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Sci-Fi

Science Fiction. Encompasses post-apocalyptic fiction, too.

Zero Station

Zero Station book cover

This enjoyable novella tells a first contact story, with the twist that the story is told twice. The first half of the book is the story from the viewpoint of the humans, and the second half is the story from the viewpoint of the extraterrestrial species that has crash landed in Antarctica. The second telling is not repetitive. Instead it expands and deepens the story, and answers some of the questions raised in the first telling.

Author: 

Amanda Hamm

Caresaway

Caresaway book cover

This is a near future "inside your head" thriller about a scientist who discovers what seems like a miracle cure for depression, only to find that it comes with a terrible cost, both to himself and to the world. This tautly written novelette will make you ask yourself questions about how far you'd go for success. If there was a pill that made you successful, would you take it? What if it also made you a psychopath?

Author: 

DJ Cockburn

Underwater Restorations

A fun heist caper... set in a dystopic future in which a lot of the things worth heisting are underwater and the authorities are even less sympathetic than usual. This is a well-executed sci fi story with interesting characters, set in an intriguing world.

Author: 

Jeffery A. Ballard

Binti

Book cover of Binti

This novella works on many levels. It is an interesting and well-plotted story, that drew me in and made me want to keep reading. It has fascinating and believable characters, so that even without the action in the story, I would have wanted to keep reading to learn more about the lead character in particular. The universe Okorafor constructed is also fascinating, and discovering more about it also made me want to keep reading.

Author: 

Nnedi Okorafor

Joy to the Worlds

The unifying theme of this fun collection of speculative fiction stories is Christmas, but each story has a completely different approach to the theme. Also, no story is dominated by the theme, so these stories would be as fun to read in June as they are in December. All of the stories are well-written and enjoyable. Some are darker than others, but none kept me awake at night, and a couple were quite light-hearted, making this a great holiday-time read.

Author/Editor: 

Maia Chance

Janine A. Southard

Raven Oak

G. Clemans

First Flight

First Flight book cover

A historical society wants footage of the first real flight by the Wright brothers. The only problem is, it doesn't exist. A new invention provides a solution: they can send someone back in time to capture the footage, but there's a catch. You can only go back in time as far as your birth day. And that is how Eleanor Louise Jackson comes to be sent back in time. To tell anymore risks ruining this delightful short story, which really shows how much a talented author can do with the form.

Author: 

Mary Robinette Kowal

We, the People of the Clouds

We, the People of the Clouds book cover

Marlon is enjoying his afterlife spending Perpetual Sunday relaxing on Infinite Beach, when a glitch in the system spurs him to action and leads him to discover some important details about the beforelife that he'd forgotten. This book isn't the first to explore the idea of achieving an eternal afterlife by storing human consciousness in computers, but it is a well-executed story that adds some interesting aspects to the basic idea.

Author: 

Simon Kewin

An Etiquette Guide to the End Times

An Etiquette Guide to the End Times book cover

The dystopic near term future imagined in this book is so believable it is a little bit scary, but the light-hearted and down to earth tone of the first person narration makes this a fun and engaging read nonetheless. Set in Toronto a few years after the consequences of ignoring global warming become obvious, the story follows Olive as her already rearranged world is rattled again when the somewhat authoritarian central city government wants her to turn her successful internet etiquette column into a state-sponsored radio show.

Author: 

Maia Sepp

Far As You Can Go

Far As You Can Go book cover

This is a quest story set in a post-apocalyptic future, but with a slight twist: our hero's companion is a robot. This changes how we view the events of the story- or does it? In the end, this well-written and entertaining story is also a thought-provoking exploration of our human need for friendship.

Author: 

Greg van Eekhout

Inside Job

Inside Job book cover

When a professional skeptic runs into a medium who seems to be the real thing, he finds his beliefs tested in more than one way... This well-written story has interesting characters and a fun plot. It is a quick but satisfying read.

Author: 

Connie Willis

Wikiworld

Wikiworld

This is a lighthearted story of love and adventure, set in a not-quite dystopic future in which government is by wiki. The world-building is inventive, believable, and thought-provoking, and the story is fun and satisfying.

Author: 

Paul Di Filippo

Tin Cat

Tin Cat

This is the story of a comic store owner who has had to adjust to life in a wheelchair after an accident, but whose ideas about what her life will be like are upended by the arrival of a cat and a handsome time-traveling stranger. The blend of sci-fi and romance elements leads to a fast-paced and fun read

Author: 

Misa Buckley

The Tale of the Wicked

The Tale of the Wicked

This is a standard space fight short story- with a hell of a twist. In typical John Scalzi fashion, the story will entertain you AND leave you thinking.

Author: 

John Scalzi

Pretty Bird

Pretty Bird

This is an unsettling story, but it is well told and the fast-paced plot draws you in. It is set in a dystopic future in which all animals have been killed due to a plague of some sort, which makes it very strange for a bird to show up on our protagonist's front porch. Things just get weirder from there.

Author: 

Eli Nixon

Life after Wartime

This collection of short stories is set in a universe in which Earth has colonized the outer planets and moons of our solar system... and fought a war with the colonies. These stories are set after that war, and explore various facets of life, including the aftermath of the war. The universe and characters are believable and feel real, and the stories are inventive.

Author/Editor: 

Paul McAuley

Monk

Set in a universe in which a religious sect has discovered how to transfer a person's soul to a cybernetic monk so that the monk can perform penance for the soul's misdeeds, this story follows the efforts of one monk, whose soul has a particularly heavy penance to perform. It is an intriguing premise, and the story explores themes of the meaning of "self," sentience, and self-determination while also delivering an interesting and engaging plot.

