Fictional Man by Al Ewing
In Hollywood, where last year's stars are this year's busboys, Fictionals are everywhere. Niles Golan's therapist is a Fictional. So is his best friend. So (maybe) is the woman in the bar he can't stop staring at. Fictionals - characters 'translated' into living beings for movies and TV using cloning technology - are a part of daily life in LA now. Sometimes the problem is knowing who's real and who's not. Divorced, alcoholic and hanging on by a thread, Niles - author of The Saladin Imperative: A Kurt Power Novel and many others - has been hired to write a big-budget reboot of a classic movie. If he does this right, the studio might bring one of Niles' own characters to life. Somewhere beneath the movie - beneath the TV show it was inspired by, the children's book behind that and the story behind that - is the kernel of something important. If he can just hold it together long enough...
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
'I will tell you a story, but it comes with a warning; when you hear it, you will become someone else.' He calls himself Alif, a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern. When Alif comes into possession of a mysterious book entitled The Thousand and One Days, he discovers a door to another world - a world from a very different time, when old magic was in the ascendant and the djinn walked amongst us. Thus begins an adventure that takes him through the crumbling streets of a once-beautiful city, to uncover the long-forgotten mysteries of the Unseen. Alif is about to become a fugitive. And he is about to unleash a destructive power that will change everything and everyone - starting with Alif himself...
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Jack Holloway works alone. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp's headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation's headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor. As for his past, that's not up for discussion. Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth. But there's another wrinkle to ZaraCorp's relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species. Then a small furry biped - trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute - shows up at Jack's outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp's claim to a planet's worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed...and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the "fuzzys" before their existence becomes more widely known.
Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell
Startling, fast-paced SF from one of the most striking new voices. A cigar-chomping monkey, nuclear-powered Zeppelins, electronic souls and a battle to avert armageddon. In 1944, as waves of "German ninjas" parachute into Kent, Britain's best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed 'Ack-Ack Macaque'. The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he's starting to doubt everything, including his own existence. A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins encircle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of 42 junior high school students are taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are electronically collared, provided with weapons of varying potency, and sent out onto the island. If they are in the wrong part of the island at the wrong time, their collars will explode. If they band together to save themselves a collar will explode at random. If they try to escape from the island, they will be blown up. Their only chance for survival lies in killing their classmates. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, and a potent story of politics and survival in a dog-eat-dog world.
Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler
The acclaimed trilogy that comprises LILITH'S BROOD is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., LILITH'S BROOD is a profoundly evocative, sensual -- and disturbing -- epic of human transformation. Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected -- by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story...
All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armour and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known as the Bitch of War. Is the Bitch the key to Keiji's escape, or to his final death?
The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata
There Needs To Be A War Going On Somewhere: Lieutenant James Shelley commands a high-tech squad of soldiers in a rural district within the African Sahel. They hunt insurgents each night on a harrowing patrol, guided by three simple goals: protect civilians, kill the enemy, and stay alive-because in a for-profit war manufactured by the defense industry there can be no cause worth dying for. To keep his soldiers safe, Shelley uses every high-tech asset available to him-but his best weapon is a flawless sense of imminent danger . . . as if God is with him, whispering warnings in his ear.
Burden of Proof by John G. Hemry
Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Sinclair must adjust to his new position on the warship USS Michaelson--juggling his Legal Officer responsibilities and his intensifying relationship with girlfriend Jen Shen. When an explosion takes out most of Forward Engineering, Sinclair leads the effort to extinguish the fire. He's practically a hero. But when Captain Shen, Jen’s father, is brought in to conduct an investigation, it seems that he’s gunning for his daughter’s suitor. Soon Sinclair uncovers evidence that points to a cover-up—involving a rising star in the officer corps. His evidence is circumstantial, and the suspect is the son of a powerful vice admiral. He's determined to see justice done, but is he willing to risk his name, his career, and his future among the stars?
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change--and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
The fact that someone had decided I'd be safer on Mars, where you could still only sort of breathe the air and sort of not get sunburned to death, was a sign that the war with the aliens was not going fantastically well. When Alice Dare finds out that she's being evacuated to Mars to join the youth defence force, she isn't sure what to expect. But it sure wasn't being shot at, chased by invisible aliens, befriending a robot goldfish - and then having to save the galaxy!
Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta
In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.
God's War by Kameron Hurley
Some days, Nyx was a Bel Dame - an honored, respected, and deadly government-funded assassin - other days, she was a butcher and a hunter; a woman with nothing to lose. Now the butcher has a bounty to bring in. Nyx and her rag-tag group of mercenaries is about to take up a contract that will shake the foundations of two warring governments...
Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
One hundred and fifty years from now, Africa has become the world's dominant technological and economic power. Crime, war, disease and poverty have been practically eliminated. The Moon and Mars are settled, and colonies stretch all the way out to the edge of the solar system. And Ocular, the largest scientific instrument in history, is about to make an epochal discovery... Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his long-running studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey's family, which controls the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans for him. After the death of his grandmother Eunice--the erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur--something awkward has come to light on the Moon, so Geoffrey is dispatched there to ensure the family name remains untarnished. But the secrets Eunice died with are about to be revealed--secrets that could change everything...or tear this near utopia apart.
The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher
Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. After saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace, overseeing the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station. The station's reclusive commandant is nowhere to be seen. Persistent malfunctions plague the station's systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard. Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman's voice that echoes across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past--or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot ...
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he's a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego ...and Alana can't keep her eyes off her. But there's little time for romance: Nova's in danger and someone will do anything - even destroying planets - to get their hands on her!
Three by Jay Posey
A lone gunman reluctantly accompanies a young boy and his dying drug-dependant mother, protecting them against the forces in pursuit. Fighting their way across the wastelands of the world, they seek the father of the boy, who - it is promised - will offer protection. But dangerous creatures live in the shadows, and there are assassins at every turn.
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach
Deviana Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. One of those is going to get her killed one day - but not just yet. Not when she just got a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble. And with a reputation for bad luck that makes one year as security detail on this ship equal to five years everywhere else - Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year might be more than even Devi can handle.
A huge thanks to Tiemen for putting the challenge together. As usual he came up with some devious clues. The list has some intriguing new authors and interesting stories to go out and discover. I hope you enjoyed the challenge as much as I did!