Finally on to fiction… I read some general fiction, but somehow always gravitate back to Science Fiction (and some fantasy) above all else. I guess I should get some psychoanalysis as to why that is but I guess it because the best Sci-Fi almost always combines great storytelling with mind-twisting social and physical realities.
- “Century Rain” by Alastair Reynolds: I’m a big Alistair Reynolds fan. His revelation space books are awe-inspiring in their scope of imagination the future of humanity and books like Revenger have some great unique ideas. Century rain is set in a future world where the earth has been abandoned following a nano-induced ice-age. Humans still live in near earth orbit and few other pockets of space. Much of the novel though plays out in a strange version of 1960s Paris with a historical twist in which the second world war ended almost before it began. The book is a rich combination which draws you into the murder-mystery like action. If you like “personal” science fiction that focuses on a small number of characters then try this, and also try Pushing Ice by the same author.
- “Salvation” by Peter F. Hamilton: Another one of my Sci-Fi heroes. The Night’s Dawn Trilogy starting with The Reality Dysfunction is hands down one of the best Sci-Fi trilogies ever written and other like Pandora’s Star are great. Salvation was new last year and is another great twist on where humanity might go. As with most of Peter F. Hamilton’s universes, the world humans create has challenges but they aren’t out and out dystopian. Not until a series of disruptions flood in at least. In this case, a series of strange encounters keep you guessing until the end as to what is really going on!
- “The Old Axolotl: Hardware Dreams” by Jacek Dukaj: thanks once again to Andrzej Jarzyna for this recommendation. This seems to be the only one of Dukaj’s books translated from the original Polish and it’s a cracker. You could fault it for being a little rambling in detailed in places but the ideas and storyline are fantastic. The book starts with an apocalyptic end to humanity which kills all humans on the planet inside 24hrs. The only remnants of humanity are a few thousand individuals who managed to upload parts of themselves to a fragmented Internet using cheap game consoles.
- “Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson: This bloodthirsty and deep fantasy book was by far the most creative storytelling I read in 2018. The weighty tome only gets a score of 3.87 on Good Reads but don’t let that fool you. There is so much rich detail here it’s very rewarding. It’s also the first in a series, I’m already on to book two!
- “Croma Venture” by Joel Shepherd: I’ve loved the Spiral Wars series since it first came out and this is really a vote for the series as a whole (start with Renegade). The characters are warm and likable, the universe interesting and the stories move along at a fast clip. Croma Venture is the 5th book (and currently latest) in the series. The characters find themselves deeper and deeper in unknown territory trying to unravel the mysteries of the alliances of the past. The book tails off a little too early for my taste: almost as if something meaningful got “pushed” to volume six. Taken as a part of the series though, it is forgivable!
There are a lot of possible honorable mentions, but I’ll stick to just one: “Children of Time” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is a great book which focuses on how strange and different worlds like earth could be if evolution played out differently. I might have included it in the main list but I read it just at the tail end of 2017… so that would have been a cheat. Highly recommend it though.
Last but definitely not least, the Witch’s Kiss series by Katherine and Liz Corr. This is young adult fantasy fiction with witches, princes, dark hearts and much more. I have to disclose that I know the Authors but that doesn’t mean you should discount the recommendation: definitely worth your time!