The year is almost over, and the time has come to look back on our favorite books of 2014. This list focuses on the worlds of imagination; visions of the future, and different realms where anything is possible. Here they are, my favorite science fiction and fantasy books of the year! (This list is in the order of release date.)
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley is the first book in a new fantasy series. The Emperor of the Annurian Empire has been murdered, and his three (adult) children must unravel the conspiracy behind his death. Hearing the news in separate corners of the land, they must face their own intrigues and challenges to avenge their father and inherit the throne.
The Martian by Andy Weir is the near-future, hard science fiction tale of an astronaut left stranded on Mars. As NASA astronauts carry out the second manned mission to the red planet, a sandstorm separates Mark Watney from the rest of his crew. Forced to survive alone in a completely inhospitable environment, Watney’s tale is told through his harrowing, yet hilarious, journal entries.
Influx by Daniel Suarez asks the question, “Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings?” A powerful shadow organization is keeping the world in an artificial dark age, in order to prevent the societal upheaval that new advanced technology could bring. When one scientist is imprisoned for inventing a gravity device, he must try to find a way to defeat this organization and help bring humanity to the future.
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is the massive sequel to the equally enormous first book, The Way of Kings. Describing this story in a paragraph is impossible. It is set on the world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war. The story of this war and the characters embroiled in it continues in this amazing book.
Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence is the start of a new series by the author who brought you the Broken Empire Trilogy. Through a series of fantastical events of courtly intrigue, a cursed minor royal, tenth in line for the throne, must go on a journey with a Norse warrior. On the way, they encounter grave dangers, willing women, and the eventual realization that they are nothing but pawns in a game that is leading to war.
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb starts at the end, or what should have been the end. After many years of peaceful “retirement”, a former assassin must leave his cozy life when his past comes erupting back into the picture. A messenger comes seeking the assassin, but dies violently before he can reach him. Who killed the messenger? What was the message? These questions lead to a new adventure for an old adventurer.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley steamrolls through from chapter one, promising to become one of the best fantasy series in years. A war is raging on the eve of a cataclysmic event that is known to change entire worlds. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Lock In by John Scalzi tells the story of a virus pandemic, taking place fifteen years from today. The virus causes approximately 1% of the world to become “locked in”, fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. As society adapts to the fact that millions of people are locked in, a virtual reality world is created for these victims to interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. It is also discovered that certain people have brains that are receptive to control, and the locked-in can “ride” them, controlling their bodies for a time.
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie continues the story that began in 2013’s Ancillary Justice. The story follows a soldier known as Breq. Breq was once Justice of Toren – a spaceship artificial intelligence, but an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin brings the award-winning writing of China’s most beloved science fiction author to English readers for the first time. A secret Chinese military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.
Stop by the Southfield Public Library to inquire about these titles, and many more in our science fiction section!