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Many Science-Fiction Novels

Science Fiction Novels by Author

Banks, Iain M.

  • 1994 - Feersum Endjinn - Fascinating stand-alone book by Iain M. Banks, the author of the Culture series. The book takes place is a strange oversized castle and at first seems to be a fantasy novel along the lines of the Gormenghast novels. It slowly makes sense as you follow different narrators including Bascule whose writing is phonetic and hard to decipher. The novel also has an interesting real/VR twist where it isn't always clear which reality you are in.

Baciagalupi, Paolo

  • 2009 - The Windup Girl - Briliant climate fiction book that takes place in Thailand about attempts to secure a rare seedbank.
  • 2015 - The Water Knife - Another brilliant novel about fighting over water between semi-independent states in the USA West.

Brin, David

  • The Postman, 1997. A man puts on the jacket of a postman and starts bringing news and hope to a a post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Chambers, Becky

  • 2019 - To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a novella about space exploration where the astronauts transform themselves so as to explore different planets. It is excellent in imagining exobiology. There is also a loneliness to their travel. As get further and further from Earth the news slows to a trickle and then becomes alarming. It ends with the decision to go into stasis and wait for a decision from Earth as to what they should do.

Chiang, Ted

  • Stories of Your Life and Others, 2002. Collection of stories including one about a world of golems. The main story "Story of Your Life" became the story of the film Arrival.
  • Exhalation: Stories, 2019. Great selection of stories. "Exhalation" is a fascinating story of a mechanical person who opens his head and realizes their world is going to run out of compressed air. Entropy - everything is running down. "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" is an important story about software pets that are designed to evolve and a set of people who take care of them and they begin to show some intelligence. Suggests that software will need to be raised like children to be human like in intelligence. Deals also with issues like autonomy of A Is?.

De Lillo?, Don,

Well known contemporary novelist whose novels are often in a near future. Well known for White Noise.

  • 2020 - The Silence is a novella about four people in an apartment when all the digital stuff stops. It doesn't really deal with the public crisis, but instead deals with the conversations and lostness of these four who were expecting to watch a football game together. It has great quotes, but I found it vacuous and rushed out. As if it were a note for a novel for our Covid times.

Fielding, Joy

  • 2021 - Harrow is a novel set in some in between world after climate disaster where no one wants to acknowledge what we have done. The novel has religious undertones as if we were being judged and found ignorant. In the third book it repeatedly references Kafka. The "harrow" is the instrument that writes our punishment on our back "In the Penal Colony." The novel writes our purgatory on our mood.

Forester, E.M.

  • The Machine Stops, 1909. World where everyone lives in pods underground fed by a machine that starts to fall apart. Kuno, tells his mother about escaping to the surface.

Gibson, William

Sprawl Trilogy

  • Neuromancer, 1984. Book that coined the word "cyberspace". Henry Case, a washed up hacker up against an AI with Molly the samurai. He ends up freeing the AI Wintermute to join its other half Neuromancer and they migrate out to find others like them. Lots of images of a cyberpunk Japan.
  • Count Zero, 1986.
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive, 1988

Bridge trilogy:

  • Virtual Light (1993)
  • Idoru (1996) At the end a virtual idol (idoru) gets married.
  • All Tomorrow's Parties

Blue Ant trilogy (Hubertus Bigend):

  • Pattern Recognition (2003)
  • Spook Country (2007)
  • Zero History (2010)

Peripheral trilogy

  • The Peripheral (2014)
  • Agency (2020)

Hamilton, Peter F.

Great British space opera author.

  • Salvation. Great story about the encounter with a species that wants to save us and take us to the end. Mankind discovers they aren't so friendly. There are parallel stories including one line in the future of a culture training groups of children to fight the aliens who are harvesting other species.

Harkaway, Nick

  • 2017 - Gnomon is about an England that has a form of direct democracy that gives all power to an all-seeing surveillance AI called the Witness. There are stories within stories and the central thread of the book is an interrogation designed to collapse a set of stories down. The stories range from Augustine's discarded lover who wants to bring their son back to life to Gnomon, a distributed being of the future.

Ishiguro, Kazuo

  • 2021 - Klara and the Sun is a novel about an AF (Artificial Friend) who believes the sun can heal her ward. The atmospheric book is narrated by the AF, Klara who doesn't really understand the world and whose vision at moments of stress get divided into quadrants, sometimes showing the same thing. You get a feeling for how an AI might think, but I'm not convinced. What is more convincing is this world Ishiguro describes in a melancholy way through Klara. It is one in which many people have lost their jobs and live poor and armed and ready in "communities" that sound like race specific compounds. Klara's ward is one of the children "lifted" or genetically edited to be able to compete for the jobs left. These gifted kids are tutored through "oblongs" by professors leaving them lonely until they go to college and in need of an AF. The AF, after getting her ward through puberty and off to college gets to slowly fade in a yard where she can see the sun cross the wide sky. She reviews and edits her memories.

Kling, Marc-Uwe

  • 2020 - Qualityland is a bitter satire about Peter Jobless who is at the bottom of a dystopia run by consumer algorithms. He gets a dolphin vibrator delivered that The Shop? decided he needed and decides to return it. There is also a political thread to the novel as an android, John of Us, runs for leader and sacrifices himself at the end in a rather Christian fashion, for Peter. The whole book is written by another android due to be scrapped called Calliope 7.3.

Koonchung, Chan

  • 2011 - The Fat Years is a near future novel about a China that sort of exists where the government manipulates its citizens. The novel circles around a missing month that the government has erased. It was a moment of chaos that led to the government drugging its citizens and reorganizing the economy. Very interesting example of Chinese science fiction. The novel is apparently banned.

