Kingdom of Needle and Bone
by Mira Grant
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 31 Dec 2018
Mira Grant’s newest novel is a chilling vision of the near future, all the more frightening because of its possibility. Already we see the impact of the anti vaccination groups as polio and other diseases long eliminated return in virulent form. We wonder what comes next. Mira Grant gives an answer in the form of a question - what if herd immunity was fractured enough to allow a new form of an old disease to infect most of the population, and what if that disease prevented the infected from developing new antibodies. How do you protect the healthy? How do you save the sick? Naturally there are additional twists, but Mira Grant paints a picture both eminently possible and painful to see. I was captivated from beginning to end.
Kingdom of Needle and Bone is an excellent piece of near future speculative fiction. It is worth reading for many reasons, not the least of which...
Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 07 Aug 2018
Implanted rests on a unique premise - data can be encoded and stored in a person’s bloodstream. The world of Implanted is divided into the haves and the have nots. The haves, the affluent, educated and implanted live in the luxurious upper levels of the domed city. The have nots, the poor, the working class and those without implants live on the lower levels, struggling. The area beyond the dome is only now beginning to have the means to support life and the prospect of Emergence has created tensions around the city. Blackmailed into giving up her former life and becoming a blood courier, Emery finds herself in a difficult situation. The data drop she is assigned is rigged, some want the data others want it destroyed, and there is only one person she can afford to trust.
Implanted has a decent plot, but it feels more like a New Adult Sci Fi novel than a Cyberpunk thriller. Emery’...
The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 17 Jul 2018
I went into The Wild Dead without expectations. What I discovered was a world where little remained of the past, where most lived relatively primitive lives in households along the Coast Road. Quotas are carefully maintained and resources managed. Women are implanted with birth control that is only removed when a household proves it can support a child and receives a banner. Enid and Teeg are investigators, called to resolve a dispute between households. The issue is a simple one, but the discovery of a body changes everything. It quickly becomes clear that the young woman is one of the Wild Folk, who live a nomadic life beyond the Coast Road and rarely interact with the settlements. Enid wants to find the truth, while Teeg, young and zealous wants the easy out. The town folk are keeping secrets, and old grudges live long lives.
Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 26 Jun 2018
Summerland is an impressive novel blending spy-fi and science fiction. If you only pick one science fiction novel to read this summer, this is it. Summerland is set in an alternate Britain circa 1938. The Cold War is in full swing, but there are two fronts - the world of the living and the world of the dead. The world of the novel was changed forever when the Summerland was discovered. Once thought to be gone forever, the souls of the dead persevere and retain their intelligence. Technology allows communication between the living and the dead, and spy services make use of agents both living and dead.
Rachel White is a British agent in charge of a Russian defector. Before he dies he offers her a piece of information - there is a mole in the British operation. But how do you catch a mole who is already dead?
The richly imagined world of Summerland is difficult...
Small independent publishers can be hit or miss on quality. There are times however that you find a gem. Jason Mather’s Shadow Life is one such gem. It is a suspenseful science fiction thriller with plenty of fast paced action. Mather does a bang up job of keeping the reader’s attention while only slowly revealing the novel’s secrets. And then there are the characters. Each is flawed, damaged in some way, but they have a nobility that makes you care about them. The villains, particularly Brigham (who may remind you of the orange cheeto in office) are detestable. Brigham is the misogynist who leads the strictly religious Salt Lake City, where women are property and population growth is out of control.
The novel begins with the death of Hans and his reawakening. Technology allows for the rebuilding of the human body, but the mind is another question entirely. The situation that...
The Bathwater Conspiracy by Janet Kellough
Kobo Writing Life
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 27 Apr 2018
Part speculative fiction, part murder mystery The Bathwater Conspiracy is a fascinating novel. After a devastating virus leads to the elimination of all men, society has redeveloped, relying on gene banks and artificial insemination. This is not immediately obvious. It is skillfully revealed bit by bit by the author. Mac MacHenry is a detective normally assigned the tiresome tasks, the hard cases with little glory. Then comes the death of a young graduate student. The autopsy is cut short and the Darmes’s (government forces) explanation of the cause of death doesn’t match the wounds. With little prodding, Mac begins investigating on the sly, and what she finds is a secret and a conspiracy that could change life forever.
The story is well done, the world depicted believable - neither a utopia nor a dystopia. There is the implication that there is far less violenc...
Dead Links is a well thought out piece of science fiction. Don’t be put off by the slow start. As you progress the story becomes more complex and far more interesting. What looks initially like a bog standard murder mystery set in the near future is in reality an exploration of what makes up reality and identity. It asks how far we are willing to go and what are we willing to sacrifice in order to be entertained. It questions the nature of our vast hunger for consumer goods and the difficulty we have connecting with other people. Though it brings up a lot of important questions, it doesn’t preach. Our answers and interpretations are our own. It is easy to feel contempt for Alan as he is an addict and in his own words a murderer. But is it possible his addiction mirrors our own, only to greater extreme? Ingle’s usage of current brands and company names made the situations in the novel at on...
We Care For You by Paul Kitcatt
General Fiction (Adult) , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 07 Nov 2017
We Care for You is one of the best pieces of speculative fiction I have read. It is beautiful and thought provoking. It gives you a new appreciation of individuals we commonly ignore - the very old. There isn't “action” in the traditional sense. Instead, the novel meanders, exploring what it means to be human through various perspectives - Margaret, an elderly woman revitalized, Winifred, an artificial human who cares for Margaret, and Margaret’s son, John. Everything changes when the Helpers come to Margaret’s care home. Men and women suffering from dementia and other ills are suddenly revitalized, able to do the things they were once able to do - in particular communicate. It is a joyous event that is shadowed by the other uses helpers might be put to. It’s a fascinating read.
We Care for You is a wonderful book that shows just how com...
Conceptually, Exploded View is brilliant. It raises questions about how we decide what to believe about the images and situations presented by the media. As our ability to manipulate image and data becomes all the more sophisticated, and media sources are driven by the desire to profit, how can we judge what is true? A cut here, an addition there, editing can change how a situation is perceived, based upon what is being "sold" at that moment. Then ramp it up.
All but the poorest citizens or refugees have high tech eyewear connecting them constantly to a virtual world where commerce is supreme and social media is omnipresent. It juxtaposes transparency and the power of anonymity. It is a world where children play Strangers on a Train without thought acting against social media targets. Exploded View is thought provoking in the extreme, but as a novel it falte...
Angry Robot Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date: June 7, 2016
Like a Boss surpasses Adam Rakunas's first novel Windswept - a surprising feat to accomplish when you consider just how good a novel Windswept is. The series has everything that makes for a scifi classic - a richly imagined world, a plot that is thrilling and thought provoking while successfully commenting on current issues, a diverse well developed cast of characters, and that touch of magic that comes from an author gifted with eloquence and imagination.
The universe in which Like a Boss is set is controlled by a conglomerate made up of 3 giant corporations. Everyone is born into corporate indenture. Every part of life is dedicated to either increasing corporate revenues and efficiency or consuming the products in accord to corporate dictates. Life, death and everything in between are dictated by the Big Three. It's no surprise that a number of people are willing t...