genre science fiction

Cat's Whirld

Winner of the Ignotus Award for Best Novel (the Spanish equivalent of the Hugo Awards)

Cat's Whirld is an intriguing conundrum of a novel that hurtles along at breakneck speed. This is a character-driven sci-fi thriller at it’s finest.

The neutral Convergence Space Station No. 1, known as the Whirld, is the unofficial, but deadly battleground in which several Galactic powers fight to obtain a certain piece of information that could inevitably determine their whole future. But then an all-powerful malevolent AI, for reasons known only to itself, also enters the game…

Cat's Whirld, a book indispensable for understanding the evolution of Spanish science fiction, is an original fusion of thriller, cyberpunk, and space opera, with unforgettable characters, and a frenetic pace and rhythm that never falter; a hybrid novel in which elements from distinct genres make a surprisingly harmonious whole.

Originally published in 1995, it was the first cyberpunk novel in Spanish; a specially remarkable achievement in that it was also the first of Rodolfo Martínez' many novels, and yet was not afraid to tread new ground, and, moreover, to do so with great narrative confidence. Twenty-five years later, the story still retains its power, as fresh and exciting as ever.”

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Vita Nostra

Vita Nostra — a cross between Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian is the anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.” -The Washington Post

Vita Nostra has the potential to become a modern classic of its genre, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it get the global audience in English it so richly deserves.” - Lev Grossman

Winner of Best Book from both Amazon & Paste Magazine

“The definitive English language translation of this internationally acclaimed novel—a brilliant dark fantasy combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Our life is brief . . .

Sasha Samokhina has been accepted to the Institute of Special Technologies.

Or, more precisely, she’s been chosen.

Situated in a tiny village, she finds the students are bizarre, and the curriculum even more so. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, it is their families that pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.

A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Ukrainian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.”

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Day of the Oprichnik

“One of The Telegraph's Best Fiction Books 2011

Moscow, 2028. A cold, snowy morning.

Andrei Danilovich Komiaga is fast asleep. A scream, a moan, and a death rattle slowly pull him out of his drunken stupor—but wait, that's just his ring tone. And so begins another day in the life of an oprichnik, one of the czar's most trusted courtiers—and one of the country's most feared men.

Welcome to the new New Russia, where futuristic technology and the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible are in perfect synergy. Corporal punishment is back, as is a divine monarch, but these days everyone gets information from high-tech news bubbles, and the elite get high on hallucinogenic, genetically modified fish.

Over the course of one day, Andrei Komiaga will bear witness to—and participate in—brutal executions; extravagant parties; meetings with ballerinas, soothsayers, and even the czarina. He will rape and pillage, and he will be moved to tears by the sweetly sung songs of his homeland. He will consume an arsenal of drugs and denounce threats to his great nation's morals. And he will fall in love—perhaps even with a number of his colleagues.

Vladimir Sorokin, the man described by Keith Gessen (in The New York Review of Books) as "[the] only real prose writer, and resident genius" of late-Soviet fiction, has imagined a near future both too disturbing to contemplate and too realistic to dismiss. But like all of his best work, Sorokin's new novel explodes with invention and dark humor. A startling, relentless portrait of a troubled and troubling empire, Day of the Oprichnik is at once a richly imagined vision of the future and a razor-sharp diagnosis of a country in crisis.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Andi McCraine for the suggestion.)

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Hard to be a God

“An enjoyable, exciting, and gratifying novel.”  —New York Times

“A thoroughly good book . . . robust, imaginative, satisfying.”  - Ursula K. Le Guin

“Don Rumata has been sent from Earth to the medieval kingdom of Arkanar with instructions to observe and to save what he can. Masquerading as an arrogant nobleman, a dueler, and a brawler, he is never defeated, but yet he can never kill. With his doubt and compassion, and his deep love for a local girl named Kira, Rumata wants to save the kingdom from the machinations of Don Reba, the first minister to the king. But given his orders, what role can he play? This long overdue translation will reintroduce one of the most profound Soviet-era novels to an eager audience. ”

Note: This translation by Olena Bormashenko is the one we recommend. Other versions are English translations of a bad German translation.

