Fiction Affliction: June Releases in Science Fiction

You can take the human off the planet but you can’t make him behave. Human foibles in space dominate this month’s light list of fifteen new releases in science fiction. (Missing a favorite? Check tomorrow’s “Genre-Bender” column.) Look for series additions from, among others, Alastair Reynolds (Poseidon’s Children), Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse), James S.A. Corey (Expanse), Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing), and Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (The Long Earth).

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

WEEK ONE

HungryH.A. Swain (June 3, Feiwel & Friends)

Young Adult. In the future, food is no longer necessary, until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry. In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food, everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that’s what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he, the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

On the Steel Breeze (Poseidon’s Children #2)Alastair Reynolds (June 3, Ace)

Chiku Akinya, great granddaughter of the legendary space explorer Eunice and heir to the family empire, is just one among millions on a long one way journey towards a planet they hope to call their new home. For Chiku, the journey is a personal one, undertaken to ensure that the Akinya family achieves its destiny among the stars. The passengers travel in huge self-contained artificial worlds, holoships, putting their faith in a physics they barely understand. Chiku’s ship is called Zanzibar, and over time, she will discover it contains an awesome secret, one which will lead her to question almost every certainty about her voyage, and its ultimate destiny. (U.S.)

Rescue ModeBen Bova and Les Johnson (June 3, Baen)

The first human mission to Mars meets with near-disaster when a meteoroid strikes the spacecraft, almost destroying it. The ship is too far from Earth to simply turn around and return home. The eight-person crew must ride their crippled ship to Mars while they desperately struggle to survive. On Earth, powerful political forces that oppose human spaceflight try to use the accident as proof that sending humans into space is too dangerous to continue. The whole human space flight program hangs in the balance. And if the astronauts can’t nurse their ship to Mars and back, the voyagers will become either the first Martian colonists, or the first humans to perish on another planet.

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Volume II: The Man Who Learned BetterWilliam H. Patterson Jr. (June 3, Tor)

Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) is generally considered the greatest American science fiction author of the twentieth century. His most famous and widely influential works include the Future History series published in the years covered by this volume. He was a friend of admirals, bestselling writers, and artists; became committed to defending the United States during the Cold War; and was on the advisory committee that helped Ronald Reagan create the Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s. Heinlein was also devoted to space flight and humanity’s future in space, and he was a commanding presence to all around him in his lifetime. Given his desire for privacy in the later decades of his life, the revelations in this biography make for riveting reading.

The Dark Between the Stars (The Saga of Shadows #1)Kevin J. Anderson (June 3, Tor)

Twenty years after the elemental conflict that nearly tore apart the cosmos in The Saga of Seven Suns, a new threat emerges from the darkness. The human race must set aside its own inner conflicts to rebuild their alliance with the Ildiran Empire for the survival of the galaxy. Galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and factions of humanity are pitted against each other. Heroes rise and enemies make their last stands in the climax of an epic tale seven years in the making.

 

WEEK TWO

Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company (Helium #3)Homer Hickam (June 10, Thomas Nelson)

The Earth is devastated and the worst elements of humanity are determined to take over the moon. It’s up to the settlers of the harsh, gray moon to fight back. Kidnapped by an evil group intent on the destruction of the world and capture of the moon, Maria Medaris, co-leader of the moon’s richest and most powerful family, initially fights for her life, but is soon dazzled by the promises and enticements of her captors. Crater Trueblood, once rejected by Maria but still in love with her, and Crescent, a female bioengineered warrior fiercely loyal to Crater, use their cunning and deadly skills to come to her aid. Will Maria be on their side when they get to her? What of the Earth itself which is in the crosshairs of a destruction. The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance.

Earth Awakens (The First Formic War #3)Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (June 10, Tor)

Nearly 100 years before the events of Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. A young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun. When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. There are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.

Robogenesis (Robopocalypse #2)Daniel H. Wilson (June 10, Doubleday)

In Robogenesis, we see that Archos has survived. Spread across the far reaches of the world, the machine code has fragmented into millions of pieces, hiding and regrouping. In a series of riveting narratives, Robogenesis explores the fates of characters new and old, robotic and human, as they fight to build a new world in the wake of a devastating war. Readers will bear witness as survivors find one another, form into groups, and react to a drastically different (and deadly) technological landscape. All the while, the remnants of Archos’ shattered intelligence are seeping deeper into new breeds of machines, mounting a war that will not allow for humans to win again.

 

WEEK THREE

Cibola Burn (Expanse #4)James S.A. Corey (June 17, Orbit)

The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity’s home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule. But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what’s theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden, with help from the ghostly Detective Miller, can find the cure.

Graduation Day (The Testing #3)Joelle Charbonneau (June 17, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle? In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight. This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for, but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves, and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates. The stakes are higher than ever, lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope in the conclusion of The Testing trilogy.

The Long Mars: A Novel (The Long Earth #3)Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (June 17, Harper)

2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous rescue work when Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on a journey leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth. Joshua becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood.” Ignorance and fear have caused “normal” human society to turn against the Next. A dramatic showdown seems inevitable.

 

WEEK FOUR

Alien Shores (A Ferris Novel #2)Vaughn Heppner (June 24, 47North)

Humanity put all its hopes in New Eden, a pristine star system 230 light-years from the ravaged Earth. Upon arrival, the would-be colonists encountered the Kresh, a diabolical alien race who quickly captured the human starship and tortured its inhabitant in hopes of learning the coordinates of Earth. Cyrus Gant managed to escape, crashing to the surface of a nearby moon terraformed by the Kresh and inhabited by primitive humans. Cyrus pursues a desperate hope bound up in a single boy, a prophesized psionic named Klane, already in the clutches of the Kresh. He’s desperate to find a way back to Earth and warn them of this alien menace, only to discover an even greater danger to the future existence of the human race.

The Madonna and the StarshipJames K. Morrow (June 24, Tachyon)

It is New York City, 1953. The new medium of live television has been kind to young pulp-fiction writer Kurt Jastrow. Not only does he enjoy scripting a popular children’s space opera, Brock Barton and His Rocket Rangers, he also plays an eccentric tinkerer on Uncle Wonder’s Attic. Kurt’s world is thrown into disarray when two extraterrestrial crayfish-like creatures arrive at the studio. Certain that the audience for a religious program program represents “a hive of irrationalist vermin,” the crustaceans scheme to vaporize its two million viewers. Kurt and his co-writer have a mere forty hours to write and produce an explicitly rational and utterly absurd script that will somehow deter the aliens from their diabolical scheme.

The Color of Paradox: A Tor.Com OriginalA.M. Dellamonica (June 25, Tor)

A science fiction story about one of a series of time travelers sent back to the past in order to buy more time for the human race, which in the future is on the verge of extinction. (Digital)

Vicky Peterwald: TargetMike Shepherd (June 24, Ace)

Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Victoria Maria Teresa Inez Smythe-Peterwald, daughter of wealth and power, was raised to do little except be attractive and marry well. Then everything changed, her brother, her father’s favorite and the heir apparent, was killed in battle by Lieutenant Kris Longknife, daughter of the Peterwald’s longtime enemies. Vicky vowed revenge, but her skill set was more suitable for seduction than assassination, and she failed. Her father decided she needed military training and forced her to join the Navy. Ensign Vicky Peterwald is part of a whole new world, where use of her ample charms will not lead to advancement. Her father is the Emperor, and what he wants he gets. What he wants is for Vicky to learn to be efficiently ruthless and deadly. Vicky masters the lessons, with help from an unexpected source: Kris Longknife.


Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her website.

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