Le Tellier, Hervé

  • 2021 - The Anomaly tells the stories of a number of people who are on an Air France plane headed to New York that hits turbulence. The plane makes it, but then reappears three months later. The US government doesn't know what to do or how to explain two sets of people. Does this "glitch" show that it is all a simulation? Or is it a test? The novel nicely shows the different reactions people have when united with their doubles. There is even a novelist on the plane who writes a novel called "The Anomaly" and commits suicide during the 3 months before the plane shows up again. The novel includes interesting philosophical reflections and ends with a strange repeat. It looks like the plane shows up yet again, but the US President decides just to shoot it down. The moment of being destroyed seems to reverberate around the globe. Do we fail the test or meeting ourselves over and over?

Mandell, Emily St. John

  • 2014 - Station Eleven is a story about life after a pandemic. The characters include a touring dramatic troupe touring the great lakes. "Station Eleven" is a graphic arts work that one of the main characters was given. It is a dense and rich story.

Matheson, Richard

  • 1954 - I Am Legend tells the story of Neville who has barricaded his house against a pandemic of vampires who come out at night. He is the last man. Eventually he meets a woman who he thinks is alive, but she leaves him and tells him that she is one a new breed of vampires who are rebuilding a new society and killing all the dead vampires. It ends when he realizes that to this new society he is a legend - the last non-vampire.

Nicholson, Hope

  • 2016 - Love Beyond Body, Space & Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology is a great, but too short, anthology of short speculative fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy that deals with Indigenous and LGBT+ Two-Spirit themes. Has a couple of useful essays at the beginning.

Pelevin, Victor

  • 1992 - Omon Ra is brilliant and dark Soviet sci-fi novel that imagines that the Soviets can't actually get their space missions to work so they fake them with amputated people driving robots that, it turns out, don't even make it to the moon, but are on fake missions in caves.

Pollack, Rachel

A prolific writer who writes on occult topics like the Tarot.

  • 1988 - Unquenchable Fire is a unique novel about a world where magic has become real and uncomfortable. The main character, Jennie Mazdan, is a impregnated in a dream with a child who will reform this world that is turning magic into bureaucracy. The novel, which won the 1989 Clarke award, tells depicts a convincing magical realist world. At times, however, I felt dragged as Pollack references occult ideas.

Roberts, Adam

A literature prof who has written a good history of sci-fi, The History of Science Fiction.

  • 2009 - Yellow Blue Tibia imagines that Stalin brings together some sci-fi writers to develop an alien invasion to keep the Soviet Union together. Much later the story developed begins to happen.

Robinson, Kim Stanley

  • 2017 - New York 2140 is "cli-fi" set in a not so distant future when the oceans have risen and parts of New York are flooded so people have to live in the upper floors of a Venice-like city. The rich have moved into new high rises on dry land or to the center of the country in a book critical of the capitalism that leads us into climate change.

Shelley, Mary

  • 1818 - Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is the classic novel of science gone wrong. A scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, tries to create life, but then doesn't take of it when it is born.

Spuford, Francis

  • 2010 - Red Plenty a fascinating fictionalized history of the Soviet planned economy. It shows through believable stories why the planned system didn't work, but also gives us a sense of that moment when it was competitive with capitalism and could have been different. Not sure this is science fiction; perhaps economic fiction.

Strugatsky, Arkady and Boris

Russian sci-fi authors best known in the West for Roadside Picnic.

  • 1971 (published in 72) - Roadside Picnic imagines a "zone" left behind by aliens who never bothered to engage us. Stalkers brave the dangers of what is probably alien garbage to find "empties" and eventually the "Golden Sphere" that they think will grant wishes. The novel mocks our belief that aliens might notice us and our hopes for salvation. Redrick "Red" Schuhart, the main character/stalker ends up finding the Golden Sphere and the novel end with him wishing for "HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND MAY NO ONE BE LEFT BEHIND!"

Tawada, Yoko

Japanese writer who lives in Berlin and often writes across German and Japanese.

  • 2018 - The Emissary is a surreal novella that takes place after some disaster in an isolationist Japan. Children are born weak and as if old. The elderly have to take care of them. Japan is isolated again and some children think of leaving to get alternative care. Leaves one with a sense of what a dying and isolated culture would feel like to those left.

Vandemeer, Jeff

One of the best cli-fi writers. Best known for The Southern Reach trilogy.

  • 2018 - "Strange Bird" is a novella in the same world as Borne. It follows a genetically manipulated bird after it escapes from a lab trying to get back to another lab where its creator's lover/friend is.
  • 2017 - Borne: A Novel takes place in a ruined city where a scavenger finds a creature Borne in the fur of a mutant bear Mord. It deals with genetic engineering and ecology.
  • 2019 - Dead Astronauts takes place in the same city as Borne. The novel is made up of confusing narratives from the perspectives of different characters from Botch, the blue fox, to Charlie X, the bat faced Company experimenter. It a fragmented mosaic of a book about all the failures of the anthropocene. The failures of genetic manipulation, the failures of pollution, our failures to notice the natural world, our failures to treat each other justly, and the coming failures of trying to fix all this. At times the book makes no sense, the way something told by a fox would make no sense.
  • 2021 - Hummingbird Salamader is almost a detective story where Jane Smith a security analyst follows a taxidermy trail to a wealthy woman's attempt to leave a weapon or archive to save us from climate change. The novel takes place with climate change disorder in the background. Things are falling apart, but slowly enough that people keep on with a sort of normal life.

Wright, Lawrence

  • 2020 - The End of October is about a plague in the near future that in many ways sounds like a deadlier version of Covid-19. Good plague novel.

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