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We

“The inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984.

Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is set in an urban glass city called OneState, regulated by spies and secret police. Citizens of the tyrannical OneState wear identical clothing and are distinguished only by the number assigned to them at birth. The story follows a man called D-503, who dangerously begins to veer from the 'norms' of society after meeting I-330, a woman who defies the rules. D-503 soon finds himself caught up in a secret plan to destroy OneState and liberate the city.

The failed utopia of We has been compared to the works of H.G. Wells, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley. It was the first novel banned by the Soviets in 1921, and was finally published in its home country over a half-century later.”

Note: This translation by Mirra Ginsburg is the one we recommend. A good second choice would be the translation from Clarence Brown. Other translations are considered poor or awkward.

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The Dragon Seller

“Dystopian science fiction meets the most beloved fantasy creatures! In a future where dragons are real and live in our homes as pets, a young dragon breeder finds the egg of a unique species and tries to raise it.

As the drought of the century hits the United States, legendary creatures appear on Earth: Dragons. Like one of the famous tv commercials says: ‘Thanks to advancements in genetic engineering, Dragons are finally out of myth, and in your local pet stores!’

From playful Outbacks to unpredictable Jade Tangs, these little dragons usually don't burn much, they love fruit and don't molest young virgins. But they are still monsters, and Jack Ports knows this very well. He sells all kinds of varieties in his Flight Garden including the most dangerous of all: the American Mustang, a species of battle dragon created by a failed experiment of the U.S. Navy.

Dumped by his fiancée before the wedding and short on cash, Jack just wants to put his life back together, but after a colleague mysteriously disappears, he finds himself with a dragon egg of unknown origins. Set on raising it, Jack discovers that the egg contains a Primus, the first dragon of a new species, whose genes hide a secret that many men are looking for. And some are willing to kill to have it."

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Lexicon

Awarded Book of the Year among other accolades from 16 major media sites including Time, Goodreads, Vogue, & NPR

“A novel of international intrigue and weaponized linguistics,” it's about “as close you can get to the perfect cerebral thriller: searingly smart, ridiculously funny, and fast as hell.”

“Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words. They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember. Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills. And they want it back . . . “

Beloved by a variety of authors the likes of Hugh Howey, NY Times bestselling author of Wool who titled itA masterpiece!”, Kirkus notes this is “an up-all-night thriller for geeks who want to see their wizards all grown up in the real world and armed to the teeth in a bloody story.”

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Musketeer Space

“Written by a double Hugo award-winning author, Musketeer Space is a gender-flipped, space opera retelling of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Three Musketeers.” It’s “smart, funny, fast-paced and absorbing ” with outstanding 4.5 star & above reviews on all platforms including Goodreads & Amazon.

“‘I haven't got a blade. I haven't got a ship. I washed out of the Musketeers. If this is your idea of honour, put down the swords and I'll take you on with my bare hands.’

When Dana D'Artagnan left home for a life of adventure, she never expected to form a friendship with Paris Satellite's most infamous sword-fighting scoundrels: the Musketeers known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Dana and her friends are swept up in a political conspiracy involving royal scandals, disguised spaceships, a handsome tailor who keeps getting himself kidnapped, and a seductive spy with too many secrets.

With the Solar System on the brink of war, Dana finally has a chance to prove herself. But is it worth becoming a Musketeer if she has to sacrifice her friends?

Swords! Kissing! Friendship! Spies! Spaceships! All for one and one for all.”

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HWJN (aka Hawjan)

HWJN or Hawjan as it's sometimes known was the #1 selling Saudi novel in until it was banned for blasphemy. 

The Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue & Prevention of Vice raided bookshops pulling the book from the shelves because it treats jinn as beings that co-exist with humanity, & tells of a romance between a human & a jinn. (In Arabian mythology, a jinn is an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human & animal forms & to possess humans.) Translated into other languages, the book has become a favorite around the world & is now again available for purchase in Saudi Arabia.

