If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how exciting it can be to escape into alternate worlds. Science fiction is a broad genre and covers everything from steampunk to alien worlds and military fiction. From Jules Verne’s famous novels to the latest YA novels, this genre offers readers a chance to travel through time and space. Some of the best sci-fi books of the year so far have reshaped the genre.
Review of “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower is a science fiction novel by American author Octavia E. Butler, published in 1993. Set in post-apocalyptic Earth, this novel offers commentary on climate change and social inequality. Though the book is set in the future, the themes are relevant today.
“Parable of the Sower” follows a young African American girl, Lauren Oya Olamina, as she tries to find her way in the world. She is the eldest daughter of a Baptist preacher and suffers from a condition known as hyper-empathy syndrome. In the dark and dystopian world in which she lives, this condition can be fatal. However, Lauren develops a new faith, called Earthseed, which helps her make sense of her new society.
Review of “The Justice of Kings” by Emily St. John Mandel
“The Justice of Kings” by Emily St John Mandel is a thrilling debut that introduces a likable protagonist, and promises a world of intrigue and action. This story will leave readers feeling swept up in the characters’ lives. It’s the first book in a series, and the climax of the first book is a bit disappointing, although it does move towards the end of the story in a satisfying way.
Review of “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel
Sea of Tranquility is a sixth novel from Emily St. John Mandel and is her sixth novel overall. It is an intriguing work of speculative fiction, with a complex storyline and a strong sense of character development. The story revolves around the characters’ relationships, which are often complicated and layered, and the consequences of their choices. The novel is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it for fans of speculative fiction.
“Sea of Tranquility,” Mandel’s sixth novel, builds on the premises and themes of her previous novels, Station Eleven (2014) and The Glass Hotel 2020. While this connection to her previous novels is sometimes subtle and merely an Easter egg effect, it still adds to the book’s overall impact. The book is a great beach read, and an excellent addition to Mandel’s growing body of work.
Review of “The Kaiju Preservation Society” by R.F. Kuang
If you are a fan of science fiction and monsters, you will likely enjoy this standalone adventure novel. The third book in the Interdependency trilogy, The Kaiju Preservation Society is set in early 2020. Jamie Gray is a young food delivery driver in New York City who is facing the possibility of losing her job. She meets Tom, an old acquaintance who claims to work for a mysterious “animal rights organization.” Tom has an opening for someone with Jamie’s skill set, and Jamie is quickly drawn into the organization.
The plot of the book is entertaining and the action set pieces are excellent. The Kaiju in the novel are impressive specimens, and the science behind their existence is well developed. Though Scalzi’s book is a bit light on detail, he does an excellent job of creating a plausible universe and the science behind it. A Kaiju is a gigantic creature that lives in a hostile environment on its skin. It can grow to be as big as a lion and as dangerous as a multi-storey Godzilla.
Review of “The Year of the Witching” by Alexis Henderson
The story’s setting is as important as the characters in a book like this one, and Henderson does a great job of it. Bethel, the city where the novel is set, is filled with puritanical ideology and patriarchal prejudice. The city is also dominated by a massive cathedral, made of cold stone and sharp glass.
The setting is a dark fantasy that borders on a horror novel. It explores the horrors of fundamentalism, racism, and corruption. The book also references the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FCLDS) and uses its story to explore these issues. It also focuses on women, as Bethel is known for its brutality against women.
Review of “The Expanse” by John Scalzi
Although The Expanse is classified as a space opera, the stories that make up this series are more like war stories than science fiction. As such, they are more in line with John Scalzi’s work than with contemporary sci-fi. The setting is a limited solar system and the story lacks a sense of discovery or wonder. In this way, it feels more like older styles of space opera than the modern genre.
Although the story is complex, the story is enjoyable. Scalzi has stated that The Independency Series is an allegory for climate change. The characters are well-developed and the world-building is intriguing. There is even a foul-mouthed character in the series. Although the book isn’t particularly original, fans of sci-fi and dystopian fiction may find it entertaining.