Time for another edition of “On the Watchlist,” the feature in which I shine the spotlight on books that I very much want but, for one reason or another, don’t have in my possession. (And know that if I did, I’d probably drop just about everything in order to start reading, because these books have caught my attention that much!) Let’s take a look at what’s been on my sights lately.
Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself. Lagoon expertly juggles multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives with prose that is at once propulsive and poetic, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.
At its heart a story about humanity at the crossroads between the past, present, and future, Lagoon touches on political and philosophical issues in the rich tradition of the very best science fiction, and ultimately asks us to consider the things that bind us together – and the things that make us human.
“There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.”
The Fifth Season, by N K Jemisin
The Fifth Season is set in a world which has suffered frequent, repeated Extinction Level Events for millions of years, and all life (and magic) in this world has adapted to it. Hundreds of years might pass between these events—easy, plentiful years in which great cities rise, and people have the leisure for art and science and rapid advancement—but then, again and again, the cities fall. The world is littered with the detritus of these times of plenty, and this cover hints at them: past ages of decadence, now decaying; stone that endures beneath flaking gilt.
Bitter Seeds, by Ian Tregillis
It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between
Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.
When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.
Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.
The Girl with all the Gifts, by Mike Carey
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her ‘our little genius’. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.