"People often listen to the legends of spirits and genies (jinn) with awe and horror, but this story is different and redefines our understanding of the jinn world. Hawjan is a young jinni is in his early nineties who lives in a world which exists parallel to ours. As human populations expand, Hawjan and his family find their village invaded by the parallel human dimension forcing them to live in a villa now haunted by humans. Hawjan’s efforts to avoid the human family fail and he finds himself madly in love with Sawsan, a medical student who is gentle and brilliant...but also barely a quarter of his age and human. 

Living in a different dimension, Hawjan is unable to let Sawsan know about his feelings until he learns how to communicate with her through the Ouija board. He then discovers she has brain cancer. As Sawsan's health deteriorates, her father becomes easy prey for a sorcerer who tricks him into believing that Sawsan’s illness is the result of the "devils" who haunt their villa. A deadly battle ensues. Eyad, a colleague of Sawsan agrees to allow Hawjan to posses him in order to help save Sawsan & her family. But who will win?"

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Central Station

An international multi-award winner, international bestseller & one of the few Israeli sci fi books in the world. NPR Best Book, Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book, Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book, Longlist - British Science Fiction Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee & World Fantasy Award

"A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive...and even evolve."

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The Queue

Winner of the English PEN Translation Award

"In a surreal, but familiar, vision of modern day Egypt, a centralized authority known as ‘the Gate’ has risen to power in the aftermath of the ‘Disgraceful Events,’ a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate in order to take care of even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the Gate never opens, and the queue in front of it grows longer.

Citizens from all walks of life mix and wait in the sun: a revolutionary journalist, a sheikh, a poor woman concerned for her daughter’s health, and even the brother of a security officer killed in clashes with protesters. Among them is Yehia, a man who was shot during the Events and is waiting for permission from the Gate to remove a bullet that remains lodged in his pelvis. Yehia’s health steadily declines, yet at every turn, officials refuse to assist him, actively denying the very existence of the bullet. Ultimately it is Tarek, the principled doctor tending to Yehia’s case, who must decide whether to follow protocol as he has always done, or to disobey the law and risk his career to operate on Yehia and save his life.

Written with dark, subtle humor, The Queue describes the sinister nature of authoritarianism, and illuminates the way that absolute authority manipulates information, mobilizes others in service to it, and fails to uphold the rights of even those faithful to it."

A special thank you to book club member, Aisha Esbhani  for the suggestion.

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And Still the Earth

"Welcome to São Paulo, Brazil, in the not too distant future. Water is scarce, garbage clogs the city, movement is restricted, and the System—sinister, omnipotent, secret—rules its subjects' every moment and thought. Here, Souza (the name is as common in Portuguese as Smith is in English) is a kind of Brazilian Everyman, struggling to preserve his integrity and hope in the face of tyranny. 

In a strikingly Brazilian way, Mr. Brandao has written a cautionary anti-Utopian novel in the tradition of Yevgeny Zamyatin's We or George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Virtually all the phenomena Mr. Brandao describes have some real-life counterparts in the Brazil ruled by the military from 1964 until 1985. Despite the very Brazilian flavor of Mr. Brandao's writing and concerns, though, And Still the Earth makes compelling reading for foreigners. The conditions he describes and the grim future he foresees for his city may also await Lagos, Calcutta, Shanghai and Mexico City. And Still the Earth stands with Loyola Brandão's Zero as one of the author's greatest, and darkest, achievements. Yet Mr. Brandao is an optimist. His title, after all, recalls Galileo's response to his inquisitors after they forced him to recant his proof that the earth revolves around the sun: 'E pur si muove' - 'and still it moves.' At novel's end, the human spirit cannot be destroyed or dominated."

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The Blood of Angels

"Another haunting novel of eco-speculation from Johanna Sinisalo, the award-winning author of Troll and a powerhouse of the Finnish science fiction and fantasy scene.

It is claimed Albert Einstein said that if bees disappear from the earth, mankind has four years left. When bee-vanishings of unprecedented scale hit the United States, Orvo, a Finnish beekeeper, knows all too well where it will lead. And when he sees the queen dead in his hives one day, it's clear the epidemic has spread to Europe, and the world is coming to an end. Orvo's special knowledge of bees just may enable him to glimpse a solution to catastrophe: he takes a desperate step onto a path where only he and the bees know the way but it propels him into conflict with his estranged, but much-loved son, a committed animal activist. A magical plunge into the myth of death and immortality, this is a tale of human blindness in the face of devastation—and the inevitable."

