Take a quick trip to another world (or time!) in these thought-provoking science-fiction novellas.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
It's been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of what do people need? is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
A Remedy in Time by Jennifer Macaire
A new disease is decimating the large mammal population and is poised to infect humans. Its resemblance to a typhus from the last ice age is troubling, and so two scientists are sent back to get blood samples from the megafauna of the time, including the sabre tooth tiger. From the futuristic cities on Earth and Mars to the wilds of the Paleolithic era, Robin must find a way to stay alive and return to her time with the antibodies that will save the lives of millions.
Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R Kiernan
A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation. In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible--the Children of the Next Level. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA's interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact. And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
A murderous android discovers itself. All Systems Red tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self-discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself--but first she has to make it there, alive.
Finna by Nino Cipri
When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store - but not that one - slips through a portal to another dimension, it's up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company's bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago. To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Ella has a Thing. She sees a classmate grow up to become a caring nurse. A neighbor's son murdered in a drive-by shooting. Things that haven't happened yet. Kev, born while Los Angeles burned around them, wants to protect his sister from a power that could destroy her. But when Kev is incarcerated, Ella must decide what it means to watch her brother suffer while holding the ability to wreck cities in her hands. Rooted in the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is as much an intimate family story as a global dystopian narrative.
The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry. Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to get away -- to move to one of the last remnants of pre-disaster society -- but she can't bring herself to abandon her mother and the community that relies on her. When she's offered a coveted place on a dangerous and profitable mission, she jumps at the opportunity to set her family up for life, but how can Reid ask people to put their trust in her when she can't even trust her own mind?
The Employees : A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn
Funny and doom-drenched, The Employees chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them.
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