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The center of the higher ed / edtech universe for discussing sci-fi books is Bryan Alexander’s Near-Future Science Fiction Online Book Club.  

In a shameless effort to influence which book Bryan chooses to discuss next, I’ll share the 6 latest sci-fi books that have been in my ears and eyes.  

Summertime for me is a time to escape into escapist fiction.  It is exhausting to always be thinking about all the bad paths that our higher ed industry could travel, and all the ways that technology has not actually improved much of anything in postsecondary education.  A good sci-fi book can recharge the batteries for that next digital learning / organizational change push.

The 6 books that I’ll lobby for Bryan to include in his Near-Future Science Fiction Book Club (with special emphasis on the first 3) are:

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Published in March of 2017.

I’m a new Kim Stanley Robinson reader.  I take it that he has an enthusiastic following of fans.  You may have seen some mixed reviews about New York 2140 (too long, too much, etc.).  Don’t believe the reviews.  The book is fantastic.  Robinson pulls off a completely believable world of rising oceans, coastal flooding, and economic cataclysm brought on by un-checked unchecked carbon emissions and the resultant global warming.  New York 2140 is so much more than a climate change fable.  The book is a NYC history lesson, a treatise on comparative economic systems, and an entertaining adventure story.  What would man made climate change skeptics make of this fabulous book?

Change Agent by Daniel Suarez

Published in April of 2017.

Daniel Suarez has gained serious street credibility amongst the sci-fi reading developer, coder, system admin, and database administrator crowd.  Suarez’s first self-published book Daemon came out while he was a working DBA.  His books get the tech right because Suarez is first and foremost a techie.  Change Agent is Suarez’s most ambitious and polished work to date.  He extends his curiosity into the world gene editing and genetic engineering.  The world of 2045 in Change Agent is one where gene tech has supplanted silicon, and the center of gravity of the startup / knowledge economy world has moved away from the U.S. (too many pesky laws) to the unregulated frontiers of East Asia.  Suarez is reliably imaginative and detailed about the technology.  Change Agent also demonstrates his improving craft as a writer of can’t put down thrillers.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Published in March of 2017.

I read a review somewhere that The Collapsing Empire reads like a mashup of the best parts of Game of Thrones and Star Wars.  If that description does not make you immediately stop what you are doing and download Scalzi’s latest book then I fear that you are beyond hope.  Actually, the real reason to read The Collapsing Empire (and really everything that Scalzi writes) is that his books are ridiculously funny.  How many sci-fi book make you laugh out loud?  Scalzi has mastered so many genres that I imagine he intimidates all other sci-fi authors.  A total treat.

Columbus Day, SpecOps, and Paradise (Expeditionary Force Series) by Craig Alanson

Published in 2016 and 2017.

I’ll be honest.  The reason that I read the first book in this trilogy was that it was dirt cheap.  The cost for Columbus Day was $0.99 for the Kindle e-book version and an additional $2.99 for the Whispersync enabled audio (Audible) book.  I had no idea that the book would be so much fun that I’d not only burn my way through, but eagerly download and read/listen to the next 2 books in the series.  (I’m waiting for the audio version of the 4th book, Black Ops, that is now only out in Kindle version).  I also had no idea that there is an entire genre devoted to military sci-fi.  And even less clue that I’d become a fan.  From reading Alanson’s ‘Ask the Author’ page on GoodReads, we learn that the author is not a full-time writer (he talks about his day job), and that the books were digitally only published on Amazon.  How Alanson came up with a plot that involves an immature but super powerful ancient artificial intelligence, alien invasions, and rag tag crew of pirate spacefaring soldiers I have no idea.  All I know is that these books are about as fun and diverting as one is likely to find in the military sci-fi canon.

What recently published sci-fi books do you want to recommend for Bryan's book club?

What are you reading?

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