Although the weather isn't getting any cooler (!), you can tell that fall is on its way. School supplies are on sale everywhere and just today I saw the first mention of Starbuck's beloved PSL (that' s the Pumpkin Spice Latte for the sadly uninitiated). All this means that if I want to squeeze in some last minute summer reads, they have to be fast and short.
Luckily for an SFF (science fiction and fantasy) reader like myself, there are tons of new novellas that I can fly through before the leaves begin to fall. Here are three speculative fiction quick reads to squish into the last days of summer.
All Systems Red (book)
All Systems Red (eBook)
In the far distant future space, a security robot manages to break its control programming and gain awareness. The robot, who dubs itself Murderbot, is devoted to watching light human entertainment (in fact, soap operas). In an effort to gain the maximum amount of down time to enjoy thousands of hours of downloaded shows, Murderbot gets itself assigned to what it thinks will be a quiet voyage with a group of scientists exploring a distant planet. Of course, the trip goes terribly awry and Murderbot is horrified to find itself not only liking its human companions but also actively trying to save them. This book was funny, action-packed, short, and a great start to a series. I can't wait to read the further diaries of Murderbot.
River of Teeth (book)
River of Teeth Series, Book 1 (eBook)
Fun fact: did you know that the US Congress seriously debated importing hippos to raise in Louisiana bayous for their meat in the early nineteenth century? This is an actual thing that happened. When author Sarah Gailey learned this, she saw the basis for an awesome story and her 'River of Teeth' book series was born. In this alternative history United States, mercenaries help to manage herds of feral hippos that have taken over the bayous and waterways. A gun-for-hire named Winslow Houndstooth assembles a team of shifty characters to take care of a huge herd of wild hippos. That's Winslow's story...except that he might also be out to take a little revenge along the way. This is a fast, fun read with oddly believable elements and a diverse crew of characters.
The Builders (book)
A mercenary mouse known as Captain gets his savage gang of cutthroats, thieves, and assassins (who also happen to be animals like a stoat, opossum, badger, and salamander) back together to get revenge for an old job that went very badly. Fur, feathers, and blood flies as the Captain deals with devious team members and old enemies while battling towards his ultimate goal. This book contains both violence and snarky moments of humor with a plot that could have been taken straight from a classic Western. Perhaps my very favorite description of this Hugo finalist is "it's as though Brian Jacques and Quentin Tarantino went drinking one night."