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!
“Beyond the Rift” by Peter Watts
Combining complex science with skillfully executed prose, these edgy, award-winning tales explore the shifting border between the known and the alien. The beauty and peril of technology and the passion and penalties of conviction merge in narratives that are by turns dark, satiric, and introspective. Among these bold storylines: a seemingly humanized monster from John Carpenter’s The Thing reveals the true villains in an Antarctic showdown; an artificial intelligence shields a biologically enhanced prodigy from her overwhelmed parents; a deep-sea diver discovers her true nature lies not within the confines of her mission but in the depths of her psyche; a court psychologist analyzes a psychotic graduate student who has learned to reprogram reality itself; and a father tries to hold his broken family together in the wake of an ongoing assault by sentient rainstorms. Gorgeously saturnine and exceptionally powerful, these collected fictions are both intensely thought-provoking and impossible to forget.
“Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War” by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.
The frozen wasteland of Snow World — known as Southern California before an alien invasion decimated civilization — is home to warring steampunk clans. Crankshafts, Imperials, Tinskins, Brineboilers, and many more all battle one another for precious supplies, against ravenous mutant beasts for basic survival, and with the mysterious Founders for their very freedom.
Through this ruined world soars the Pneumatic Zeppelin, captained by the daring Romulus Buckle. In the wake of a nearly suicidal assault on the Founders’ prison city to rescue key military leaders, both the steam-powered airship and its crew are bruised and battered. Yet there’s little time for rest or repairs: Founders raids threaten to shatter the fragile alliance Buckle has risked everything to forge among the clans.
Even as he musters what seems a futile defense in the face of inevitable war, Buckle learns that the most mysterious clan of all is holding his long-lost sister in a secret base — and that she holds the ultimate key to victory over the Founders. But rescuing her means abandoning his allies and praying they survive long enough for there to be an alliance to return to.
“The Severed Tower” by J. Barton Mitchell
J. Barton Mitchell’s sci-fi tour de force Conquered Earth series set in an alien-invaded post-apocalyptic world returns as the children forge deeper into the most dangerous lands in search of The Severed Tower.
Holt, Mira, and Max have fled Midnight City with Zoey after watching her repel an entire Assembly army. Zoey’s powers are unlocked, but who and what she is remains a mystery. All she knows is that she must reach the Severed Tower, an infamous location in the middle of the world’s most dangerous landscape: The Strange Lands, a place where the laws of physics have completely broken down. But the closer they get to the Tower, the more precarious things become. The Assembly has pursued Zoey into the Strange Lands. Among them is a new group, their walkers and machines strangely bereft of any color, stripped to bare metal, and whose agenda seems to differ from the rest. To make matters worse, the group hunting Holt are here, too, led by a dangerous and beautiful pirate named Ravan. So is Mira’s first love, Benjamin Aubertine, whose singular ambition to reach the Tower threatens to get them all killed.
Then there’s the Strange Lands themselves. They have inexplicably begun to grow, spreading outwards, becoming more powerful. Somehow, it all seems tied to Zoey herself, and the closer she gets to the Tower, the weaker she becomes.