PositiveBooklistWong’s trademark imagination and humor remain but it’s his grounded sense of humanity that elevates this work ... Wong knows what makes people tick and his vision of humanity isn’t rose-colored. But he’s also fundamentally an optimist: there are solutions to the problems humanity faces.
RaveBooklistPaolini’s first foray into adult science fiction doesn’t do anything by halves. This is a massive work of space opera with a deep history and complex mythology, epic in scope and packed with action ... The concepts in this book aren’t all that original, but the book is not derivative: this is Paolini’s love letter to the genre. The skills honed in his YA fantasy series are on full display here in his vibrant world building, especially in the mythology of the alien tech. Paolini populates this universe with a large cast of interesting and relatable characters, and mostly avoids reductive good guy/bad guy dynamics, lending the story a sincere emotional depth. Highly recommended for fans of James A. Corey’s The Expanse series and for fantasy fans willing to try space opera.
PositiveBooklist... Mlodinow offers a heartfelt account of his friendship with theoretical astrophysicist Stephen Hawking ...He does an admirable job of explaining the cosmological concepts without overwhelming casual readers. Their working relationship quickly turned into friendship, and Mlodinow gleans many insights into the kind of man Hawking was—passionate, rebellious, funny, warm, unconventional, stubborn, sometimes peevish, often controversial, and unafraid. He was a complex person driven by a passion to understand, overcome the limitations of his disability, and make human connections. Mlodinow renders a satisfying and humane portrait.
PositiveBooklistGreene uses her experience in HI-SEAS as the basis for 12 essays exploring...questions about who gets to be an astronaut and why, how extreme circumstances alter our perceptions of time and space, the ethics of human research, the complicated relationship between public and private efforts to explore space, and the personal aftermath of such endeavors. She addresses them with wit, insight, compassion, and, ultimately, hope.
RaveBooklist... action-packed, but the pace is now calibrated to fill a full novel, which gives it more breathing room and opportunities to explore the characters and the setting in greater depth. Relationships between all the characters are richer and more nuanced ... a welcome expansion of this universe and lays the groundwork for more stories to come in a series that continues to grow and impress.
K. B. Wagers
PositiveBooklistThe big mystery establishes high stakes and the exciting competition sequences of the Games make this book a surprisingly fun read, but this is a character-driven story above all else. Every character is someone readers will enjoy spending time with, and exploring the characters’ relationships is the heart of the tale. Aside from a few stereotypical villains, no one is a bad guy. Wagers’ first book in the NeoG series is an unexpected and refreshing twist on military science fiction.
PositiveBooklistHe serves broad, high level summaries of ideas from physics, biology, neuroscience, philosophy, the arts, storytelling, and anthropology. He provides enough background to follow the meat of the discussion but he doesn’t water it down for nonspecialists. There’s tremendous joy in witnessing a brilliant and curious mind wrestle with such profound issues. He takes readers on a remarkable journey.
RaveBooklistArmed with Hartnell’s telling, readers will reassess their traditional view of the Middle Ages. Far from a Dark Age of superstition and ignorance, this was a time of curiosity, inquiry, and experimentation—a collision of the legacies of the past and the realities of the present. His knowledge and insight are impressive, and he shows uses with wit and humor.
PositiveBooklist... a compelling blend of religious and moral challenges, science and politics. Awfully heady stuff to tackle in a novella, but Rather succeeds with intelligence and empathy. Her world building is exceptional, especially in her descriptions of the little details on the sisters’ living ship. Her characters are authentic and developed with compelling back stories. What stands out the most is Rather’s lyrical and assured style. Her language invites the reader in and sustains a sense of wonder within a challenging world. This is a beautifully written work.
RaveBooklistIn her introduction, Hurley...admits that short stories aren’t her typical fare: her heart belongs to novels. And yet, she has produced one of the best story collections of the past few years. Hurley imagines brutal worlds, and her work is typically violent and vulgar. But as these stories make clear, her visions offer much more than shock value: these tales are emotionally powerful, lyrical, occasionally hopeful, and flirt with the profound. She creates worlds and characters as full and fascinating in a dozen pages as any she offers in her longer works ... What makes Hurley’s stories unique is her focus on what comes after: after war, after plague, after the collapse of civilization. These are stories that pack a punch. Highly recommended for existing fans and as an introduction for new readers.
RaveBooklistTop-notch historical narrative: a tense, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory product of more than a decade of research ... A stunningly detailed account of the explosion of Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear-power plant on April 26, 1986 ... For all its wealth of information, the work never becomes overwhelming or difficult to follow. Higginbotham humanizes the tale, maintaining a focus on the people involved and the choices, both heroic and not, they made in unimaginable circumstances. This is an essential human tale with global consequences.
Ed. by N.K. Jemisin
PositiveBooklistIf these annual best-of anthologies indicate where speculative fiction is heading, readers should be excited for the future of the genre. The 20 stories collected here aren’t necessarily the most popular of the year. Indeed, they are selected from a wider variety of publications than the typical mainstream sf magazines. These tales are the year’s most innovative and interesting, prime examples of artists seeking to push the boundaries of their art ... Some work better than others, but all are interesting, vibrant, and worthy.
MixedBooklist\"Nevala-Lee presents a necessary addition to the history of science fiction: a critical look at the life and work of John W. Campbell, legendary editor of Astounding magazine and the central architect of science fiction’s golden age....Part biography, part history, Astounding covers Campbell’s relationships with his most important writers; their tumultuous personal lives; the role their wives played in their careers; and the effect WWII and the atomic bomb had on the genre ... At times, it feels like Nevala-Lee attempts to accomplish too much, and the mix of history with biography isn’t always comfortable, but it’s all necessary to understand how science fiction became what it is today.
RaveBooklistThe fourth installment of Wells’ Murderbot Diaries...will satisfy readers’ hopes for this series finale. It follows the same basic structural formula as its predecessors, so it has all the action fans expect. Exit Strategy tones down the humor a bit but adds depth to Murderbot’s introspection as it wrestles with questions of identity that it has been avoiding, and the story leaves it to decide its own future. Everything comes full circle while remaining appropriately open ended. Wells gives us a worthy conclusion to one of the best series in recent memory.
RaveBooklistThis exciting, whip-smart, funny thrill-ride boasts a wonderful cast of characters, a wide cultural milieu, and the appeal of a striking young woman as the main character. It’s one of the best science fiction novels of the year—but to make it clear, Artemis is not The Martian redux. Tone, characters, structure are all very different. It’s more traditional sf and lacks the cheery novelty that characterized Weir’s famous first novel. The setting is just as detailed and scientifically realistic, but science isn’t the focus this time. Weir’s sarcastic humor is on full display, but Jazz delivers it with an anger that Watney never had.