This month’s science fiction brings two very different looks at climate change, plus an Afro-futurist planet. Here are our picks for the top new science fiction books in December 2022.
Where it Rains in Color by Denise Crittendon
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: December 6
Den of Geek says: Outer space royalty literally glitter in the first book to come out of Angry Robot’s 2020 Black Voices Matter open acquisition period.
Publisher’s summary: Colonized by the descendants of Earth’s West African Dogon Tribe, the planet of Swazembi is a blazing, color-rich utopia and famous vacation center of the galaxy. No one is used to serious trouble in this idyllic, peace-loving world, least of all the Rare Indigo.
But Lileala’s perfect, pampered lifestyle is about to be shattered. The unthinkable happens and her glorious midnight skin becomes infected with a mysterious disease. Where her skin should glisten like diamonds mixed with coal, instead it scabs and scars. On top of that, she starts to hear voices in her head, and everything around her becomes confusing and frightening.
Lileala’s destiny, however, goes far beyond her beauty. While searching for a cure, she stumbles upon something much more valuable. A new power awakens inside her, and she realizes her whole life, and the galaxy with it, is about to change…
The Light Pirate By Lily Brooks-Dalton
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: December 6
Den of Geek says: This near-future climate disaster tale looks at an apocalyptic Florida through a literary fiction-flavored lens.
Publisher’s summary: Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker, his pregnant wife, Frida, and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds in search of his children. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.
As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.
Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.
Expect Me Tomorrow by Christopher Priest
Release date: December 13
Den of Geek says: Priest is known primarily as the author of The Prestige. He tackles climate change with optimism and near-future speculative science.
Publisher’s summary: A petty thief known as John Smith was arrested for fraudulent behavior in 1877. He tricked women into thinking he was rich, then stole their belongings and vanished. His guilt was obvious.
In 1852, Adler and Adolf Beck’s father died on an expedition to a glacier, and their lives separated. One became a respected climate scientist, one a successful opera singer touring the world. Or so he claimed. But both remained in touch, if only to share the mysterious voices only they could hear.
Charles Ramsey also has a twin. It is 2050, and Greg is a journalist reporting on the climate-change inspired conflicts around the world. When Charles is made redundant from his job as a profiler for the police and sent home with a new experimental chip in his head, he is urged by his brother to explore a little-known aspect of their family history.
All of these people are connected. All of their lives will intersect. And the climate of their world will keep on changing.