The Guardian released their annual list of the best books in genre fiction and it’s a doozy of a list. Whether you're into stories of women hiding from a cruel world on an isolated island, a puppeteer/thief who can bring her puppets to life, conspiracy stories set in virtual reality, fantasy art heists, or an anthology of Scottish space stories, here's the list of The Guardian's best of the year:
Scotland in Space, edited by Deborah Scott and Simon Malpas
Scotland has big plans for its space industry in the next decade: opening Europe's first orbital spaceport, expanding further its satellite research and manufacturing industry, and developing a £4 billion space industry by 2030. Astronomy and Astrophysics have been important fields of study in Scottish universities since the eighteenth century, and world-leading research continues to be produced here today. And in contemporary Scottish literature, science-fiction writing is flourishing.
Scotland in Space: Creative Visions and Critical Reflections on Scotland's Space Futures brings together these three strands to generate dialogues between literary authors, natural and social scientists and scholars working in the humanities, to envision some of Scotland's potential space futures.
The book comprises three sections, in each of which an original piece of science fiction is accompanied by essays that respond to the ideas the story evokes. The essays, written by specialist scholars and practitioners working closely with the literary authors, identify, explore and comment upon the physical, social and cultural possibilities and potentials evoked in the science fiction.
These cross-disciplinary discussions speculate about the ways in which research and innovation currently taking place in Scotland might change our sense of the possible futures of this country, this world and, perhaps, other worlds.
The Secret Chapter, by Genevieve Cogman
In the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman’s historical fantasy Invisible Library series, Irene and Kai have to team up with an unlikely band of misfits to pull off an amazing art heist, or risk the wrath of a dangerous villain in his secret island lair.
A Librarian spy’s work is never done, and after their latest adventure, Irene is summoned back to the Library. The world where she grew up is in danger of veering into chaos – so she needs to obtain a particular book to stop this happening. And the only copy of the edition they need is in the hands of a notorious Fae broker and trader in rare objects: Mr Nemo.
Irene and Kai make their way to Mr Nemo’s remote Caribbean island, and are invited to dinner – which includes unlikely company. And Mr Nemo has an offer for everyone there. He wants them to form a team to steal a specific painting from a specific world. And he swears that that he will give Irene the book she seeks, if she joins them – but only if he has the painting within the week.
No one can resist the deal he offers. But to get their rewards, they’ll have to work together. And is this really possible when the team includes a dragon techie plus assorted fae - filling the roles of gambler, driver and ‘the muscle’? Their goal? A specific Museum in Vienna, in an early twenty-first-century world. Here, their toughest challenge might be each other.
CTRL+S, by Andy Briggs
Life in the near future's NOT ALL BAD. We've reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.
But ALMOST ANYTHING isn't enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested - and lives traded - to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.
NOW THEO'S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he'll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists - as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her . . .
Made Things, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Making friends has never been so important.
Welcome to Fountains Parish--a cesspit of trade and crime, where ambition curls up to die and desperation grows on its cobbled streets like mold on week-old bread.
Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don't... tiny puppet-like companions: some made of wood, some of metal. They don't entirely trust her, and she doesn't entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.
After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must re-examine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.
Skein Island, by Aliya Whiteley
Skein Island, a private refuge twelve miles off the coast of Devon, lies in turbulent waters. Few receive the invitation to stay for one week, free of charge. If you are chosen, you must pay for your stay with a story from your past; a Declaration for the Island's vast library.
What happens to your Declaration after you leave the island is none of your concern.
From the monsters of Ancient Greece to the atrocities of World War II, from heroes to villains with their seers and sidekicks by their sides, Skein Island looks through the roles we play, and how they form and divide us. Powerful and disturbing, it is a story over which the characters will fight for control.
Until they realise the true enemy is the story itself.