It’s hard to follow a debut that immediately became an international phenomenon, was published in 40 countries and is in the works to become a movie (hopefully with the same mind-blowing visual effects Warner Bros. brought to movies like Inception, The Lego Movie and The Matrix). The thing that made Ernest Cline’s first book, Ready Player One, so good was a nearly impossible balance between where-the-hell-did-that-come-from originality and the familiarity of Gen-X pop-culture references. There’s no such balance in his second novel, Armada. Familiarity surpasses originality—intentionally.
In his novels, Peter Clines likes to dwell in the overlap of genre niches. With his Ex-Heroes series, Clines has created a world where super heroes are a thing, but so is the zombie apocalypse. In 14, he keeps things apocalyptic in flavor, but adds a healthy dose of building-based horror. With his latest, Clines seems to have shifted course a few degrees once more.
No book will ever make you thirstier than The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi’s (The Windup Girl) action-packed return to hard science fiction, in which the American Southwest is ravaged by drought.
Are you ready to dive into a world of magic and adventure, but a bit hesitant to pick up an 800-page doorstopper with a hefty roster of characters? Then Naomi Novik, author of the best-selling Temeraire series, has the perfect summer fantasy for you in the spellbinding Uprooted.
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.
Little more than a year after the U.S. publication of his award-winning Dark Eden, Chris Beckett returns readers to the alien, hostile planet of Eden and the humans stranded there. In Mother of Eden, 150 years have passed since the events of the previous novel. The human descendants of John, Jeff, Tina, David and the rest—themselves born of the original castaways—have, for the most part, splintered into thriving communities spread across Eden (as opposed to the small, huddled group featured in Beckett’s debut).
Touted as the perfect fare for readers who love George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie, Alex Marshall’s A Crown for Cold Silver presents the type of politically complicated, morally gray terrain associated with those authors.
At first glance, The Only Words That Are Worth Repeating looks like Interstellar meets The Stand. Centuries from now, in a post-scientific society where astronomy “is regarded as a delusional cult scarcely more respectable than Jesus Lovers,” a powerful corporation discovers a perfectly intact Orion spacecraft hidden beneath the ruins of Cape Canaveral, along with detailed instructions from NASA on how to launch a voyage to Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon.
In V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, three versions of London exist side by side in parallel universes. There’s Grey London, where magic is basically extinguished; Red London, where it’s abundant; and White London, where it’s somewhere in between (and where the control of it as a resource is jealously and viciously contested). There was also a fourth—Black London—whose inhabitants were devoured by magic and which should no longer exist. Schwab’s male protagonist, Kell, is one of the few with the power to travel between those Londons, and as such, serves as a diplomatic courier of sorts between the monarchies of each.
Reading the setup of The Just City can itself floor you. That’s how big Jo Walton, a writer already known for ambitious fantasy storytelling, is going with this particular novel, something she says she’s imagined writing since her teenage years.