Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Week Of January 20, 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!

AvalonAvalon” by Mindee Arnett

For fans of Josh Whedon’s cult classic television show Firefly comes a fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi thriller from author Mindee Arnett, about a group of teenage mercenaries who stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens the entire galaxy.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew have made their name stealing metatech: the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. In a world where the agencies that patrol the outer edges of space are as corrupt as the crime bosses who control them, it’s as much of a living as anyone can ask for. For years Jeth’s managed to fly under the radar of the government that executed his parents for treason — but when he finds himself in possession of information that both government and the crime bosses are willing to kill for, he’s going to find there’s no escaping his past anymore.

With pulse-pounding action, a captivating mystery, and even a bit of romance, Avalon is the perfect read for hard-core sci-fi fans and non–sci-fi fans alike.

HaloHalo: Mortal Dictata” by Karen Traviss

Wars end. But hatred, guilt, and devotion can endure beyond the grave.

With the Covenant War over, the Office of Naval Intelligence faces old grievances rising again to threaten Earth. The angry, bitter colonies, still with scores to settle from the insurrection put on hold for thirty years, now want justice — and so does a man whose life was torn apart by ONI when his daughter was abducted for the SPARTAN-II program. Black ops squad Kilo-Five find their loyalties tested beyond breaking point when the father of their Spartan comrade, still searching for the truth about her disappearance, prepares to glass Earth’s cities to get an answer. How far will Kilo-Five go to stop him? And will he be able to live with the truth when he finds it? The painful answer lies with a man long dead, and a conscience that still survives in the most unlikely, undiscovered place.

PandemicPandemic” by Scott Sigler

Scott Sigler’s Infected shocked readers with a visceral, up-close account of physical metamorphosis and one man’s desperate fight for sanity and survival, as “Scary” Perry Dawsey suffered the impact of an alien pathogen’s early attempts at mass extinction. In the sequel Contagious, Sigler pulled back the camera and let the reader experience the frantic national response to this growing cataclysm. And now in Pandemic, the entire human race balances on the razor’s edge of annihilation, beset by an enemy that turns our own bodies against us, that changes normal people into psychopaths or transforms them into nightmares.

To some, Doctor Margaret Montoya is a hero — a brilliant scientist who saved the human race from an alien intelligence determined to exterminate all of humanity. To others, she’s a monster — a mass murderer single-handedly responsible for the worst atrocity ever to take place on American soil. All Margaret knows is that she’s broken. The blood of a million deaths is on her hands. Guilt and nightmares have turned her into a shut-in, too mired in self-hatred even to salvage her marriage, let alone be the warrior she once was.

But she is about to be called into action again. Because before the murderous intelligence was destroyed, it launched one last payload — a soda can–sized container filled with deadly microorganisms that make humans feed upon their own kind. That harmless-looking container has languished a thousand feet below the surface of Lake Michigan, undisturbed and impotent…until now.

Part Cthulhu epic, part zombie apocalypse and part blockbuster alien-invasion tale, Pandemic completes the Infected trilogy and sets a new high-water mark in the world of horror fiction.

PhoenixPhoenix Island” by John Dixon

The inspiration for the CBS TV show Intelligence — a thrilling adventure that’s “Lord of the Flies meets Wolverine and Cool Hand Luke” (F. Paul Wilson, creator of Repairman Jack).

The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble — using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.

Classified as a “terminal facility,” it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States — and immune to its laws — the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the “sweatbox.” But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the “Chop Shop” — a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.

A new life…

A new body. A new brain.

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become.

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.

And for Carl, it’s just the beginning…

RuleThreeThe Rule of Three” by Eric Walters

One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon — as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends — he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.

BookGreatWhat Makes This Book So Great” by Jo Walton

As any reader of Jo Walton’s Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading — about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volumes presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field’s most ambitious series.

Among Walton’s many subjects here are the Zones of Thought novels of Vernor Vinge; the question of what genre readers mean by “mainstream”; the underappreciated SF adventures of C. J. Cherryh; the field’s many approaches to time travel; the masterful science fiction of Samuel R. Delany; Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children; the early Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin; and a Robert A. Heinlein novel you have most certainly never read.

Over 130 essays in all, What Makes This Book So Great is an immensely readable, engaging collection of provocative, opinionated thoughts about past and present-day fantasy and science fiction, from one of our best writers.

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