both emotionally affecting and intriguingly offbeat. BORNE is no exception. The setting is both truly strange and utterly believable—a post-apocalyptic ruined city filled with desperate scavengers, strange cyborgs, a terrifying genetically engineered bear, and more weirdness. In this city, Rachel navigates her way around until she finds a small, odd living creature that she calls Borne. It’s a story filled with secrets, longing, love, and sacrifice that readers won’t soon forget.
ARTEMIS by Andy Weir
With a best-selling novel under his belt, Weir has returned with a new novel that is different than THE MARTIAN while still reflecting the appeal of exploring our solar system. In ARTEMIS, the setting is a vividly depicts moon colony, and the story is a heist caper that goes amiss. The story’s star, Jazz, finds herself trapped between competing forces, pursued by a killer and the law alike, as she tries to stay alive and save her city from the conspiracy that threatens to tear it, and her, apart.
NEW YORK 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Known for his ground-breaking Mars trilogy, Robinson is back with a sci-fi novel derived from extrapolating the horrors of unchecked climate change. Yet in NEW YORK 2140, readers get an oddly hopeful look at a future in which rising sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns don’t stop capitalism and power centers from marching on. The novel examines human nature at its best and worst, and highlights our imaginative efforts at survival, even in the worst of times.
THE STARS ARE LEGION by Kameron Hurley
Hurley has been writing sci-fi and fantasy novels since 2010, and is known for her geek feminism. THE STARS ARE LEGION is an award-winning story about a woman named Zan who wakes up in a sick bay, missing most of her memories. Zan must figure out who she is and how to survive in a world of ships crewed and maintained solely by women. It’s an innovative space opera in the tradition of Dune and The Fall of Hyperion, with plenty of tragic love, revenge, and epic war.
AUTONOMOUS by Annalee Newitz
You may recognize Newitz as the co-founder of io9, alongside Charlie Jane Anders (whose award-winning novel All the Birds in the Sky hit shelves in 2016). Newitz’s debut novel AUTONOMOUS delivers a chilling look at a future where drugs are reverse-engineered for the black market. When Judith “Jack” Chen hacks a feel-good drug called Zacuity, the drug’s true nature is revealed—and people start dying. It’s a race against time to get the truth out into the open before Jack is caught and prosecuted.
WALKAWAY by Cory Doctorow
One of sci-fi’s most popular voices right now, Doctorow’s latest novel imagines a future extrapolated from today’s tech science. WALKAWAY reveals a world affected by climate change, capitalist ventures, wealth gaps between rich and poor, sexual fluidity, and more. Like the classic story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin, Doctorow’s characters walk away from a society that isn’t working to seek something better, making this an oddly optimistic dystopian novel.
SIX WAKES by Mur Lafferty
Host of the wildly popular podcast I Should Be Writing, Lafferty is—not surprisingly—a solid SFF/horror writer. Her novel SIX WAKES features a plot driven in part by cloning laws similar to Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics (from I, ROBOT). The protagonist wakes up on a spaceship, discovers she has been cloned, but doesn’t remember the cause of her death prior to her rebirth. She must solve the mystery of how she died, why she’s been cloned, and catch the killer before he or she can strike again.
THE MOON AND THE OTHER by John Kessel
You may recognize Kessel’s name from one of his early, award-winning works, such as the novella “Another Orphan”or the novelette “Pride and Prometheus.” THE MOON AND THE OTHER is his first novel in two decades, and it’s a rich imagining of a future in which the moon is populated by underground city-states, each with unique politics and relationships that explore the bounds of how we think of gender, power, social structures, and concepts like freedom. The novel’s setting is intriguing and believable, offering the sort of social commentary sci-fi is known for.
VOID STAR by Zachary Mason
A worthy successor to cyberpunk classics like NEUROMANCER and ALTERED CARBON, VOID STAR tells the story of a world filled with AIs and wealthy people who use technology to extend their lives indefinitely. Mason weaves in all the elements of classic cyberpunk that fans of the subgenre love—the sprawl of humanity, corporate greed, computer-human hybrid technologies, conspiracies and noir characters reminiscent of Sam Spade. VOID STAR is a literary look at our complicated relationship to technology and our fellow human beings.
PROVENANCE by Ann Leckie
A standalone cozy space mystery set in the expansive universe of Leckie’s ANCILLARY novels, PROVENANCE mashes up two genres that don’t often get mashed up, and it does so with deftness. Power-hungry Ingray, anxious to impress her powerful politician mother, breaks a felon out of prison to help her track down some priceless lost artifacts. Naturally, political intrigue ensues, an interstellar conflict arises, and Ingray’s entire world is being threatened with destruction. As with the other ANCILLARY stories, PROVENANCE considers the vast and unpleasant effects of colonization on both colonizers and the colonized.
Have you read any of these novels yet? What did you think? What else do you recommend? Share your ideas in the comments.