The operating principle was random selection: positions of public power were decided by a sophisticated lottery. Everyone had a chance, everyone could live in hope that they would be chosen to be the boss, the Quizmaster. But with the power came the game – the assassination game – which everyone could watch on TV. Would the new man be good enough to avoid his chosen killer? Which made for fascinating and exciting viewing, compelling enough to distract the public’s attention while the Big Five industrial complexes run the world, the solar system and the people, unnoticed and completely unopposed. Then, in 2203, with the choice of a member of a maverick cult as Quizmaster, the system developed a little hitch…
Brian Herbert - Kevin J. Anderson - Dune - House Harkonnen
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson return to the vivid universe of Frank Herbert’s Dune, bringing a vast array of rich and complex characters into conflict to shape the destiny of worlds.... As Shaddam sits at last on the Golden Lion Throne, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen plots against the new Emperor and House Atreides — and against the mysterious Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit. For Leto Atreides, grown complacent and comfortable as ruler of his House, it is a time of momentous choice: between friendship and duty, safety and destiny. But for the survival of House Atreides, there is just one choice — strive for greatness or be crushed.
Brandon Mull - Wild Born
Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you.
Christopher Priest - The Separation
Christopher Priest excels at rethinking SF themes, lifting them above genre expectations into his own tricky, chilling, metaphysically dangerous territory. The Separation suggests an alternate history lying along a road not taken in World War II. But there are complications. In 1999, history author Stuart Gratton is intrigued by a minor mystery of the European war which ended on 10 May 1941. The British-German armistice signed that month has had far-reaching consequences, including a resettlement of European Jews in Madagascar. In 1936, the identical twin brothers Joe and Jack Sawyer win a rowing medal for Britain in the Berlin Olympics: it's presented to them by Rudolf Hess. The brothers are separated not only by a twin's fierce need "to be treated as a separate human being", but by sexual rivalry and even ideology. When war breaks out Jack becomes a gung-ho bomber pilot, Joe a conscientious objector. Still they're inescapably linked, and sometimes confused. Both suffer injuries and hauntingly similar ambulance journeys. Churchill writes a puzzled memo (later unearthed by Gratton) about the anomaly of a registered-pacifist Red Cross worker flying planes for Bomber Command. Hess has significant, eventually incompatible meetings with both men. Contradictions are everywhere. As in his magical 1995 novel The Prestige Priest is fruitfully fascinated by the legerdemain of twins, doubles, impostors, symmetrical roles. Churchill's double briefly appears. So does the famous conspiracy theory that the Hess who flew to Britain with his quixotic peace deal wasn't the real Hess ring true? Clearly The Separation was impressively, extensively researched. Its evocations of bombing raids--from either side of the bomb sites--are memorable. The unfolding story strands become increasingly disorienting and hallucinatory; the easy escape route of dismissing one strand as delusion is itself subtly undermined. The Separation is filled with a sense of the precariousness of history; of small events and choices with extraordinary consequences. --David Langford
Emma Bull - Bone Dance
Sparrow’s my name. Trader. Deal-maker. Hustler, some call me. I work the Night Fair circuit, buying and selling pre-nuke videos from the world before. I know how to get a high price, especially on Big Bang collectibles. But the hottest ticket of all is information on the Horsemen—the mind-control weapons that tilted the balance in the war between the Americas. That’s the prize I’m after. But it seems I’m having trouble controlling my own mind. The Horsemen are coming
Maureen F. McHugh - Mission Child
Mission Child is an expansion of Maureen McHugh's "The Cost to Be Wise," a fascinating novella from the original anthology Starlight 1. Janna's world was colonized long ago by Earth and then left on its own for centuries. When "offworlders" return, their superior technology upsets the balance of a developing civilization. Mission Child follows the journeys of Janna after she and her young partner escape marauders who attack their hometown. The girl, fast becoming mature beyond her years, sets off across the planet on an odyssey of adventure, poverty, hard work, war, famine, and rebirth. Janna uses her meager skills to eke out a living in a changing world; she gains and loses a husband, a child, friends, jobs, and more. McHugh weaves together anthropology, sociology, psychology, and gender relations in this wondrous journey. Janna assumes the guise of a boy for protection, but eventually becomes "Jan" to herself as well as others. Reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin's insightful works set in the Hainish universe, Mission Child will doubtless be nominated for a Tiptree Award for its exploration of Janna's gender identity. --Bonnie Bouman
Maureen F. McHugh - China Mountain Zhang
Winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee. With this groundbreaking novel, Maureen F. McHugh established herself as one of the decade's best science fiction writers. In its pages, we enter a postrevolution America, moving from the hyperurbanized eastern seaboard to the Arctic bleakness of Baffin Island; from the new Imperial City to an agricultural commune on Mars. The overlapping lives of cyberkite fliers, lonely colonists, illicit neural-pressball players, and organic engineers blend into a powerful, taut story of a young man's journey of discovery. This is a macroscopic world of microscopic intensity, one of the most brilliant visions of modern SF.
