Sep 6, 2021 4 min read

September releases!

September releases!
Photo by Susan Q Yin / Unsplash

Hey folks!  The slow march to winter continues for northern-hemispherites (not a word...until now), but let's focus on the fact that we have fall in the middle!  With September comes a slew a new releases, some of which I've picked to share.

Before the list though, NPR ran a readers poll for best sci-fi and fantasy books of the past decade, and some of my favorite authors whittled the votes down to 50.  Check that list out here

On to the list!

Constance by Matthew Fitzsimmons (Sept. 1)

Cloning is a reality in Constance's world, but it's still a pretty divisive issue and mostly a privilege of the privileged.  For Constance, it's terrifying especially now that she's been gifted a clone by her late aunt.

After a routine upload of her consciousness to storage (for inevitable transition) goes wrong, Constance wakes up in a clinic.  It's been 18 months and her recent memories are missing.  She's told that her original is dead, which makes her the clone.  Really?  And if so, why's her original dead?

This is a compelling sci-fi twist to similar amnesia mysteries, which promises to be a good read.

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn (Sept. 7)

This story, M. J. Kuhn's first novel, centers around Ryia Cautella, an infamous member of the Saints of the Wharf.  This is not her real name, and she's spent the past six years hiding with a deadly secret, trying to stay one step ahead of the Guildmaster: sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr.  No matter how much she tries to run and hide, the Guildmaster's servants keep tracking her down.

Ryia, now finds a way to defeat the Guildmaster and be done with looking over her shoulder.  But the path leads her directly into the heart of the Guildmaster's stronghold.  Realizing she can't do this alone, she forces herself to team up with miscreants, all who have their own agenda.

Stories with multiple characters each with multiple motivations are fun reads.  Mystery, fantasy heist, and motley crews; should be a thrill.

The Peculiarities by David Liss (Sept. 7)

Here's a twisty tale that mashes style and genre, horror and comedy.

Thomas works at his family's bank in Victorian London, and as he does so begins to suspect his elder brother is sabotaging it.  In other corners of his life, his childhood friend seems to have died under mysterious circumstances, there's a fog permeating in London, there are rumors of "Peculiarities" lurking in the fog that is transforming people, and Thomas is, himself, sprouting leaves and turning into a tree.

There's plenty of things Thomas needs to fix, and to do so before he turns completely into a tree, he's going to need help.  But desperation can make for some questionable choices.

Lem has written many science fiction stories which have been translated from Polish into over 40 languages.  Here is a collection of 12 stories, only 3 of which have previously appeared in English.  In these, Lem explores scientific ideas, our human nature, and displays Lem's curiousity all in his signature sardonic take.  All are thought provoking and very funny.

In the title story, The Truth, a scientist in an insane asylum theorizes that the sun is alive; The Journal appears to be an account by an omnipotent being describing the creation of infinite universes--until, in a classic Lem twist, it turns out to be no such thing; in An Enigma, beings debate whether offspring can be created without advanced degrees and design templates. Other stories feature a computer that can predict the future by 137 seconds, matter-destroying spores, a hunt in which the prey is a robot, and an electronic brain eager to go on the run.

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee & Chen Quifan (Sept. 14)

The advent of AI with all its beauty and warts is the focus of this collection of stories.  Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google China and bestselling author of AI Superpowers, teams up with celebrated novelist Chen Qiufan to imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI.  Ten short stories that peel the layers wrapping AI such as:

  • In Seoul, virtual companions with perfected natural language processing (NLP) skills offer orphaned twins new ways to connect
  • In Munich, a rogue scientist draws on quantum computing, computer vision and other AI technologies in a revenge plot that imperils the world
  • In San Francisco, the "job reallocation" industry emerges as deep learning AI causes widespread job displacement

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik (Sept. 28)

The sequel to A Deadly Education in which we were introduced to the magic school Scholomance from which only the most talented graduate alive.  Galadriel Higgins is in her senior year trying to survive graduation with a handful of tenuous allies she's been able to find.  But she harbors a secret - she's destined to dark sorcery and end the world.  And the school wants to keep her from graduating.

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (Sept. 28)

Deals with the devil and alien donut-makers.

I'm going to leave that there; either that one-liner speaks directly to your soul in which case you should read this, or this is not your cup of tea.

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