Following a lengthy hiatus, I think it’s high time we brought back our Book of the Month Club. Longtime readers will remember our book club’s past run was highlighted by some terrific books and equally terrific Q&A sessions with the likes of John Scalzi, Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael Moorcock, Jasper Fforde, David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, and many, many more (Don’t believe me? Do a blog search for the authors).
Having given it some thought, this is how I’d like to portray with the new and improved version of the BOTMC….
At the beginning of every month, the gang at SF Signal publishes a list of upcoming genre releases complete with covers and click-to-synopses links. You can find their January rundown here:
I went over the list, dismissing the books I’ve read and those I have no interest in reading. I eliminated those with cheesy covers, subsequent books in an ongoing series, those that failed to capture my interest, those with synopses that failed to tell me what the book was about, those with descriptions containing grammatical errors, and, finally, those with alarm-bell descriptors words like “vampire”, “werewolf”, and “hunky”. I then narrowed THAT LIST down to the following seven books:
TERMS OF ENLISTMENT (Marko Kloos) Paperback, 346 pages
“The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to two thousand calories of badly flavored soy every day:
You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service.
With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price…and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.”
“Wounded in combat and honorably discharged nine years ago, Jack Daley still suffers nightmares from when he served his country as a sniper, racking up sixteen confirmed kills. Now a struggling author, Jack accepts an offer to write a near-future novel about a serial killer, based on a Hollywood script outline. It’s an opportunity to build his writing career, and a future with his girlfriend, Kit Majors.
But Jack’s other talent is also in demand. A package arrives on his doorstep containing a sniper rifle, complete with silencer and ammunition—and the first installment of a $100,000 payment to kill a “bad man.” The twisted offer is genuine. The people behind it are dangerous. They prove that they have Jack under surveillance. He can’t run. He can’t hide. And if he doesn’t take the job, Kit will be in the crosshairs instead.”
WOLVES (Simon Ings) Paperback, 304 pages
“The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century. Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them. A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner.”
THE ECHO (James Smythe) Paperback, 320 pages
“The disappearance of the spaceship Ishiguro twenty-three years ago devastated the global space program and set back exploration for a generation. Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of twin brothers Mira and Tomas Hyvonen, the program has been resurrected. Spearheading a new age of human discovery, the brothers also hope to solve the mystery behind the Ishiguro‘s disastrous mission.
Mira and Tomas are determined to make their trip successful. They have arranged everything down to the smallest detail. Nothing has been overlooked.
They don’t know that in space, the devil isn’t always in the details . . . and nothing goes according to plan.”
PERFECT (Rachel Joyce) Paperback, 400 pages
“Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.
What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .
SNOWBLIND (Christopher Golden) Hardcover, 320 pages
“The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards . . . but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same.
Now, as a new storm approaches twelve years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. Photographer Jake Schapiro mourns his little brother, Isaac, even as—tonight—another little boy is missing. Mechanic and part-time thief Doug Manning’s life has been forever scarred by the mysterious death of his wife, Cherie, and now he’s starting over with another woman and more ambitious crimes. Police detective Joe Keenan has never been the same since that night, when he failed to save the life of a young boy . . . and the boy’s father vanished in the storm only feet away. And all the way on the other side of the country, Miri Ristani receives a phone call . . . from a man who died twelve years ago.
As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.”
“A rebel and an outlaw lead an unsuspecting group of adventurers on a secret mission across the vastness of space, in Matthew Costello’s Star Road
Ivan Delgato, a former leader of a rebel group called the Runners, is released from jail on the condition that he carry out a secret mission for the World Council. His assignment is simple: stay under cover, but do absolutely anything necessary to reach the planet Omega IX and offer the renegade Runners clemency if they surrender—which may be complicated since Ivan’s brutally violent brother has taken lead of the Runners in Ivan’s absence.
In search of the Runners, Ivan catches a ride out to the wildest reaches of the galaxy via a mysterious transportation system, the Star Road. His fellow passengers on Star Road Vehicle-66 are a suspicious group, all with their own hidden reasons for traversing the star road. As the travelers contend with increasingly deadly encounters, it isn’t long before suspicions build against Ivan.
And as the Runners must choose one brother over the other, on a planet filled with ancient secrets, those who survive will confront a mystery that changes the Star Road, and humanity, forever.”
So these titles are in contention for our New and Improved Book of the Month Club. I’ll choose the date of our first discussion once the polls close (sometime next week). Time permitting, I’ll also reach out to the various authors and see if they’d be interested in dropping by for a little Q&A with us.
Cast your vote!
Again, you can check out the full list at SFsignal.com here:
Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Patricia who is undergoing knee surgery today!