science fiction/fantasy

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Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

Charlie Asher almost died in A Dirty Job. Thanks to Audrey, his Buddhist-nun lover, he survived, but now he’s stuck inside a fourteen-inch high body made from lunchmeat and spare animal parts. He doesn’t want to scare his adorable seven-year old daughter, Sophie, so he hasn’t seen her in a long time, which is really sad. Did I mention that she’s the Luminatus and has (or at least recently had) dominion over Death? In most author’s hands this would be the entire book. For Moore, this is just where it starts - it gets a lot freakier from here.

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Paranormal fans who are tired of reading about vampires and werewolves will enjoy this genre-blending tale of the adventures of a Seattle succubus. (Although vampires make an appearance, they’re relegated to the background.) This is Mead’s first book in a six-part series featuring the immortal Georgina Kincaid, the reluctant corruptor of men’s souls. Mead effortlessly combines urban fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance and makes Georgina a sympathetic figure, even though her job is to seduce and suck the life essence from her conquests.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Set in England of some 1,500 years ago, Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who love each other deeply and care for each other as best they can, have reached the age when their memories have become unreliable, when names, faces and even events slip away. But the problems with memory and event are not just theirs; all the people in their community appear to be having the same difficulties. There is a mist that takes memories: good memories and bad, lost children, old rancors and wounds. Memories are valuable; they make us who we are.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Caught the buzz yet about the new Syfy show The Expanse? It kicked off last night with a bang and is based on this great book. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant (of Game of Thrones fame).

Mort(e) by Robert Repino

If you’ve ever looked at your dog or cat and wondered about what would happen if they suddenly got as big and smart as you are, then this book may give you a few nightmares. (Note to self: make sure kitty has extra treats.) This entertaining speculative fiction novel has ants taking over the Earth and humanizing (so to speak) animals to make them soldiers in the war against people. Mort(e) is a cat who is haunted by the memory of Sheba, a dog he loved as a housecat, as he becomes a super solider. Can he find Sheba again and help the remaining humans live peacefully with the ants?

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Did you enjoy Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life? Then you have to read this book! The other evening I was drinking with a friend of mine who is an avid science fiction reader. He recommended this book and I in turn recommend it to you - even if you do not normally read science fiction. The basic premise is similar to the plot for the movie Groundhog Day, but so much more engrossing. Harry August was born in 1917 in rural England.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

A horror-fantasy novel about librarians (who are also formidable gods) - with a bit of humor and romance too? I’m in! Author Scott Hawkins has been likened to Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman, and I think his first foray into fiction deserves this comparison. It takes a few chapters to really figure out what’s going on, but if you stick with it, the payoff is huge. Mysterious protagonist Carolyn is making plans to take over the library, which wields immense power over the universe, after the librarians’ brutal adopted Father disappears.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker bee, navigating the strict hierarchy of her beloved hive. She’s also curious, ambitious and unusually talented. A rare chance to rise above her low-caste estate comes when circumstances threaten the hive’s survival. Work and sacrifice conflict with an overwhelming maternal love and lead her to unthinkable and dangerous deeds. Paull’s imaginative prose protects the story from artifice. You’ll never look at the lowly honey bee in your backyard in the same way after reading this thrilling tale.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My name is Nick Weinstein. I’m a scriptwriter for a low budget sci-fi TV series, Chronicles of the Intrepid. The people I wrote in my scripts exist. I know because I met them right there in the flesh. I could reach out and touch them. Whenever I kill one of them off, they actually die. To me, it’s just putting down words on a page. To them, it’s getting eaten by a Borgovian Land Worm, or shot to smithereens by a rogue robot, or being eaten by a bear. Think about that.

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

“Smart, stoned neurofiction for the posteverything world” is how Cory Doctorow summed up this engaging thriller. Set in the near future, a group of friends designed a drug to solve many of the world’s longest-lasting problems. The drug allows the user to directly communicate with their own, personal god. Were it to make it to the market it could eradicate all religion - who needs an interpreter when you can have a private conversation with your deity?

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