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Science Fiction December 2013
"Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;"
~ Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), English poet, The Canterbury Tales
New and Recently Released!
Perdition - by Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Berkley
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 08/27/2013
Share Perdition ISBN-13: 9780425258118
ISBN-10: 0425258114
Space Opera. Stranded in space, the prison ship Perdition collects the flotsam and jetsam of the galaxy, hardened criminals who form makeshift societies and wage brutal turf battles over the vessel's limited resources. As the ruler of one such faction, Dresdemona "Dred" Devos hopes only to survive, never to escape -- until new prisoner Jael arrives. Nigh-invincible and blessed (or cursed) with incredible longevity, Jael could prove to be Dred's best chance of escaping. However, he's also got a history of betraying his allies and may instead hasten her death. Although fans of author Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax novels will encounter familiar faces in this spin-off series, newcomers can jump right in without having read the previous books.
Transcendental - by James Gunn
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 08/27/2013
Share Transcendental ISBN-13: 9780765335012
ISBN-10: 0765335018
Space Travel. As it travels to its destination at the end of the galaxy, where a Prophet offers guidance in achieving Transcendence, dilapidated spaceship Geoffrey plays host to a motley crew of pilgrims who pass the time by telling their stories. In addition to Aldebaran "flower child" 4107 (a sentient plant), heavy-world tripod Tordor, "weasel-faced" alien Xi, and captive-born human Asha, there's also mercenary Riley, a war veteran hired by anonymous but powerful employers to identify the Prophet and kill him. Fans of Dan Simmons' Hyperion, which also draws inspiration from The Canterbury Tales to present multiple narratives from diverse perspectives, should enjoy this richly detailed, thought-provoking novel.
The Cusanus Game - by Wolfgang Jeschke
Publisher: Tor Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/15/2013
Share The Cusanus Game ISBN-13: 9780765319081
ISBN-10: 076531908X
Time Travel SF. The solution to a global economic and political meltdown precipitated by nuclear disaster and environmental devastation? Well, that's easy: just use time travel to exploit the resources of the past in order to protect the future. In 2052, biologist Domenica Ligrina is recruited for the Rinascita Project, a top-secret research program sponsored by the Vatican. Her assignment is to study 15th-century Europe, from which she'll be gathering specimens of extinct plants. Meanwhile, Renaissance man Nicolaus Cusanus, a German philosopher, theologian, and astronomer, hears strange reports of a learned witch who claims to have seen the future and an angel who has invented a means of traveling through time. Past, present, and future collide in unpredictable, mind-bending fashion in this suspenseful, intricately plotted novel.
Ancillary Justice - by Ann Leckie
Publisher: Orbit
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/01/2013
Share Ancillary Justice ISBN-13: 9780316246620
ISBN-10: 031624662X
Space Opera. Artificial intelligence One Esk once commanded an entire starship, the formidable Justice of Toren; now, confined to a single mortal body cobbled together from interchangeable human parts, the entity known as "Breq" must figure out how to survive as a multisegmented, ancillary humanoid being in a galactic empire ruled by an oppressive government -- and without disobeying the law that forbids AIs from harming their creators. With its sympathetic protagonist and complex plot, this compelling debut serves as the opening installment of the Imperial Radch series.
Shaman - by Kim Stanley Robinson
Publisher: Little, Brown
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 09/03/2013
Share Shaman ISBN-13: 9780316098076
ISBN-10: 0316098078
Alternate History SF. Best known for his acclaimed Mars Trilogy, author Kim Stanley Robinson shifts from imagined far-future societies to a richly detailed exploration of humanity's prehistoric past. Loon, a young man coming of age during the Paleolithic era, rebels against expectations that he'll become a shaman, stubbornly pursuing his own path in life. Although he's unwilling to become the repository of his people's knowledge, he has a talent for cave paintings. However, when he falls in love with Elga, a young woman from another tribe, their relationship causes a rift that could make them outcasts, belonging nowhere in their icy, treacherous world.
