Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Jesse Hudson


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They Shall Have Stars: The technical details of how we’ll achieve this dream

They Shall Have Stars by James Blish

The optimism of Modernism expressed itself in a variety of fashions. Silver Age science fiction perhaps the grandest of them all, the infinite potential of technology was a playground which hundreds of writers rushed to frolic on. Jaunts to Mars, telekinetic communication, robot servants — a universe of ideas was the genre’s oyster. Space flight perhaps the most utilized trope, there was no shortage of schemes and inspiration about how mankind could achieve the stars. Approaching in realist mode (chronologically, that is), James Blish and his CITIES IN FLIGHT sequence posited that discoveries in mathematics and solar system exploration would be the ticket to the galaxy.


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The Penelopiad: A razor-sharp retelling

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

It is Alicia Ostriker, in her wonderful collection of essays Dancing at the Devil’s Party, who writes “the true poet is necessarily the partisan of energy, rebellion, and desire, and is opposed to passivity, obedience, and the authority of reasons, laws and institutions.” Daring to deconstruct one of the most dearly held myths of the Western world, Margaret Atwood’s 2005 The Penelopiad is certainly a tango step or two with the one with the pitchfork tail.


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Unicorn Mountain: Moving, heartfelt fiction

Unicorn Mountain by Michael Bishop

When I lived in Prague, I couldn’t help but admire the Czechs and their respect for the written word. Riding the subway I saw many people who had taken the time to make a brown paper cover for their literary investment. While reading Michael Bishop’s Unicorn Mountain (1988), I considered doing the same. Unfortunately, it was for a different reason: protection of Bishop’s, and my, self-respect.

Pause, just for a moment, and take a look at the cover.


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Shadow of the Scorpion: Agent Cormac’s origin story

Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher

Shadow of the Scorpion (2008) is the fifth in Neal Asher’s AGENT CORMAC subseries, but first in terms of internal chronology, and second in the overall chronology of the POLITY series. Describing the events of Cormac’s youth, as well as his first years training as a soldier, it reveals how he came to be in Sparkind and involved in so much graphic, rip-roaring action across the Prador-infested galaxy.

Split into two storylines,


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The Secret of This Book: A great buffet of literature

The Secret of This Book by Brian W. Aldiss

Brian Aldiss was one of the most versatile writers in speculative fiction. Published in a variety of forms (poetry, plays, short fiction, novels, and non-fiction), a variety of genres and sub-genres (fantasy, science fiction, and realism — to cover the big ones) and in a variety of writing styles, his dynamism, willingness to try new modes, and experimentation with prose made him one of the most important writers in the field. Capturing this versatility is Aldiss’s 1995 collection The Secret of This Book.


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No Enemy But Time: Reveals new layers with each fresh realization

No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop

Mankind is a creature which occupies itself predominantly in the present. Smoking, murder, alcohol abuse, poor diet, resource wastage — all of these habits and behaviors alleviate the moment but do nothing to bolster the idea a human is aware of, or concerned with, the long term existence of itself or the species. Moreover, it’s fair to say that when one does bring in the long view, “recent” history and near future remain the focus. Our primitive roots are left to esoteric niches of science (archeology,


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The Best of Analog: A high-quality collection

The Best of Analog edited by Ben Bova

The Best of Analog is filled with high-caliber stories by all-star writers: Alfred BesterRoger ZelaznyGeorge R.R. MartinVonda McIntyreGene Wolfe, and more. Published in 1978, this anthology contains three novellas, ten shorts, and one poem — pieces that have by and large stood the test of time on both feet. It is a collection of bright, interesting sci-fi shorts, some of which won awards.


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Prador Moon: Grimdark space opera

Prador Moon by Neal Asher

In his far-future POLITY series, Neal Asher writes consistent, dependable, grimdark space opera. Prador Moon is one of three POLITY books that came out in 2006, and the fifth overall. It’s the first in the in-universe chronology, though, telling of the first meeting between the Prador and humanity. To say things don’t get off on the right foot would be to sell the opening scene (and the several novels which follow) short. Prador-human relations tumble to bits in the aftermath of “diplomacy,” and all-out space war erupts.


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Sea Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories: Leigh Brackett’s fantasy stories

Sea Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories by Leigh Brackett

As NASA’s Curiosity rover trundles about the surface of Mars today, another page turns on the glories of pulp science fiction. Leigh Brackett’s vision of a land populated with humans and aliens, ancient cities and creatures, long-buried secrets and mysterious deserts fades a shade closer to pale as one desolate desert image after another is beamed back to Earth. But there was a day when her works shone with the hope and possibility of life on the planets beyond Earth.


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Marcher: Possesses bite and purpose

Marcher by Chris Beckett

In 2008, Chris Beckett published the novel Marcher to little acclaim. A later release, Dark Eden (2012) met a much better response (it was nominated for the BSFA and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award), and Beckett decided to thoroughly revise his earlier novel and re-release it. Using his five additional years of experience, he honed in on the story he had wanted to tell and republished Marcher in 2014. With the original version checking in at roughly 300 pages and the revised version 200 pages,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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