(A special thank you to book club member, Caity Greig for the suggestion.)

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Invisible Planets

"Mindblowingly inventive and beautifully written short stories from the most exciting new name in SF.

Hannu Rajaniemi exploded onto the SF scene in 2010 with the publication of his first novel The Quantum Thief. Acclaimed by fellow authors and brilliantly reviewed everywhere, he swiftly established a reputation as an author who could combine extraordinary cutting edge science with beautiful prose and deliver it all with wit, warmth and a delight in the fun of storytelling.

It is exactly these qualities that are showcased in this his first collection of short stories. Drawn from anthologies, magazines and online publications and brought together in book form for the first time in this collection here is a collection of seventeen short stories that range from the lyrical to the bizarre, from the elegiac to the impish. It is a collection that shows one of the great new imaginations in SF having immense fun."

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The Next Continent

Winner of the prestigious Seiun Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo Award!

"THE PRIVATE MISSION TO THE MOON IS ONE WOMAN’S DESTINY

The year is 2025 and Gotoba Engineering & Construction--a firm that has built structures to survive the Antarctic and the Sahara--has received its most daunting challenge yet. Sennosuke Toenji, the chairman of one of the world's largest leisure conglomerates, wants a moon base fit for civilian use, and he wants his granddaughter Tae to be his eyes and ears on the harsh lunar surface. Tae and Gotoba engineer, Aomine head to the moon where adventure, trouble, and perhaps romance await.

'It harkens to conventions of a certain genre of science fiction and yet is nonetheless infused with Japanese optimism and culture.' — World SF Blog"

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The Stories of Ibis

"Even a machine has tales to tell.

In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android, Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The tales Ibis tells are about the events surrounding the development of artificial intelligence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis's real intentions?"

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Nexhuman (aka Livid)

"First published as Livid. Rereleased in some countries as Nexhuman, Francesco Verso brings classic cyberpunk attitude to grand romantic obsession . . . a thoughtful meditation on what it means to be human and an exciting peek into a world that is just around the corner.’ –James Patrick Kelly (Nebula, Locus and Hugo Award winner)

In a future where most of Earth into a junk heap, Peter Payne is a trashformer, a scavenger, a kid under the thumb of a world too brutal to stay human. When his chance to change his fate is violently torn away, he embarks on a quest to rebuild the object of his obsession.

Examining themes such as cybernetics, prosthetics, consumerism, robotics and transcendence, Nexhuman expands on classic science fiction to build a world as deep and searching as its main character."

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Trafalgar

"Don't rush Trafalgar Medrano when he starts telling you about his latest intergalactic sales trip. He likes to stretch things out over precisely seven coffees. No one knows whether he actually travels to the stars, but he tells the best tall tales in the city, so why doubt him?

Angélica Gorodischer lives in Rosario, Argentina. She has received many awards, most recently the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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The Star Diaries

"'Something peculiar is happening to my head. I remember that my father was Barnaby, but I had another named Balaton. Unless that’s a lake in Albania.'

Ijon Tichy, Lem's Candide of the Cosmos, encounters bizarre civilizations and creatures in space that serve to satirize science, the rational mind, theology, and other icons of human pride. Line drawings by the author. Translated by Michael Kandel."

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Beginning Operations

"Sector General: A massive deep-space hospital station on the Galactic Rim, where human and alien medicine meet. Its 384 levels and thousands of staff members are supposedly able to meet the needs of any conceivable alien patient—though that capacity is always being strained as more (and stranger) alien races turn up to join the galactic community. Sentient viruses, interspecies romances, undreamed-of institutional catering problems—it all lands on Sector General's doorstep. And the only thing weirder than a hitherto unknown alien species is having a member of that species turn up in your Emergency Room.

This first omnibus volume reprints the works that began the Sector General series, which were previously published as Hospital StationStar Surgeon, and Major Operation."

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