New sci-fi and science reads for October 2023

This month’s new releases bring us black holes, aliens, poison, and a book on infrastructure that I’m sure Joe Ballen and Logan Twofeathers would be reading alongside their engineering journals. Plus, I have not one, but two, bonuses for you!

White Holes by Carlo Rovelli
We’re all used to hearing about black holes, but white holes??? Turns out we have to navigate to the very heart of a black hole to find them. Join physicist Rovelli on the cutting edge of quantum mechanics as he investigates intricate (and mind-boggling!) space-time dynamics, and whether one day all black holes will morph into white holes.

Communications Breakdown edited by Jonathan Strahan
I’ve highlighted many Jonathan Strahan short-story anthologies in these posts, and this one is no less enticing. Tackling the big theme of communication in the future, there are contributions from many award winners and big names in current sci-fi, plus an interview with digital privacy activist Chris Gilliard. Sure to be a thought-provoking read.

The Little Book of Aliens by Adam Frank
In these days of conspiracies and dubious UFO reports–sorry, unexpurgated aerial something?–this is a refreshingly scientific look at whether there really is life “out there,” and if so, what form it might take. Astrophysicist Frank provides an essential and engaging overview of what we know so far, as well as discussing latest research techniques in this field. Little green men need not apply 🙂

Generation Ship by Michael Mammay
A generation ship is on its way to settle an alien planet, but unanswered probes and stirrings of discontent within the crew mean that trouble is brewing. Mammay is most known for his military SF, but this standalone is more of a space opera with plenty of suspense and political intrigue.

How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our Work by Deb Chachra
Infrastructure underpins everything we do, although we take it for granted, and politicians certainly never want to spend money on it. This is a timely and important look at the vast network of structures and utilities that we rely on, such as bridges, cable systems, water and sewer pipes, and highlights the very high cost if we don’t invest in them. Chachra’s focus is US, but her conclusions are applicable to many countries.

The Best of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar
Another anthology, this time with an international focus, and a great way to expand your sci-fi horizons. Clocking in at over 600 pages, this third volume of the series brings together twenty-eight stories from writers all over the globe. Dinosaurs, aliens, robots, and shape-shifting rabbits are all in the mix!

Most Delicious Poison: The Story of Nature’s Toxins–From Spices to Vices by Noah Whiteman
Whiteman dissects the chemical compounds hidden in produce, spices, house plants and much more to reveal their often deadly properties. Encompassing evolution and neuroscience as well as chemistry, it’s a fascinating look at the toxins hidden in our natural world and why we often become so addicted to them. Hmm–it must be time for some more caffeine 🙂

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu
This is billed as Aladdin meets Murderbot: an intriguing combination! This quirky novel with a dystopian, cyberpunk feel has extravagant world-building, plenty of political intrigue, and an endearing lead duo in siblings Alina and Bador. Oh–and Bador just happens to be a monkey bot!

The Warped Side of Our Universe by Kip Thorne and Lia Halloran (artist)
Who says science and art don’t mix? Take a walk on the Warped Side with this unique collaboration between a Nobel Laureate and award-winning artist as they explore the mysteries of our universe through lavish illustrations and verse. This would make a very special gift for the space fan in your life.

The Mysterious Case of Rudolph Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I by Douglas Brunt
Bonus #1. I somehow missed this last month, but the story sounds so fascinating, I had to include it this time around. In 1913, the celebrated inventor of the Diesel engine, with more than a few powerful enemies, disappeared during a steamship journey to England. What really happened that night? For biography readers who enjoy a riveting mystery, this will hit the spot!

Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships by Neil Blevins
Bonus #2. I’ve learnt so much from professional concept designer and space artist Neil Blevins, who is incredibly generous in sharing his knowledge. Most usually known for his digital art, here, Neil is putting pen to paper with over 100 spacecraft sketches, as well as tips and tricks for aspiring artists. An inspiring resource, for artists both young and older!

So there’s plenty to enjoy this month. Do you plan to read any of these new releases? Let me know in the comments! And Happy Thanksgiving weekend to Canadian readers!

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