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Author of New Pompeii & The Synapse Sequence

I don’t think anything quite prepares you for the dizzying experience of having your first novel published. New Pompeii came out in the summer, and I still find it very bizarre to walk into Waterstones and find my book on the shelves. And what’s even more strange is that, after a couple of years of waiting, the last few months have sped past and lots more new novels have appeared alongside it on the shelves.

As such, for my last SciFi Month post, I thought I’d highlight a few sci-fi / speculative books that made an impression on me this year – and two from next that are already on my radar – before the year is finished.

The Many Selves of Katherine North, Emma Geen

I met Emma at Edgelit (Derby) where we both made our first panel appearance at an SFF event. TMSoKN revolves around the story of Kit – who can project her consciousness into the bodies of lab-grown animals. Kit experiences life as both predator and prey but finds things complicated by a shady corporation, conspiracy and paranoia. Out in hardback this year, and paper back in 2017, this was a Guardian newspaper science fiction pick in the summer.

Escapology, Ren Warom

Ren is a fellow Titan author, whose book also debuted in June 2016. Escapology is a cyber-punk novel with leanings towards the weird. With strong reviews in SFX, Starburst and Sci-Fi Now, Escapology is anything but predictable. ***Stop Press - Selected as a Barnes and Noble Best SF Book of 2016!***

Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Ren make sure you ask her for the ‘shark’ signature on the book. Seriously, ask for the shark…!

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley

Speculative, rather than Sci-Fi, but hey: it’s nearly the end of the month and I really enjoyed it! Released in paperback in 2016, I’d heard quite a bit about this book prior to purchase and, of my picks for this list, this one has probably been the most commercially successful. TWoFS pulls together history, fantasy, clockwork, Victorian London and Japan into a single intricate narrative which I found to be utterly absorbing. (I saw a great documentary about clockwork automata a couple of years ago, which provides a haunting companion piece about what is possible with such devices. Youtube link here)

Nod, Adrian Barnes

I read a lot of great books in 2016, but I think this goes down as my favourite. I read it quickly, and for a relatively short book it is probably best consumed in one gulp. In Nod, only a few people are able to go to sleep. And after a few days without rest, society begins to fall apart. I thought the idea behind the book was great, and it is deeply unsettling. Try going to sleep afterwards…

2017 is coming….!

Defender, GX Todd

I read a sampler of Defender at Edgelit (Derby) in the summer, and was hooked. Since then, I’ve read tweets from Andy ‘Ebookwrm’ Angel, who has been lucky enough to read an ARC. Basically, everything I’ve seen and heard about this one suggests it’s going to be massive. Plus, I understand GX Todd drives a library van so is basically fighting the good literary fight!

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet. These voices have purpose. The voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

Netherspace, Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster

I know virtually nothing about this book except it has a cool cover, great blurb and my editor at Titan is very excited about it…

It's half-way through the twenty-first century.

Contact with alien races was made forty years ago, but communication turns out to be impossible. We don't share a way of thinking or common sensory inputs with the aliens, let alone a grammar. But there is trade, done on a basis of putting things on a table and taking them off again until agreement is reached.

Human science has become fixated on understanding alien technology – with little success. We can learn what it does and how to operate it. We don’t know how it works – or how to fix it. We're dependant on inexplicable alien Faster-Than-Light technology. This is controlled by aliens we call the Gliese and is the only constant trade: FTL engines for human beings, any age or condition, as long as they're alive.

We don't know what happens to them, but rumour says they are taken to a Nirvana where all illnesses will be healed. Their families are also very well compensated. Interstellar immigration and trade are central to the world's economy. There is no shortage of volunteers.

Posted as part of Rinn Reads Sci-Fi Month - November 2016