Author Hugh Howey does a masterful job slowly revealing how his unique dystopian world functions during the first book of the series, Wool, but he never touches on the subject of how society morphed into that state. Well that is exactly what he does in Shift, as some much needed context is added to explain why things are the way they are. Since he jumps back in time to our contemporary world he needs to introduce a whole new set of characters, which is initially off-putting, but it eventually all comes together and sets things up for an excellent finale to the series.
Joe Ledger has been delivering action with an attitude for a while now and Dogs of War marks the 9th full novel in this action packed series. Joe Ledger and the DMS have faced quite a diverse set of adversaries along the way including the likes of zombies, aliens, vampires, super soldiers, and even some yet to be explained phenomena, yes I am looking at you Nicodemus. Of course if you are considering reading book 9 then you likely know all of that already and you also know that those encounters have taken their toll on the DMS with most surviving members of Echo team carrying around some serious emotional baggage. What manner of madness has Jonathan Maberry cooked up this time and will the DMS even be able to find their "A" game to deal with it?
With the Earth in a state of ruin, mankind has retreated to living underground where a dystopian society has evolved to ensure continued existence. The inhabitants of the underground silo know that their self contained ecosystem is a fragile balance so they must dole out harsh consequences to anyone who disobeys the rules. These people have lived underground for generations and know nothing of how they got there or why the outside world is so inhospitable; however, they do know that crimes are punished by being sent outside through the single airlock at the top of the silo. The world outside is so toxic that even their best protective suits offer only offer a couple of minutes of life, yet everyone sentenced to die this way is asked to perform a vital service for the rest of the silo before they perish - a cleaning of the external sensors. Would you do such a favor for those who sentenced you to die?
Seveneves is an epic sci-fi story that is best experienced without knowing too much about the story. Know only that an unimaginable event occurs that results in a doomsday clock ticking down for planet Earth. This fact quickly becomes known around the globe and mankind must now face the real possibility of extinction in a short period of time. How will we as a race react to such devastating knowledge? In many different ways for sure and Neal Stephenson chronicles mankind's fate from multiple perspectives. From individuals to families, from communities to governments, and from science to religion all of the angles are explored as humanity is put to a test it was not prepared to handle.
Book 3 of the Old Man's War series unites the main characters from the first 2 books, John Perry and Jane Sagan, and jumps ahead to their retirement on the peaceful colony of Huckleberry. Of course their relaxed existence is disrupted as interstellar politics and conspiracies take over and they find themselves facing one impossible challenge after another. The Conclave plot line from earlier in the series finally picks up steam and the stakes get ever larger as the story goes on. All of this makes for an interesting enough premise but in the end author John Scalzi just didn't keep me immersed this time around.
This is the second book in the Old Man’s War series but it is a stand-alone story that can be read on its own. I still recommend that you read Old Man's War first just to have additional context about the universe although only a few characters appear in both books. The main character from the first book is CDF soldier John Perry and in that story the legendary Special Forces only play a background role, but in this book the Special Forces take over the main storyline. Known only as the Ghost Brigades, the Special Forces are composed of an elite breed of human soldier enhanced by a myriad of "upgrades." Very little is actually known about these soldiers throughout the rest of the CDF so it is time to find out what they are actually capable of.
The Yherjak are an alien race that has traveled for many years across the galaxy to reach Earth with a plan to make first contact with us. Being a benevolent people they decide take it slowly and they spend time monitoring our communications in order to figure out how best to proceed with reaching out. After careful study of our culture they realize that their appearance, a translucent gelatinous mess, combined with the fact that they communicate through smells, bad ones at that, will likely result in a poor first contact scenario. Since the Yherjak have dedicated many years of their lives to making successful contact with us they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it goes well. Of course that means that they hire a top Hollywood agent to represent them and handle their introduction to the rest of the planet. :)
No? How about if they could make you young again? In the future, the Colonial Defense Force recruits 75 year olds to fill their ranks. Rumor has it that if you sign up for a tour of duty then they will make you young again; however, since nobody that joins the CDF ever returns to Earth, it's hard to know for sure. Joining the CDF is a minimum 2 year commitment that can be extended for up to 10 years and not surprisingly, many people decide to go for it. After all, isn't it worth trading your next 10 years on Earth as a 75 year old up for 10 years of combat in space? It sure is worth it but what if the rumors aren't true? Well, there is only one way to find out for sure.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter team up to pen this novel which has a very interesting premise: Humans figure out how to "step" which allows a person to instantly teleport to an alternate Earth. They take that concept even further by the fact that there are an infinite number of alternate Earths and one can "step" from one to the next. Since the technology required to build a "stepper" device is readily available to almost everyone on the planet this fundamentally changes civilization as we know it. Economies collapse as millions leave our Earth to go to unclaimed worlds with pristine land and resources while our existing governments struggle to deal with the concept of governing their same territory across multiple Earths.
The Second Ship walks on hallowed sci-fi ground and goes where many stories have gone before, the rumored alien ship crash in 1948 in Roswell, New Mexico; but Richard Phillips does bring a unique twist to his version of the tale. That twist is that a second ship also crashed at the same time but remained undiscovered by the US government. Of course since this is a young adult (YA) novel that second ship is eventually found by 3 high school students that live in the area. They make their discovery at about the same time that the US government comes clean about the first ship that they have kept secret for so many years. These kids decide keep the discovery to themselves and use their secret alien technology to uncover the true motivation behind the President's bold promise to freely share advanced alien technology with the rest of the world.