No matter what your taste in science fiction is, we’ve got something new and interesting for you at the Field this summer.
If you’re the sort of person who likes science fiction which is set in the not unrecognizable future, which contains interesting characters (human and non-human) dealing with problems created by the new technologies of the future, then you should definitely check out Central Station by Lavie Tidhar. It’s set in a future Tel Aviv (so right off you’re not in the ordinary New York/London/Paris or generic City settings of too many books), which is a space station where people come and go, heading for different parts of the galaxy. The book has been compared to Blade Runner for its depiction of a wholly different world related to our present one, the effects of technology on the people who have to live with it, and the human problems that take on different shapes in that different future. Boris returns from Mars to be with his dying father — a man who is lost in The Conversation, a vast data stream that’s also a collective unconscious — and discovers that many other things have changed since he’s been off planet. His ex-lover is raising a child he helped genetically modify, a child who can tap into the data stream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is involved with a cyborg ex-soldier. And a data vampire has followed Boris to earth despite the law. Behind it all stand the Others, powerful aliens who control the Conversation and are nudging the world to irrevocable change. Tidhar, the author, has won numerous awards in Britain, and this book should delight people who love science fiction not only for its ideas but for its people.
If your science fiction tastes run more toward the classic space opera, you should check out Dark Run by Mike Brooks. It could be described as a caper story set in space: a ship whose crew has a somewhat flexible attitude toward interplanetary laws gets involved in one particular smuggling mission because the captain, Ichabod Drift, has essentially been blackmailed into taking this job. Naturally, if you’re blackmailing someone into doing a job, that job is not an easy one, and half the fun of a caper is watching the crew working together as complications arise and the best laid plans run headlong into chaos. One of the unwritten rules of this ship is that nobody asks anyone else about his or her past, but you just know that sooner or later the captain’s past is going to be revealed to the crew and then they will have to decide what’s more important: getting mad at the captain for getting them into this mess, or finding a way to get back at their mysterious employer? If you think the idea of the equivalent of Ocean’s Eleven in space is a fun one, then you’re definitely going to enjoy Dark Run.
Back in 1971, the great Arthur C. Clarke wrote an award-winning novella called A Meeting with Medusa, about a man who, in the course of exploring the planet Jupiter, received life-threatening injuries that were only healed by cybernetic surgery, turning him into something more than a man and also more than a machine. Now, Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds have picked up the torch (so to speak) and written a sequel to that famous book. The new book, The Medusa Chronicles, picks up where A Meeting with Medusa left off, taking the main character, Howard Falcon, into a new life where his extraordinary abilities are put to good use as a sort of ambassador between people of flesh and people of metal. Over the course of 800 years (!!), Howard copes with the growing self-awareness of robots and humanity’s increasing reach through the galaxy, but he’s always drawn back to the mysteries of Jupiter which changed him so much in the first place. For people who love science fiction with a long view of time and the universe, and for fans of Arthur C. Clarke’s work, The Medusa Chronicles is a must-read.