The Feed (Morrow), Nick Clark Windo’s debut, quickly establishes this is not your typical post-apocalyptic scenario. Readers are introduced to Tom and Kate, a couple living in the very near future; they are trying to establish dominance over the Feed, technology implanted in their brains that allows them instant access to social media and the Internet. The Feed goes down, and sometimes when people go to sleep they wake up as someone else. The book skips forward in time to a small, makeshift community trying to survive after the fall of society, desperate to raise children who never had the Feed. When Kate and Tom’s daughter, Bea, is kidnapped, the couple go on a trek to get her back and learn the truth about the Feed and their fates. Though there are clear similarities to “The Walking Dead” and “The Circle,” the book offers fresh, smart commentary about digital dependence and its potential effect on our minds and relationships.
In the story collection Guardian Angels and Other Monsters (Vintage), best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson (“Robopocalypse,” “Robogenesis”) explores the relationships between humans and machines. Robots are parents and companions; people who otherwise would be disabled are aided by robotic exoskeletons. Men and robots struggle to convey their depth of care for children, siblings and women. In “Helmet,” a boy is forced into a suit of armor that controls him, but he longs to reach his brother and connect with an armored woman marching alongside him. “God Mode” blurs the lines of memory and reality as the world crumbles around a video game designer and the stunning gamine he meets in Australia. The highlight is “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever,” where a scientist, who is also a robot, muses over his love and relationship with his daughter as they face a catastrophic astronomical event. The voices here ring with a melancholia that lingers past the book’s final pages. “Guardian Angels” is a book about emotionally stunted creatures that may make you cry.
Daughters of the Storm (Del Rey) by Kim Wilkins is a twisty high fantasy that follows five sisters as they join forces to save their father and kingdom — while keeping secrets from one another. Each sister has a particular skill or personality trait: a fierce warrior; an impulsive young mother; a religious and possibly depressed teen; a nymphomaniac; and a burgeoning magician. The use of magic is just a small part of an otherwise Norse-inspired fantasy. The author makes room, instead, for exploring political machinations and the relationships between sisters; betrayal lurks at every turn. The cliffhanger is a bit frustrating, but if you are a fan of palace intrigue and family drama, you will be thrilled to hear this is the first installment of a planned trilogy.
Everdeen Mason reviews science fiction and fantasy every month for The Washington Post.