Greetings readers! Tabatha here yet again with another installment of the Friday Fiction Feature. I noticed recently that we have sorely neglected an entire genre of fiction, and so this time we have something a little different for you: robots and wizards will accompany you through flying circuses in your journey into the world of science fiction!
Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt
Science Fiction has a long and impressive history: it has warned generations against the evils of technology, explored the possibilities of glorious space adventures, and come to no real conclusion on the subject of aliens (except to say that they probably aren’t all little green men). And to usher you into this diverse and time-honored genre of literature, I have selected Tom Holt’s Expecting Someone Taller.
Malcolm Fisher inherits a magic ring from a dying badger and becomes the much-disputed Ruler of the World. Everyone wants the ring–despite the fearsome curse upon it. And Malcolm is about to learn that some are born to greatness, and some are, well, badgered into it.
Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese
Since I would hate to break the mood of seriousness and dire consequences we’ve started here, our next selection will look into the complex and dire consequences of space hoodlums with Starship Grifters.
A space-faring ne’er-do-well with more bravado than brains, Rex Nihilo plies the known universe in a tireless quest for his own personal gain. But when he fleeces a wealthy weapons dealer in a high-stakes poker game, he ends up winning a worthless planet and owing an outstanding debt more vast than space itself!
The only way for Rex to escape a lifetime of torture on the prison world Gulagatraz is to score a big payday by pulling off his biggest scam. But getting mixed up in the struggle between the tyrannical Malarchian Empire and the plucky rebels of the Revolting Front and trying to double-cross them both may be his biggest mistake. Luckily for Rex, his frustrated but faithful robot sidekick has the cyber-smarts to deal with buxom bounty hunters, pudgy princesses, overbearing overlords, and interstellar evangelists while still keeping Rex’s martini glass filled.
Scan by Sarah Fine & Walter Jury
Since I know one blog can only hold just so much sarcasm (and I really am not trying to drive you lovely readers away) our next selection Scan really is a serious look at technology, space travel, and intergalactic adventure.
Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.
All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.
The Road to Mars by Eric Idle
Well, so much for seriousness. Those of you familiar with Monty Python will already know from this title that I have abandoned dire consequences and prophetic visions of a dystopian future pretty quickly. There really are a lot of good serious Sci-Fi novels out there. The Road to Mars just isn’t one of them.
With Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Eric Idle proved he was one of the funniest people in the world. And with The Road to Mars he reaffirms this with a raucously sidesplitting vengence.
Muscroft and Ashby are a comedy team on “The Road to Mars,” an interplanetary vaudeville circuit of the future. Accompanied by Carlton, a robot incapable of understanding irony but driven to learn the essence of humor, Alex and Lewis bumble their way into an intergalactic terrorist plot. Supported by a delicious cast, including a micropaleontologist narrator (he studies the evolutionary impact of the last ten minutes) and the ultra-diva Brenda Woolley, The Road to Mars is a fabulous trip through Eric Idle’s inimitable world, a “universe expanding at the speed of laughter.”
Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers (Red Dwarf #1) by Grant Naylor
From the authors of the Red Dwarf television series, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers is the first in the complete adventures of the (inexplicably British) Lister, the most incompetent cadet ever to doom a spaceship. In these adventures you get to see a self-aware computer which is so bored!, the evolved descendant of a cat three million years down the line, and two men (ok, one man and a hologram) who have to survive deep space and each other (guess which is harder).
The first lesson Lister learned about space travel was you should never try it. But Lister didn’t have a choice. All he remembered was going on a birthday celebration pub crawl through London. When he came to his senses again, with nothing in his pockets but a passport in the name of Emily Berkenstein.
So he did the only thing he could. Amazed to discover they would actually hire him, he joined the space corps—-and found himself aboard Red Dwarf, a spaceship as big as a small city that, six or seven years from now, would get him back to Earth. What Lister couldn’t forsee was that he’d inadvertently signed up for a one–way jaunt three miillion years into the future—a future which would see him the last living member of the human race, with only a hologram crew mate and a highly evolved cat for company. Of course, that was before the ship broke the light barrier anf things began to get really weird…
Robot Uprisings by Daniel H. Wilson, John Joseph Adams, Julianna Baggott , Alastair Reynolds, Alan Dean Foster, Ian McDonald, Robin Wasserman, John McCarthy, Seanan McGuire, Nnedi Okorafor, Scott Sigler, Charles Yu, Anna North, Genevieve Valentine, Hugh Howey, Ernest Cline, Cory Doctorow, and Jeff Abbott
Now, we here at the Friday Fiction Feature know our readers. We know you are a great collection of brilliant (and often world-domination-oriented) people, and because we really do have your best interests at heart, it seemed prudent to add this last title to the list.
Before you get carried away with the amazing and hilarious possibilities and start constructing your own spaceships, robot armies, or alien-invasion equipment, take a peek at Robot Uprisings to remind you that it’s not all fun and dynasty trampling. Sometimes the humans lose.
Humans beware. As the robotic revolution continues to creep into our lives, it brings with it an impending sense of doom. What horrifying scenarios might unfold if our technology were to go awry? From self-aware robotic toys to intelligent machines violently malfunctioning, this anthology brings to life the half-formed questions and fears we all have about the increasing presence of robots in our lives. With contributions from a mix of bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming writers, and including a rare story by “the father of artificial intelligence,” Dr. John McCarthy, Robot Uprisings meticulously describes the exhilarating and terrifying near-future in which humans can only survive by being cleverer than the rebellious machines they have created.