May 26, 2024

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Science It Works

Summer books of 2021: Science fiction

The Stranger Times
by CK McDonnell, Bantam Press £14.99

If The X-Files was a weekly tabloid, it would be The Stranger Times. The Manchester-based periodical gains a new assistant editor, Hannah, who swiftly learns that the paranormal is real, and can be deadly. McDonnell exploits this premise for laughs, and the pithy banter between the characters is a delight.

Last One at the Party
by Bethany Clift, Hodder and Stoughton £12.99

Sole survivor of a lethal flu-like pandemic, Clift’s self-loathing anti-heroine indulges herself in every way, before the need to take her predicament seriously kicks in. The novel expertly walks the line between profane and thoughtful, and is as much about the why of surviving as it is about the how.

The Best of World SF
edited by Lavie Tidhar, Head of Zeus £25

Tidhar has assembled a weighty and impressive collection of 26 stories by authors from around the world, several of them appearing in English for the first time. The variety and diversity of the material on offer is refreshing, the quality does not waver, and the translations are top-notch.

Tell us what you think

What are your favourites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

The Last House on Needless Street
by Catriona Ward, Viper £12.99/Tor Nightfire $27.99

A woman moves in next door to the man she believes killed her sister years earlier. Yet he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. Who is mad? Who’s lying? Ward’s superlative novel — part psychological thriller, part Gothic horror — plays countless tricks on the reader and rewards close attention.

Skyward Inn
by Aliya Whiteley, Solaris £14.99

Earthwoman Jem and an alien, Isley, together run a rural pub in a near-future West Country that has cut itself off from the rest of Britain. Trouble rears its head when another alien turns up at their door. Skyward Inn skilfully and sympathetically explores issues of separation, identity and belonging.

Summer Books 2021

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Wednesday: History by Tony Barber
Thursday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Friday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Saturday: Critics’ choice

Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Café