Who doesn’t love a good science fiction book? Science fiction can introduce us to new ideas, explore possible futures, and provide a tool for self-introspection – a lens we can use to re-examine human nature and our society. And, sometimes, it can just plain be entertaining! The years of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean great sci-fi literature is a thing of the past. Here are a few of my favorite picks from the last ten years!
By Jeff VanderMeer
Rachael is a scavenger, eking out a bare existence in a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled over by Mord, the giant flying bear created by the biotech Company in the last throes before its death. But everything changes when she finds Borne – a rapidly evolving organism that threatens to change the balance of power in her home. This is Jeff Vandermeer at his best – imaginative, unique and experimental. Also check out the sequel novella Strange Bird.
By Ann Leckie
Told from the point of view of an escaped fragment of The Justice of Toren, a starship’s AI salvaged after the destruction of its vessel. In two interlaced storylines, set in the past and present, we discover the mystery behind the destruction of the starship and a plot with potentially far-reaching implications. The series can occasionally be challenging, as the AI has trouble telling people and genders apart, but persistence will yield a rich and rewarding narrative. Great for fans of Iain M Banks or artificial intelligence sci-fi.
By Arkady Martine
A Memory Called Empire will resonate with anyone who feels their culture is disappearing. Mahit is a resident of Lsel station, a small outpost that is being encroached on by the powerful Teixcalaan, an interstellar empire with a complex and difficult-to-navigate society centered around poetry and writing. As a foremost expert on Teixcalaanli, Mahit is sent as a new ambassador to the empire. But things are more than they seem, and Mahit quickly becomes embroiled in political intrigue simmering just under the surface – not just in Teixcalaan, but also in her own home of Lsel Station – as she struggles to reconcile her love of two cultures in this slow-burn space political thriller.
By Becky Chambers
This new “solarpunk” series by Becky Chambers is warm, fresh, green, and full of life. The world of the Monk and Robot series has finally recovered and restructured itself after a peaceful robot uprising left it devoid of technology. Now the protagonist Dex is facing a similar change. Unsure what they are doing with their life (Dex uses they/them pronouns), they leave their life to become a wandering tea monk, operating as something like a mix between a coffee shop and therapist. Still unsatisfied and faced with starting over yet again, they set out into nature in search of what is missing in their life in a journey of discovery full of humanity and tenderness.
By Adrian Tchaikovsky
What if civilization evolved, not from humans, but from spiders? When a gene editing and terraforming experiment ends in disaster and the only species to survive the accident are the spiders that managed to get into the terraforming spaceship, we discover the answer. Over the ensuing centuries, the sapience-enhancing virus intended for other subjects does its work, and the reader bears witness to the rise of spider tribes into spider nations, the spider industrial revolution, the spider rights movement, and more. An intriguing, wide-ranging work of speculative evolutionary worldbuilding.
Recommended by Austin M. (Assistant Librarian)