There are about 100 science fiction books coming out next year that we'd love to read, and about 1000 more published in the past 200 years that we'd love to read too. But without time dilation machines, we're going to have to narrow things down to ten books scheduled to come out next year that we're spastically excited about. Read on to find out what your bookish future holds.
2008 Books That Make Us Hyper With Anticipation
Matter, by Iain M. Banks (Orbit). Banks is one of our favorite authors, and he's returned to his "Culture" universe to bring us this tale of ancient, planet-sized alien technology, court intrigue, secret agents, and a plot to put a shield around the entire galaxy. If you enjoyed Banks' Consider Phlebas and Look to Windward, you'll love what he does in Matter — once again, a developing civilization full of kings and tyrants is pitted against the ruthlessly anarcho-liberal Culture and its meddlesome ways.
Rolling Thunder, by John Varley (Ace). Varley is author of the Gaia Trilogy, about a crazy cyborg who rules a world of multi-genitaled centaurs; and creator of Steel Beach, about a manic-depressive AI who runs the moon. Lately he's gotten interested in stories about interplanetary drama geeks, and Rolling Thunder promises to be one of those. A Martian military brat decides to become a singer, leaves home to perform on one of Jupiter's moons, and discovers things aren't quite what they seem. We've been waiting for this book for years (literally), so it will be a relief and pleasure to finally get it into our sweaty hands.
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen). Taking a page from his fellow Canadian scifi writer/filmmaker Jim Munroe, who chronicles the lives of future anarchists, Doctorow offers a tale of youthful rebellion against a culture obsessed with commercialism and electronic surveillance. His young hacker heroes fight, just like Tron, to make the system free again. Sounds like a rousing good tale from a guy whose activism and scifi writing have always been joined at the hip.
Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison (Orb). This is a stately reissue of the 1966 classic about a New York destroyed by food and water shortages that inspired the movie Soylent Green. Now's a good time to revisit this still-relevant tale.
Moon Flower, by James P. Hogan (Baen). A space detective story set against the background of interplanetary corporate intrigue, Hogan's latest sounds fast-paced and fun. The massive Interworld Restructuring Corporation is trying to "develop" the planet Cyrene, but people keep disappearing. A young quantum physicist wants to find out why.
Wit's End, by Karen Joy Fowler (Penguin). Author of the superlative and bizarre Sarah Canary, the tale of a misunderstood and thoroughly confused alien thrown in with nineteenth century railway workers and Suffragettes, Fowler always gives us books worth thinking about for months after finishing them. No word yet on what this one is about, but we have high hopes for anything from Fowler.
Incandescence, by Greg Egan (Night Shade Books). Egan's latest is about an adventure at the center of the galaxy. Our hero travels straight into the burning mass to meet the uncommunicative aliens who inhabit the dangerous "bulge" at the galaxy's heart. Alien cultures and strange technologies await.
Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories, by Nancy Kress (Golden Griffin Press). This collection of short stories promises to show off Kress' greatest strength: mingling smart depictions of advanced technologies with very human tales of family drama. Plus, nanotech!
Kushiel's Mercy, by Jacqueline Carey (Warner). OK, so it's not science fiction; it's alternate history. But even a hard scifi geek will find it difficult to put down the latest novel in Carey's Kushiel series. Set in an alternate Europe where Christianity never became the dominant religion, it's the epic tale of a family whose matriarch is a powerful spy and prostitute. Her adopted son must struggle to unite the Pagan British with the sex-worshiping French, while also pleasing his lover, the French princess who will be queen. There are no aliens, but Earth becomes an alien world in this sprawling politico-sexual drama. Also, since this book is fantasy, it doesn't count in our "top ten" list — consider it a bonus eleventh book!
Night Sessions, by Ken MacLeod (Orbit). He's taken us into the far-distant nanopunk future, and into the near-present world of high tech terrorism and subversive blogging. Everywhere this smart Scottish writer wants to take us, we are there for the ride. MacLeod never disappoints, and his latest sounds fascinating. He describes it as "a crime novel set in future Scotland (and New Zealand) (and space), about fifteen years after the Faith Wars." What are the Faith Wars? Sounds crunchy and political. We're there.
Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross (Ace). Apparently this new space opera is a tribute to Robert Heinlein, but we can forgive Stross for that because he's the author of Glasshouse and Halting State, two of the coolest SF novels to come out in the past two years. Plus, we trust Stross to tip his hat to the sexy weirdo Heinlein, rather than the droning libertarian Heinlein. Rumor has it this book may come out as early as July, but Stross has it listed as coming out in September on his Web site.