What’s the Best Science Fiction Novel You Recently Read? (My Thoughts on “Shards of Earth”)

Adrian Tchaikovsky has done it again, solidifying his place (in my opinion) as one of the best sci-fi writers working today…or ever.

I just finished reading his latest novel, Shards of Earth, which follows a rowdy band of “spacers” as they chase, are chased, and face several invincible threats.

Other than superb writing, there are a few things about the book that really elevate it:

  1. The characters: Each of the main characters has a distinctly different biology. They’re essentially all aliens–even those that are humanoid–because the human race no longer exists as we know it in this version of the future. I loved learning about the different characters, both in terms of their personalities/backstories and how their biological origins impact their life. It reminded me quite a bit of one of the other best science fiction authors, Becky Chambers, and her Wayfarers series.
  2. The invincible threats: One of my favorite tropes in fiction is the seemingly invincible threat. It adds such a juicy puzzle throughout the story: How are the characters possibly going to defeat this threat? Maybe they can’t defeat it? Related, there are big hints of something akin to certain themes found in The Expanse series.
  3. The characters: I’m going to return to this one, because I just have to tell you a little more about the characters. There’s a genetically engineered navigator who can steer through unspace (essentially warp speed). Then there’s the angel. And the collective of tiny metallic insects that form a single person. And the tech genius with multiple physical disabilities that has her steering a giant scorpion mech. Last, there’s the lawyer. Yes, a lawyer! This is a science fiction book in which a protagonist wields the power of the law.

Shards of Earth stands by itself, but it appears that Tchaikovsky is looking to make it into a series, which I will gladly gobble up every time a new book is released. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a great sci-fi novel.

What’s the best science fiction book you recently read?

6 thoughts on “What’s the Best Science Fiction Novel You Recently Read? (My Thoughts on “Shards of Earth”)”

  1. I have read several fantasy novels recently, so I really can’t contribute here, but I am eagerly awaiting the next novel in the Revelation Space series from Alastair Reynolds which releases in a few weeks. It took me by surprise because I really thought the last novel was the end. Super excited.

    The fantasy novels I read were the most recent additions to the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka and The Laundry Files by Charles Stross. The former a modern day wizard fantasy, the latter a modern Cthulhu-meets-Office Space. I recommend both to anyone who enjoys heroes that aren’t overly heroic.

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  2. Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill is excellent.

    I’ll let the publisher describe it:
    It is thirty years since the humans lost their war with the artificial intelligences that were once their slaves. Not one human remains. But as the dust settled from our extinction there was no easy peace between the robots that survived. Instead, the two massively powerful artificially intelligent supercomputers that led them to victory now vie for control of the bots that remain, assimilating them into enormous networks called One World Intelligences (OWIs), absorbing their memories and turning them into mere extensions of the whole. Now the remaining freebots wander wastelands that were once warzones, picking the carcasses of the lost for the precious dwindling supply of parts they need to survive.

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