The Bossy Bookworm
Six More Science Fiction Reads I Loved in the Past Year
Six More Great Bossy Science Fiction Reads
The Obsessive Wrap-Up of Favorite Reads continues!
A while back I posted about Six Four-Star (and Up) Science Fiction Reads I Loved Last Year, and here are six more of my favorite science fiction reads from the past year.
I've posted roundups of favorites each Friday in 2023--check them out! And you can click here for My Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads.
If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear what you think!
You can click here for other science fiction and fantasy books that I've reviewed on Bossy Bookworm. I'd love to hear: what are some of your favorite science fiction reads?
01 Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long
I was hooked by Meg Long's debut young adult science fiction novel about tough young Sena, her skittish fighting wolf Iska, and their desperate journey across the ice.
In Meg Long's Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, young Sena has lost both of her mothers to the brutal sled races on her frozen planet. Since then she's had to be scrappy, creative, and above all, tough.
When she angers a local warlord and becomes eager to escape her world, she's relieved to secure promises of transport out--but the earnest scientists who would help her have one condition: she must help them take part in the planet's most infamous sled race.
In Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, Long offers an intriguing story of brutal conditions, determined survival, hard-earned loyalty, grudging friendship, and a stubborn overcoming of various vivid dangers.
I was hooked by Long's world-building, her evocative, immersive descriptions of the cold climate, and by tough, grumpy Sena, who has a big heart and a soft spot for Iska, her personality counterpart in wolf form.
For my full review, check out Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves. The book's sequel is Swift the Storm, Fierce the Flame.
You might also like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Books with Cold, Wintry Settings to Read by the Fire.
02 Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin
Harkin's fascinating debut speculative fiction considers a memory clinic that erases and reinstates memories at clients' requests, the impact of painful experiences on building the self, and the potential repercussions of tinkering with your recall of the past.
In Jo Harkin's debut novel world, many have elected to have the company Nepenthe remove traumatic or upsetting memories through a relatively new procedure. The key memory and all connected elements are eliminated, presumably allowing these individuals to plow back into their lives unencumbered by upsetting past mistakes or experiences.
But some clients are beginning to have flashes of their erased memory, "traces" that disturb and confuse them, and the company providing the service seems to be keeping secret some highly negative effects on some patients.
Secrets and lies swirl throughout this book and the plot zings along. Harkin digs into her characters and their brokenness, heartache, and mistakes, but also their love, joy, resilience and ability to transcend tragedy, and persistent hope.
I love fiction about memory and how it shapes us, and I thought Harkin's Tell Me an Ending was wonderful. I was captivated by the various situations, secrets, how memory is connected to a sense of self, and the complicated web of memories, experience, personality, and hopes and dreams that make us who we are.
Please click here for my full review of Tell Me an Ending.
03 The Humans by Matt Haig
The Humans was one of my Bossy favorite books of the whole year last year.
The Humans is about mathematics, aliens, and shape shifters, but at its heart it's about a hurting family and an unimaginable, shocking, heartwarming chance at a new beginning. This was fascinating, sometimes funny, thoughtful, and lovely.
In Matt Haig's The Humans, an extraterrestrial arrives on Earth with a mission: to kill the man who has achieved a mathematical discovery considered beyond what is appropriate for humans and for the planet.
Horrified by the appearances of the humans, confused by their disgusting obsessions with wearing clothing and drinking coffee, and pitying of their limited brain capacities and lack of special powers, the visitor nevertheless assumes the appearance of Professor Andrew Martin and clumsily takes on the man's life for a time.
Through New Andrew's alien eyes we see the contradictory, beautifully messy, infuriating, wondrous aspects of the human condition.
Haig handles the complexities and challenges of the bizarre situation with heart, some wry humor, and with thoughtfulness.
The Humans is funny, strange, deep, and lovely. I loved it. Click here for my full review of The Humans.
Haig is also the author of The Midnight Library, How to Stop Time, and Reasons to Stay Alive.
04 Nightwatch on the Hinterlands by K. Eason
In Eason's science fiction mystery, an unlikely pair who get on each other's nerves work together to determine who is responsible for a puzzling murder and other strange occurrences that threaten their world.
In K. Eason's science fiction mystery Nightwatch on the Hinterlands, a templar, Iari, and a spy, Gaer, have built a somewhat formal working relationship. Neither is quite sure where the other's loyalties begin and end, nor are they intimately acquainted with the other's history or personal motivations.
They begin to forge a stronger bond (despite how irritating they each find the other), but there's no time to waste, because high-stakes danger is quickly building to a crisis point around them.
Searching for the truth leads the unlikely duo on a search to uncover who is controlling a riev that shouldn't have been capable of killing, but did--and they're led to someone with nefarious goals that go much farther and are much more elaborately imagined than one isolated killing.
I think this was because of personal timing and my reading-during-vacation distraction circumstances, but I did have ongoing trouble following the logistics and political machinations and motivations here.
It didn't matter, though, because I was most invested in and engaged by the interplay of characters--particularly the grudging friendship and grumpily built but rock-solid loyalty between Iari and Gaer. And I was wholly charmed by the rievs (former battle robots) who mysteriously show sentience and surprising preferences for personal pronouns, and who are set on reinventing themselves in drastic fashion.
Click here for my full review of Nightwatch on the Hinterlands.
05 Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
In this nested story that spans centuries, Mandel explores a pandemic, moon colonization, the universal connection of music, the temptation to change the past, portals and time loops, loyalty, fear, love, and wonder.
In this science fiction novel, Mandel plays with time and time travel as well as mysteries surrounding what may be a portal linking individuals through time. Mandel explores an emerging pandemic in a future with a colonized moon, considers the universal connection of music, and digs into the difficulty and danger in changing the past.
But all of these players and times feel mainly to be in place to serve as a structure for our true main protagonist, Gaspary, and we see the most depth and development and change; loyalty and love and grief; wonder and danger; resignation and hope in his portion of the story. This was where I was captivated and delighted and emotionally engaged.
Do you like books that play with time? You might like the books I list on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories or Six Riveting Time-Travel Escapes or these Bossy reviews of books that play with time.
Click here for my review of Mandel's Station Eleven. And click here for my full review of Sea of Tranquility.
06 How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Nagamatsu's science fiction centers around a resurgence of an ancient Arctic plague. These interconnected stories are odd, fascinating, and sometimes panic-inducing, yet they offer glimmers of hope. I was intrigued by all of it.
It's 2030, and an archaeologist in the Arctic Circle discovers a body perfectly preserved in the permafrost.
His personal situation is complicated by his grief for his recently deceased daughter, and he aims to continue the research work she began.
But the young woman he has found may have died of an ancient virus, and thawing the body for study could unleash the long-eradicated illness all over again.
The stories that make up How High We Go in the Dark are steeped in death and in coming to terms with mortality while fighting for answers. Yet deep connections are forged--in life-or-death moments throughout the book, as well as within the collective goal of saving humanity--and in some cases these bonds feel deeper than marriages or long-held relationships.
As the virus passes like a whirlwind through societies and nations around the globe, Nagamatsu's How High We Go in the Dark highlights interpersonal connections spanning centuries--and extending as far as the stars.
Click here for my full review of How High We Go in the Dark.