Alex White's sci-fi picks

Author Alex White recently took a break from writing magical space operas to reflect on what diverse stories mean to them: “Speculative fiction was a light in the small-town darkness for me growing up, often featuring characters who were proudly authentic, and loved by their friends for who they were – inside and out. Here are some modern luminaries to bring light to you.”
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NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE • An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse in this stunning debut, a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

WINNER OF THE COMPTON CROOK AWARD • FINALIST FOR THE LOCUS AWARD • “Gorgeous writingmind-bending world-buildingrazor-sharp social commentary, and a main character who demands your attention—and your allegiance.”—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Library Journal • Book Riot

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world but the entire multiverse.

“Clever characterssurprise twistsplenty of action, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.”—Library Journal (starred review)

The Expanse meets the Battle Room in Ender's Game as K. B. Wagers brings us the rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction series that introduces the Near-Earth Orbital Guard—NeoG—a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback—until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

"Don't be alarmed - that dizzy pleasurable sensation you're experiencing is just your brain slowly exploding from all the wild magnificent worldbuilding in Nicky Drayden's Escaping Exodus. I loved these characters and this story, and so will you."

 - Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving and Blackfish City


The Compton Crook award–winning author of The Prey of Gods and Temper returns with a dazzling stand-alone novel, set in deep space, in which the fate of humanity rests on the slender shoulders of an idealistic and untested young woman—a blend of science fiction, dark humor, and magical realism that will appeal to fans of Charlie Jane Anders, Jeff VanderMeer, and Nnedi Okorafor.

Earth is a distant memory. Habitable extrasolar planets are still out of reach. For generations, humanity has been clinging to survival by establishing colonies within enormous vacuum-breathing space beasts and mining their resources to the point of depletion.

Rash, dreamy, and unconventional, Seske Kaleigh should be preparing for her future role as clan leader, but her people have just culled their latest beast, and she’s eager to find the cause of the violent tremors plaguing their new home. Defying social barriers, Seske teams up with her best friend, a beast worker, and ventures into restricted areas for answers to end the mounting fear and rumors. Instead, they discover grim truths about the price of life in the void.

Then, Seske is unexpectedly thrust into the role of clan matriarch, responsible for thousands of lives in a harsh universe where a single mistake can be fatal. Her claim to the throne is challenged by a rival determined to overthrow her and take control—her intelligent, cunning, and confident sister.

Seske may not be a born leader like her sister, yet her unorthodox outlook and incorruptible idealism may be what the clan needs to save themselves and their world.

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