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Staff Picks: Science Fiction and Fantasy

33912091It’s finally May (May the 4th be with you!) so if you’re like us, you’re already picking out your summer books for parks, beach, and plane reading. Aren’t you? Well, I’m here to offer up a few picks from the realm of the imaginary but not impossible.

30223025Ambiguity Machines and other stories by Vendana Singh will surely satisfy all of your SF/F cravings: “In her first North American collection, Vandana Singh’s deep humanism interplays with her scientific background in stories that explore and celebrate this world and others and characters who are trying to make sense of the people they meet, what they see, and the challenges they face. An eleventh century poet wakes to find he is as an artificially intelligent companion on a starship. A woman of no account has the ability to look into the past. In ‘Requiem,’ a major new novella, a woman goes to Alaska to try and make sense of her aunt’s disappearance.” This book had me hooked at “11th century poet wakes up as AI.”
Downdrift: An Eco Fiction by Johanna Drucker answers the question: What if animals starting acting like people? Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction and fans of Borne by Jeff VanderMeer.
The Gone World by Tom Sweterlisch is the creepy time-traveling murder mystery you didn’t know you needed. It’s a bit like if Kim Stanley Robinson and Lauren Beukes got together to make a book. Fans of The Shining Girls will be pleased.
Dread Nation: Rise Up by Justina Ireland is the young adult antebellum zombie western you didn’t know you needed.

 Jacket Art: Heads of State / Art Director: Jacqui McDonough This doesn’t qualify as sci-fi so if your littles have their eyes to the stars (or you young at heart), but their feet planted in reality, I have to slip in a plug for Jack Cheng’s debut novel for young readers, the warm and affirming story of 11 year-old Alex Petroski, young rocket scientist and Carl Sagan superfan, See You In The Cosmos. This book has such a big heart I can’t even.

And finally something to turn your youngest ones into sci-fi fans, Smon Smon by Sonja Danowski.
This gorgeously illustrated picture book is delightful and whimsical and strange. The illustrations look like something out of Juxtapoz and the writing is clever in what it asks the reader to do.  To follow the story and find meaning in the nonsensical words for things and beings from another world (the smon smon lives on the planet gon gon for instance), the reader relies on context clues and memory. This makes for an engaging read aloud as you point out the new elements in the story: what does the smon smon put in the ton ton? The ron ron of course! Nothing like a ton ton full of delicious ron ron after a long day.