This was a readers’ advisory for me, myself. I declared the summer of 2018 the Summer of SciFi! I grew up loving science fiction movies and pop culture, but it took me a long time to actually start reading it. I’m still very behind on all the classics, but this summer for some reason, *ahem* escapism *ahem*, I really started to crave full scifi immersion. My goal is to catch up on the science fiction films and TV that I have missed over the past few years (Arrival, the new Lost in Space, Annihilation, the new Alien movie, etc forever) and enjoy some fun science fiction books! If you have any good music playlists or fun scifi-themed activities you think I should check out to help make my summer complete, please let me know in the comments!
Now to the books. For the longest time, I felt like I needed to read all the classics, but they’re all so long and kind of dry and very sexist. I’ve decided to throw that idea out the window. I’m super inspired by my new favorite book podcast from Bookriot, SFF Yeah!, hosted by Jenn and Sharifah Williams (who I honestly have the biggest crush on, she’s so cool and smart and nerdy and beautiful and a Slytherin). They talk about all things science fiction and fantasy in the book world, and they have mentioned some really amazing books that I either had never heard of or had heard of but kept putting off. Their discussion of these books has really made me want to read them like ASAP. So thank you Jenn and Sharifah :)
Below is my 12-book tbr for Summer of SciFi! I have been so excited about the books that I’ve picked that it’s all I’ve been talking about int our apartment. My fiance is surely tired of me sighing and saying, “I can’t wait to read my scifi books!” and then launch into a full summary of one of them. I chose mostly women authors and women protagonists, which is important to me (they’re also kind of the most interesting voices in scifi/fantasy right now), but I did add a couple gents in there because their books just sound amazing. There are wonderful science fiction authors from all walks of life! I have tried to provide trigger warnings where I can, but I haven’t read these yet so I can only go off of what summaries tell me. I will say that most of these seem dark/violent, so proceed with caution.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers: When I hear people talk about this book, I can’t help but think about an old fav of mine: Titan A.E.! Do you guys remember that movie?? I watched it over and over again as a teen. I loved the pirate adventure in space, underdog vibe, and I am a massive sucker for anything set on a spaceship because of my love for Star Trek. This book follows Rosemary Harper as she takes a boring job on a boring space craft doing boring necessary space work to get some distance between herself and her past/life. It’s like the equivalent of someone having a tough go, like a divorce, and deciding to go work on an oil rig somewhere. The ship she works on is falling apart and the crew she works with is super weird, different, and has their own set of issues. But as they head out to do their dangerous if not routine job of burrowing wormholes throughout the galaxy, they have to learn how to trust and depend on each other when shit gets crazy and their adventuring gets perhaps too adventurous. I am going to be picking this up from the library SO FAST!
Provenance by Ann Leckie: Leckie has won like every major science fiction literature award ever for her Imperial Radch series, but I didn’t want to make this summer of reading turn into a huge list of multi-book series I felt obligated to finish, so I went with her more recent stand-alone. This book also seems like just a fun space caper, maybe even a bit Ocean’s 11-ish, which I love. Ingray, an ambitious woman, sees an opportunity to rise through the ranks of her society by regaining priceless lost artifacts from her culture, but to do it she needs to jailbreak a notorious thief from a max security prison planet. But once she thinks she’s got it all in the bag, her home planet explodes (figuratively) into political turmoil. She needs to come up with a new plan, and the stakes are way higher. I’m like jumping up and down at how amazing this book sounds!
