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April 25, 2024

2 Novels for Fans of Science Fiction

by MK French

Do you enjoy science fiction that gives you something to think about? Then make sure these two books are on your reading list. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Calypso by Oliver K. Langmead

book cover of science fiction novel Calypso by Oliver K. Langmead
April 2024; Titan Books; 978-1803365336
ebook, print (224 pages); science fiction

Rochelle had been an engineer on the Calypso, a colony ark. In the time she had been in cryostasis, a forest grew and the ship is populated by descendants of the original crew. Revered as a saint, Rochelle discovers war broke out between the botanists and engineers. They fight to determine if their new Earth will be a technological marvel or a new Eden, and Rochelle is the one to tip the balance of the war in either direction.

This book is illustrated, with lyrical prose and outright poetry to tell the story. Chapter headings are designed splashes, not titles with the POV character names. The typeset designs are interesting as well, adding another artistic layer to the story.

Rochelle is a human that was never enhanced or modified in any way, one of the few on Earth or its colonies. She left her children behind to assist with colonizing a new world. When she's woken, she meets Catherine, bioengineered to be as much plant as human, meant to terraform the new planet they're heading to. Arthur Sigmund is the other person left in cryostasis, distant and delighting in technology that will help him see his vision of a new Earth. The caretakers of the ship, we eventually learn, broke into factions. One wanted to maintain their original directions to take care of the ship, colonists and engineers. The other faction wanted to learn from the engineers so their children would have a place on New Terra. This was the war that erupted.

We eventually learn of Sigmund's involvement in terraforming other planets of the Solar System and his hatred of all the -isms that humanity brought with them from one planet to the other. The colonists themselves were engineered to survive on the new planet, and are nothing more than blank slates. Catherine's purpose has a monstrous aspect to it as well. Rochelle is our entry point into learning more about the project. "conviction alone/ Does not turn an opinion into fact./ Truly ethical decisions take time." This is a message that I think is central to the book, and it's present about two-thirds of the way through the book when everything starts coming together. The finale was not what I was expecting at all; Sigmund's goal was truly revealed at the end and was more cruel than I took him for. However you feel about the ending, it's definitely one to make you think about ethics and morality.

Buy Calypso at Amazon

Welcome to Forever by Nathan Tavares

book cover of science fiction novel Welcome to Forever by Nathan Travares
March 2024; Titan Books; 978-1803360409
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); science fiction

Fox is one of the best memory editors, able to create a sense of real life in the digital world. When he wakes up in Field of Reeds Center for Memory Reconstruction, he's told that he and his husband Gabe were victims in a terrorist bombing that shredded the memories of all its victims. Fox is now left trying to rebuild his life, his marriage, and himself. None of it feels reliable, and he digs further into his past. The world is trying to forget all of its sadness, but Fox is trying to save the man he loves.

In a world where everyone has a data port called a node installed in their heads, memories, and personality can be reduced to lines of code. These can be edited, replaced, deleted, or even overwritten by teams for a price. It also means that the super-rich can have bodies grown for them to port their memories into when they get old or broken, or have their memories redone over and over again until they get it "right." In the middle of this future is the rise of corporations becoming more important than the city-states of what used to be North America, and their bottom line is more important than the wild weather and climate collapse. This is the world that Fox is recovering in, trying to let memories recover naturally or after fragments of his stored memory are uploaded into his mind. He was selfish, wanting Gabe all to himself, unable to handle the secrets of Gabe's past and the jealousy it brings. Fox doesn't like the man he used to be, and doesn't like the idea that his memory recovery can make him a better person. 

We see the memories that are recovered and those that the fragments reactivate. As is later stated, every memory is part of the whole and encodes all of the whole. He learns more about his own past, the overlays that he had gotten, and the memories of Gabe that he has. Inside these recovered memories is the truth about the world he left behind and had hidden from himself. The so-called terrorists that set off the bomb might not have been a separate group at all but might have been the company's CEO Khadija Banks. Fox remembers her, and other variations of her, as well as Gabe from a past he doesn't want to remember. We eventually learn what actually happened, and can piece together the actual timeline. The bomb had a purpose as well, and we soon find out what that is, as well. 

As with all intricately woven sci-fi stories, this is not too far from our future. People are still people, trying to help the ones they live with, even if there are blind spots. Computer templates and simulations can feel real, and it's hard to tell the difference if everything is broken down into computer code. Who gets to call the shots? Who gets to choose what happens to humanity? In a world where memories are regularly and often altered, it's often difficult to truly learn and grow. But given enough iterations, it can still be possible to become better versions of ourselves and hope for more. I found this engaging and hard to put down until I got to the very end. 

Buy Welcome to Forever 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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