From Ciara Lightner
As November moves on at a breakneck pace, the thoughts of the future become increasingly clear. We wonder what the next year could bring and hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
Here are three novels that look to the very distant future but all have a sense of foreboding evoked by the consequences of our present. While all three are undoubtedly entertaining, they all make you feel like what we carry with us today will affect us tomorrow.
Martha Wells brings back our favorite sci-fi drama-loving, sentimental Sec Unit in “Network Effect”. Murderbot returns to his job, keeping people alive and at a safe distance. You tend to annoy him. Sent on a mission to protect the relatives of its owner, the two are kidnapped by alien infected life forms that have commanded an old friend. Murderbot must keep his charges alive, uncover the secret of the alien infection and, to his own horror, grapple with his ever-increasing humanity. Full of action, a lovable main character and the journey of what it means to be human, Wells delivers another chapter in the Murderbot diaries. Murderbot gets a well-deserved full-length novel.
Multiverse travel is possible, but with one major catch. We are introduced to Cara in Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds. Cara is a traverser, a person who can travel and collect data between the different iterations of our world. Why is it so successful? Because on 372 other worlds Cara is dead. A Traverser can only enter a world if his iteration on this planet is dead and the many Caras are usually born poor, in war-torn areas or become victims of violence. This means an incredibly low survival rate which makes them valuable to their business as a greater number of planets need to be explored. But it also makes her an outsider and immigrant to the place where she calls home. Johnson’s world building is impressive and expansive, and while each character has multiple iterations, all of them feel solid all over. Your entry into the realm of the multiverse shows us how extremely companies put profits above people and how available we are.
Human hope rests on five women who fly in a stolen spaceship to live in a new world. This is the setting for Laura Lam’s “Goldilocks”. In this dying dystopian world, women are made second class citizens under the guise of their protection. The survival of our species depends on a distant planet within the Goldilocks Zone, or the zone in which a planet orbits a sun that is conducive to life. Valerie Black and her adopted daughter Naomi have built a ship to fly to the planet Cavendish to save humanity. Unfortunately, because of her gender, Valerie will be freed from the ship and she will not let this stand. With a ship theft, betrayal, the loss of women’s rights and the extinction of humanity, Lam creates a novel that is sometimes a little too close to his homeland, but shows us that there could still be hope.
Enjoy these insights into an imaginary future and take with you from today what will be better tomorrow.
Ciara Lightner is a library specialist at AK Smiley Public Library, 125 W. Vine St., Redlands.