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On My Radar: GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT by Lily Brooks-Dalton / THE STAR OF THE SEA by Una McCormack / UNDERGROUND AIRLINES by Ben Winters

 

Here’s a look at a trio of books I’m anticipating…


 
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
(Random House | August 9, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

For readers of Station Eleven and The Martian, Lily Brooks-Dalton’s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders—a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth—as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed.

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts—from Chile to Hawaii to Australia—studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.

At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success. But when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crewmates are forced to survive on dwindling resources, and to wonder if they will ever get home.

With Augustine trapped in the cold Arctic and Sully in the infinite vacuum of space, each faces an uncertain future and must decide what comes next. Against two forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? Lily Brooks-Dalton’s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
I’ve kinda been in the mood for a Literary-with-a-capital-L science fiction book and this one sure sounds like it’ll be just that. It doesn’t hurt that the blurb associates it with two books I really liked: Station Eleven and The Martian. Curse you, blurb!


 
(Abaddon | October 25, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

The incredible series about a corrupt, galactic human empire and the alien threat to our existence continues.

Its name is Stella Maris, the ‘star of the sea,’ a small world beyond the edge of the human Expansion, where a few men and women – Vetch and human alike – have made their homes. Fleeing persecution or oppression on their own worlds, here they have found peace and plenty, in communion with the otherworldly Weird.

A few weeks ago, that harmony was threatened, when Delia Walker came seeking hope for the future, hunted by her enemies in the Expansion, and went into the portal. Now, impossibly, her daughter has walked out, a grown woman, and demanded passage to the Expansion’s capital.

As more ships land on Stella Maris, bringing an end to the quiet obscurity the settlers have long cherished, a desperate race to carry Cassandra Walker to her destiny, and a resistance against those who would exploit Stella Maris for their own ends.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
I want to say “Because I read the other Weird Space books and they were awesome”…but those books are still sitting unread on my bookshelf. However, they’re on my bookshelf because they sound awesome and I loves me some good space opera.


 
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
(Mulholland Books | July 5, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)
 

SYNOPSIS:

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right–with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he’s hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all–though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country’s arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we’d like to believe.

WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR:
Besides the cool-sounding thriller aspects of the story, the alternate history premise sounds like a terrific platform for some thought-provoking fiction.

About John DeNardo (13014 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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