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.
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.
In the powerful first installment of a new trilogy from Michael Buckley, species collide in this sci-fi tale infused with emotionally charged themes of immigration and xenophobia.
For readers who like their end of days to come with a heaping helping of zombie-esque transformation, Grant’s series will remain both familiar and a bit fresh.
And so Netherton enlists Flynne in an investigation in his world that could never have been possible in hers. Leave it to Gibson to break down our innate resistance to time travel by using our uncertainty about the mechanics of high-speed computing to make the impossible seem plausible.
An intriguing hybrid of Asimovian I, Robot-flavored sci-fi, the quasi-contemporary speculative fiction of William Gibson and the enjoyable detective/crime procedural work of . . . well, countless writers, John Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In, interweaves the threads of a number of familiar genre conventions to impressive effect.
The siren screaming through Hilo, 16-year-old Leilani’s hometown on Hawaii’s Big Island, is her first warning of coming catastrophe. But she and her father stick to their planned trip from Hilo to Honolulu, where she is to undergo tests for her epilepsy. They fly to the island of Oahu, and that’s when the world veers off course: The president appears on television in a frightened state. Satellite and electrical networks collapse. Commercial airline flights cease. At the same time, Leilani is having epileptic episodes filled with visions of ancient Hawaiian gods.
There’s nothing more peaceful than a 3 A.M. jog on an ocean boardwalk with waves lapping in the distance and no one around—or is there? In Runner, the debut novel in Patrick Lee’s new thriller series, retired special forces op Sam Dryden finds he’s not jogging alone but running for his life, along with a young stranger—an 11-year-old girl who’s fleeing from some smart, devious pursuers . . .
If NASA ever launches a manned mission to Mars, space-watchers worldwide will scan the skies anxiously, imagining all the things that could go wrong for travelers more than 30 million miles from home. But no one is likely to imagine it as vividly as Andy Weir has in his debut novel, an interplanetary adventure story about an astronaut facing the ultimate worst-case scenario.
Originally a self-published series of e-novellas, Hugh Howey’s Wool has generated almost as much press for what it is seen to represent as it has for its enthusiastic fan response. Some have proclaimed it yet another nail in the coffin of traditional publishing, while others have pointed to it as proof the post-apocalyptic genre still has some life in it. But the ultimate takeaway from...