2018 science fiction – looking ahead (January to May)

Following on from yesterday’s post that pulled together some of the historical fiction goodies of the next five months, it’s now the turn of science fiction. As with the historical fiction, this isn’t a definitive list but these are the ones that have especially caught my eye – so far! They’re published between January and the end of May. I hope you find something here to tempt you. Crime and thrillers to follow!

Science fiction

Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds (January; Gollancz)
A new novel by Alastair Reynolds! This cannot come soon enough. ‘Featuring Inspector Dreyfus – one of Alastair Reynolds most popular characters – this is a fast paced SF crime story, combining a futuristic setting with a gripping tale of technology, revolution and revenge. One citizen died a fortnight ago. Two a week ago. Four died yesterday . . . and unless the cause can be found – and stopped – within the next four months, everyone will be dead. For the Prefects, the hunt for a silent, hidden killer is on… Alastair Reynolds has returned to the world of The Prefect for this stand-alone SF mystery in which no one is safe. The technological implants which connect every citizen to each other have become murder weapons, and no one knows who or what the killer is – or who the next targets will be. But their reach is spreading, and time is not on the Prefects’ side.’

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo (January; Headline)
‘Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep. If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you. Nothing saves you. Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams. If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down? For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore. The threat is closer than they realise…’

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown (January; Hodder & Stoughton)
‘Darrow was born a slave. He became a weapon. He ended centuries of Gold rule, broke the chains of an empire, and now he’s the hero of a brave new republic. But at terrible cost. At the edge of the solar system, the grandson of the emperor he murdered dreams of revenge. In his hidden fortress in the oceans of Venus, the Ash Lord lies in wait, plotting to crush the newborn democracy. And, at home, a young Red girl who’s lost everything to the Rising questions whether freedom was just another Gold lie. In a fearsome new world where Obsidian pirates roam the Belt, famine and genocide ravage Mars, and crime lords terrorise Luna, it’s time for Darrow and a cast of new characters from across the solar system to face down the chaos that revolution has unleashed.’

Spring Tide by Chris Beckett (January; Corvus)
‘Chris Beckett’s thought-provoking and wide-ranging collection of contemporary short stories is a joy to read, rich in detail and texture. From stories about first love, to a man who discovers a labyrinth beneath his house, to an angel left alone at the end of the universe, Beckett displays both incredible range and extraordinary subtlety as a writer. Every story is a world unto itself – each one beautifully realized and brilliantly imagined.’

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart TurtonThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (February; Raven Books)
I have had the pleasure of reading this already and it is absolutely fantastic! Hugely original, clever and mindblowing. A candidate for book of the year already. ”Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’ It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…’

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (February; Quercus)
‘True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever. Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him. But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…’

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch (February; Headline)
I really enjoyed technothriller Tomorrow and Tomorrow and so this is one I’ll be looking out for. ‘1997 – When ex Navy Seal Patrick Mursult’s family are found murdered, he is the number one suspect. But NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss isn’t convinced, particularly after Patrick apparently commits suicide. 2014 – Years after the brutal killings, while working undercover, Moss stumbles across a witness from the Mursult case who unwittingly tells her far more than she had at the time. Inspired by this retrospective progress, Moss determines to travel through time to a host of potential futures to track down the killer and close this cold case once and for all.’

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
‘The warship Trouble Dog was built and bred for calculating violence, yet following a brutal war, she finds herself disgusted by conflict and her role in a possible war crime. Seeking to atone, she joins the House of Reclamation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing ships in distress. But, stripped of her weaponry and emptied of her officers, she struggles in the new role she’s chosen for herself. When a ship goes missing in a disputed system, Trouble Dog and her new crew of misfits and loners, captained by Sal Konstanz, an ex-captain of a medical frigate who once fought against Trouble Dog, are assigned to investigate and save whoever they can. Meanwhile, light years away, intelligence officer Ashton Childe is tasked with locating and saving the poet, Ona Sudak, who was aboard the missing ship, whatever the cost. In order to do this, he must reach out to the only person he considers a friend, even if he s not sure she can be trusted. What Childe doesn’t know is that Sudak is not the person she appears to be. Quickly, what appears to be a straightforward rescue mission turns into something far more dangerous, as Trouble Dog, Konstanz and Childe, find themselves at the centre of a potential new conflict that could engulf not just mankind but the entire galaxy. If she is to survive and save her crew, Trouble Dog is going to have to remember how to fight.’

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel (March; Michael Joseph)
I cannot wait for this – the third part of the Themis Files trilogy! ‘We always thought the biggest threat to humanity would come from the outside. We were wrong. As the human race picks up the pieces of destruction left behind, a new world order emerges. New alliances are formed. Old divisions are strengthened. And, with a power struggle fuelled by the threat of mutually assured destruction, nothing is certain. At a time when the world’s nations should have been coming together, they have never been more divided. With the human race teetering on the brink of total war, Rose, Vincent and Eva must choose sides. But doing the right thing might mean making the ultimate sacrifice.’

Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone (March; Gollancz)
I have thoroughly enjoyed this skin-crawling series so far and I can’t wait to see how it ends. ‘The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come. The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens? For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder-and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?’