Burning Paradise - by Robert Charles Wilson
Publisher: Tor Books
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 11/05/2013
Share Burning Paradise ISBN-13: 9780765332615
ISBN-10: 0765332612
Alternative History SF. It's 2014, a century since the Great Armistice of 1914, which ended war on Earth. However, 19-year-old Cassie Klyne, a member of the Correspondence Society, knows that her peaceful world is an illusion, engineered by extraterrestrials who have manipulated the planet's atmosphere in order to control humanity. Unfortunately, this knowledge places the lives of Cassie and her surviving family members in danger, since the aliens are in the habit of sending sims -- humanoid agents governed by an alien hive mind -- to assassinate those who discover the truth. For a creepy, suspenseful tale of extraterrestrial hyper-intelligence versus human ingenuity, be sure to read Burning Paradise.
Making Connections
Man in the Empty Suit - by Sean Ferrell
Publisher: Soho Press
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 02/05/2013
Share Man in the Empty Suit ISBN-13: 9781616951252
ISBN-10: 1616951257
Time Travel SF. Each year, a nameless time-traveler attends his own hundredth birthday celebration in an abandoned late-21st-century Manhattan hotel ballroom, surrounded by older and younger versions of himself -- the "Elders" and "Youngsters" on whom he bestows nicknames such as "Ugly Tie" and "Turtleneck." However, when his 39-year-old self turns up for the event, he discovers the corpse of his 40-year-old iteration, suggesting that he might not make it to his next birthday, let alone his centennial. But his apparent demise raises more questions than "whodunit?" For example, if he dies, how do the Elders continue to exist? And why are there suddenly so many more Youngsters at the party? More importantly, how can he prevent his death without creating too many wrinkles in time?
A Working Theory of Love - by Scott Hutchins
Publisher: Penguin Press
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 10/02/2012
Share A Working Theory of Love ISBN-13: 9781594205057
ISBN-10: 1594205051
Artificial Intelligence. Neill Bassett, the divorced, emotionally distant son of a physician and prolific diarist who committed suicide in 1995, works for Amiante Systems, a three-person tech firm that's attempting to build a computer capable of natural language processing. To achieve this goal, the company is using his late father's diaries as the basis for the computer's personality and it's Neill's job to work with the machine to enhance its humanity, thereby enabling it to pass a Turing test. As Neill interacts with the computerized incarnation of his father, he begins to connect with it in a way that he could never manage with the flesh-and-blood version. At once witty and poignant, this character-driven novel explores the nature of intelligence and consciousness, which may appeal to fans of Richard Powers' Galatea 2.2.
The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel - by Karen Lord
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 02/12/2013
Share The Best of All Possible Worlds%3a A Novel ISBN-13: 9780345534057
ISBN-10: 0345534050
First Contact SF. When their homeworld is destroyed, the survivors of an alien society, the Sadiri, settle among the human inhabitants of Cygnus Beta. Unfortunately for the Sadiri, all the refugees are male, meaning that their race will soon become extinct. That is, unless they reach out to their new neighbors. As the Sadiri struggle with the necessity of preserving their culture by altering it forever, the bio-technicians of Cygnus Beta work to locate genetically compatible populations with whom the Sadiri can integrate and reproduce. Then scientist Grace Delarua forms an unexpected bond with designated Sadiri representative Councilor Dllenahkh -- a relationship that complicates an already difficult project. Lyrical and leisurely placed, this romantic and highly atmospheric novel explores what happens when two very different cultures attempt to connect.
Ghost Spin - by Chris Moriarty
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 05/28/2013
Share Ghost Spin ISBN-13: 9780553384949
ISBN-10: 0553384945
Far-Future SF. When the depletion of a vital resource causes the collapse of an interstellar society's quantum teleportation network, humanity's only hope for survival is to locate the Drift, a little-known region of space that may provide the conditions necessary for life, but which is also controlled by the AI-enhanced clones of the enemy Syndicate. In the midst of this crisis, former UNSec major Catherine Li searches for remnants of -- and answers from -- her deceased AI husband, "scattercasting" herself from one network to the next in the form of an electronic download that anyone with the right equipment could capture. Though loosely connected to Chris Moriarty's previous Spin novels, Spin State and Spin Control, Ghost Spin's narrative, while complex, stands on its own.
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