Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Week Of January 13, 2014

By David Wharton | 7 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!

C-MonkeysC-Monkeys” by Keith Hollihan

In 1973, Mideast strife and the oil crisis have knocked the global economy to its knees. With every company and country locked in a search for new sources of energy, the reclusive industrialist, Dr. Petr Chopek, calls the world’s greatest scientists, engineers, and business leaders to his remote South Pacific island to show them what he has discovered.

Pulp fiction writer, Gadsen Wells, is not a scientist but when his new companion, renowned paleo-botanist, Dr. Harold Braunhut, dies mysteriously, Wells takes his place on the decrepit prop plane flying to Chopek’s island. Accompanied by Braunhut’s beautiful nurse, Amber, Wells finds a paradise where scientists are engaged in experiments to learn how to exploit a new energy source linked to a species of giant salamander, long thought to be extinct.

Then Wells learns Chopek’s true plans. The ancient salamanders are being genetically altered, designed not to save the world but to control it. Wells and Amber escape Chopek’s spies and sneak into the labyrinth beneath the island to try to stop him.

As though Jules Verne had written a James Bond novel, C-Monkeys is a ripping read about a world just strange enough to be real.

EchoThe Echo” by James Smythe

The stunning sequel to James Smythe’s critically acclaimed literary sci-fi novel The Explorer. TWENTY YEARS following the disappearance of the infamous Ishiguro — the first manned spacecraft to travel deeper into space than ever before — humanity are setting their sights on the heavens once more. Under the direction of two of the most brilliant minds science has ever seen — that of identical twin brothers Tomas and Mirakel Hyvonen — this spacecraft has a bold mission: to study what is being called ‘the anomaly’ — a vast blackness of space into which the Ishiguro disappeared. Between them Tomas (on the ground, guiding the mission from the command centre) and Mira (on the ship, with the rest of the hand-picked crew) are leaving nothing to chance. But soon these two scientists are to learn that there are some things in space beyond our understanding. As the anomaly begins to test the limits of Mira’s comprehension — and his sanity — will Tomas be able to save his brother from being lost in space too?

UnlikelyA Highly Unlikely Scenario” by Rachel Cantor

In the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, the Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but he likes it — there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave the house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. And what do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off script.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.

A dazzling debut novel wherein medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and Latter-Day Baconians skirmish for control over secret mystical knowledge, and one Neetsa Pizza employee discovers that you can’t save the world with pizza coupons.

ShovelReadyShovel Ready” by Adam Sternbergh

The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds — the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy — to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.

StarRoadStar Road” by Matthew Costello & Rick Hautala

A rebel and an outlaw lead an unsuspecting group of adventurers on a secret mission across the vastness of space, in Matthew Costello’s Star Road.

Ivan Delgato, a former leader of a rebel group called the Runners, is released from jail on the condition that he carry out a secret mission for the World Council. His assignment is simple: stay under cover, but do absolutely anything necessary to reach the planet Omega IX and offer the renegade Runners clemency if they surrender — which may be complicated since Ivan’s brutally violent brother has taken lead of the Runners in Ivan’s absence.

In search of the Runners, Ivan catches a ride out to the wildest reaches of the galaxy via a mysterious transportation system, the Star Road. His fellow passengers on Star Road Vehicle-66 are a suspicious group, all with their own hidden reasons for traversing the star road. As the travelers contend with increasingly deadly encounters, it isn’t long before suspicions build against Ivan.

And as the Runners must choose one brother over the other, on a planet filled with ancient secrets, those who survive will confront a mystery that changes the Star Road, and humanity, forever.

VitroVitro” by Jessica Khoury

A death-defying tropical adventure delivers a frightening message about dabbling with creation from the talented author of Origin.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings — the Vitros — have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux.

In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

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