159 episodes

Bestselling and award-winning science fiction authors talk about their new books and much more in candid conversations with host Rob Wolf.
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New Books in Science Fiction Marshall Poe

    • Arts
    • 4.7 • 3 Ratings

Bestselling and award-winning science fiction authors talk about their new books and much more in candid conversations with host Rob Wolf.
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science-fiction

    Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" (Penguin, 2021)

    Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" (Penguin, 2021)

    The next world war is 13 years away—that is, if you live in the world envisioned by Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin, 2021).
    When writing about the intersection of combat and diplomacy, the co-authors draw from experience. Ackerman has worked in the White House and served five tours of duty as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral, served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and, after leaving the Navy, as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
    2034 plays out a what-if scenario, starting with an incident between the Chinese and U.S. that escalates into a major conflict. “You could certainly say right now, vis-a-vis the United States’ relationship with China, that if we’re not in a Cold War, we are at least in sort of the foothills of a Cold War,” Ackerman says.
    Told through the eyes of multiple main characters from five nations, the escalating conflict begins to seem inevitable as deceit, posturing, and a game of chicken made it harder and harder for the countries’ leaders to back down. Ackerman feels that a conflict between the U.S. and China in real life is possible but not inevitable.
    “It's a cautionary tale. There's still time to take the exit ramp,” he says.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 36 min
    Phil M. Cohen, "Nick Bones Underground" (Koehler Books, 2019)

    Phil M. Cohen, "Nick Bones Underground" (Koehler Books, 2019)

    Shmulie Shimmer is the inventor of LERBS, the most popular designer drug ever to be created. Turns out that it leaves people brain dead, and Shmulie should be in prison, but his business partner took the rap. Now Shmulie’s father hasn’t heard from him in over a year and half. He approaches Shmulie’s high school friend, Professor Nick Friedman, aka Nick Bones, private detective. Nick’s beautiful daughter was a victim of Lerbs, and Nick never wants to see the guy again, but Shmulie’s father has cancer and only a few months to live, so NIck takes the case. It’s a future in which the world no longer works the way it did, and sharp-witted, colorful characters roam above and below ground in what is an unrecognizable New York City. Now, Nick needs the help of his AI computer to make his way in the Velvet Underground, previously known as part of the subway system. Phil M. Cohen's Nick Bones Underground (Koehler Books, 2019) is a mystery, a wild ride through the future, a science-fiction nightmare, and an exploration of religion and humanity.
    Phil M. Cohen is a rabbi who has been engaged in Jewish storytelling for a very long time. In addition to a B.A from Dickinson College and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Phil holds a Ph.D. in Jewish thought from Brandeis University and an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville. From his rabbinic education, he learned how to create and interpret stories. From his doctoral experience, he learned how to grapple with philosophical questions. In earning an MFA, he learned how to write fiction. From his work as a rabbi, he gained deep insight into the Jewish and broader world. And from realms unknown and a bit scary, Rabbi Doctor Cohen discovered his creative imagination.
    G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com).
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    • 26 min
    Jennifer Marie Brissett, "Destroyer of Light" (Tor Books, 2021)

    Jennifer Marie Brissett, "Destroyer of Light" (Tor Books, 2021)

    Destroyer of Light (Tor Books, 2021) is Jennifer Marie Brissett’s long-awaited follow up to her critically acclaimed debut Elysium, winner of a Philip K. Dick Special Citation and a finalist for the Locus and the Tiptree awards.
    Her new novel takes readers far into the future where humans are settling a new planet. They are the survivors of the world described in Elysium—an Earth where four-dimensional aliens known as the Krestge have destroyed human civilization.
    The frame of Destroyer of Light is a mystery—a search for a missing boy. But a deeper story follows the relationship of a mother and her young daughter, who is kidnapped and abused by a warlord building an army of child soldiers. The book is also about the relationship between humans and their former antagonists, the Krestge. Some of the aliens’ descendants now live peacefully among humans. While some people are willing to forgive the crimes of the past, going so far as to start families with the Krestge, others see the aliens’ crimes as unforgivable.
    “There's a lot of difficulty in answering questions as to what kind of people the Krestge are because to get to know one is not to get to know all. The first alien you meet in the beginning, the stepfather of the missing [human] boy, is really worried about his son and wants to do everything he can to try and find him,” Brissett says. “And yet I think the distrust that humanity has for the Krestge is not unfounded, and it's not without its history and not without its reason. The feeling of not being told the entire truth, of not owning up to past sins, to just sort of pretending that it all just went away because you've decided to not be that anymore, doesn't really happen.”
    Jennifer Marie Brissett is British-Jamaican American, born in London and raised in Cambridge, Mass. owned an independent bookstore called Indigo Café & Books. She obtained her master's in creative writing from the Stonecoast MFA Program and a bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Boston University.
    Rob Wolf is a writer and host of New Books in Science Fiction.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Ryka Aoki, "Light From Uncommon Stars" (Tor Books, 2021)

