2021 Favorites: Science Fiction

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. But math and I do NOT get along, and so being a science fiction fan is the closest I’m going to get to space. I’m okay with this. There is significantly less higher math involved with reading science fiction novels.

So in no particular order, here are my favorite science fiction novels that I read in 2021:

To Be Taught, If Fortunate
by Becky Chambers
138 pages

A group of scientists leaves Earth behind forever in order to study a group of planets lightyears from Earth. As they travel from one planet to the next in cryosleep, their bodies are changed to adapt to radically different planetary environments. When they wake again, years later, they receive their communications from Earth and send replies in kind. But the longer they travel, the more life on Earth changes, and soon the scientists wonder what is the point of exploring the cosmos for the sake of a planet that they no longer know, and that may have forgotten about them completely.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers #4)
by Becky Chambers
326 pages

The planet is a rock in space that has little going for it save for its proximity to the wormholes the people of the Galactic Commons use to travel through space. The Five-Hop One-Stop is a glorified truck stop where travelers can stop to stretch their legs and get something to eat. It’s run by a cheerful alien and her usually helpful child who are doing their best to brighten people’s days. When a freak accident halts all traffic through the area, a group of three strangers comes together to deal with the delay and the problems it brings, and confront the truths that have brought each of them to this place.

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
by Arkady Martine
462 pages

Mahit Dzmare has spent her life learning about and loving the massive Teixcalaan Empire and its complex culture. Now that she is an ambassador from her tiny but independent home station, she discovers that her predecessor is dead and no one will admit that he was murdered, a vital link to her homeworld is suddenly gone, and there is a growing crisis within the highest echelons of the Teixcalaan Empire. Now, Mahit must figure out who she can trust and find a way to rescue herself and her people from the all-consuming empire.

This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
208 pages

Two agents are on opposing sides of a war that ranges throughout time. They begin by leaving taunting notes for each other in various points in history, and they end by falling in love. To be discovered by their respective leaders would mean instant death for either one, so the two women begin to conspire to make their escape from the war and the all-seeing rulers that haunt their every step.

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries #6)
by Martha Wells
168 pages

While in a legal limbo on Preservation Station, waiting to see whether or not the independent colony will grant it refugee status, Murderbot happens across a dead body. Murderbot did not kill the human (no matter what the humans think), and even if it had killed the human, it wouldn’t have been stupid enough to leave the body where it could be found. To help clear its name and prove that it is not (completely) a heartless killing machine, Murderbot agrees to investigate the human’s death and find out what really happened. The worst part is that Murderbot will have to interact with actual humans. Again.

8 thoughts on “2021 Favorites: Science Fiction

  1. Interesting. I recall wanting to double major in college, with computer science and physics, to perhaps give the option of something in the computational side of astrophysics. But I found myself unable to get through the higher level math required, so stuck to just computer science. I’m still no good at advanced math, but I’m getting better and better at reading science fiction. 🙂 I like the selection here, and with two by Becky Chambers. I can’t wait to read more of the Wayfarers series. I really enjoyed the first book. And of course, Murderbot!

  2. Yup, calculus. I found college calculus to be a different beast than high school calculus, at least different between where I went to each. I did ok in high school but got a D on calc 1 in college and had to retake it. Then I got a D on calc 2 and had to retake that. Not a good pattern if setting off down a math-heavy path, so I took another path. 🙂

  3. I feel this big time! I love science so much, and I always wanted to go into a science field, but anything beyond English classes is way over my head–originally, I was going to say liberal arts, but I also have zero talent for art or music–and it’s always made me so sad, especially as I fall deeper and deeper in love with space. Now, however, I work with scientists & engineers who have PhDs in crazy fields, and just listening to them talk makes up for not understanding what the heck they’re saying, hahaha. Thank goodness for science fiction to give us that little in to the world of science, too!

  4. If not for math, I’d be at NASA or something like that. I loved space! I still remember seeing the first pictures of Neptune that Voyager II sent back. I was entranced. But calculus and its wild equations made zero sense, and since that’s the foundation of higher math…. Well, that was the end of my STEM career options. Oh well. I love my art and literature. Listening to science folks jabber on about their fields is wonderful, too, and much easier than tackling differential equations!

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