Welcome to fall! And welcome back to my regular round-up of new sci-fi and science releases that have caught my eye. In the mix this month, we have cyberpunk, Scalzi, and everything you wanted to know about the octopus!
Your Face Belongs to Us: A Secretive Startup’s Quest to End Privacy as We Know It by Kashmir Hill
Remember Clearview AI? This was the face recognition technology promising a new era of surveillance, but so invasive that even Facebook and Google apparently steered clear of it. Hill provides an engrossing look at the history of this start-up company, a timely warning on the threat to our privacy as we veer towards a potentially Orwellian near future.
The Big Book of Cyberpunk edited by Jared Shurin
Dive into a high-tech, high-stakes, and often very weird near-future with this anthology of over a hundred stories. Representing authors from over twenty-five countries, this is a treasure trove for fans of cyberpunk, and a great introduction if you’re new to the genre.
Misbelief: What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things by Dan Ariely
These days, it seems we’re drowning in fake news, and sinking ever deeper as AI becomes more sophisticated. Rather than condemn people for so easily believing the lies and preposterosityTM David M. Kelly:-), Ariely chooses to empathasize and seeks to understand why this happens.
Starter Villain by John Scalzi
Yes, that cover is a touch creepy, and yes, this novel has talking spy cats here on present-day Earth. Everybody run!!! But when one of sci-fi’s biggest names has a new release, you know you’re in for a snarky, satirical, and thought-provoking read. I can’t wait!
To Infinity and Beyond: A Journey of Cosmic Discovery by Neil deGrasse Tyson & Lindsey Nyx Walker
Written in conjunction with a special season of the StarTalk podcast, this is a fantastic book for anyone interested in an accessible take on astrophysics. And also covers one of my favorite topics: scientific inaccuracies in sci-fi! ?
The Fractured Dark by Megan E. O’Keefe
There’s lots happening in the second of the Devoured Worlds series, with main character Naira rebuilding her memories after being reprinted. Expect conspiracy, romance, betrayal, and plenty of action in this highly readable space opera. O’Keefe is definitely a writer to discover and one to recommend to anyone new to sci-fi.
Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth’s Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis by Michael E. Mann
This is a vital and timely reminder from climate scientist Mann that environmental conditions have only allowed humanity to flourish during the last 2 million years of the Earth’s approximately 4.5 billion-year existence. Exceeding those boundaries threatens the continued survival of our species, but if we learn from history, there is still a chance to prolong our “fragile moment.”
The Sky Vault by Benjamin Percy
If you like your sci-fi mixed with small town mystery and horror, you’re in for a treat. Evoking comparisons with Stephen King and Blake Crouch, this standalone, also the third in the Comet Cycle series, is told from multiple viewpoints and follows the weird happenings in an Alaskan community after a comet passes through the skies above.
The Lives of Octopuses and Their Relatives: A Natural History of Cephalopods by Danna Staaf
My septapoid Hyperia Jones was inspired by the octopus, so I have a special interest in this truly remarkable species. Staaf (who got to meet an octopus when she was ten!) provides a comprehensive overview of the cephalopod family, which includes squid, cuttlefish, and the nautilus, accompanied by a wealth of breathtaking images.