Nov 8, 2018

Book Recommendations of October and November 2018 Part 1 - Science Fiction

We have a new column, hooray! As you may well know, the Otherland publishes a monthly newsletter in which we announce and review novelties of that particular month. Henceforth I'll be publishing our recommended English books here on the Otherlander's blog and respectively the German books will appear on our website (

Reviewers are:
Fantasy and YA geek, Charleen Figul who firmly believes she is a character made up by Tolkien;
Caroline Kohler, prolific shapeshifter and mastermind behind the Otherland's beautiful showcase is an artistic expert for all genres;
The voice of reason and master of brainy reviews Sarah Binz writes for SF, fantasy and miscellaneous;
Marc, the man who has read them all, excels in SF predominantly;
Humble me, Otherland's scream queen Inci German, write for SF and horror;
Science Fiction fireball Wolf Tress;
The baroque opera singing, comic collecting Simon Weinert reviews everything fantasy, role playing and comic;
and finally
Jakob the omnipotent (Jakob Schmidt) is expert for absolutely everything.

Here are our science fiction recommendations and tips issued in our October and November newsletters, enjoy! 

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
harper collins: €16.95
Extremely imaginative and visual, this post-climate-apocalypse novel features political corruption, martial-arts wielding crime gangs, a memory-transmitting disease, and an anonymously sourced guidebook podcast to the setting's floating arctic city. In rides a strange woman on an orca, with a polar bear in tow.
Despite all the dazzling post-cyberpunk action and grimdark humor, at heart this is a novel about family and the relationships humans need to stay alive and sane. Highly recommended (especially if you've ever wondered how Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" daemons could work in a science fiction setting). But prepare to have your heart broken a little.

Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu
tom doherty associates: €20,00
Cixin Liu has become very well known thanks to his Three-Body-Problem-Series and it's no surprise that his other books will be translated as well. Now if you expect Ball Lightning to be another big space adventure you will be disappointed - but if you like his style and the science behind the Three-Body-Problem, you will be genuinely happy: Ball Lightning is about particle ohysics, military weapons and the eternal question if science should serve humankind or itself.

Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
random house: €18,45
Salvation is the first part in Peter F. Hamilton's new Salvation Sequence.
It's 2204 and humanity is expanding throughout the Galaxy using jump gates.  Spaceships are obsolete in a world where planets are just one step away from each other. Until a crashed alien spaceship is found. With human prisoners on board. You cannot hunt alien spaceships with jump gates. So the task force assigned needs one. And rock'n roll Hamilton style begins.

The Million by Karl Schroeder
tor: €14,99
Since Ventus and Permanence I love Karl Schroeder, even though I didn't get fancy some of his last books. But The Million really blew me away: Earth, far, far away, only 1 million people live on its surface. That's the number the planet can sustain. The rest, some billion in numbers, are in cold storage in bunkers and are only allowed out of the freeze every 30 years for 4 weeks.
Can you feel it? Booom. Great story. Well told. *like*

Time Was by Ian McDonald
tor: €14,99
From the author who brought you the Luna-Series (number 3 will be out in 2019!) and futuristic adventures in India, Africa, Latin America and Mars!
Here comes a shorty: 142 pages. And it's very dense (not stupid - the other dense)! Don't despair on the first pages, dear reader, once you've got the knack of it, it will be hard to get out.
The man we follow in this story lives in contemporary England (we see him in places that the author MUST know, how else could he describe them so vividly - you're there with him, you see the landscape, you feel the flood shaping the fucking pebbles), he re-sells used books on the net. In a dumpster he recovers a book of poetry and in it a letter. Now he's a bibliophile and he loves stories, He's set his mind on finding out what happened to the soldiers Tom and Ben who've found their love in World War 2, troubled times indeed. They disappeared miraculously in an experiment gone wrong. The attempt to develop a cloaking device expels them from time and space. But every now and then throughout history, whenever there's a war going on, they reappear and desperately try to find each other, leaving clues in the poetry book "Time Was", placed in book stores that begin to die out in our time.
I loved this book, it made me look up a lot of stuff: about Anglo-Saxon paganism, Heisenberg and Martello Towers... It contains a great and sad love story and the possibilities opened up by a book being passed on among people like no reader ever could. And at the same time it troubled me... It left me with a couple of questions and uncertainties, The good kind of questions though, the ones that reverberate. And I haven't had that in a long time.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
akashic: €13,56
Aster, the protagonist of Rivers Solomon's debut novel, is a healer on a generation starship that has been underway for hundreds of years. The ship's society is highly segregated, and the poorer lower decks are currently unheated due to "energy rationing". The novel opens with Aster preparing to amputate a child's foot, which has become gangrenous from severe frostbite.
This is an angry book, with strong and diverse characters. The oppressive atmosphere of the ship and its warped society do not make for a light read, but Solomon's writing is starkly beautiful and reflects Aster's unique point of view perfectly. Any fan of Octavia Butler or contemporary grim Afrofuturism should take a look.

The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After #1) by Drew Williams
tor: €17,45
Far into the future, in a universe packed with various species and habitable worlds, Jane Kamali is an agent for a sect called "the Justified", who find and retrieve "special" children throughout the galaxy. Her mission is to ultimately stop the Pulse, a certain form of radiation that went astray and destroys the technology on the planets it crosses, but she's interrupted by the invasion of the fascist Pax.
Fast paced, action packed, light "shoot-run-shoot-run" type of space opera adventure. The world building had much potential but isn't as elaborate as it could have been, but still a great light hearted, quick read that will keep you entertained.

The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzalez
riverhead: €17,45
The Regional Office is a secret organization that uses oracles and young female warriors with super powers to secretly save the world from collapsing. And now it is being attacked. Guess you never saw that one coming, huh?
This is a fun ride, another light read. It is told from many POVs, there are various timelines and places the author randomly jumps to, so that can be a little disorienting. Plus the writing isn't necessarily discerning. HOWEVER it's entertaining nevertheless: It has complex superheroes, ninja swords, murderbots and creepy oracles, and that's more than enough for some.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
durron: €17
I was never really one for robot stories (sorry Mr. Asimov), but I enjoyed this one thoroughly. Hank Green manages to make the Transformers (called "the Carls" in this world) popular on social media with the help of his charmingly annoying leading lady April May, of course.
But it is not all about robots.
Hank Green also shows the dangers of social media fame quite ruthlessly. What he also illustrates are the dangers of being divided as a society and that we are only as strong as the connections we have with other people.
Read this, my favourite quote: "We are each individuals, but the far greater thing is what we are together, and if that isn't protected or cherished, we are headed to a bad place."

Thin Air by Richard Morgan
gollancz: € 18.45
Thin Air is supposed to be loosely connected to Thirteen - so it's not a Takeshi Kovacs novel, but I'd be very surprised if we don't get Kovacsian amounts of violent, smart, cool and secretly tragic out of this.

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