Heaven’s Queen, Rachel Bach
Everyone – personal enemies, her own government, two separate alien species – is after Devi’s head. But as long as she can charge her power-armour, Devi will follow her usual protocol: charge into action, and punch, stab, or shoot the problem until it goes away. This final installment in Bach’s ‘Paradox’ series was as much fun as the first two.
Carbide Tipped Pens, Ben Bova & Eric Choi, editors
Bova and Choi’s new hard SF anthology explores the impact of scientific breakthrough on humanity from a wide range of perspectives. From medical tattoos to missions to Mars; from ancient China to the future of baseball, these stories turn far-out ideas into stories both epic and personal.
Ancillary Justice / Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
Breq was once a starship, an AI who controlled not only the ship but all the bodies it contained. Now she IS one of those bodies, and grappling with not only the burning desire to figure out how it happened (and who to destroy for it), but also the very real need to learn how to be human. Ancillary Sword, the sequel, is also available. Read them and you’ll understand why Justice won ALL THE AWARDS this year.
The Martian, Andy Weir
When a storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. He has supplies, but they won’t last for the years it will take a rescue crew to arrive. He has communication equipment, but it’s damaged. But he also has an enduring (if dark) sense of humour, top-notch engineering skills, and a serious determination to stay alive. Less a mood piece on the existential horrors of being alone in space than a book about ferociously competent people being ferociously competent, The Martian is an absorbing read.
Burning Paradise, Robert Charles Wilson
Cassie knows that the world is not what it’s supposed to be. She knows that humanity has been steered in ways both subtle and obvious to be more peaceful and benign. She knows this because of her parents, who discovered the distressing truth years ago and were murdered for it. And now the killers are back. They’re hunting Cassie and her brother. And they’re not human. (Now in paperback).