Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Week Of February 3, 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!

AlienatedAlienated” by Melissa Landers

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she”ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara”s blog following is about to skyrocket. Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing though: no human boy is this good-looking. But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara”s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life — not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

AnnihilationAnnihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers — they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding — but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: volume two (Authority) in June, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.

EmpManEmpire of Man” by David Weber & John Ringo

Roger Ramius MacClintock was young, handsome, athletic, an excellent dresser, and third in line for the Throne of Man. It probably wasn’t too surprising that someone in his position should react by becoming spoiled, self-centered, and petulant. After all, what else did he have to do with his life? Then warships of the Empire of Man’s worst rivals force his crippled vessel out of space and Roger is shipwrecked on the planet Marduk, whose jungles are full of deadly predators and barbarian hordes with really bad dispositions. Now all Roger has to do is hike halfway around the entire planet, then capture a spaceport from the Bad Guys, somehow commandeer a starship, and then go home to Mother for explanations. Fortunately, Roger has an ace in the hole: Bravo Company of Bronze Battalion of The Empress’ Own Regiment. If anyone can get him off Marduk alive, it’s the Bronze Barbarians.

EmpressEmpress of the Sun” by Ian McDonald

The airship Everness makes a Heisenberg Jump to an alternate Earth unlike any her crew has ever seen. Everett, Sen, and the crew find themselves above a plain that goes on forever in every direction without any horizon. There they find an Alderson Disc, an astronomical megastructure of incredibly strong material reaching from the orbit of Mercury to the orbit of Jupiter.

Then they meet the Jiju, the dominant species on a plane where the dinosaurs didn’t die out. They evolved, diversified, and have a twenty-five million year technology head-start on humanity. War between their kingdoms is inevitable, total and terrible.

Everness has jumped right into the midst of a faction fight between rival nations, the Fabreen and Dityu empires. The airship is attacked, but then defended by the forces of the Fabreen, who offers the Everness crew protection. But what is the true motive behind Empress Aswiu’s aid? What is her price?

The crew of the Everness is divided in a very alien world, a world fast approaching the point of apocalypse.

FalloutFallout” by James K. Decker

Overpopulation, disease, and ecological disaster were edging humanity toward extinction. Hope arrived in the haan, an alien race that promised us a future. And what they wanted in exchange seemed so harmless…

Sam Shao has found out too much about the haan, by accident. All humans have to get along with them — we owe them our lives — and Sam even counts a haan among her best friends. But the more she learns, the less she trusts them.

It doesn’t help that the building of new haan colonies seems to be coinciding with a rash of missing persons cases. Sam and her hacker friends are determined to reveal the truth about the haan, before it’s too late. The aliens are still promising salvation, and they seem set to deliver, but with things already spinning out of control Sam is confronted with a possibility no one wants to admit — that what salvation means to humankind and what it means to the haan may be two horribly different things.

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