Kawashita had passed up the chance to die honourably, to go down with the mortally wounded carrier HIRYU. And when the alien spacecraft plucked him from the sea near Midway, he was sure he’d made the wrong choice: now he would certainly die, but it would be alone and without honour. But the aliens did not kill him. Instead, they gave him a world of his own, a world in which he was supreme master, able to recreate and alter history, to indulge any fantasy. Then suddenly, he was once again amongst humans – for whom World War II was a half-forgotten memory, four centuries past …
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone's jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental tranformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.
Alastair Reynolds - Zima Blue and Other Stories
Reynolds' pursuit of truth is not limited to wide-angle star-smashing - not that stars don't get pulverised when one character is gifted (or cursed) with an awful weapon by the legendary Merlin. Reynolds' protagonists find themselves in situations of betrayal, whether by a loved one's accidental death, as in 'Signal to Noise', or by a trusted wartime authority, in 'Spirey and the Queen'. His fertile imagination can resurrect Elton John on Mars in 'Understanding Space and Time' or make prophets of the human condition out of pool-cleaning robots in the title story. But overall, the stories in _Zima Blue_ represent a more optimistic take on humanity's future, a view that says there may be wars, there may be catastrophes and cosmic errors, but something human will still survive.
Gene Wolfe - The Fifth Head of Cerberus
Far from Earth two sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle each other. It is said that a race of shapeshifting aliens once lived here, only to become extinct when human colonists arrived. But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness. In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales: a scientist's son gradual discovery of the bizarre secret of his heritage; a young man's mythic dreamquest for his darker half; the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist's seemingly-arbitrary imprisonment. Gradually, a mesmerising pattern emerges.
Peter F. Hamilton - Pandora's Star
In AD 2329, humanity has colonised over four hundred planets, all of them interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth now occupies a sphere of space approximately four hundred light years across. When an astronomer on the outermost world of Gralmond observes a star 2000 light years distant - and then a neighbouring one - vanish, it is time for the Commonwealth to discover what happened to them. For what if their disappearance indicates some kind of galactic conflict? Since a conventional wormhole cannot be used to reach these vanished stars, for the first time humans need to build a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance. But it arrives to find each 'vanished' star encased in a giant force field - and within one of them resides a massive alien civilisation.
Greg Egan - Schild's Ladder
The new novel from one of the world's most respected and acclaimed writers marks a dramatic move into a new arena - that of the wide-screen SF epic a la Baxter, Banks, Hamilton and Macleod. Cass has stumbled on something that might be an entirely different type of physics and she's travelled three hundred and fifty light-years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, to test her theory. The novo-vacuum she creates is predicted to begin decaying the instant it's created, but even so shortt-lived a microscopic speck could shed new light on the origins of the universe. But instead of decaying, Cass's novo-vacuum is wildly successful and begins expanding, slowly but inexorably taking over the universe...
Ursula K. Le Guin - The Telling
Sutty, an Observer from Earth for the interstellar Ekumen, has been assigned to a new world-a world in the grips of a stern monolithic state, the Corporation. Embracing the sophisticated technology brought by other worlds and desiring to advance even faster into the future, the Akans recently outlawed the past, the old calligraphy, certain words, all ancient beliefs and ways; every citizen must now be a producer-consumer. Their state, not unlike the China of the Cultural Revolution, is one of secular terrorism. Traveling from city to small town, from loudspeakers to bleating cattle, Sutty discovers the remnants of a banned religion, a hidden culture. As she moves deeper into the countryside and the desolate mountains, she learns more about the Telling - the old faith of the Akans - and more about herself. With her intricate creation of an alien world, Ursula K. Le Guin compels us to reflect on our own recent history.
