If you think science fiction is still dominated by men, think again. The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women (Running Press; paperback, $14.95), edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane, has a power-packed cast of diverse authors, from relative newcomers such as Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar to veterans such as Karen Joy Fowler and Ursula K. Le Guin. The stories range widely in scope and form — from prose poems to metafiction — to capture a dynamic, forward-thinking genre that plays with history, myth and science. Samatar’s hybrid prose poem, for instance, honors Henrietta Swan Leavitt and other women who were used by Harvard College Observatory as “human computers” to record and analyze data, and Karen Joy Fowler’s creative nonfiction work details the life of Mary Anning, a fossil collector and dealer who was also a contemporary of Jane Austen. Fans of all kinds of science fiction will find something to enjoy in this noteworthy collection.
In Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction (Tor, $27.99), Eric Choi writes that hard science fiction — in which science is fundamental to the story — “is the literature of change, the genre that examines the implications — both beneficial and dangerous — of new sciences and technologies.” This collection, edited by Choi and Ben Bova, features authors who tackle near-future realities: baseball players enhanced by stem-cell treatments, identities transferred through software, and medical tattoos that warn a patient when allergens are close by. The strongest stories, by Liu Cixin, Aliette de Bodard and David DeGraff, explore a dynamic interplay between human psychology and technological advancement while also delivering thrilling plots.
The Blood of Angels (Peter Owen, $16.95), by Johanna Sinisalo, translated from Finnish by Lola Rogers, is a gorgeous, heartbreaking tale of three generations of men trying to define their relationship with nature and one another in the wake of ecological collapse. The novel is split between Orvo’s sparse but beautiful narrative about the disappearance of the bees, which he believes have “the blood of angels” coursing in their veins, and his son Eero, an animal-activist blogger. A tragic accident forces Orvo to make drastic, sacrificial decisions in order to be with his son. Part fantasy, part environmental dystopia, the novel explores our deepest fears about climate change and the endurance of human love.
Hightower is the author of “Elementari Rising.”