Charles Yu’s debut novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, was ambitious and very well-written. I didn’t think it lived up to the considerable hype surrounding it, but it certainly proved that Yu has a ton of talent. So I’ll definitely be reading this, Yu’s third book and second story collection. While Universe faltered with a tricky premise, a bunch of shorter works is bound to contain at least a few gems.
Sam Kean previously wrote The Disappearing Spoon, a bestselling collection of weird (true) stories that revolved around the periodic table of the elements. This time around, his writings focus on quirks of genetic code, explaining how a certain kind of thumb can help a person become an exemplary violinist, why certain people survive nuclear bombs, and a lot more.
Ashby’s debut sci-fi novel follows a self-replicating android named Amy, who keeps the malfunctioning conscious of her grandmother in one corner of her memory, literally. Amy is also the only android who can kill humans without her programming shutting her down. I’ve been disappointed by cyber-fiction recently, but I still think it’s rich subject matter, so I’m going to roll the dice with Ashby.
I still haven’t read Chris Cleave, but everybody in the world, including our own Sean Clark, loved his recent novel, Little Bee. This one seems to tread similar ground, focusing on a friendship between two women. This time, they’re Olympic athletes gearing up for their last Games.
Abbott’s latest focuses on a pair of high school cheerleaders who become persons of interest when police investigate a suspicious suicide. Abbott won an Edgar award for her novel Queenpin, so this could be worth checking out.
Tana French writes a popular brand of mystery, centered around identity and intense personal relationships. I’ve tried two of her previous novels, and they’re not my cup of tea, but if you’re looking for a mystery, French is a better writer than most. And check out Gone Girl while you’re at it.
This premise is right up my alley. An asteroid rocketing toward Earth will destroy all human life in six months. One detective, Hank Palace, is still working cases, and finds more than he reckoned when he digs into a seemingly innocuous suicide (suicides being increasingly common since news of humanity’s doom broke). The only thing restraining my enthusiasm is the fact that one of Winters’s previous books, Android Karenina, wasn’t much more than cookie-cutter midlist filler. Tough call.