Science Fiction

In truly eye-opening science fiction you can fling yourself into fantastical futures, explore brave new worlds, and experience visionary science. Sci-Fi can also be so close to reality that it hurts. There are times when a visit closer to home, to something that feels almost touchable, is impossibly far away. SF offers unique perspectives, crosses boundaries, and encourages new thoughts. It offers a world of possibilities and allows escape from our own. Oh, and of course it would be highly illogical to not appreciate boldly going where no one has gone before (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves)...

Venomous Lumpsucker

Venomous Lumpsucker

Author: Ned Beauman Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/07/2022

The irresistible new novel by the Booker-longlisted author Ned Beauman - a darkly funny and incisive zoological thriller for the age of Extinction Rebellion. The venomous lumpsucker is the most intelligent fish on the planet. Or maybe it was the most intelligent fish on the planet. Because it might already be extinct. Nobody knows. And nobody cares. Except for two people. Mining executive Mark Halyard has a prison cell waiting for him if that fish has gone for good. And biologist Karin Resaint needs it for her own darker purposes. They don't trust each other, but they're left with no choice but to team up, pursuing the lumpsucker across the strange landscapes of near-future Europe. On the way, they are drawn into a conspiracy far bigger than one ugly little fish. Gripping and singular, Venomous Lumpsucker is a comedy about environmental devastation that asks: do we have it in us to avert the tragedy of mass extinction? And also: do we really need to bother?

The Final Strife

The Final Strife

Author: Saara El-Arifi Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.

Star Books
Disarrhoea

Disarrhoea

Author: Kevin Vodden Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/06/2022

'Disarrhoea' is a compelling set of unique short stories, ranging from sci-fi, to horror, to downright weird – all done in the best possible way of course! The stories are all vastly different from one another and yet keep the reader hooked on what bizarre goings on will befall the next set of characters… and no two stories are alike. The writing style used is very clever and enhances the chilling effect of each tale too, in particular that of 'Fearground'. This story is told purely through the "funfair masters" conversations with the participants, and although there is no detailed description of the scenery, Kevin Vodden does a fantastic job of giving enough description through a one-sided conversation to understand and picture all the spooky events taking place. Quite frankly I have never read a piece so uniquely written and so well executed, it is a sheer stroke of genius! The most striking stories for myself are of course 'Fearground' and 'Terror Pericolosa' as these stories were expressed so well and had strong tension throughout for the reader. 'Terror Pericolosa' was skilfully thought out and produced the perfect blend of sci-fi and emotion, whilst following the nerve-racking story of a research colonist team on a hostile planet. All of these stories are so original and keep you wondering and guessing what happened next, giving the reader a perfect cliff hanger and wanting more!! In conclusion these short stories are simply brilliant, and I would recommend them to any lover of horror, sci-fi or all things a bit weird! I genuinely can not pick fault with any of the tales as I think they are all so encaptivating and told superbly. Kevin Vodden has done a masterful job of encompassing the strange and wonderful.  Hermione White, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Spin Me Right Round

Spin Me Right Round

Author: David Valdes Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/05/2022

Telling a time-slip tale of 1980s homophobia and friendship, David Valdes’ You Spin Me Right Round is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of humour and a heart - think Back to the Future with a 21st-century twist. Luis Gonzales, a drama-loving 17-year-old fashionista of Cuban heritage, is his high school’s Student Body President and on the Prom Council, determined to change school policy so he and his boyfriend Cheng can go to prom together - the “opposite gender” guest policy sucks. Reeling from having his dream quashed at a meeting, Luis is transported to a 1985 incarnation of his school, back to when his mom and dad attended. “I’m here, I’m queer, it’s 1985 - get used to it”, Luis announces with bravado, but life for a gay brown teenager in a predominantly white Christian school in the 80’s is far from easy. With time ticking away, and Luiz desperate to find a way to save closeted Chaz from homophobia and get back to his mom and Cheng, readers are in for a trip that’s thought- provoking and funny, with Luiz’s slick, witty voice propelling the drama at breakneck speed.

Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility

Author: Emily St. John Mandel Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

The award-winning author of Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel returns with a wondrous novel of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. Sea of Tranquility is a virtuoso performance and an enormously exciting offering from one of our most remarkable writers. In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core. Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive's bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe. Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive, it is incredibly compelling.

Eyes of the Void

Eyes of the Void

Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Eyes of the Void is the second high-octane instalment in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Final Architecture space opera trilogy. After eighty years of fragile peace, the Architects are back, wreaking havoc as they consume entire planets. In the past, Originator artefacts - vestiges of a long-vanished civilization - could save a world from annihilation. Yet the Architects have discovered a way to circumvent these protective relics. Suddenly, no planet is safe. Facing impending extinction, the Human Colonies are in turmoil. While some believe a unified front is the only way to stop the Architects, others insist humanity should fight alone. And there are those who would seek to benefit from the fractured politics of war - even as the Architects loom ever closer. Idris, who has spent decades running from the horrors of his past, finds himself thrust back onto the battlefront. As an Intermediary, he could be one of the few to turn the tide of war. With a handful of allies, he searches for a weapon that could push back the Architects and save the galaxy. But to do so, he must return to the nightmarish unspace, where his mind was broken and remade. What Idris discovers there will change everything.

