This week’s Tuesday list features books in which characters travel across the stars, whether to seek revenge, to see what’s out there, or to recall the past. They’re a wide-ranging lot, but that’s the best part about the Tuesday List!
- Radiance, Cat Valente
Radiance is one of those books that dazzles with style, imagination, and pure guts, and makes you wonder just how the author was able to keep it all together long enough to finish. It’s an alt-universe, surreal take on a world in which space travel became possible around the turn of the 20th century, when the moon was colonized before talking pictures were a thing, and the story of a man seeking to tell the final story of his daughter, a film-maker like him, and yet nothing like him. It’s beatiful, melancholy, and more than a bit noir, a brilliant homage to groundbreaking science fiction and filmmaking a la A Trip to the Moon, the 1902 french silent film.
2. Planetfall, Emma Newman
Stumbling forth from a near-future that is only too familiar, the characters in Emma Newman’s Planetfall have made the perilous journey across the universe to a new planet, guided by what can only be an alien intelligence. But it’s as much a pscyhological thriller as it is science fiction, and what Renata, a brilliant engineer in the field of 3D printing technology that can meet any conceivable need, knows is at the heart of it.
3. Noumenon, Marina J. Lostetter
Taking a nod from popular hard science fiction predecessors, Noumenon is a startling speculative work while at the same time being an introspective look at humanity and our search for meaning in the wider universe. Told in vignettes that skip forward through the generations, it packs thousands of years of history into one epic journey to a distant, unique star.
4. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Revenge is a dish best served with tea. The Raadch have colonized planet after planet, making use not only of superior military power, but the advanced technologies of cloning and artificial intelligence. Breq used to be an entire ship, but now she is just one humanoid, determined to make the Raadch pay for a wrong committed long in the past, but one she can never forgive or forget.
5. The Stars Change, Mary Anne Mohanraj
One’s view of the stars may change, but human life continues on. For a university professor and others on a planet dedicated to learning and research, conflict can tear some apart, but it can also bring them together. Humans and non-humans alike experience joy, pain, and love in a story that really puts the spec into spec fiction.