Enlarge / Cover detail from New York 2150, by Kim Stanley Robinson. (credit: Illustration by Stephan Martiniere)
It is the dreaded season of airport delays, family “fun,” and long weekends spent in delightful locations with no cellular reception. That means it’s book reading time! Whether you want to fire up your brain or just need to escape, we’ve got a handful of new releases from 2017 in science fiction and fantasy that should keep you distracted for as long as you need.
Sourdough, by Robin Sloan
If you’ve ever worked insane hours at a tech job, not knowing whether anything you do will make a difference, this novel is for you. Sloan is the author of the bestseller Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and his second novel Sourdough is just as delightful and weird. Lois spends all day writing software for robotic arms at a startup, where she’s beginning to feel numbed out and depressed. All her colleagues are obsessed with drinking Slurry, a Soylent-like food substitute, but her only joy in life is ordering the “double spicy” soup and sandwich from a local popup in her neighborhood. Eventually the guys who run the popup skip town but leave Lois with their special, secret sourdough starter. Lois becomes fascinated with making her own bread, eventually joining a strange community of scientist chefs who ask her to make bread with robot arms. Things get even more bizarro from there, taking us deep into the world of yeast biohackers. Throughout it all we’re buoyed by Sloane’s funny-but-sometimes-dark observations about the San Francisco tech scene.
Null States, by Malka Older
We loved Infomocracy, the first novel in Older’s Centenal series about a newly born global democracy on the brink of destruction. Null States, the sequel, just came out. After a nationalist party almost wrecks the election, using a combination of fake news propaganda and targeted violence, peace has been (kind of) restored. But now the newly elected Supermajority must convince the world of its legitimacy. Plus the Google-like information company that manages the elections must recover from internal corruption.
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