The Liberation's Child

The Liberation's Child

Author: Lucy Cruickshanks Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2022

This is Britain – but not as we know it. The country is reeling in the aftermath of the Free and Equal Britain (FEB) movement, a political regime that dismantled the structures of society and brought about the unjust killing of millions of citizens. Dom and Thea, two survivors trying to move on with their lives, face a race against time to discover the truth behind a child trafficking ring somehow connected to FEB-era politicians. Their desperation is present at every turn of this haunting fiction. Every move they make is riddled with tension; who is watching over them? Who can really be trusted? Cruickshanks' prose is beautifully taut – not a word is wasted – and her short, punchy paragraphs add pace to the thriller when it’s most needed. The narrative shifts between Thea’s and Dom’s stories with ease, both characters and their tragic pasts treated with emotional sensitivity rather than pity. Their resilience and integrity shine in an otherwise corrupt world – it’s impossible to not get swept along with them and their cause. The Liberation’s Child is dystopian fiction at its finest…but don’t be fooled. Although this version of London may be far removed from any modern reality, the unnerving themes that lie at the heart of this harrowing story - human trafficking, political unrest and genocide – will undoubtedly strike a chord with many.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/03/2022

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2021 A queen of punk before her time. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever. Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, a Black punk artist before her time. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together. In early seventies New York City, just as she's finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal's bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth. Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo's most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything. Provocative and haunting, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev introduces a bold new name in contemporary fiction and a heroine the likes of which we've not seen in storytelling.

Space Hopper

Space Hopper

Author: Helen Fisher Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

This is a story about taking a leap of faith And believing the unbelievable They say those we love never truly leave us, and I've found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you'd expect. I've been visiting my mother who died when I was eight. And I'm talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here. Right now, you probably think I'm going mad. Let me explain... Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions - but away from her own family - how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother? For fans of The Time Traveler's Wife comes an original and heartwarming story about bittersweet memories, how the past shapes the future, and a love so strong it makes you do things that are slightly bonkers.

Star Books
The Circus Infinite

The Circus Infinite

Author: Khan Wong Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/03/2022

Taking the notion of running away to the circus to ingenious levels, Khan Wong’s The Circus Infinite soars with whip-smart storytelling skills and inventive ideas. Part political drama, part exploration of social dynamics, part out-there space story, this kaleidoscopic adventure showcases fantasy at its most powerfully allegorical. Jes is an asexual mixed-species fugitive on the run from The Institute that wants to analyse his gravitational powers. As a result, he takes himself off to The Circus Infinite on a pleasure moon, where he finds love and a new family and sense of togetherness with a band of alien acrobats, while deploying his own unique talents in an act. But it’s not long before a crime lord blackmails Jes into undertaking terrible tasks that utilise his skills, including torture. When the gangster lines up the circus to take the blame for a drugs deal, the community rallies round. With a fabulously painted world, lively writing, and sizzlingly imaginative story, The Circus Infinite is a coming of age charmer.

Off-Target

Off-Target

Author: Eve Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/02/2022

When a writer’s work is compared to Michael Crichton’s, there’s reason to sit up and pay attention whenever a new title from said author drops. Having proved her ability to spin a clever speculative tale with her debut The Waiting Rooms, which was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel and longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize, her second release will only consolidate her reputation further. In Off-Target she takes us to the near future and toys with ideas around fertility treatments and gene adaptation. The subject of Off-Target is Susan who, after a fling, gets pregnant after years of trying to conceive. Her attempts to conceal this from her partner lead her to take steps to tinker with the genetic makeup of her child. But there are dangers to playing God – also known as ‘off target’ effects – that could have devastating consequences. A cautionary tale that’s full of thrills, it will leave you considering our current science and the possibilities we may face.

The Chosen Twelve

The Chosen Twelve

Author: James Breakwell Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Welcome to an entertaining wild ride, stuffed full of action and spiky humour. 22 humans remain on a ship set to colonise a planet, the robots have to decide which of the humans will fill the 12 seats to the surface. The publishers have declared this as The Hunger Games meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and while I could most definitely sense the connection, for me this had a sentient Robot Wars (but with the robots in the driving seat) come Lord of the Flies vibe. And yet, even with these four comparisons rushing around this is a resoundingly individual novel. The dedication is entirely fabulous, and aims its own kick. The mix of robots and age old children makes for an intruiging dystopian premise. It took a little while for me to settle in, and to actually engage with all of the characters as the focus of each is so narrow. Spenser was by far my favourite though, adored him! James Breakwell is known for his humour and that definitely makes itself known here with a decided edge. If you’re looking for something a little different, then head this way. The Chosen Twelve is a quirky, high-energy, surprisingly thoughtful novel and I’ve chosen it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month.  

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month