The Three-Body Problem ( Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu: This series is about to be adapted by Amazon (billions of dollars are being pumped into this…yikes). It’s massive in China, and I really wanted to get in on the action before the show hit Prime. I’ve already started this book (on audio) and I’m really enjoying it so far. it takes a bit to get into it at first, however, because it starts in 1960s China during the cultural revolution and focuses on a young scientist, Ye Wenjie, who is caught with Silent Spring, the very influential book by environmentalist Rachel Carson. I work at Carson’s alma matar, so this was a fun detail to me. Ye Wenjie is offered a choice: forced labor on a weird military science base of sorts or be punished for promoting Carson’s theories and ideas. She decides on the manual labor which, as she is trusted more over time and promoted through the ranks, she eventually discovers is a super secret project to make contact with extraterrestrials and it has huge ramifications on the future. The book jumps back and forth between our current time and Ye Wenjie’s past and experiences working on this project. There’s also a super crazy VR video game involved based on the three-body problem in physics. There’s just a lot going on in this book but if you like scifi you will like it!
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin: **Trigger warning for violence against children** I would be impressed if you hadn’t heard of Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series. Each book has won like everything. I’ve had this for a while and am really really excited to finally jump into it! What I’m most excited about it how Jemisin brings back that old-school blend of scifi and fantasy, which is always a fun change. Essun, the main character, experiences a really horrific day–her husband goes crazy and does the unthinkable to her children. That same day, her entire world also experiences a really horrific day–the most powerful empire has collapsed due to a coup, and something like a massive volcano erupts, spewing ash everywhere and casting her world into darkness. As I understand it, Essun is an orogene, someone who has magical powers to manipulate the power of the earth, and she decides to go on a badass mama bear quest to save her daughter. This world sound so complex and rich. I’m so excited to just totally immerse myself in The Broken Earth trilogy!
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: I had a funny experience where I was at work many years ago, at a job I no longer have in a previous career I no longer have any interest in, talking to a coworker about science fiction novels I should read. I was just getting into it, and he was a huge scifi lover. He barely hesitated when I asked him for suggestions and said, “Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson!” I went to my Goodreads to add it to me tbr, and what do you know but I had already added it years prior. This happens to me all the time. I still haven’t read it, despite Chris’ excellent description, so I will now! This book is like if Hackers met Ready Player One. It’s set in our not so far future where the virtual world has more power than it should, and Hiro Protagonist (yup), a cool dude pizza delivery guy during the day, has to fight shady viruses in the virtual world and stop them from bringing on an “infocalypse”. So into this! It’s also going to be adapted by Amazon at some point soon.
Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) by Octavia E. Butler: ** Trigger warning for sexual violence and violence against children** This is the only “classic” I have on this list, maybe other than Snow Crash. If you enjoy science fiction and/or fantasy, you must read Octavia Butler! In Dawn, the Earth sees the end of a futile war and is obliterated. Lilith Iyapo loses her family in the Earth’s destruction, but she lives on in the bowels of an alien spacecraft. She wakes up from hundreds of years of sleep to find herself and other human survivors indebted to the Oankali, an alien race that survives by genetically merging with “primitive” species. Lilith can now guide them back to a recovering Earth to restart civilization, but they will have to play bodily host to the Oankali in return and their children will be strange genetic mixes of the two species. I have a feeling that plan won’t really fly with the human survivors. We’ll see!!!
Infomocracy (Centenal Cycle #1) by Malka Ann Older: So this book seems slightly terrifying in a too-close-to-home kind of way. has anyone seen those creepy Facebook TV ads that are like, “Ahh, remember the good old days of Facebook? When it was pure? And then *something* made it bad…not us, definitely not us. But don’t worry! We’ve changed things so Facebook can be pure and good again! DON’T LEAVE US!!!” Yeah, those commercials are gross as shit. This book takes place in a near future where a powerful search engine called Information (a mix of Google and FB really) binds the world together into a a weird global micro-democracy where everyone votes online. All the ruling parties are corporation, and corruption is obviously rampant. This book follows three characters as they maneuver this new world dynamic and try to protect their interests as the next election cycle ramps up. This is like a cyber-punk political espionage thriller! And I think I’ve had enough distance from our past election to actually pick it up this summer…maybe.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon: **Trigger warning for race-based violence, physical and sexual violence** I have a feeling that if you enjoyed Snowpiercer starring Captain America, you might like this book. I hope that’s the case for me! Aster lives on the Matilda, a strictly segregated spacecraft taking the last of humanity to what they believe to be the promise land. The social structure of the ship is much like the racist antebellum south, where those with dark skin are restricted to the lower decks and subject to harsh treatments and prejudices. The leader of the Matilda dies, the autopsy reveals a weird connection between his death and Aster’s mother’s suicide many years prior. This prompts Aster to dive into her mother’s life and history, and in the process she incites revolution!
Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer: I still haven’t seen the movie, and I really would like to read the book first which is actually not my norm. I usually like watching move adaptations first! But I hear it’s very different from the book. I’ve had this bad boy on my Kindle since it came out years ago. There have been eleven expeditions into a mysterious zone called Area X, and each expedition has met a pretty awful fate after coming into contact with the area. Expedition twelve is comprised of four women, one of which has a lot more at stake then just scientific discovery. Her husband was part of a previous expedition and died of cancer shortly after showing up mysteriously and unannounced in their kitchen before he was set to return from Area X. She is now, apparently, extra curious. The entire story is told through her field journal, which I always love as a storytelling device. We get many layers of unreliable-ness and perspective that we as readers need to fish through to get to a bigger picture, if there even is one. This book has gotten many mixed reviews and VanderMeer’s style is known to be weird and off-putting, but the premise sounds so cool and the movie looked really interesting. I just can’t say no. Especially because it’s just waiting for me in my, reading to be gobbled up!
Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1) by Yoon Ha Lee: This is a classic space battle adventure! I’m pretty sure my Dad won this book during our Christmas Eve White Elephant book exchange a couple years ago, so I might have to strong arm him into letting me “borrow” it. Captain Kel Cheris is in trouble with her commanding officers for uhhh being a maverick I guess? She’s notorious for using unconventional methods in battle, and it’s getting to be an issue. She has one shot to redeem herself and help protect her people, which involes retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles (sounds bad ass). Unfortunately, the only way she thinks she can do it is by teaming up with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao who is not only undead but also super fucking crazy and has massacred his own army in the past. The other catch it that Jedao actually needs to inhabit her body and they must coexist together. Sounds really risky and dangerous, but Cheris is all out of options…
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes: I am a pretty big Beukes fan. She writes weird scifi fantasy horror and it’s fucking great! This book follows four very different characters in a futuristic Cape Town whose lives are deeply affected by invasive technology and a corrupt system. This book seems like it has some Mr. Robot and Black Mirror vibes if you’re into that sort of thing. If it’s anything like Beukes’ other novels, it will hit the uncanny valley HARD! She is subtle and a master of the creeping dread, which I always love! If you like her style, I highly recommend checking out The Shining Girls which features a time-traveling serial killer and a really interesting cast of characters. I also have the habit of listening to all of her books on audio and have enjoyed them all, so if you’re looking for your next audiobook, consider one of Beukes’!
Who Fears Death (Who Fears Death #1) by Nnedi Okirafor: **Trigger warning for rape** I used the UK cover for this because frankly, it’s stunning and way cooler than the US cover lol If you are a Game of Thrones fan, I’m sure you’ve heard of this book due to the George RR Martin adaptation underway. This is more of a post-apocalypse dystopian with shades of science fiction and supernatural fantasy. Sounds bangers! A post-nuclear-holocaust Africa is being ravaged by genocide. A woman barely survives the destruction of her village and wanders off into the desert where she gives birth to a daughter, the product of her brutal rape. Her daughter is different in more ways than just one, and she is brought up in an old mystic and magical tradition. She is powerful and soon realizes that her calling is to end the violence against her people. This book sounds like Mad Max with magic. it’s probably very light on the science fiction, but it might be a welcomed change.
So that’s my list! It’s a pretty serious one, and I definitely won’t be able to read everything, especially with my other book club reads and library books with holds ect. But I am very excited to eventually read every single one of these! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What would be on your Summer of SciFi reading list? I hope you have an amazing summer of reading coming your way!