Author: 

Gregg Vann

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Authors

This is a large and enjoyable collection of sci-fi short stories from African authors. The stories span the continent and the various sub-genres of sci-fi, presenting interesting and thought-provoking visions of the future from an African point of view. All are thoroughly readable and well-written, and some are truly wonderful.

Author/Editor: 

Ivor W. Hartmann

Unlocked

Unlocked

This is an invented oral history of the appearance of a terrible new disease, and how one nation (the United States) responded to the crisis. It is the back story for an upcoming novel, but it stands on its own as an interesting, engrossing, and all too believable story. Although the events are more than a little horrifying- the disease leaves an unpredictable subset of its victims "locked in" (conscious but unable to move)- the story is ultimately hopeful, as the nation manages to move past the usual political bickering and rise to the challenge.

Author: 

John Scalzi

Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2011 Edition

A solid collection of short fiction from Tor.com, with some truly outstanding entries.

Author/Editor: 

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Liz Gorinsky

Natural Selection

Natural Selection

The action in this story flashes between Earth, where the lead character was a middle school student, and a planet called Kurra, where she is about to go through the traditional coming-of-age ceremony. It is set in the same universe as a couple of longer books by the same author, but this well-written story stands on its own, exploring themes about growing up. I liked the characters, enjoyed the writing, and am intrigued by the universe in which the story is set, so the longer books are now on my to-read list, too.

Author: 

Malinda Lo

The Sixth

The Sixth

This story is hard to describe- it is magical in feel, but grounded in scientific ideas. It is sweeping in scope, but about a single man. It is also hard to categorize. I have put it in the Sci-Fi category, but I am not sure that is a good fit. Honestly, I could spend more time trying to describe it than it would take you to just read it and see for yourself.

Author: 

Ali Imran Zaidi

The Best We Can

The Best We Can

In this enjoyable and well-written first contact story, contact doesn't immediately up end life as we know it, and the scientist whose project uncovered the evidence of extraterrestrial life struggles to deal with that fact.

Author: 

Carrie Vaughn

Of Oysters, Pearls and Magic

An interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy set on a colonized planet, long after the colonization from Earth has receded into distant history and when magic has become as important as technology. The main character is from a coastal community descended from a settler group from Asia, but leaves her home in search of acceptance, which gives us a chance to visit several different communities and trace how they evolved from their own settler groups.

Author: 

Joyce Chng

The Uncertainty Principle

The Uncertainty Principle

A sci-fi detective story that does credit to both genres.

Author: 

John Moralee

Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way

A wonderful collection of stories about people who have a little superpower. The protagonists can all do something extraordinary- but on a smaller scale than in most super hero stories. The different authors take this premise in many different directions, always with interesting and highly readable results. The collection of all of these different takes on the idea of limited superpower made me think about what it means to have power and what it really takes to make a difference.

Author/Editor: 

Bart R. Leib

Kay T. Holt

Seventy

Seventy

A well-executed and enjoyable colonization story, in which colonists are fleeing aliens and must face hardship on their new planet and uncertainty about events elsewhere.

Author: 

Liana Brooks

These Convergent Stars

These Convergent Stars

A novella set in a universe in which Earth is no more and the Terrans have created a breed of shapeshifters to help them find suitable new homes. The story follows the events that unfold after one of these shapeshifters is embroiled in a case of mistaken identity on a planet she has been sent to check for suitability. It is action-packed, tinged with romance, and just plain fun.

Author: 

Janine A. Southard

Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2012 Edition

A collection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories that covers many different approaches to these genres. All of the stories were well-written and enjoyable.

Author/Editor: 

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Liz Gorinsky

David G. Hartwell

How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story

How I Proposed to My Wife book cover

A fun and charming sci-fi story that follows what happens when a new reporter is assigned a story that involves going on a series of alien dates. It made me laugh out loud in places, but there were also aspects of the story that made me think.

Author: 

John Scalzi

After Life

After Life

A mind-bending, intriguing, and suspenseful story that asks the reader to consider what is consciousness, and what defines "self."

Author: 

Simon Funk

Chicken Little

Chicken Little

Set in a not too distant future, when some people have become so wealthy that they have become literal corporations, this story follows one of the many designers working to develop a product that will capture the fancy of one of these people/companies. The world the story builds is detailed and believable, and more than a little horrifying, and the story itself is intriguing and entertaining.

Author: 

Cory Doctorow

Don't Eat Cat

Don't Eat Cat

Set in a dystopian near future in which the question may not be why some people take a drug that is known to induce a zombie-like state, but why everyone doesn't, this story is light in tone, but with deeper currents underneath the surface. Regular life continues, despite environmental and other man-made catastrophes, and after unwittingly starting a fresh outbreak of zombie-related trouble, our hero finds himself digging up parts of his past that he thought he'd left behind, and sets off on a literal and figurative voyage of discovery.

Author: 

Jess Walter

It's Better This Way

It's Better This Way

A post-apocalyptic alien invasion story that turns out to be something more: a thought-provoking look at the culture humans have built with technology, and what might happen if we had to start over.

Author: 

Travis Hill

Wool - Part One

Wool book cover

A haunting and inventive story about a society of people living underground after some sort of apocalypse, the rules that they have evolved to make this life possible, and what happens when you begin to doubt those rules.

Author: 

Hugh Howey

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