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (April; Orbit)
‘After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.’

Before Mars by Emma Newman (April; Gollancz)
‘Hugo Award winner Emma Newman returns to the captivating Planetfall universe with a dark tale of a woman stationed on Mars who starts to have doubts about everything around her. After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist in residence–and already she feels she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth. In her room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note, painted in her own hand, warning her not to trust the colony psychiatrist. A note she can’t remember painting. When she finds a footprint in a place that the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that she is caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy. Or is she losing her grip on reality? Anna must find the truth, regardless of what horrors she might discover or what they might do to her mind.’

I Still Dream by James Smythe (April; Borough Press)
‘1997. 17-year-old Laura Bow has invented a rudimentary artificial intelligence, and named it Organon. At first it’s intended to be a sounding-board for her teenage frustrations, a surrogate best friend; but as she grows older, Organon grows with her. As the world becomes a very different place, technology changes the way we live, love and die; massive corporations develop rival intelligences to Laura’s, ones without safety barriers or morals; and Laura is forced to decide whether to share her creation with the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, she knows, its power could be abused. But what if Organon is the only thing that can stop humanity from hurting itself irreparably? I Still Dream is a powerful tale of love, loss and hope; a frightening, heartbreakingly human look at who we are now – and who we can be, if we only allow ourselves.’

Time Was by Ian McDonald (April; Tor Books)
‘Ian McDonald weaves a love story across an endless expanse with his science fiction novella Time Was. A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it. In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found. Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.’

One Way by S.J. Morden (ebook in April; Gollancz)
The paperback is out in August but you might not want to wait… ‘A murder mystery set on the frozen red wastes of Mars. Eight astronauts. One killer. No way home. WE STAND AT THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA – Frank Kitteridge is serving life for murdering his son’s drug dealer. So when he’s offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations – the company that runs the prison – he takes it, even though it means swapping one life sentence for another. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE ALIVE – He’s been selected to help build the first permanent base on Mars. Unfortunately, his crewmates are just as guilty of their crimes as he is – and he’ll have to learn to trust them if they’re to succeed. THE FUTURE OF SPACE TRAVEL IS IN SAFE HANDS – As the convicts set to work on the frozen wastes of Mars, the accidents multiply. Until Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all… XENOSYTEMS OPERATIONS: MAKING DREAMS A REALITY – There’s a murderer amongst them, and everyone’s a suspect.’

Xeelee: Redemption by Stephen Baxter (May; Gollancz)
Hooray! One of my very favourite authors. ‘Michael Poole finds himself in a very strange landscape… This is the centre of the Galaxy. And in a history without war with the humans, the Xeelee have had time to built an immense structure here. The Xeelee Belt has a radius ten thousand times Earth’s orbital distance. It is a light year in circumference. If it was set in the solar system it would be out in the Oort Cloud, among the comets – but circling the sun. If it was at rest it would have a surface area equivalent to about thirty billion Earths. But it is not at rest: it rotates at near lightspeed. And because of relativistic effects, distances are compressed for inhabitants of the Belt, and time drastically slowed. The purpose of the Belt is to preserve a community of Xeelee into the very far future, when they will be able to tap dark energy, a universe-spanning antigravity field, for their own purposes. But with time the Belt has attracted populations of lesser species, here for the immense surface area, the unending energy flows. Poole, Miriam and their party, having followed the Ghosts, must explore the artefact and survive encounters with its strange inhabitants – before Poole, at last, finds the Xeelee who led the destruction of Earth…’

The Soldier by Neal Asher (May; Macmillan)
‘A hidden corner of space is swarming with lethal alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It’s guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained at any cost – as it has the power to destroy entire civilizations. She schemes from her state-of-the-art weapons station, with only an alien intelligence to share her vigil. But she doesn’t share everything with Dragon… Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever. For some will do anything to exploit this ancient weaponry, created by a long-dead race called the Jain. This includes activating a Jain super-soldier, which may breach even Orlandine’s defences. Meanwhile, humanity and the alien prador empire keep a careful watch over this sector of space, as neither can allow the other to claim its power. However, things are about to change. The Jain might not be as dead as they seemed – and interstellar war is just a heartbeat away. The Soldier is the first novel in the Rise of the Jain series, by bestselling science fiction author Neal Asher.’

Hunted by G.X. Todd (May; Headline)
‘The birds are flying. The birds are flocking. The birds sense the red skies are coming. One man is driven by an inner voice that isn’t his – this Other is chewing at his sanity like a jackal with a bone and has one purpose. To find the voice hiding in the girl. She has no one to defend her now. But in an inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no voice gathers his warriors. Albus must find the girl, Lacey… before the Other does. And finish the work his sister Ruby began. Hunted is the second book in the acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil holds you in its vice-like grip.’

84K by Claire North (May; Orbit)
‘Theo Miller knows the value of human life – to the very last penny. Working in the Criminal Audit Office, he assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full. But when his ex-lover is killed, it’s different. This is one death he can’t let become merely an entry on a balance sheet. Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.’

Next up is crime fiction and thrillers! You can then have a rest….

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