Tony Gonzales - The Empyrean Age
A man wakes, trapped inside a cloning vat. He has no idea how he got there, no idea where he is, and no idea who he is. But someone is trying to kill him, and they're about to succeed . . . A disgraced Foreign ambassador leaves his post humiliated, and ignored by his superiors, only to meet Ameline - a woman who seems to know everything about him, and an alarming amount about a conspiracy to overthrow the government. And on a back-water world during an economic crisis a worker called Tibus Heth leads a revolt against the corporation which earns him an unexpected and mysterious ally with astounding influence, and an inclination to aid his revolutionary ideas . . .
Ken MacLeod - The Cassini Division
Ellen May Ngewthu is a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union. Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around Jupiter, are the front line in humanity's long standoff with the unknowable post-humans godlike beings descended from the men and women who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago. The post-humans' capacities are unknown... but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system's largest planet has been altered by them. Worse, we know that they have been bombarding the inner solar system with powerful data viruses for generations. Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to convince others to mistrust the post-humans as much as she does. In the process, much will be revealed - about history, about power, and about what it is to be human.
Ken MacLeod - Fractions
In a balkanized future of dizzying possibilities, mercenaries contend with guns as smart as they are, nuclear deterrence is a commodity traded on the open market, teenagers deal in "theologically correct" software for fundamentalists, and anarchists have colonized a planet circling another star. Against this background, men and women struggle for a better future against the betrayals that went before. Death is sometimes the end, and sometimes something altogether different… This volume comprises _The Star Fraction_ and _The Stone Canal_.
Robert Charles Wilson - Axis
Wildly praised by readers and critics alike, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin won science fiction’s highest honor, the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Now, in Spin’s direct sequel, Wilson takes us to the "world next door"--the planet engineered by the mysterious Hypotheticals to support human life, and connected to Earth by way of the Arch that towers hundreds of miles over the Indian Ocean. Humans are colonizing this new world--and, predictably, fiercely exploiting its resources, chiefly large deposits of oil in the western deserts of the continent of Equatoria. Lise Adams is a young woman attempting to uncover the mystery of her father's disappearance ten years earlier. Turk Findley is an ex-sailor and sometimes-drifter. They come together when an infall of cometary dust seeds the planet with tiny remnant Hypothetical machines. Soon, this seemingly hospitable world will become very alien indeed--as the nature of time is once again twisted, by entities unknown.
Andy Weir - The Martian
_Apollo 13 meets Castaway in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller-set on the surface of Mars._ Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there. It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him-and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive-and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills-and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit-he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Joan D. Vinge - The Summer Queen
A story that spans millennia, from the ruins of an ancient interstellar empire to the planets of the Hegemony that rules human space, The Summer Queen is the multi-layered story of Tiamat, a world where the dolphin-like mers are harvested for the youth-prolonging serum extracted from their blood. But Tiamat is much more, for beneath Carbuncle, its capital, lies the old empire's greatest secret: an enormous forgotten technology which, though decaying, continues to affect the fates of the fallen empire's remnant cultures via the sybil-network--a data bank that binds the past and the future in its web of knowledge, As the Smith, genius mastermind of the hidden interstellar Brotherhood, tries feverishly to unlock its secrets, BZ Gundhalinu desperately strives to save the Hegemony, while the Summer Queen herself dares to create a new future for her people and her planet. And though each is acting alone, their fates will entwine in an astonishing climax that will change the universe forever.
Iain Banks - The Bridge
The man who wakes up in the extraordinary world of a bridge has amnesia, and his doctor doesn't seem to want to cure him. Does it matter? Exploring the bridge occupies most of his days. But at night there are his dreams. Dreams in which desperate men drive sealed carriages across barren mountains to a bizarre rendezvous; an illiterate barbarian storms an enchanted tower under a stream of verbal abuse; and broken men walk forever over bridges without end, taunted by visions of a doomed sexuality. Lying in bed unconscious after an accident wouldn't be much fun, you'd think. Oh yes? It depends who and what you've left behind. Which is the stranger reality, day or night? Frequently hilarious and consistently disturbing, _The Bridge_ is a novel of outrageous contrasts, constructed chaos and elegant absurdities.
