One of the defining characteristics of much of the best science fiction writing is ambition, but the trick is to filter that ambition into something meaningful. A big story idea is a start, but a great science fiction writer knows how to channel that into an inventive, emotionally affecting story that’s as much about science as it is about characters. Over the course of his career, Neal Stephenson has become one of the poster children for just that kind of storytelling ambition, and with Seveneves he takes it to a level unlike anything he’s done before.
Wylie Rose subsists on memories. They are his food, his religion, his constant focus. Not just any memories—only ones of Cesca Bonet, a beautiful young girl he first encounters at age 10.
While away on duty, Army Ranger Van Shaw receives a chilling note from his grandfather: “Come home, if you can.” The last time the two talked was 10 years ago—a conversation that resulted in a bloody brawl. Pride and stubbornness run strong in this family, so for the old man to reach out means there’s something big happening back home.
When Nica Baker, a gorgeous, popular 16-year-old, is found dead on the campus of her prestigious private high school, her family, friends and community are shocked and devastated. While the case is closed neatly and quickly—an awkward classmate with an unrequited crush and a bad temper—Nica’s older sister Grace has the sick suspicion that the obvious answer is not always the right one. She goes on a quest to find out what really happened to Nica—and ends up discovering far more than she ever wanted to know about her family, her friends and herself.
In Welcome to Braggsville, four Berkeley college friends decide to protest a Civil War re-enactment by staging a “performative intervention.
Greek mythology and Bulgarian fairy tales have never felt as modern as they do in Wildalone, Krassi Zourkova’s debut novel. Building on the momentum established by Stephenie Meyer’s ever-popular Twilight franchise, the Bulgarian-born Zourkova introduces fans of supernatural romance to a dark and heady new love triangle involving a gifted musician and two bewitching brothers.
This fast-paced and gripping novel is part thriller, part crime story, part mystery. It tells the story of Bobby Drake, a deputy sheriff in a small Pacific Northwest town trying to outlive the sins of his larger-than-life father, Patrick. He is doing a good job of it, until his father is let out of prison and the cycle of crime and violence begins again—threatening the peaceful existence Bobby has created.
One might describe Oregon as a mélange of Haight-Ashbury, Appalachia and Yankee nouveau riche. Valerie Geary’s first novel, Crooked River, follows this interplay between the state’s radicals, rednecks and arrivistes. It begins when a journalist with the WASP-y name of Taylor Bellweather drowns. And the prime suspect is a beekeeper with a beard and a penchant for whiskey.
In her debut novel, Season of the Dragonflies, Sarah Creech delivers a masterly portrayal of sisterly sibling rivalry, Southern style. Creech’s own experience growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a house brimming with women storytellers with a penchant for the mystical inspired the novel’s setting and plot, which unfolds as the latest generation of Lenore women are swept up into a fragrant family crisis.
M.P. Cooley’s first novel Ice Shear is a solid, convincing mystery set in the snowy shadows of Hopewell Falls, New York. The story follows June Lyons, a former FBI agent who traded her big badge for the life of a small-town police officer to care for her sick husband, who has since passed. In an attempt to spend more time with her daughter and to fall in better with the police force, she volunteers for the graveyard shift. Her nights pass with no more excitement than driving drunks home and buying doughnuts for the morning shift.