The aliens have already packed up and left as Roadside Picnic begins, but their brief and apparently pointless visit has left the earth irrevocably altered. And in writing this brief, beguiling novel of first contact, the Strugatsky brothers forever altered the terrain of science fiction; their book has gone on to inspire successive generations of artists and writers, most famously Andrei Tarkovsky and Jeff VanderMeer.
In my mind, the thing that really makes this edition essential for science fiction readers is the forward provided by another pillar of the genre, Ursula K. Le Guin. In a few short, pithy pages, Le Guin uses the numerous possible readings of Roadside Picnic--a parable of Soviet failure? a referendum on human intelligence?--to prompt a much broader meditation on the possibilities of the genre.
Do you like the Twilight Zone? Of course you do. But you might not know Richard Matheson. And you should, because arguably the most iconic episodes were adapted from his masterfully-written short fiction. Each story is so tightly crafted as to border on pulp, each ending twists with a stinger that demands your return. If I'm on a plane: 1) I have a Richard Matheson collection in my carry on and 2) I'm not going to look at the wing of the plane. Yeah. He wrote that.
It's been years since alien bio-warfare killed off all the women on the new world, leaving the men alone with nothing but their thoughts. Literally. They call it the Noise. It is constant, it sounds like the inner voices of everyone nearby, and it is all Todd has ever known. When he senses an impossible gap in the Noise, he looks for the source, and discovers a second impossible thing: the source of the gap in the Noise is a girl. If you like post apocalyptic societies, science fiction, or nail-bitingly compulsive reads, this is for you.
I often wish that there was more real science fiction in the young adult category. I was super excited to read Mars One and was amazed at the depth and thought put into this amazing story. A private company foots the bill to send the first humans to Mars. The impact on society and the world is profound. It was fascinating to experience first hand what life would be like if you were going to leave earth forever, live in space for months, and ultimately populate another planet. I raced through this and loved every minute!
Cardenia Wu has a lot to deal with when she unexpectedly becomes the next in line to rule the Interdependency. Empire politics, unwanted marriage proposals, oh yeah, and the potential disintegration of all the interconnected human settlements. Fast and enticing, Scalzi does not disappoint.
If you haven't read Octavia Butler's Kindred, this is a very compelling introduction. If you have, this graphic novel will add a new layer of understanding for this classic text.
Once again Becky Chambers has lived up to my every expectation. Through the perspectives of five very different people (plus an alien for good measure) she unfolds the intersections of life and death, stability and displacement, all through the every-day lives of the citizens of the Exodus Fleet, the original ships that left Earth in search for a better life. As always Chambers' characters feel more real than written, and her proposed future a hopeful, but complex, existence.
This is a book about relationships wrapped in the a guise of apocalyptic-landscapes, strange biotech, nameless cities, and survival-horror.
Come for the 5-story tall bear and feral, ruthless children.
Stay for the soul-crushing exposition of personal connections torn apart by guilt and distrust.
If you enjoy the fiction of Ursula Le Guin, and seek something new, read Karin Tidbeck. Her novel Amatka is powerful but Tidbeck's short stories are nigh perfect, perfectly weird.
A sci-fi bender that details what would happen if Lara Croft and Indiana Jones reluctantly teamed up to decode and ancient alien message in an ancient alien temple.
Read while waiting for OBSIDIO, the final book in the Third Place bookseller-beloved Illuminae trilogy.