Sci Fi Friday!

Spaceships.

New planets.

Dystopians.

Space Opera.

Time Travel.

When it comes to science fiction (and fantasy) you name it, I love it.

Okay, I don’t love all science fiction. There are definitely many science fiction books out there that are, um, problematic? And a lot that I just don’t care for, usually because of the way women are depicted (*cough* Golden Age/New Wave SF *cough cough*)

I’m really sad that I fell away from adult science fiction for so long, because there has been a resurgence (IMO) of brilliant authors and a wave of really breathtaking and exciting new science fiction being published in the past ten years. Most of these new books? Written by women or people of color.

So now I’m slowly crawling back onto the bandwagon, and starting up a weekly themed posting to highlight my favorite science fiction and fantasy books.

This week’s theme:

Favorite Science Fiction Published 2017-2019

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (2019)

This is one of the wildest things I’ve read in a while, taking time travel and warping it into a discussion of capitalism, communism, governmental idealism, why soldiers fight/unit cohesion and what it means to be a hero (or not). It takes some of the basic concepts of Starship Troopers, injects the malaise of The Forever War, warps both with capitalistic nihilism and then drops it into Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, if Mike Teavee was the protagonist. Go in knowing nothing but the summary and prepare to have your mind blown.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (2019)

How do you even begin to describe a book like this? A young ambassador enamored with the massive all-encompassing enemy empire journeys from her tiny, unimportant station into the heart of that empire to discover what happened to her predecessor and stumbles into things more alien and familiar than she anticipated. Well, that’s certainly the non-spoilerly summary. I felt encapsulated, overwhelmed, ignorant and left with a feeling of loss and wonder and like I know everything and nothing all at once.

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark (2018)

A young thief named Creeper finds herself caught up in a plot to destroy the city of New Orleans in this riveting alternate history steampunk novella. I absolutely loved the ways the various histories, cultures and backgrounds were all intermingled and laid out was intriguing, fascinating and so complexly detailed at times I was like, well, didn’t history go down this way? I absolutely adored the rich African history and legends of the orishas. I just wished that it wasn’t so short.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (2018)

When a meteorite (there’s a difference) hits and decimates half of the Eastern seaboard, it triggers an extinction event that sends mathematician Elma York and her engineer husband scrambling to figure out ways to save humanity. Salvation means space. Yet the space program has been little more than tiny satellites, and they need astronauts in space as soon as possible. All of this planning gets Elma thinking…why not her? Why can’t women be astronauts too? I haven’t felt this way since reading Hidden Figures and watching Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. This must be what dudes feel all the time.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts (2018)

For over 60 million years, Sunday has been part of a crew laying a super-mega-highway around the Milky Way. She wakes up for a day or two, then sleeps for hundreds, thousands of years. Sometimes she doesn’t see her friends for a million years. It’s a hard way to plan a revolution. This entire books is filled with mind-shattering concepts: a mission that’s been going on as long as the dinosaurs have been extinct, black-hole drives, singularities, a crazy-rational AI, wormhole building, etc., etc., etc…so much that my pea-brain couldn’t handle until I called it magic. Take that, Clarke.

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis (2017)

As the first female captain of a military airship, Josette Dupre knows all about fighting against unequal odds. Somehow, she must rally her crew, fly an untested airship with a revolutionary new design, manage the civilian fop foisted upon her as a spy, and turn back a surprise Vin attack. All in a day’s work, yeah? This was a delight. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into—hell, I thought I was going to be reading a steampunk romance—but while it’s steampunk, there’s little romance.

Terminal Alliance by Jim Hines (2017)

loooooooove military sci-fi, particularly military space opera. And the fact that these characters are not grunts or pilots? swoon. This basically takes the beautiful Humans are Space Orcs and Earth is Space Australia ideas and runs with it. Plus, it turns a lot of military space opera tropes on its head, not just including the whole janitors-saving-the-universe aspects. I was laughing so hard I nearly peed myself.

Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon (2017)

Kylara Vatta returns after a ten years absence in this new series by one of my favorite SFF authors. Ky is coming home (finally) to resolve some family paperwork, and it’s the first time she’s stepped foot on her home planet in a very long time. She’s no longer the exiled ex-cadet, but a celebrated admiral and leader. But when a botched assassination attempt lands her and a rag tag group of soldiers onto a deserted island with no way to communicate to the outside world, she’s got to pull them together to keep them alive—even as they discover that all is not well in Slotter’s Key.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (2017)

This is an intense book. At first I was like, slavery in space based on the color of a person’s skin? Um, what? And then history past and present smacked me in the face and I realized that not only was this plausible, but something that could absolutely happen, humans being the assholes that we are in striving to find difference in everything in order to justify the classification and subjugation of people. Just like drinking and driving, religion and despots are two things that should never be mixed. Also, Aster is amazing (and the audiobook is truly fantastic).

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (2017)

Murderbot is an intensely introverted SecUnit who hacked its own governor module so that it can half-ass its job and watch all the entertainment feeds it wants. Everything’s going great—except its new clients are super chatty humans and there’s something on-planet that wants to murder them. I have never connected with a character as much as I did with Murderbot. Weird that it was an asocial, introverted SecUnit who just wanted to be left alone to watch TV and read stories? Who’d have thunk?

Next Week: My SFF TBR, Part 1

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