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Go beyond the blockbusters to today’s smartest, most exciting science fiction novels and novellas. Here are our top picks for September 2021:
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Vol 2, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Release date: Sept. 28
Den of Geek says: It’s exactly what it says on the tin. Today’s top authors keep you on the pulse of the conversation (and provide inventive, moving stories) in this anthology that could serve as a cutting-edge collectible or an introduction to new worlds.
Publisher’s summary: With short works from some of the most lauded science fiction authors, as well as rising stars, this science fiction collection displays the top talent and cutting-edge cultural moments that affect our lives, dreams, and stories. These brilliant authors examine the way we live now, our hopes, and struggles, all through the lens of the future.
An assemblage of future classics, this star-studded anthology is a must-read for anyone who enjoys the vast and exciting world of science fiction.
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw
Release date: Sept. 7
Den of Geek says: Khaw is a buzzy name lately, and this science fiction novel has garnered strong praise from the likes of Kameron Hurley and Seanan McGuire. Besides, we’re always interested in cyborgs around here.
Publisher’s summary: Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies through the years of a long, dangerous career with the infamous Dirty Dozen, the most storied crew of criminals in the galaxy, at least before their untimely and gruesome demise. Decades later, she and her diverse team of broken, diminished outlaws must get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade . . . but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir.
The highly evolved AI of the galaxy have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humanity from ever regaining control. As Maya and her comrades spiral closer to uncovering the AIs’ vast conspiracy, this band of violent women—half-clone and half-machine—must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.
The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel
Release date: Sept 21
Den of Geek says: Both The All-Consuming World and The Body Scout seem to promise some pretty gnarly experiments on the limits of modifying the human body. This one goes more of a noir route with its focus on the world of far-future sports.
Publisher’s summary: In the future you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it.
But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn’t get much worse.
Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate.
Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he’s in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he’ll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder.
The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
Publisher: ECW Press
Release date: Sept. 28
Den of Geek says: Mohamed’s interest in the natural world pervading her dark but cheerful writing style has made her one of my favorite authors of the modern day. This one seems to fit the bill perfectly: parasitic fungus, but make it hopeful.
Publisher’s summary: A novella set in post–climate disaster Alberta; a woman infected with a mysterious parasite must choose whether to pursue a rare opportunity far from home or stay and help rebuild her community The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry. Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to get away ― to move to one of the last remnants of pre-disaster society ― but she can’t bring herself to abandon her mother and the community that relies on her. When she’s offered a coveted place on a dangerous and profitable mission, she jumps at the opportunity to set her family up for life, but how can Reid ask people to put their trust in her when she can’t even trust her own mind? With keen insight and biting prose, Premee Mohamed delivers a deeply personal tale in this post-apocalyptic hopepunk novella that reflects on the meaning of community and asks what we owe to those who have lifted us up.