James Morrow - This is the Way the World Ends
When tombstone engraver George Paxman is offered a bargain, he doesn't hesitate. His beloved daughter gets an otherwise unaffordable survival suit to protect her from radioactive fall-out and all George has to do is sign a document admitting that, as a passive citizen who did nothing to stop it, he has a degree of guilt for any nuclear war that breaks out. George signs on the dotted line. And then the unthinkable happens. The world and everyone in it (survival suit or not) is destroyed in a nuclear Armageddon - except for George and five others who must now face prosecution from the great mass of humanity who will now never be born. And George Paxman stands accused in the name of all the people who stood by and never raised a finger to stop the horror of nuclear war...
Olaf Stapledon - Sirius
Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spectrum of human knowledge and experience. But Sirius isn't human and the conflicts and inner turmoil that torture him cannot be resolved.
Olaf Stapledon - Odd John
John Wainwright is a freak, a human mutation with an extraordinary intelligence which is both awesome and frightening to behold. Ordinary humans are mere playthings to him. And Odd John has a plan - to create a new order on Earth, a new supernormal species. But the world is not ready for such a change ...
Pierce Brown - Red Rising
Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Nagaru Tanigawa - The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Meet Haruhi — a cute, determined girl, starting high school in a city where nothing exciting happens and absolutely no one understands her. Meet Kyon — the sarcastic guy who sits in front of Haruhi in homeroom and the only boy Haruhi has ever opened up to. His fate is now tied to hers. Meet the SOS Brigade — an after-school club organized by Haruhi with a mission to seek out the extraordinary. Oh, and their second mission? Keeping Haruhi happy…because even through she doesn’t know it, Haruhi has the power to destroy our universe…
C. J. Cherryh - Merchanter's Luck
His name was Sandor and he was the owner and entire crew of a tramp star-freighter that flew the Union planets under false papers and fake names. Her name was Allison and she was a proud but junior member of the powerful family whose mighty starship, Dublin Again, was the true queen of the spaceways. They met at Viking Station, she seeking a night's dalliance, he desperately in search of a spacer assistant. Their fateful meeting was to lead to a record-breaking race to Downbelow Station, thereby catching the calculating eye of the grim commander of the Alliance-battlecraft, Norway, and a terrifying showdown at a deadly destination off the cosmic charts.
C. J. Cherryh - Foreigner
The first book in C.J.Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race. From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space. It is the masterwork of a truly remarkable author.
Nalo Hopkinson - Midnight Robber
Prisoner of New Half-Way Tree It's Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked "Midnight Robbers" waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. But to young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival -- until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgivable crime. Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Here Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth -- and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen's legendary powers can save her life... and set her free.
Michael Swanwick - The Dog Said Bow-Wow
Science fiction and fantasy's most adept short-story author reinvents some classic themes in an engaging collection that includes three of his Hugo award–winning stories. These smart expansions of traditional themes summon dinosaurs, dragons, peril in space, myths, faeries, and time travel, each undergoing artful alchemy to create serious genre literature that is playful, original, and clever. Comprising 16 imaginative and mischievous adventures, including the previously unpublished novelette, The Skysailor's Tale, this adroit gathering makes a collection to truly revel in.
Michael Swanwick - Bones of the Earth
World-renowned paleontologist Richard Leyster's universe changedforever the day a stranger named Griffin walked into his office with a remarkable job offer... and an ice cooler containing the head of a freshly killed Stegosaurus. For Leyster and a select group of scientific colleagues an impossible fantasy has come true: the ability to study dinosaurs up close, in their own era and milieu. But tampering with time and paradox can have disastrous effects on the future and the past alike, breeding a violent new strain of fundamentalist terror -- and, worse still, encouraging brilliant rebels like Dr. Gertrude Salley to toy with the working mechanisms of natural law, no matter what the consequences. And when they concern the largest, most savage creatures that ever walked the Earth, the consequences may be too horrifying to imagine...
