Fantasy and Science Fiction
Competence: The Custard Protocol: Book Three by Gail CarrigerAll alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.
When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions:
Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?
Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez?
And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?
Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu; translated by Joel MartinsenWhen Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of this mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station.
The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier. While Chen’s quest for answers gives purpose to his lonely life, it also pits him against soldiers and scientists with motives of their own: a beautiful army major with an obsession with dangerous weaponry, and a physicist who has no place for ethical considerations in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuireFor Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.
The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.
Rose has worked for decades to make a place for herself in the twilight. Can she defend it, when Bobby Cross comes to take her down? Can she find a way to navigate the worlds of the living and the dead, and make it home before her hitchhiker’s luck runs out? There’s only one way to know for sure.
Timeless: A Drizzt Novel
by R. A. Salvatore
Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan—the City of Spiders, the city of drow—nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house. Zaknafein.
The greater nobles watched him, and one powerful Matron—Malice—decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival houses to secure her prize, but it was ultimately the roguish Jarlaxle who caught him. Thus sparked the birth of two key moments in Menzoberranzan: the coupling of a noble and weapon master that would produce Drizzt Do’Urden…and the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle.
R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of this unlikely pair—offering a fresh take on the intrigue and opportunities to be found in the shadows, and providing a fascinating prelude to the journeys that have shaped the modern-day Forgotten Realms. There, Zaknafein and Drizzt are joined together in a series of trials that parallel those of centuries long past, even though their paths no longer seem to be aligned. How will a father, so long constrained by the vicious and conservative world of the drow, be able to reconcile his ingrained prejudices with the world and companions of his enlightened son?
Focus on: Inhospitable Environments
Semiosis by Sue BurkeA multigenerational saga about a group of colonists who settle on the planet Pax, which hosts a variety of sentient native flora.
Want a taste? "The war had begun long before we arrived because war was their way of life."
For fans of episodic character-driven SF such as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles or Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth DurstSomething's rotten in Renthia, where elemental spirits are kept in check by the chosen Queen, her elite guard of Champions, and their apprentices, the Heirs. The spirits are breaking free of their wards...
Starring: Daleina, who survived the spirit attack that devastated her village, and disgraced Champion Ven, who joins her on a mission to save the realm.
This 1st installment of the Queens of Renthia series contains both an action-packed quest and ample palace intrigue.
The Fifth Season by N.K. JemisinStarring: Essun, an "orogene" whose ability to shape the contours of the land make her subject to persecution.
When her husband murders their son and abducts their daughter, grief-stricken and vengeful Essun pursues him across The Stillness, a vast and dynamic super-continent on the brink of catastrophe that will usher in a "fifth season," a time of uncertainty and hardship.
All three books in the Broken Earth series, including sequels The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard JonesNow that a tick-borne pandemic has forced humanity to retreat behind chemical barriers known as "Salt Lines," well-heeled thrill-seekers pursue a form of "extreme tourism" in the wilderness beyond the boundaries.
What it's like: Scott Smith's The Ruins meets Alexandra Oliva's The Last One.
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley RobinsonSea-level rise, the result of climate change, transforms 22nd-century New York City into a partially submerged metropolis.
Introducing: a large and diverse cast of characters living in, on, or near Manhattan's MetLife Tower, including a hedge fund manager speculating on coastal real estate and a pair of treasure-hunting adolescents.
New York 2140 is more optimistic than most apocalyptic fiction, though it does offer a pointed critique of capitalism's role in exacerbating social inequality.
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