Star Trek fan-fiction? Data wrote a “mem-noir” – one of four new sci-fi books you’ll want to get your hands on

The hard side of the moon

By Hugh AD Spencer

(BrainLag, $ 35.99, 404 pages)

Of course, a lot of genre fiction can start to sound the same after a while. There are conventions to follow and boxes to tick. But SF is probably the biggest tent of them all, and a book like “The Hard Side of the Moon” by Toronto author Hugh AD Spencer stretches the old familiar fabric in so many new and original ways that it’s a treat that not only leaves you wondering where it’s going at every turn, but where you’ve been at the end.

Matthew Bishop is a young man slowly going nowhere in 1970s Alberta – making robot mannequins, working as a DJ on campus radio, falling in and out of relationships – when fate calls out for her new boyfriend. his mother. It turns out he’s an employee of Progressive Apparatus, a mysterious organization that readers familiar with Douglas’s other work will recognize. Soon after, Matthew worked as an “intern” at a slave labor camp on the moon, doing work related to a plan involving aliens harnessing the power of the human brain.

A satire in love not only with sci-fi but also with her fan culture, Douglas has written a novel that is both light and, in its final pages, profound.

Fan-fiction

By Brent Spiner

(Saint-Martin, $ 37.61, 256 pages)

Data wrote a book!

Or to be exact, Brett Spiner, the actor who played android Data on the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, wrote “a mem-noir inspired by real events.”

It’s not really science fiction, but it takes place in 1991 and much of it takes place on the set of “Star Trek: TNG”, where Spiner finds himself the subject of unwanted letters from a stalker fan. obsessed with assuming the identity of Data’s child, Lal.

What follows is like a mix of “Fatal Attraction” and Robert Altman’s Hollywood “The Player”. And it’s a lot of fun, with humor, twists and thrills while reintroducing us to the show’s cast in their off-peak hours: Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn and even Jean-Luc Picard himself. , Patrick Stewart. It’s hard not to think about how that would make a great TV movie, but who would you have to play these guys?

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021, ed.  by Veronica Roth;  Series Editor John Joseph Adams, Mariner, $ 21.78, 432 pages

The best American science fiction and fantasy 2021

Ed. by Veronica Roth; John Joseph Adams series editor

(Marinate, $ 21.78, 432 pages)

COVID-19 feels like it’s been with us for so long, it’s actually a bit surprising that this is the first ‘Best American Sci-Fi & Fantasy’ with stories released during the pandemic .

It’s over the past year or so that we’ve seemed to step into a sci-fi world. Editor Veronica Roth, author of the popular ‘Divergent’ series, presents her pick of 20 of the year’s best SF&F stories by relating them to this altered environment, taking as a starting point the idea that there is no is nothing more surreal than reality.

Roth doesn’t bring a particular angle to this episode of what has become SF’s first annual, but rather shares a view of speculative fiction as “a playground of big ideas, a series of” what ifs? »Scenarios. The line between sci-fi and fantasy becomes blurry in places, but most of the stories underlie the question of dealing with suddenly changed circumstances, whether it’s surviving a pandemic or battling a crayfish. giant. Lots of different terrains are covered, but there are plenty of strong entries, with Daryl Gregory’s “Brother Rifle” standing out as one of the best versions of the mind-machine interface to date.

Malefactor, by Robert Repino, Soho, $ 34.00, 456 pages

Malefactor

By Robert Repino

(Soho, $ 34, 456 pages)

“Malefactor” is the latest volume in Robert Repino’s whimsical “War With No Name” trilogy, the main war being a war between humans and animals that have been anthropomorphized by the late Ant Queen.

The Dead cat is one of the main characters again, along with the dogs D’Arc and Falkirk. Together, they attempt to defend the holy city of Hosanna, ruled by a joint government of humans and animals, from the posthumous plots of the Ant Queen, currently led by a pack of wolves.

These are epic things, although they are presented throughout on a very personal level, with the weird interspecies pairings feeling somehow natural regardless. Build a strange but efficient world in the style of the great fantasy.

Alex Good is a frequent contributor to these pages


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