I picked up Reamde because the story involved an online game world where hackers target the players and it seemed like an interesting topic for a novel. That premise turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg and this tale veers in many different directions. The online game world of T'Rain is a multi-billion dollar MMO with millions of players and that success makes it an attractive target. A ransomware virus is created that holds a players virtual assets hostage and then all hell breaks loose, in game and out. The main characters wind up all over the globe as spies, terrorists, smugglers, and the Russian mafia all get entangled into the plot. Every step of the way Stephenson ups the ante and the plot almost seems to run out of control.
The Fold is an interesting sci-fi novel based on the theory of folding space in order to travel long distances quickly, hence the title. Unlike many other sci-fi books where folding space is used for space travel, this book takes place solely on earth and centers on a secret DARPA project where scientists have built the Albuquerque Door - a matched set of rings that allows anyone, or anything, to travel instantly between them. Clearly this is going to be mankind's greatest invention and it will change civilization forever; however, something about the door just doesn't add up.
The Girl With All the Gifts offers a refreshing angle on a tired genre and is quickly becoming a classic. M. R. Carey uses strong characters to tell an engaging story full of emotion where humanity struggles to survive in a world overrun by hungries (zombies). Human conflict is a pretty common thread woven into many apocalyptic stories as characters are typically more concerned with petty personal agendas than banding together to survive. This story is not much different in that regard except the agendas aren't petty and the disagreements are viewed from a unique perspective - that of a child hungry named Melanie.
During the 1800s, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker all created iconic literary characters. The newspapers were covering sensational murderers such as Jack the Ripper and "Burke and Hare" who killed to sell the bodies to anatomists. Roger Zelazny's last novel, A Night in the Lonesome October, is a whimsical tribute to these roots of the horror and detective genres. For obvious reasons, it's the perfect October read.
Water rights on the Colorado River have been debated and negotiated for almost 100 years and the existing agreements are actually quite complex. The southwestern US, arid by nature, is completely dependent on water from the Colorado River which originates from the north. Upper Basin States are bound by "The Law of the River" to let the water flow south to support the needs of California, Nevada, and Arizona. So what happens when the climate changes and the available water is only a fraction of what is needed for all involved? Well, you find yourself in the dusty, apocalyptic setting of The Water Knife where law and lawlessness exist in equal measure within the southwestern US.
Tad Williams offers up a modern view of the struggle between heaven and hell and in his version of the conflict things aren't quite as black and white as you would imagine. Angel Doloriel (Bobby Dollar) is unlike any angel you've ever read about before and his heavenly assignment is to be an advocate for the recently departed. He is responsible for pleading the case on behalf of the deceased's soul to ensure their final judgment results in a trip to heaven or no worse than minimal time in purgatory.
This is science fiction with an emphasis on science and it often feels like you are experiencing the events as they would unfold on the evening news. Andy Weir brings to life the character of astronaut Mark Watney in a very realistic way. Mark is an engineer, a botanist, and the junior member of the 6 person crew that forms the Ares 3 mission to Mars. Mark is a bit of a quirky character who keeps everything lose which is an important quality to have on a team when they are going to being living together in cramped quarters for an extended period of time. Of course, plans can abruptly change...
Take what you know about "urban fantasy" and throw it out the nearest window. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, lives in a world that has always known magic, vampires, weres, and demons. Sunshine sucks you in with a detailed narrative that is almost stream of consciousness. Rae introduces us to the family coffee shop, its employees, and patrons in fun but very realistic detail. She's just an ordinary baker wishing she didn't have to get up at 4am...until she's taken by the darkest of Others, vampires.
There is a lot to like about Redshirts and John Scalzi creates an interesting meta-universe that gives a backstory to all of the disposable extras the filled many an episode of Star Trek. The book pokes fun at a storied television franchise and goes from silly to absurd as the junior crew members do what they can to avoid going on away missions. These crew members are more savvy than the original redshirts and they fully understand their odds of returning from an away mission when they go down to a planet along with more important ship personnel. Seeing things from the perspective of an "extra" is somewhat unique and one inside joke after another keeps things entertaining.
At the crossroads of a gold rush western and science fiction you'll find Alex Lomax, private investigator. Most residents of Mars dream of finding Martian fossils, returning to Earth fabulously wealthy, and virtually immortal in a synthetic body. Alex is a wanted man back on Earth so he's stuck in the one grungy port city Mars has to offer when a dame (synthetic) walks into his office. We have now boarded the roller coaster ride of crosses and double-crosses that makes up Red Planet Blues.