New sci-fi and science reads for January 2024

Happy New Year! And Happy National Science Fiction Day, celebrated in the US to mark Isaac Asimov’s birthday. In honor of the occasion, I have a great lineup of new science and sci-fi releases to share with you. So, let’s get started!

The Algorithm: How AI Decides Who Gets Hired, Monitored, Promoted, and Fired and Why We Need to Fight Back Now by Hilke Schellmann
Did you think your HR department or manager were responsible for hiring you? Turns out AI may be watching you and deciding whether you make the grade–both in job recruitment and in university admissions. And as if that isn’t sinister enough, the algorithms are making biased, racist assessments. Award-winning journalist Schellman lifts the lid on the disturbing use of AI in the workplace and education.

The Tusks of Extinction by Ray Naylor
This novella has such an intriguing premise. Long-extinct elephants have been brought back by the Russians, and the digital consciousness of an elephant behaviorist, after her murder, is uploaded into the mind of one of the resurrected species. Can she prevent them from dying out like the original elephants? Expect a thought-provoking SF thriller with great world-building and characterization.

Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto by Kohei Saito, translated by Brian Bergstrom
It’s going to take a radical shift in our mindset if we stand any chance of effectively tackling climate change. Sait? argues for a reversal in our endless pursuit of growth, for a slowdown in economic activity that will move us towards a sustainable lifestyle based on needs rather than wants. A persuasive argument that deserves a wide audience.

Shapers of Worlds: Volume IV by Edward Willett (editor) & Wendi Nordell (illustrator)
An anthology of mostly original sci-fi and fantasy stories from authors who’ve been featured on the award-winning podcast The World Shapers. This caught my eye as it features stories from two authors I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and/or meeting: Edward M. Lerner and Mark Leslie. Entertaining tales from many fictional worlds.

The Allure of the Multiverse: Extra Dimensions, Other Worlds, and Parallel Universes by Paul Halpern
The multiverse has become a sci-fi staple, but could it actually be real? In this wide-ranging overview, physicist Halpern looks at how the concept first emerged and the tantalizing and often head-spinning questions it raises, Along the way, he discusses the theories of Nietziche and Einstein, as well as the treatment of the multiverse in modern movies. A topic to ponder!

Deep Freeze by Michael C. Grumley
It’s time for some gripping, page-turning action in the first of a new series from the author of the Breakthrough books. Army veteran John Reiff should have drowned. Instead, he wakes up in hospital in very mysterious circumstances. Lots of appeal for Michael Crichton fans and anyone who enjoys near-future technothrillers.

Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet by Hannah Ritchie
Data scientist Ritchie demonstrates that we have already made progress on environmental issues and can continue to do so. This is an accessible and positive look at how we can tackle climate change, backed up by numerous studies and data. One to recommend to younger generations especially, but also to the very many of us who feel climate anxiety.

Machine Vendetta by Alastair Reynolds
In the third of Reynolds’ Prefect Dreyfus series, an experienced operative, with links to Dreyfus’s past, is murdered. Full of conspiracies, betrayals, and political intrigue, and anchored by Reynolds’ always-solid science, this is sure to be an engrossing mystery, and perfect for fans of far-future police procedurals.

A Mystery from the Mummy-Pits: The Amazing Journey of Ankh-Hap by Frank L. Holt
Holt reconstructs the story of an Egyptian man called Ankh-Hap, whose mummified remains were seized in the nineteenth century, eventually ending up in an American classroom. His fate was illustrative of a thriving trade of mummy trafficking that endured well into the last century. Most mummified remains weren’t revered, it turns out, but to be exploited for profit. This is a shocking, yet fascinating archaeological history.

The Book of Mars: An Anthology of Fact and Fiction by Stuart Clark
And to finish, a volume that’s perfectly suited for this blog post, drawing together both fictional and factual theories and speculations about Mars from the nineteenth century onwards. The selected pieces include a wide range of classic and modern-day sci-fi, as well as contributions from experts in the fields of astronomy, aerospace engineering, and more.

Will any of these make it to your 2024 TBR list? Do you have a favorite Asimov book? Let me know in the comments!

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