Karl Schroeder - Ventus
Jordan Mason of the planet Ventus comes from a long line of stoneworkers, and he has a clear understanding of his place in his world. He is subservient to the aristocracy, who in turn bow to the Winds, who control the weather, plant and animal life, and human undertakings. Lately, Jordan has had troubling visions, in which his immediate surroundings are blotted out by a different sky and a different forest, and he sees through another man's eyes. One night, searching in the forest for his sister, Jordan meets captivating Calandria May, who says she can explain his visions if he will help track Armiger, through whose eyes he has gazed. Armiger is a rogue artificial intelligence (AI), sent to Ventus to co-opt the Winds, which are also AIs, into enslaving humans and creating a powerful, ruthless world-mind. Through Armiger's eyes, Jordan sees how his interactions with an independent, tender peasant woman and a fierce, lonely queen are changing the AI's cold objectives. As Jordan and Calandria close in on Armiger, they see that the Winds are divided into pro-human and antihuman camps. Wondering whether he is on the right side, Jordan uses his visionary power to speak directly to the Winds. A final battle for Ventus brings human generals, intelligent moons, and a roving off-planet archaeologist onstage. Although strictly hard sf, full of technology, Schroeder's novel is so rich in character and emotion that it feels like classic fantasy.
China Miéville - Kraken (angol)
British fantasist Miéville mashes up cop drama, cults, popular culture, magic, and gods in a Lovecraftian New Weird caper sure to delight fans of Perdido Street Station and The City & the City. When a nine-meter-long dead squid is stolen, tank and all, from a London museum, curator Billy Harrow finds himself swept up in a world he didn't know existed: one of worshippers of the giant squid, animated golems, talking tattoos, and animal familiars on strike. Forced on the lam with a renegade kraken cultist and stalked by cops and crazies, Billy finds his quest to recover the squid sidelined by questions as to what force may now be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Even Miéville's eloquent prose can't conceal the meandering, bewildering plot, but his fans will happily swap linearity for this dizzying whirl of outrageous details and fantastic characters.
Greg Egan - Incandescence
Are you a child of DNA? Composed of innumerable beings from a wide variety of races, human and otherwise, the vast meta-civilization known as the Amalgam spans nearly the entire galaxy–except for the bright, hot center. There dwell the Aloof, silent residents of the galactic core, who for millions of years have deflected all attempts at communication and contact. But when Rakesh encounters a traveler who claims to have been contacted by the Aloof and shown a meteor bearing traces of DNA, he cannot turn down the opportunity to explore uncharted space in search of a lost world. On a translucent world of rock called the Splinter, deep within the sea of light known as the Incandescence, lives Roi, a member of a race lost not only to the Amalgam, but to itself. Her world is in grave danger, and it will take an unprecedented flowering of science to save it. Rakesh's journey will take him across light-years and millennia. Roi's will take her through vistas of learning and discovery just as vast. Greg Egan's blend of dazzling speculation and gripping storytelling will leave you stunned by the wondrous vision of the far future that he has created.
Kurt Vonnegut - Galápagos (angol)
Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.
Claire North - The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. He only knows that there are others like him, living with but apart from the rest of us. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it's up to you.' This is the story of what Harry August does next - and what he did before - and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
Adam Roberts - On
Tighe lives on the wall. It towers above his village and falls away below it. It is vast and unforgiving and it is everything he knows. Life is hard on the wall, little more than a clinging on for dear life. And then one day Tighe falls off the wall. And falls, and falls, and falls . . . Lavishly praised everywhere from Asimov's magazine to Interzone, ON is proof positive that Adam Roberts is a new author whose potential for greatness is rapidly being realised. ON is at once a vertiginous concept novel, a coming of age saga, a picaresque journey across a changed world and an epic adventure in the very best traditions of SF.
Greg Bear - Heads
In an abandoned mining colony at the Lunar Ice Pit Station, two experiments may change science forever. One is achieving Absolute Zero - a temperature so cold it can bend the laws of physics. The other involves 410 human heads, severed and frozen for decades, whose memories may hold the keys to death... and beyond.