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May 5, 2021

3 New Stories for Science Fiction Fans

by MK French

Science Fiction

Some really great science fiction stories are coming out this month. Two you can pick up today and the third you should pre-order so you get it as soon as it hits the shelves later this month.

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Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Sorrowland
May 2021; MCD; 978-0374266776
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); science fiction
Pregnant Vern runs into the woods to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised. She is determined to raise her twins far away from them, but they're looking for her. They refuse to let her go, and in protecting herself and her twins, she unleashes powers she shouldn't have. Vern is undergoing a metamorphosis, and understanding it means learning about the compound and the world outside the woods.

This is "a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction." At first, I didn't have a good sense of the timeline for when this takes place. I thought that it took place in the 1800s or 1900s because the commune that Vern was raised in was the odd sort of religion that would've risen in that time frame. But it's not that old a compound, even if its founding tenets were warped with time due to politics and the need for power by those in charge. The power that Vern has isn't clear at first; she's incredibly strong, both of body and mind, and knowledgeable about living off the land. Her twin sons, one wild and one albino like her, grow up in the forest and are the primary interactions that she has. Soon, we see her healing quickly, and skin changes develop as well. Her interactions with people outside of the forest are fraught times; she isn't used to being in modern America, and the changes to her body take on a science fiction cast.

Vern is a difficult woman to like, but I think she prefers it that way. I understand her and feel for her, and was horrified on her behalf for the sheer number of betrayals she suffered throughout the book. The science-fiction aspects are most evident in the final third of the book, but it flows so naturally from the earlier Gothic aspects that it doesn't feel out of place. Vern is even stronger here, though she's still at a disadvantage given her lack of experience. She has a lot to fight for, and that drives her forward against everything working to stop her and reduce her to a lab rat. She really comes into her own over the course of the novel, and I loved seeing her grow that way. This is a very thoughtful book by an insightful writer, one that I really enjoyed reading.

Buy Sorrowland at Amazon

Rogue: Untouched by Alisa Kwitney

Rogue: Untouched
May 2021; Aconyte; 978-1839080562
ebook, print (336 pages); science fiction
Rogue's mutant ability frightens her, so she lives alone and works a terrible job to limit human contact. Two strangers show up and could change her life:  millionaire is scouting for new recruits, and there's a red-eyed card shark. but others are watching over her, so Rogue will have to trust in herself and her growing power to determine her own fate.

This is an origin story for Rogue, and like all major comics characters, her origins have been revamped several times over. Here, Marie dropped out of high school after her football player boyfriend was put into a coma after their kiss, and she works as a waitress. She's a waitress and generally avoids touching people as much as possible. Marie is kinder than she thinks she is, so when two of the former football players start beating up on a charming stranger behind the diner, she intervenes and lets him stay with her. This unwittingly draws her into Remy's world of danger from the thieves' guild and the assassins guild, as well as reveals that she has a mutant ability of her own. Without any time to truly learn her limits or how to use her power, she hides her ability when she's kidnapped along with Remy, waiting for the right time to break out and save the other mutants that were abducted.

I like this iteration of Rogue. She's sassy and quick thinking, and still capable of showing kindness to strangers. While she has her moments where she feels sorry for herself, she's able to push past that and try to make the best out of horrible situations. Some details, like being born with the streak of white hair, are a little different from what I know of her from comics, cartoons, and movies. It's very minor and sets this version of Rogue apart and into its own universe. Her ability to absorb skills, memories, and life energy is the same, and that's the important part of the novel. She has to really know who she is in order to take control of what she absorbs, which is hard for a young woman so used to hiding herself away. Her strength of character really shines through in Alisa Kwitney's tale, and I raced through it from start to finish to find out what happened next. This is a fun novel to read, and I'm so proud of Rogue.

Buy Rogue: Untouched at Amazon

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. #Marvel #MarvelEnt #Aconytebooks #review For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL

Scorpion by Christian Cantrell

Scorpion
May 2021; Random House; 978-1984801975
audio, ebook. print (336 pages); time travel
Quinn Mitchell is an intelligence analyst for the CIA, and her life is thrown into a tailspin when her daughter dies. Investigating bizarre murders with numeric codes tattooed, burned, or carved into bodies should draw her attention from her grief. Following the killer's lead, she suspects a link between her and the murders, as well as the Epoch Index, a code found within the Large Hadron Collider that even the CIA can't decrypt. Discovering the true meaning of the Epoch Index will shatter everything Quinn has ever known.

This is a fascinating novel, a near-future science fiction novel. There are self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, wireless charging for prosthetic limbs, new cryptocurrencies, international assassinations, and devices that may or may not be messages sent from the future. Quinn grabbed me from the start, the lonely analyst still grieving her daughter and the decay of her marriage in the wake of that death. The deaths brought her in to analyze the connections and patterns of the Elite Assassin, and she soon sees that it's more dangerous than she thought.

I loved a number of side characters, who were fascinating to read about. Even the characters passing through get a thorough background, and ties between storylines. I enjoyed getting a look into their backgrounds, seeing the connections they made. My favorite ones easily were the victim in our opener and Henrietta. I mean, the image of a brilliant Henrietta looking like a K-pop princess with a Hello Kitty suitcase and holding a Pok√©mon plush is wonderful, and my eyes widened in surprise as her transformations took place. Others that I felt suspicious of in the beginning really show their true colors after a while, so I can't blame her for changing so much. 

I lost track of time reading this, completely immersed in the story. It's a book that also leaves quite a few questions about its future, and is extremely satisfying. 

Buy Scorpion at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.


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