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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Summer Reading Prelist 2012

by Ken Newquist / April 15, 2012

I recently went shopping for some new ebooks for my iPad, and decided to look up a few of my favorite authors. Surely, I thought, David Brin must have a new book out by now. And it's been a while since I checked up on John Scalzi.

In every case I found that my favorite authors did do have new books coming out ... just not now. All of them are releasing books this summer, which means my quest to find a book to read today inadvertently spawned my Summer 2012 reading list.

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible

 Invincible The original Lost Fleet series followed a ragtag battle fleet battling against a numerically superior enemy as they struggled to fight their way back home. Led by legendary captain "Black Jack" Geary, this fleet succeeds against all odds, decisively defeating the corporate scum of the "Syndics" and reaching their own republic. That was just the beginning though, because during their flight they learn that there is another enemy lurking beyond the frontier.

In the first book in the new series, Dreadnaught, author Jack Campbell began exploring this new enemy while simultaneously pitting Geary against all manner of political threats. It was a slow moving book that was almost entirely setup. The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible is the next book, and I'm hopeful that Campbell will kick things into high gear. I'm also hopeful that Geary sees more adversity in this new book. The last few novels have seen him easily thrash his enemies through the use of superior tactics; I'd like to see him go up against an equally intelligent enemy ... and actually fall for a trap or two. It releases May 1, 2012 in hardcover, Kindle, and iBook formats.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

 Redshirts John Scalzi's Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas is about an ensign named Andrew Dahl who's been assigned to the starship Intrepid ... only to find that the men and women wearing redshirts on the ship have this nasty habit of of dying on away missions.

Scalzi has a wicked sense of humor and this riff on the Star Trek universe should be a fun read. It also helps fill my military SF quota for the summer. After Scalzi's success with his Old Man's War trilogy, I'm looking forward his take on classic space opera tropes. The novel releases June 5, 2012 in hardcover, Kindle, and iBook formats.

2312

 2312Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy remains one of my favorite series. I never got into the rest of his work -- it seemed dryer, and ultimately less interesting than the terraforming of the Red Planet -- but I've kept an eye on his work nonetheless. With 2312 Robinson returns to his grand scope, namely the exploration and settlement of the entire solar system.

I don't know much more about the book than that, but given that a) it's Robinson and b) he's taking on the entire solar system, that's enough for me to want to buy it. It releases May 22, 2012 in hardcover, Kindle, and iBook formats.

Existence

 ExistenceThe aforementioned Dr. Brin's next novel Existence is about an orbital garbage collector who stumbles across an alien artifact while cleaning up space junk high above Earth.

I went on a big Brin tear a decade ago when I discovered his original Uplift Trilogy (Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War) in which humanity is no longer along: they're struggling to survive in a galaxy filled with alien species. Worse still, each of these species has a millennium-old legacy of uplift, in which they were raised to intelligence by another star-faring species, and then raised up new intelligences of their own. Humanity is unique in not knowing who uplifted them (and for advocating the heretical belief that they evolved naturally). They have uplifted species of their own, namely chimps and dolphins.

They were great reads -- particularly Startide Rising, which is about a crew up uplifted dolphins who discover a terrible secret. After reading that trilogy I moved onto Earth (in which a microscopic black hole falls to the center of the planet), Glory Season (which features a radically different take on human reproduction) and The Postman, a post-apocalyptic novel that was far better than the Kevin Costner movie of the same name).

That said it's been years since s been forever since I read a David Brin novel -- I think the last one was Heaven's Reach, which was the concluding novel in his second Uplift series. This is mostly because he hasn't been publishing much lately; his last novel was Kiln People, and it was released in 2002.

Existence sounds like it could be a solid book -- I like first contact stories, and we haven't seen one of those from Brin. It releases June 19, 2012 in hardcover, Kindle, and iBook formats.

Caliban's War

 Caliban's WarJames S.A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) is easily the best science fiction novel I've read in the last two or three years. Fast-paced, witty dialogue, and a compelling plot made it a fast read ... too fast. I immediately wanted more, but alas while sequels were planned, none had been announced. That's changed: Caliban's War (The Expanse) is being released in late June.

The first book was something I haven't seen in a while: a space opera that takes place entirely in our solar system. In one of the interviews I read, Corey said his goal was to eschew the typical galactic empires of traditional space opera, and instead focus on the opening days, when humanity is just discovering how to go to the stars. In this case, humanity has settled Mars, the Moon, the asteroids and several moons of the outer planets. Tensions run high between the Earth/Moon, Mars, and "Belter" factions, and war breaks out as an interstellar plague takes route in the star system. The book drops June 26, 2012 in paperback, Kindle and iBook editions.