Michael Swanwick - Dancing with Bears
Dancing With Bears follows the adventures of notorious con-men Darger and Surplus: They've lied and cheated their way onto the caravan that is delivering a priceless gift from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy. The only thing harder than the journey to Muscovy is their arrival in Muscovy. An audience with the Duke seems impossible to obtain, and Darger and Surplus quickly become entangled in a morass of deceit and revolution. The only thing more dangerous than the convoluted political web surrounding Darger and Surplus is the gift itself, the Pearls of Byzantium, and Zoesophia, the governess sworn to protect their virtue.
Michael Swanwick - Stations of the Tide
From author Michael Swanwick—one of the most brilliantly assured and darkly inventive writers of contemporary fiction—comes a masterwork of radically altered realities and world-shattering seductions. The Jubilee Tides will drown the continents of the planet Miranda beneath the weight of her own oceans. But as the once-in-two-centuries cataclysm approaches, an even greater catastrophe threatens this dark and dangerous planet of tale-spinners, conjurers, and shapechangers. A man from the Bureau of Proscribed Technologies has been sent to investigate. For Gregorian has come, a genius renegade scientist and charismatic bush wizard. With magic and forbidden technology, he plans to remake the rotting, dying world in his own evil image—and to force whom or whatever remains on its diminishing surface toward a terrifying and astonishing confrontation with death and transcendence. This novel of surreal hard SF was compared to the fiction of Gene Wolfe when it was first published, and the author has gone on in the two decades since to become recognized as one of the finest living SF and fantasy writers.
Peter Watts - Behemoth: B-Max
_Starfish_ lit the fuse. _Maelstrom_ was the explosion. But five years into the aftermath, things aren't quite so simple as they once seemed... Lenie Clarke - rifter, avenger, amphibious deep-sea cyborg - has destroyed the world. Once exploited for her psychological addiction to dangerous environments, she emerged in the wake of a nuclear blast to serve up vendetta from the ocean floor. The horror she unleashed - an ancient, apocalyptic microbe called ßehemoth - has been free in the world for half a decade now, devouring the biosphere from the bottom up. North America lies in ruins beneath the thumb of an omnipotent psychopath. Digital monsters have taken Clarke's name, wreaking havoc throughout the decimated remnants of something that was once called Internet. Governments have fallen across the globe; warlords and suicide cults rise from the ashes, pledging fealty to the Meltdown Madonna. All because five years ago, Lenie Clarke had a score to settle. But she has learned something in the meantime: she destroyed the world for a fallacy. Now, cowering at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, rifters and the technoindustrial "corpses" who created them hide from a world in its death throes. But they cannot hide forever: something is tracking them, down amongst the lightless cliffs and trenches of the Midatlantic Ridge. The consequences of past acts reach inexorably towards the very bottom of the world, and Lenie Clarke must finally confront the mess she made. Redemption doesn't come easy with the blood of a world on your hands. But even after five years in purgatory, Lenie Clarke is still Lenie Clarke. There will be consequences for anyone who gets in her way - and worse ones, perhaps, if she succeeds... _ßehemoth: ß-Max_ is the first of two volumes. The story will conclude in _ßehemoth: Seppuku_.
Peter Watts - Maelstrom
This is the way the world ends: A nuclear strike on a deep sea vent. The target was an ancient microbe - voracious enough to drive the whole biosphere to extinction - and a handful of amphibious humans called rifters who’d inadvertently released it from three billion years of solitary confinement. The resulting tsunami killed millions. It’s not as though there was a choice: saving the world excuses almost any degree of collateral damage. Unless, of course, you miss the target. Now North America’s west coast lies in ruins. Millions of refugees rally around a mythical figure mysteriously risen from the deep sea. A world already wobbling towards collapse barely notices the spread of one more blight along its shores. And buried in the seething fast-forward jungle that use to be called Internet, something vast and inhuman reaches out to a woman with empty white eyes and machinery in her chest. A woman driven by rage, and incubating Armageddon. Her name is Lenie Clarke. She’s a rifter. She’s not nearly as dead as everyone thinks. And the whole damn world is collateral damage as far as she’s concerned...