If this is the future of science fiction, the genre is in very good hands.

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THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION

THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION 2020

From the The Saga Anthology Of Science Fiction series , Vol. 1

Exploring critical issues impacting humankind—from climate change to racism to mass shootings—this timely and thematically profound anthology of the year’s best short-form science fiction is filled with thought-provoking gems.

Noteworthy stories from all over the globe are featured prominently in this collection, including Indian writer Indrapramit Das’ dark “Kali_Na,” which chronicles the unforeseen consequences of a megacorp developing an AI deity for the masses; Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” about a 14-year-old girl living in Gaza City struggling to understand her brother’s inexplicable suicide; and Chinese writer Han Song’s metaphorical “Submarines,” in which the poor are forced to live in homemade habitats underwater. Peter Watt’s “Cyclopterus”—set in a near future ravaged by environmental collapse—is chillingly plausible, as is “Thoughts and Prayers” by Ken Liu, which chronicles a couple’s ordeal after their daughter is killed at a music festival by a shooter and their lives are destroyed by online trolls. “The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders is both disturbing and inspiring. Molly and her daughter, Phoebe, run a bookstore located on the border of California and the United States, which are at war. When the fighting begins and customers from both sides find shelter inside, the owners begin a mandatory book club—with glorious results. In an anthology full of powerful stories, perhaps the most memorable is “Emergency Skin” by N.K. Jemisin, about an explorer who returns to an Earth that his misogynist, racist, and elitist ancestors left generations earlier as it was dying—only to find not a barren, graveyard planet, as he expected, but one thriving and vastly advanced. In a sentence that exemplifies the tone of many of the anthology’s selections, Jemisin writes: “Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.”

If this is the future of science fiction, the genre is in very good hands.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4959-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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