mardi 23 décembre 2014

Wrat-Up 2014 - Top Ten Science Fiction Books

This has been a good year for new sci-fi for me: of the books below only one is from a writer who I had previously read. Each of them were excellent and unique in their own way, spanning space opera to near future to young adult. 

Again, in no particular order, my SF top ten 2014:

An edge-of-the-seat thriller, told through the eyes of an astronaut struck on Mars, The Martian has already been optioned for the movies, directed by Ridley Scott no less! A real page turner that also manages to embody the very best of humanity in the stars, this was one of my favourite books of the year. It also won the Goodreads Choice Awards for SF, so there's also that!

A near-future thriller dealing with immortality, The Happier Dead was a nail-biting thriller, a great mystery and fantastic sci-fi. Ivo Stourton is also a class act, one of the only writers to have reached out to me (a complete unknown) on Goodreads and thank me for my review! Hats off Mr Stourton! (and sorry for not getting back to you about that interview!) :)

Far from an easy book, The Girl in the Road is well worth the effort put in. A story told across two tracks that entwine in unsuspected ways, this is Earth based SF where current problems are taken to extremes. Whether it be the search for new energy sources, the effects of climate change or the rise of so-called Third World countries, this puts an intriguing spin on very real issues, just as all good SF should do. A book that has been very much underrated in my opinion.

A well-written debut that juggles some of the most common SF tropes - spaceships, aliens, dystopian worlds - with aplomb and flair. Combining a murder mystery with an ark-ship milieu, Ramirez manages to bring together a dark, interesting and frightening novel that will leave you thinking.

Sci-fi horror is not an easy thing to pull off, but Adam Christopher does it extremely well in The Burning Dark. Replacing the haunted house with a haunted space station, Christopher weaves together threads of alien possession, radio signals in hyperspace and a nearby star giving off toxic emissions to form a terrifying exploration of the final frontier...

A YA epic, Red Rising follows Darrow, a Red working and living on Mars who takes on the mantle of one of the leading Golds in order to get revenge. Part Hunger Game, part Count of Monte Cristo, Red Rising was a fantastic read, full of exciting action scenes and prose that makes the pages spin by. Cannot wait for the sequel early 2015!

What if the world we know today is actually half a century behind where it should be? This is the question asked (and answered) by Influx, where a scientist who invents reflective gravity discovers that fusion power, A.I. and genetic manipulation were all invented decades ago, but are being controlled and kept from the general population. A sly thriller that ends in a huge set piece, Influx was a blockbuster, popcorn book.

In her paradox trilogy, Rachel Bach, aka. Rachel Aaron, did for space opera what she had already done for epic fantasy - shake it up, give it a fresh coat of paint and remind us all why it is such great fun. Of the trilogy, I found this, the second, to be the most powerful, a real shake up of the status quo with some amazing set pieces and a great twist ending.

A true mind-bending near future thriller, Afterparty plays with hallucinations, drug printing and religion to create a chase story that never really lets up as it travels across North America. Wonderful, quirky characters and a biting commentary of the world we are fast approaching makes this a great read for fans of Stephenson and Gibson.

A Darkling Sea by James Cambias

Remarkable for its opening which spins the first contact story on its head, A Darkling Sea deals with weird aliens, strange worlds and a number of interesting characters. Cambias is an excellent writer whose prose carries the story along through to a satisfying ending. 

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