There aren’t many good things to be said about the Covid virus, but despite all our complaining about hiding in our homes, it did provide a fair amount of time across two years to relax with good books. Shortly after the pandemic started, I settled in with Catherine Asaro’s The Quantum Rose. A female ruler of a poverty-stricken society tries to help her citizens by agreeing to a political marriage but before it can happen she gets entangled with a visitor from another world. It’s the ultimate romantic SF adventure.
I also got caught up in Michael Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers, where the action is set across the solar system. Rebel Mudlark has died twice, but she awakens in a medical center with no idea who she is and what’s going on. A powerful corporation wants to control her, but she gets clear and charges across planets in an effort to find out why she’s targeted and why she needs to free herself.
Futures from Nature is an anthology of speculative flash fiction from the British science journal. Once you start them there is no way to put them down. For example, what happens when the AI in the first interstellar vehicle is actually intelligent, and not simply a result of programming techniques? The vehicle is facing a long ride and it’s otherwise unoccupied. The AI, like any intelligent being, does not want to be alone.
In Hellhole Awakening, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson give us the ultimate in military SF. The characters are alive, and although they have a long and adventurous ride across the galaxy, they will keep the reader on board.
Mark Van Name’s One Jump Ahead is another emotional and rousing trip through interstellar space. Impossible to put down.
We lost two beloved writers recently. Mike Resnick and Ben Bova, both forces behind a wide array of novels and short fiction. Mike’s most entertaining book, in my opinion, is In Space No One Can Hear You Laugh. It’s a collection of 37 laugh riots. The titles alone are often enough to suck a reader in: “The Crack In the Cosmic Egg.” “Was It Good For You, Too?” “Death Is An Acquired Trait.” And “How I Wrote the New Testament, Brought Forth the Renaissance, And Birdied the Seventeenth Hole at Pebble Beach.”
Ben was also a master of hard SF. I’ve especially enjoyed his Sam Gunn stories. So I was blown away when he sent me a copy of The Sam Gunn Omnibus. I’d been reading the stories off and on for years. This time I went through the entire 700-page book in a week.