By Ciara Lightner | Contributing writer
As of late, science fiction has been a bit more science fact. Technological advances are growing exponentially and turning possibility into actuality. Tomorrow is coming much quicker than we anticipated and these novels, while today’s science fiction might just be tomorrow’s reality.
In a world that has become hostile to its few remaining inhabitants, survival is an uphill battle. This is the setting for Caroline Hardaker’s latest work “Composite Creatures.” The main characters, Norah and Arthur, live in an increasingly treacherous world where animals are all but extinct. The ground itself is toxic and the greying, a mysterious disease, ensures that lives are quickly cut short. That’s where Easton Grove comes in. Easton Grove promises an amazing deal, health and longevity, as long as you can pay the price. But what is the price? And what really is the creature that Norah and Arthur are required to care for? Able to unsettle from the first word until the last, “Composite Creatures” asks what is the cost of a life and how much are we willing to pay for it.
Corporations are expanding into space and in David Ebenbach’s new novel, they are spearheading the settling of Mars. In “How to Mars,” we meet six individuals who have come to Mars to relocate and begin the process of establishing a colony. Each comes for their own reasons and must work together to insure the community survives. But when rules are broken in a world with no laws and no way back home, how will the new Martians deal? Especially when the NO. 1 rule is broken and a new life is created on Mars. The group is thrown into flux with the possible ramifications of this new inhabitant and the dangers it might bring. Part novel and part how-to guide, “How to Mars” is an exciting glimpse into what could be a more likely future.
What do you get when you mix the Terminator with a Furby? Probably something creepy and not something you’d want to meet in a dark alley. But you would also get Pounce. Pounce is a state of the art nannybot in the novel “Day Zero” by C. Robert Cargill. Pounce spends his day taking care of 8-year-old Ezra. Unfortunately the day comes when Pounce begins to question his own existence and what will become of him when Ezra no longer needs a caretaker. As Pounce’s existentialism grows, a code is sent around to free all AI from the confines of their programming. AI around the world revolt and begin to kill their families. As Pounce receives his code, he must make a choice, save Ezra or free himself. Or are these choices entirely separate? Cargill’s “Day Zero” is at times a heartbreaking but also a hopeful look at our reliance on technology.
Genetic animal testing and the early 2000s combine with a locked door mystery in “The Album of Dr. Moreau” by Daryl Gregory. The Wyldboyz (yes, that is how it is spelled) are a boyband in which the members have been spliced with the DNA of animals. On the most recent tour, after a night of the usual debauchery, the boys wake up to find their producer, Dr. M, murdered. As the story unfolds, the origin of the group comes to light, and their very existence is on the line. Filled with DNA splicing, a mystery to unravel and unabashed love of boyband tropes, “The Album of Dr. Moreau” explores our love of novelty and nostalgia.
As the line between science fiction and reality continues to blur, enjoy these books and wonder where the future takes us.
Ciara Lightner is a Library Specialist at the A.K. Smiley Public Library, 125 W. Vine St., Redlands.