    Ryka Aoki, "Light From Uncommon Stars" (Tor Books, 2021)

    Ryka Aoki’s new novel, Light from Uncommon Stars (Tor Books, 2021), is packed with as much variety as a box of lovingly prepared assorted donuts from your favorite, funky-but-long-standing neighborhood donut shop.
    One of the book’s primary settings is, in fact, a donut shop, but unlike other Los Angeles donut shops it is run by a family of refugees from a faraway galaxy.
    The story revolves around three women—the matriarch of the outer space family, Lan Tran; Shizuka Satomi, a world famous violin teacher, who is also contractually obliged to deliver souls to hell; and her newest student, Katrina Nguyen, a trans runaway fleeing an abusive home who has no formal violin training but is a brilliant musician with natural talent.
    With a book focused on musicians, Aoki relied on narration to convey the power of Katrina’s performances. “When one is a poet and writing novels, sometimes … I feel at a horrible disadvantage. I still write at the speed of a poet. … But during certain moments, I'm really glad I'm a poet because I know darn well that I can convey music through words. … I can use imagery. I can use analogy, but mostly I can vary my sentence structures. I can play with clauses. I can concatenate my grammar. I can write sentences so that one sentence jams into the next. I layer sentence fragments occasionally to build a collage of meaning. And these are all things that are poet tricks.”
    The themes of Light from Uncommon Stars are as varied as its cast. The books is about talent and genius, creativity and love, and the sacrifices—or deals with the devil—that some people may make to achieve success.
    Ryka Aoki is a poet, composer, and teacher. Her mixed collection Seasonal Velocities and poetry collection Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul were both finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards. And is also the author of the novel Hey Mele Ah Hilo.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 43 min
    Cadwell Turnbull, "No Gods, No Monsters" (Blackstone, 2021)

    Cadwell Turnbull, "No Gods, No Monsters" (Blackstone, 2021)

    Cadwell Turnbull appeared on New Books in Science Fiction two years ago to discuss his debut novel, The Lesson, about an alien invasion and colonization of Earth, centered around Turnbull's native U.S. Virgin Islands.
    He returns to talk about his second book, No Gods, No Monsters (Blackstone, 2021), which, rather than aliens from another planet, features monsters who live among us as our friends, neighbors and even relatives. While ostensibly about the fantastical, the novel is grounded in reality with complex characters whose experiences touch on difficult but important issues like police violence, othering, and even fake news.
    While the two books have different characters and storylines, Turnbull calls them “sister books.”
    Aliens and monsters “are both versions of human fears manifested through these speculative elements,” Turnbull says. “One is dealing with a threat from without, and one is dealing with a threat from within. And they both have similar thematic concerns.”
    Among the topics Turnbull discusses in the interview are the human propensity to deny uncomfortable truths; the challenge of those with different beliefs accepting the same version of reality (even when reality is captured on video); how monsters can provide a window on intersectional marginalization; and how writing can be like solving a puzzle.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 35 min
    S. Qiouyi Lu, "In the Watchful City" (Tordotcom, 2021)

    S. Qiouyi Lu, "In the Watchful City" (Tordotcom, 2021)

    It’s no coincidence that one of the main characters in S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City carries with ser a qíjìtáng, or cabinet of curiosities. Lu’s novella is, itself, a cabinet of unusual mementos, with many smaller objects carefully folded into the larger structure.
    On one level the plot is simple. The qíjìtáng is full of stories, and its owner, Vessel, who hovers between life and death, needs to add one more story to ser collection in order to have a second chance at life. (Vessel’s pronouns are se, ser and sers). So se asks Anima, one of eight people who provide surveillance for the city-state of Ora, for aer story. (Anima’s pronouns are ae, aer and aers).
    But Anima’s life isn’t so simple. Ae serves as a node in the city’s Hub, which aer monitors by entering the consciousness of animals (including a gecko, raven, and wild dog during the course of the story). In this way, Ae can travel anywhere and yet aer body is fastened by a stem to a tank of amniotic-like fluid.
    Lu likens Anima’s experience of being both fixed and all-knowing to our relationship with the internet. “We're sitting in front of a computer, and, physically, our body is stationed in front of this machine. But through this network, we're able to explore so much,” Lu says. “We’re able to go to faraway lands, see through the eyes of someone else.”
    The topics ae covers in aer New Books interview include aer inspirations for the novella (such as China’s facial recognition technology), aer interest in linguistics, including neopronouns, and aer fascination with experimental narratives.
    Lu is also a poet, editor, and translator and runs microverses, which publishes speculative flash fiction, poetry, and other short forms of storytelling.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 34 min

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