Not sure if you heard the news, but 50 years back astronauts set foot on the moon. The historic landing is all over the everything, and moon-related, Apollo-11-centric books abound. I love a theme, and I love seeing all the spacey titles arranged together in bookstore windows and on end-aisle displays. But also, these books are nonfiction and I crave fiction, so I've created my own themed display below; six recent fiction titles to send me (and you!) racing into space.
Ancestral Night: White Space Book 1 by Elizabeth Bear
Saga Press, March 2019. I would like a space opera to be a stage covered by astronauts and aliens belting out arias about quasars and exo-planets. If it isn't (it's not), I'd like a space opera to be a sweeping melodrama set in outer space (it is). Elizabeth Bear's new book sounds like a perfect choice for my first operatic read: space pirates, crooked authorities, wise aliens, and a scrappy scavenging heroine traveling the stars in a rickety ship.
Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin
Amazon Original Stories, September 17, 2019. So this one's backwards – the protagonist doesn't leave earth, they return to it, way down the road when humanity has devolved into … well, the explorer will find out what, and so will you, reader. Emergency Skin, by the award(s)-winning Jemisin, is part of a sensational project called Forward, which brings together six writers, each telling a story about Earth's imagined future. The stories will be available digitally at Amazon, and each can be read in one sitting.
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor Books, 2018. Guilty truth: Occasionally, I am swayed by prizes. And Kowal, already a well-established fantasy author, garnered big prizes (Nebula Award! Locus Award!) and big buzz for her sci-fi debut, The Calculating Stars. The book is the first in her Lady Astronaut series, which follows a 1950s mathematician in her quest to become an astronaut and colonize space. Book two, The Fated Sky, is also out, with three and four — The Relentless Moon and The Derivative Base — set to publish in 2020 and 2022, respectively.
Delta-V by Daniel Suarez
Dutton, 2019. Suarez used to work as a systems consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and his thrillers focus on high-tech sci-fi. In Delta-V, a charming bajillionaire sends a team of adventurers, including the book's cave-diving protagonist, into space to mine an asteroid. I feel like this is a Matt Damon movie waiting to be made. I'm the kind of nerdy braggart who likes to tell everyone I read the book first, and so…
Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019. I already read this, so I'm totally cheating, but I really adore this book, and it's a lot about space, so here it is again. Swyler defies genre, or pulls in from many genres, or creates a new genre, or … in any case, she does something truly excellent with this book, about a young astronaut hopeful and her father, who messes with time and changes the trajectory of an entire town. I read this months ago, and I'm still thinking about it.
Saga: Compendium One by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
Image Comics, October 1, 2019. Arriving at your local comic book store for the next monthly installment of your favorite story – maybe it's Saga, the interstellar space opera (there it is again!) centered around a couple from warring races who try to escape calamity while raising their daughter Hazel — is excitement of the tiny-but-real variety. But while you're waiting in line, you read the entire thing, because monthly comic books are super short. Already the joy is deflated and you haven't even paid. Personally, I find it more fulfilling to save up and blow all my comic-book money on a good compendium like this one!
Spine Authors Editor Susanna Baird grew up inhaling paperbacks in Central Massachusetts, and now lives and works in Salem. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Boston Magazine, BANG!, Failbetter, and Publishers Weekly. She's the founder of the Salem Longform Writers' Group, and serves on the Salem Literary Festival committee. When not wrangling words, she spends time with her family, mostly trying to pry the cat's head out of the dog's mouth, and helps lead The Clothing Connection, a small Salem-based nonprofit dedicated to getting clothes to kids who need them. Online, you can find her at susannabaird.com and on Twitter @SusannaBaird.