Each book in the Post-Human series isn't very long, or deep, so don't expect a ton of character development here; however, David Simpson does cram a dizzying array of science fiction topics into this small space. The sci-fi concepts include nano-technology, human augmentation, Matrix-like virtual reality, sentient artificial intelligence, Borg-like assimilation, terraforming, and alternate universes just to name a few. The story itself is a wild ride that goes from one mankind threatening scenario to another in rapid succession with hardly a breath in between. It is an over the top action movie in book form with mankind constantly on the brink of extinction as the lead characters battle to save it.
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.
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...
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.
Anyone who has ever played a character in an online game or assumed any kind of persona in a virtual world will identify with this book. Serious MMO players in particular understand the challenge of managing the demands of the real world versus a virtual world and know the perils of trying to live in both at the same time. The two have a way of bleeding together with each having the ability to negatively impact success in the other. Ernest Cline take this concept and creates a virtual utopia known as the OASIS and juxtaposes it against a dystopian society that is in near ruins. Many people live in poverty in the"stacks", which are trailer homes vertically stacked on top of each other, and the only grass they ever see is virtual grass when they are online.