There were so many contenders for this month’s post, it was tough whittling them down. But here they are: my picks for the best new sci-fi and science books released in November!
Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big Way by Roma Agrawal
An absorbing read focusing on commonplace objects that are, in fact, vital components underpinning so many intricate inventions in our world. Structural engineer Agrawal presents a fascinating history of nails, magnets, wheels, and more. Along the way she highlights the achievements of many forgotten scientists and engineers, as well as the constraints of the societies in which they worked.
Chaos Terminal by Mur Lafferty
Amateur detective Mallory Viridian has her work cut out for her as she juggles serial killers, sentient aliens, and a sinister law enforcement agent, not to mention trying to protect old friends. Fun and frenetic, the second in the Midsolar Murders series, as the title implies, has a lot going on! Make sure to start with book one, Station Eternity.
How We Age: The Science of Longevity by Coleen T. Murphy
Lab research using invertebrates such as certain types of worms is showing major promise in extending lifespans. Can these techniques be transferred to humans? and will they help in the fight against age-related diseases? Princeton professor of genomics and molecular biology Murphy discusses those questions in this accessible overview of the latest research into aging.
System Collapse by Martha Wells
Everyone’s favorite robot with snark is back in the seventh installment of The Murderbot Diaries, along with his sidekick ART. This follows directly on from Network Effect, with our hero attempting to help a group of abandoned colonists under threat from an unscrupulous corporation. But something is not right with Murderbot, and he’ll need to figure out the problem fast!
A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through? by Kelly Weinersmith & Zach Weinersmith
I think the sub-title of this book reflects what a lot of us wonder when we hear the grand pronouncements of certain business owners and politicians about settling on inhospitable Mars. In humorous, but also thoughtful, style, the Weinersmiths tackle essential questions around cultural and legal matters, as well as the day-to-day practicalities of living and working in space.
The Lost Cause by Cory Doctorow
This novel is set just thirty years into the future, and hits very close to home with an issue that many of us might be grappling with right now: how to deal with loved ones who refuse to acknowledge, let alone do anything to tackle, climate change. In Doctorow’s future, huge projects are underway to mitigate the effects, but society is still polarized. A thoughtful read with plenty of YA appeal.
Sins of the Shovel: Looting, Murder, & the Evolution of American Archaeology by Rachel Morgan
Historically, the attitude of many western archaeologists, not just in the US, towards the civilizations they were investigating left a lot to be desired. Here, Morgan focuses specifically on one late-nineteenth century expedition in Utah and New Mexico, which led to so much destruction of Indigenous sites that laws were passed to put a stop to it. A vivid account that’s both an entertaining and important read.
Mind Burn by Rhett C. Bruno & T.E. Bakutis
Rhett C. Bruno is known more for military SF and space operas. But Mind Burn, co-authored with Bakutis, is firmly in the fast-paced technothriller category with murder, mystery, and lots of future tech, including cybernetic implants, which are key to the murder investigation. Billed as a cross between Minority Report and Ready Player One, this has movie potential written all over it!
Starborn: How the Stars Made Us (and Who Would We Be Without Them) by Roberto Trotta
We’re back among the stars for my final science choice, but here, multi-award-winning cosmologist and science communicator Trotta imagines what our past would have looked like without their presence in our lives. How would humanity have developed without its navigators, time-keepers, and gods? It’s a fascinating look at the link between astronomy and civilization.