Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Week Of April 7, 2014

By David Wharton | 6 years ago

As much as we love science fiction on TV, on the big screen, on the comics page, and in video game form, there’s just something irreplaceable about digging into a good book. There’s no shortage of new sci-fi adventures hitting shelves on a regular basis, but GFR is your one-stop shop to keep up with what’s hitting shelves in a given week. Here’s what’s new on the Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf!

BalancePointBalance Point” by Robert Buettner

#3 in the science fiction adventure Orphan’s Legacy series, a saga of spy games and military action on an interplanetary scale.

The balance point of interplanetary Cold War II between Earth and monolithic Yavet tips unexpectedly toward peace. Covert ops Captain Jazen Parker and his sharp shooting lover and partner Kit Born slide from world saving hazardous duty to escorting a telepathic alien monster home from Earth to mate. And the two of them are forced to consider a quiet domestic future together.

But when old enemies’ thirsts for power and revenge, Jazen’s problematic past, and his former girlfriend, upset Jazen and Kit’s personal balance point, the two cold warriors find their relationship, and their very survival, tested as never before.

Lost in space, and from one another, they must each penetrate Yavet, the universe’s most insular and repressive world, then foil a plot that could turn Cold War II hot and nuclear — or die trying.

BurnOutBurn Out” by Kristi Helvig

A futuristic blend of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans’s Level 2, Burn Out will satisfy the growing desire for science fiction with a thrilling story of survival, intrigue, and adventure.

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns ‘red giant,’ but discovers her fellow survivors are even more deadly than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone — her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun — one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.

ColdbrookColdbrook” by Tim Lebbon

Coldbrook is a secret laboratory located deep in Appalachian Mountains. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were about to unleash.

With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead.

In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race.

But will they find her in time?

RevelationsExtraction Point: Revelations” by Paul Antony Jones

There is nowhere left to run. In the wake of the deadly plague that virtually annihilated the human race, a vast red jungle teeming with alien creatures and lethal plants is devouring Earth, swallowing buildings whole and ruthlessly decimating what life remains. A witness to the terrifying transformation, survivor Emily Baxter thinks the odds against humanity can’t get any worse.

She is wrong.

The thrilling conclusion to the bestselling Extinction Point series, Revelations takes a humanity on the brink of devastation…and throws it over the edge!

HereAndNowThe Here and Now” by Ann Brashares

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world…if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time — a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

HorizonHorizon (Above World)” by Jenn Reese

In this third and final adventure in the Above World series, Aluna and her friends finally face their most terrifying enemy, Karl Strand. Aluna and Hoku, Kampii from the City of Shifting Tides, and their friends, Equian Dash and winged Aviar Calli, are determined to stop a war. The maniacal ex-scientist Karl Strand is planning to conquer the world with his enormous army of tech-enhanced soldiers…unless the four friends can get to Strand first. Aluna’s plan is dangerous: pose as Upgraders and infiltrate the army. But the enemy isn’t what they expected and the strategy begins to crumble. When the friends are torn apart by conflicting allegiances, their slim chance of avoiding war seems to disappear completely. For Aluna and Hoku, what began as a quest to save their own people has become a mission to save the world. But do Aluna and her friends have any hope of defeating Strand if they can’t take him on together?

InterrogationThe Interrogation of Ashala Wolf” by Ambelin Kwaymullina

A compelling debut novel asks what happens when children develop inexplicable abilities — and the government sees them as a threat. They’re known as Firestarters. Boomers. Skychangers. The government calls them Illegals — children with inexplicable abilities — and detains them in menacing facilities so that society is kept out of harm’s way. Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals have taken refuge in the Firstwood, a forest eerily conscious of its inhabitants, where they do their best to survive and where they are free to practice their abilities. But when Ashala is compelled to venture outside her territory, she is betrayed by a friend and captured by an enemy. Injured and vulnerable, with her own Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind. It’s only a matter of time before the machine ferrets out the location of the Tribe. Her betrayer, Justin Connor, is ever-present, saving her life when she wishes to die and watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

KlaatuThe Klaatu Terminus” by Pete Hautman

National Book Award winner Pete Hautman weaves several diverging time streams into one satisfying masterwork in this stunning and revelatory series finale. In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?

NogginNoggin” by John Corey Whaley

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

OpShieldOperation Shield” by Joel Shepherd

Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra’s own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family — the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

PlusOnePlus One” by Elizabeth Fama

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge — a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece — a day dweller, or Ray — she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

RobotsRobot Uprisings” edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams

Humans beware. As the robotic revolution continues to creep into our lives, it brings with it an impending sense of doom. What horrifying scenarios might unfold if our technology were to go awry? From self-aware robotic toys to intelligent machines violently malfunctioning, this anthology brings to life the half-formed questions and fears we all have about the increasing presence of robots in our lives. With contributions from a mix of bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming writers, and including a rare story by ‘the father of artificial intelligence,’ Dr. John McCarthy, Robot Uprisings meticulously describes the exhilarating and terrifying near-future in which humans can only survive by being cleverer than the rebellious machines they have created.

ShipstarShipstar” by Gregory Benford & Larry Niven

Science fiction masters Larry Niven (Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (Timescape) continue the thrilling adventure of a human expedition to another star system that is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowl-shaped structure cupping a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths. And which, tantalizingly, is on a direct path heading toward the same system the human ship is to colonize.

Investigating the Bowl, or Shipstar, the human explorers are separated — one group captured by the gigantic structure’s alien inhabitants, the other pursued across its strange and dangerous landscape — while the mystery of the Shipstar’s origins and purpose propel the human voyagers toward discoveries that transform their understanding of their place in the universe.

WordsThe Word Exchange” by Alena Graedon

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted ‘death of print’ has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.

Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate — or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole…

Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague, Anana’s search for Doug will take her into dark basements and subterranean passageways; the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library; and secret meetings of the underground resistance, the Diachronic Society. As Anana penetrates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a pandemic of decaying language called ‘word flu’ spreads, The Word Exchange becomes a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology.

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