How often do you find yourself going through the same routine, over and over again? It's easy to fall into a rut as we go about our days, but that behavior can also lead to boredom. The same holds true for reading patterns. If you read the same kinds of books all the time, you may easily tire of reading altogether. Variety, in addition to being the spice of life, is also the savior of reading slumps. While I do recommend that people read outside their genre, if you've narrowed down your reading spectrum to the speculative fiction genres and still want something unique, take one of these oddball titles for a spin.

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

I like it when science fiction doesn't take itself too seriously. If you do, too, then check out Mothership written by the writing team of Martin Leicht and Isla Neal. In the year 2074, Elvie Nara gets involved with a handsome idiot named Cole and ends up pregnant. She gets shipped off to the spaceship-based Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers where things are going as well as could be expected…until the ship is hijacked by a team of commandos, one of whom turns out to be Cole. Elvie hardly has time to comprehend how Cole could even be a commando when she receives another shocker: Cole and his team invaded the ship because the teachers of the school are actually aliens who want to use her unborn baby to repopulate their species. This is the first novel in the Ever-Expanding Universe trilogy. If this one ends up tickling your fancy in all the right ways, you'll be pleased to know that the two sequels (A Stranger Thing and The World Forgot) were published in rapid succession so you can immediately continue the fun and consume the entire trilogy.

Keep Mars Weird by Neal Pollack

Continue reading >


 

Picture a future nobody could have predicted: several hundred years from now, Earth becomes a depopulated progressive paradise while Mars, home of the freewheeling New Austin, is a laid back human colony that's the hip, new hotspot. Schoolteacher Jordan Kincaid wasn't looking to go there, but was forced to relocate when he broke the law and had to choose between New Austin or prison. Easy choice. Now Jordan moves among trend-chasing hipsters and obnoxious tourists just trying to get through his day while a supermogul is KeepMarsWeirdbent on renovating the city. That's when a sexy-but-sinister heiress seduces Jordan. Then he finds himself on the wrong side of a real estate rebellion. It's rich vs. poor in a battle for the city.

Who Wants to Be the Prince of Darkness? by Michael Boatman

You've got to admire the audacity of writing a dark urban fantasy comedy that mashes up reality television with the fiery pits of hell. That's exactly what Michael Boatman has done with his latest novel, Who Wants to Be the Prince of Darkness? Boatman (who you may know as the actor who portrayed Carter in the sitcom Spin City) has Lucifer enjoying his retirement in Limbo while Hell is ruled by Gabriel. But then Gabriel conceives of plan so evil, that Lucifer is forced to act. Gabriel's plan is to use the power of television against humanity itself. By producing the titular reality show, Gabriel lures innocent-but-unwitting souls to the mostly empty Hell in an attempt to return it to its former glory. Lucifer takes it upon himself to find his own champion and free the innocent souls from their eternal damnation.

Hitler Is Alive! by Steven A. Westlake

As if alternate history wasn't bizarre enough, here comes Hitler Is Alive!: Guaranteed True Stories Reported by the National Police Gazette by Steven A. Westlake (son of American crime fiction writer Donald E. Westlake). It purports to convey evidence of Hitler's scape from the ruins of the Reich as the Allied armies closed in on Berlin during World War II. It claims that Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, did not commit suicide in an underground bunker on May 1, 1945, and that their bodies were never found. In related disclosures, as WWII ended and peace fell across Europe, two U-Boats made mad dashes for Argentina, remaining underwater for weeks at a time to evade detection. It's not hard to guess who they were carrying. Based on the sensationalist 19th-century tabloid NTrees-AliShawational Police Gazette, Hitler Is Alive! collects most of their post-war Hitler stories to create an alternate history that is just weird enough to be believable.

The Trees by Ali Shaw

What if the end of the world comes not by modern technology, not by plague, war, or meteor strike? What if the end of civilization came from the world itself? In Ali Shaw's eco-thriller, The Trees, trees burst forth from the ground, reclaiming cities and suburbs alike. Buildings are demolished. Broken bodies litter the tree branches. In this eerie and unrecognizable landscape, Adrien Thomas attempts to reunite with his wife, Michelle, who is across the sea in Ireland. Along the way he meets a green-fingered woman named Hannah and her teenage son Seb, who are on a quest of their own to find Hannah's forester brother. Part allegory, part introspective literature, The Trees is a refreshing change of pace to cure anyone's reading slump.

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, the Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal