The wide range of time, place, and theme within the science-fiction and fantasy genres is well evidenced in the
following outstanding examples reviewed in Booklist
between May 15, 2015, and July 2016. —Rebecca Vnuk
Arabella of Mars. By David D. Levine. 2016. Tor, $25.99
The alternate-world science is novel, and the plot is thrilling in this Verne-inspired tale, a joyous throwback to sf
adventure of old.
Arcadia. By Iain Pears. 2016. Knopf, $27.95 (9781101946824).
Pears’ genre-bending, time-collapsing tour de force will
dazzle readers with intense world building, interwoven time
lines, and intriguing characters.
Armada. By Ernest Cline. 2015. Crown, $26
In his second geek-coming-of-age tale, Cline’s sly, mind-twisting premise and electrifying high-tech battles make for
smart, frenetic, and satisfying entertainment.
The Big Book of Science Fiction. Ed. by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. 2016. Vintage/Black Lizard, $25
This anthology is a breathtaking survey of the most exciting
and engaging fiction in the genre worldwide—essential reading for anyone interested in the genre.
Children of Earth and Sky. By Guy Gavriel Kay. 2016. NAL,
This intricately plotted literary novel will appeal to Kay’s
many fans as well as readers who enjoy character-driven historical fiction with a touch of fantasy.
The Dark Side. By Anthony O’Neill. 2016. Simon & Schuster,
O’Neill’s rollicking genre blend, mixing sf, detective story,
and noir thriller, boasts a delightfully dark and smart sense of
humor, making for an incredibly entertaining read.
The Last Adventure of Constance Verity. By A. Lee Martinez. 2016. Saga, $24.99 (9781481465151).
An ethnically diverse heroine, great adventure pacing, a
witty sense of humor, and some quality banter make this a
delightful subversion of superhero tropes.
League of Dragons. By Naomi Novik. 2016. Del Rey, $28
The ninth volume in Novik’s alt-history series about the Napoleonic Wars—as fought with armed, intelligent dragons and
their human riders—offers an extremely satisfying resolution.
The Library at Mount Char. By Scott Hawkins. 2015. Crown,
Hawkins’ debut is an extravagant, beautifully imagined fantasy about a universe that is both familiar and unfamiliar.
Version Control. By Dexter Palmer. 2016. Pantheon, $27.95
This mind-bending view of the practice of science in the
near future is a compelling, thought-provoking take on time
TOP 10 SF/FANTASY
de force of Shawl’s tremendous ability to create
deeply nuanced characters. This is a beautifully
told, important entry in the movement for
greater diversity in sf. —John Keogh
The Great Ordeal.
By R. Scott Bakker.
Aug. 2016. 512p. Overlook, $28.95 (9781468301694).
In the penultimate volume of the ambitious
Aspect-Emperor series, Bakker succeeds in
making incremental plot advances feel significant and thematically rich, layered with
weighty philosophical discourse and emotionally resonant characters. For all its intricate,
fascinating design, the ponderous pace and
lack of substantive resolution is punishing.
The Great Ordeal, Kellhus’ army of conquered
fanatics, are now eating Sranc for sustenance
during their grueling journey to Dagliash.
Once considered obscene, even unholy, consuming Sranc slowly becomes a debauched,
sadistic celebration for the corrupted Ordeal-men. Kellhus, meanwhile, plants crippling
doubts into Believer-King Proyas, who comes
to fear Kellhus may be a false prophet—a demon, not a savior. Echoing this uncertainty
between being and seeming, Sorweel, hostage to the Nonmen along with Achamian
and Mimara, witnesses horrors that cause all
three to question their vision of Kellhus and
his role in the Second Apocalypse. Esmenet,
Kelmomas, and Malowebi are also principal
narrators. Readers who have been awaiting
the series conclusion since 2011 may be disappointed by another long wait even as they
celebrate the new installment. —Krista Hutley
By Chuck Wendig.
Aug. 2016. 352p. Harper/Voyager, $25.99
The eerie crawling sensation that comes with
Wendig’s newest thriller will delight horror
fans. Hannah Stander, a futurist consultant, is
an expert in predicting how technology might
be used for terrorists’ attacks. FBI agent Hol-
lis Cooper, last seen in Zer0es (2015), calls
Hannah in to examine a cabin containing
thousands of dead bodies. Bodies consist-
ing of one human stripped of his skin and a
multitude of particularly aggressive and ven-
omous ants that may have been genetically
engineered. Hannah’s investigation leads to
an altruistic billionaire known for innova-
tive ideas and a remote island facility whose
employees resent her presence and the impli-
cation their research has been used to commit
murder. The isolated location, limited access
to outside communication, and lack of trust
make for a perilous situation when someone
deliberately puts them all in mortal danger.
Clever graphics placed throughout the text
enhance the growing sense of terror in this
tale of technology taken to a deadly extreme.
This roller-coaster survival tale with copious
amounts of creepy insects will appeal to fans
of Michael Crichton. —Lucy Lockley
Continued on p. 50