Clade by James Bradley

Clade

Clade by James Bradley is a nominee for my Book of the Year 2016.

Clade is a short book, 189 pages, and might technically be a novella. However, since it was published as a stand-alone piece, I am considering it a novel. Also, I have read 1,000 page books that did not have as much story as Clade does. In that way, Clade reminds me of two favorite books from last year, Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (208 pages) and Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (192 pages). All three books presented deep, full stories in very few pages.

Clade follows a family and their friends through many years of ecological disasters due to global warming. Jumping years at a time, we get glimpses into their lives. In those glimpses we see the impact of the climate change on the world and on the family. It could almost be the same world as the one in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, or at least one parallel to it. Though the world in Clade seems a bit more gone than the one in The Water Knife.

I highly recommend Clade and will definitely keep an eye out for the next book by Mr. Bradley.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson is a nominee for my Book of the Year 2016. And I almost did not read it.

Many years ago, Mr. Robinson wrote the Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars). They were fantastic. I read a few of his other books, which I enjoyed, but in 2013 I read his book 2312. It won the Nebula Award, so many many people really enjoyed that book. I will just say that I did not enjoy that book. I was really put off by it, and did not decide to read Aurora until almost seven months after its release.

The main factor for reading Aurora was Locus Magazine’s 2015 Year in Review issue. Multiple reviewers all said almost the same exact thing when writing about Aurora:

“It may be the science fiction book of the year!”

I have always trusted Locus Magazine and took a chance on Aurora. I am very glad I did. Aurora is about a generation space ship, near the end of its 170-plus year journey to another solar system. The story is told mostly through the eyes of one family and the ship’s AI (which works way better than I thought it would). Mr. Robinson captures the challenges of generational space travel, the ship needed to make the journey, and the conflicts that can arise.

In some ways Aurora reminds me of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. However, other than some very high-level similarities (generation ships), they are very different books. If you read one you will not be disappointed if you read the other.

I highly recommend Aurora. I will also continue to read Mr. Robinson moving forward.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is my first nominee for Book of the Year 2016.

Mr. Bacigalupi’s last few books have been YA. This is his first adult novel since The Windup Girl, which I also highly recommend.

The Water Knife is set in the near future where the southwestern states wage a cold – and sometimes hot – war over water rights. It is a pre-apocalyptic world, and these are the first steps to the end.

The three main characters are a journalist, a refugee and an operative who show us different aspects of the world in this time. As always, I try to avoid spoilers here, so all I will say is that The Water Knife is as much as thriller as it is a warning of what realistically could happen. Great book, highly recommended.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Sevenevs

I just finished reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. Like many of his books, it is big, almost 900 pages. Though long, it moves fast. The story begins with the destruction of the moon. It is soon realized that the debris from the moon will begin to slam into the earth, destroying everything on the surface. With less than two years to survive, the human race does everything it can to try and establish a way to survive in space. It will be thousands of years before anyone will be able to return to the surface.

Interesting characters, great action sequences, science that seems to be based on reality, Seveneves is definitely a nominee for my Book of the Year. Highly recommended.

Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Elysium

Over the weekend I read Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (no relation to the Neill Blomkamp movie). It was fantastic and definitely a Book of the Year Nominee.

I read a review of it in this month’s Locus Magazine and it sounded interesting. First of all, the characters seemed to shift names and genders. For example, within one chapter Antoine may become Antoinette all of a sudden, then back again. Sometimes when a writer tries this it comes off as a gimmick at best, very annoying at worse. However, in the hands of Ms. Brissett it is something very cool and relevant to the story.

I try to avoid spoilers when talking about books, but I will give an overview. The book follows characters – perhaps sets of characters – as the earth lurches then tumbles into a post-apocalyptic disaster. Is it war, a bio weapon? Is it nature? Is it aliens? Not going to say, but the resolution is pretty perfect.

Elysium is only about two hundred pages, so while it is a fast read, it feels like you’ve experienced a lot with these characters in this world. Available on Kindle and in paperback, I highly recommend it.

Throwback Thursday – The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop

One of the first “real” books I read as a kid – meaning not one for school or just aimed at kids – was The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop.

I believe I bought it (for $1.25!!) in 1974 or 1975 at Greenwich Village’s legendary Science Fiction Shop. The picture above is of that very copy.

As the description on the cover says, Texas has left the Union, kidnapped the President, and tank-driving Israelis are going to get him back. As a kid I thought this was awesome.

I even did a book report on it in school and actually got a decent grade.

Many years later in 2003 I found Jake “Buddy” Saunders via Google. Buddy founded Lone Star Comics in Texas in 1961 and in the 2000s started MyComicShop.com. I emailed Buddy through the site, asking if he would sign my book.

Buddy was awesome. Not only did he sign it, but he then forwarded my book to Howard Waldrop who signed it as well. Howard continues to write and he has won Nebula and World Fantasy awards.