Looking for something good to read? Join the club! Allow me to offer up this tasty selection of science fiction and fantasy books that offer a cornucopia of literary delights. Inside these books, you'll find adventure, suspense, thought-provoking themes and good, old-fashioned sense of wonder.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Breq, a former enforcer of a galaxy-spanning empire known as the Radch, seeks revenge on the near-immortal Lord of the Radch for an act of betrayal that has taken away all that she has ever known when she was Justice of Toren.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This story offers a cool science-fiction setting with unapologetically science-fictional concepts and explorations. For example: post-humanism. Justice of Toren is essentially a sentient starship with thousands of corpse soldiers at her command. What happens when that multi-faceted intelligence is put inside a single human body?
Day One by Nate Kenyon
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A tech-savvy megalomaniac causes all of the world's Internet-connected devices to malfunction, leading to a worldwide chaos and ruin.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: With society becoming ever-increasingly dependent on technology, the idea of the a techno-apocalypse brought about by the loss of those devices is disturbingly appealing. One can only hope that the technical explanation is believable.
Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Lots of things. This is the debut short story collection by the award-winning Nnedi Okorafor offering an assortment of mind-expanding journeys.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Okorafor explores a variety of ideas with her usual skill. Story elements include (in the author's words) "hardcore hunchbacks, magic carpets, baboons with secrets, rogue robots" and more. The title story, co-written with Alan Dean Foster, is about a lawyer on the way to visit her sister when she becomes a helpless passenger in an unofficial Nigerian cab that inexplicably appears on the streets of Chicago.
Parasite by Mira Grant
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Ten years from now, sickness and disease is eradicated thanks to a genetically engineered parasite. The trouble is, the parasites
—now living inside every single human being since, hey, who wouldn't want to take advantage of those benefits?—have plans of their own.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This near-future thriller is high-concept and fast-moving, posing the classical science fiction "What if?" question. It also looks at the possible ramifications of technology: just because something can be done...should it?
The Abominable by Dan Simmons
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A thrilling tale of danger set against the 1920s backdrop of the race to the top of Mount Everest, where the mysterious disappearance of several mountain climbers leads to a shocking discovery.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Simmons is one of the field's most skilled writers. He has recently been leaning away from the more science-fictional aspects of genre, meaning that this novel will be very accessible to newcomers and still appealing for longtime fans.
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A young girl wants to revisit a magical land and embarks on another wonder-filled adventure.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Valente's Fairyland series has been getting consistently positive reviews and with good reason: Her imagination knows no bounds and her lyrical prose takes readers on a fascinating journey across magical landscapes. Bonus: This is a book that parents can share with their kids (and vice versa).
The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery, finally reunited after their separate journeys, come together to save the magical reality known only as the Land.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This is the 10th and final volume in Donaldson' much-loved, long-running Thomas Covenant series, which began in 1977. Reader's who have joined the heroic savior of an alternate Earth on his long journey will now get some closure. And those who don't start reading a series until it's complete (you know who you are!) now have no excuse.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A master thief named Locke is drawn into political intrigue when he is forced to be a pawn in order to receive treatment for poison in his system.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards sequence was a universally loved, instant hit with readers. This book's two storylines, one set in the past (involving a woman from Locke's own past) and one in the present, keep the story interesting. It also keeps the reader completely immersed thanks to the author's skill at maintaining suspense and providing genuine surprises.
The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Fogg and Oblivion, a pair of superheroes retired since their days of glory in World War II, are forced to deal with current threats and past secrets.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: This contemplative, atmospheric novel is described as "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Watchmen." It asks: What does it mean to be a hero, especially when those abilities were around during one of mankind's most war-ravaged period? Would it have made any difference?
The n-Body Problem by Tony Burgess
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The trials and tribulations of cleaning up after the zombie apocalypse.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: The large majority of zombie novels are about how we deal with the infestation of the brain-eating undead chasing us down. This novel looks at the cleanup afterward—specifically about what would happen if we jettisoned the undead into space. I'll tell you what happens: Earth's orbit becomes littered with zombie debris, thus posing a new, unforeseen effect on humanity's survivors below.
Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The full title of the book reveals all: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.
WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT: Although not a prose novel like the other books on this list, Wonderbook is no less desirable. Don't be fooled by the longer title—this lavishly produced volume is stuffed with great ideas and fantastic illustrations that will appeal to both writers and readers. This is the kind of book you leave sitting out for all to see...and the kind of book you will find yourself picking up again and again.
Also Worth Checking Out
There are lots more book coming out this month than I can cover in one article. Besides some horror-themed books that we'll look later this month, here are some more noteworthy book hitting shelves in October:
- Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
- Fiendish Schemes by K. W. Jeter
- Heartwood by Freya Robertson
- Horde by Ann Aguirre
- King Breaker by Rowena Cory Daniells
- Luminous Chaos by Jean-Christophe Valtat
- Old Mars edited by George R.R. Martn and Gardner Dozois
- Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales edited by Paula Guran
- If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes
- Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr & Tim Pratt
- Skulk by Rosie Best
- The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu
- The Diamond Deep by Brenda Cooper
- The Osiris Curse: A Tweed & Nightingale Adventure by Paul Crilley
- The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
- The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs edited by Mike Resnick & Robert T. Garcia
- Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone