The Top 5 Science Fiction Novels of 2018

In 2018 we can expect something on the order of 200+ science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction novels to be published by the mainstream publishing companies. This number goes up significantly when you include the self-published fiction. After searching various sites and seeing what we can expect to be published in 2018, here are what I believe will be the five best science fiction novels to be published in 2018.

5. The Warrior Within – Angus McIntyre

Cover of The Warrior Within by Angus McIntyre (c) Tor Publishing

From the publisher Tor:

“Angus McIntyre makes his debut with The Warrior Within, a mind-bending science fiction adventure about a man with many people living in his head

Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. He survives on a backwater planet dominated by the Muljaddy, a mostly ambivalent religious autocracy, where devotion and prayer can be traded in for subsistence wages and enough food to survive. Surrounded by artifacts of a long dead civilization, the population survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town.

But that life is soon interrupted, when a group of commandos arrive, coming from the wastelands as only off-worlders could. They’ve come to kill a woman, or so they say. At first the commandos merely threaten as they search. Unable to find what they’re looking for, they begin to ratchet up their measures, separating the men from the women, instigating violent encounters, and eventually staging a coup against the Muljaddy and his Temple.

Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.”

This sounds like it could very well be a fun and fast paced novel with some interesting ideas about consciousness and personality. There are a lot questions being asked in that small blub. Questions like: How are these people living in Karsman’s head? Why do commandos want to kill this woman? Who is the woman and what has she done to deserve being killed?

The Warrior Within (release date 6 March 2018) gets the number five position, because this is Angus McIntyre’s debut novel. There have been many award wining debuts and this could turn out to be one of them. I think I could very well enjoy finding out.

4. Mission to Methone – Les Johnson

Cover of Mission To Methone by Les Johnson (c) Baen Publishing

Les Johnson is a NASA physicist who also writes books. I admit I’m always rather partial to science fiction books written by scientists. I always feel that the knowledge they posses lends even their wildest speculations a greater air of truth. Absurd, I know, but that’s how I’ve always felt. Mission to Methone (release date 6 February 2018) deals with an early space faring human race coming into contact with advanced alien species at war. An interesting premise to be sure. From the publishers Baen:

“The year is 2065 and an accidental encounter in space leads to the discovery that we are not alone in the universe—and that our continued existence as a species may be in jeopardy.

Chris Holt, working in his office at the Space Resources Corporation, discovers that one of the asteroids he is surveying for mining is actually not an asteroid at all but a derelict spaceship. The word gets out and soon the world’s powers are competing to explore and claim for themselves the secrets that it holds.

What they don’t know is that across the galaxy, a war has been underway for millennia. A war between alien civilizations that have very different ideas about what should be done about emerging spacefaring civilizations like our own. The artificial intelligence resident in the derelict Holt discovered has been in our solar system since before the dawn of human civilization, watching, waiting and keeping quiet lest the interstellar war return and wipe out the sentient race that now resides there—humanity.

And that war might soon be again coming to our front door. The truth can only be discovered on Methone, a tiny, egg-shaped moon of the planet Saturn. Who will get there first? And will it be in time?”

Mission to Methone sounds extremely exciting to me. It gets the number four spot because, once again, I’ve not read anything by Les Johnson, but if there was ever a book to get me to try his writing, then Mission to Methone is it.

3. The Soldier – Neal Asher

Cover of The Soldier by Neal Asher (c) Pan-MacMillan

Neal Asher is another writer that specialises in far future space operas with bizarre alien and human cultures clashing in the most violent of ways. Asher’s latest offering The Soldier (release date 17 May 2018) continues his exploration of the same universe that houses both the Polity and Prador Empire. This time there is a threat so vast it could wipe out all sentient life. From the publisher Pan-MacMillian:

“In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.

Neither the Polity or the prador want the other in full control of the disc, so they’ve placed an impartial third party in charge of the weapons platform guarding the technology from escaping into the galaxy: Orlandine, a part-human, part-AI haiman. She’s assisted by Dragon, a mysterious, spaceship-sized alien entity who has long been suspicious of Jain technology and who suspects the disc is a trap lying-in-wait.

Meanwhile, the android Angel is planning an attack on the Polity, and is searching for a terrible weapon to carry out his plans―a Jain super-soldier. But what exactly the super-soldier is, and what it could be used for if it fell into the wrong hands, will bring Angel and Orlandine’s missions to a head in a way that could forever change the balance of power in the Polity universe.

In The Soldier, British science fiction writer Neal Asher kicks off another Polity-based trilogy in signature fashion, concocting a mind-melting plot filled with far-future technology, lethal weaponry, and bizarre alien creations.”

If you’re familiar at all with Asher and his Polity books, you know that he doesn’t do things by halves. I expect The Soldier to be another vicious and violent exploration of the Polity universe which Asher has developed so well. It only gets the number three spot because of the books published by the number two and one authors. If they weren’t releasing novels next year, The Soldier could very well have been my number one pick.

2. Agency – William Gibson

Cover of Agency by William Gibson (c) Berkely Books

William Gibson has long been one of my favourite science fiction writers. The godfather of cyberpunk is releasing Agency (release date 26 December 2018). A young woman, Verity, is testing a new type of avatar for the military. This story will use the same sort of time travel technology that 2014’s The Peripheral did. It uses time travel to explore an alternate timeline where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 U. S. Presidential election

The Peripheral was one of my favourite books in 2014 (see my review here) and while this doesn’t seem to be a direct sequel, Gibson is clearly going explore similar ideas. The thing about Gibson and his writing is that he offers no support with his technology and jargon. You either immerse yourself in his world or get left behind, rapidly. One of the major complaints about The Peripheral I heard was related to this fact. People just didn’t ‘get it’ soon enough, becoming frustrated and giving up. To those people that did give up on The Peripheral I would suggest trying again so that they can read Agency without similar difficulties.

I would’ve placed Agency at number one, but I know that Gibson’s writing will still manage to be beyond some people at first.

1. Salvation – Peter F. Hamilton

Peter F. Hamilton is one of the greatest authors of space operas of all time. His Nights Dawn Trilogy and Commonwealth Saga are required reading for any fan of the space opera sub-genre. Now with Salvation (release date 6 September 2018) Peter F. Hamilton strays slightly from his usual faster-than-light, galaxy spanning stories to a more Reynolds type of space opera where FTL is not possible (yet). From Pan-MacMillan:

“Book One in the Salvation Sequence, a dazzling space opera trilogy from master of the genre, Peter F. Hamilton

In the year 2204, an abandoned alien spaceship is discovered 90 light years from Earth, in an uninhabited star system. The ship is found to be carrying humans held in suspension – yet humans have never ventured this far out into space before. Faster-than-light travel is impossible – so how did they get here? A team of five specialists is sent to investigate. But each of them has their own agenda – and not all of them can be trusted. Does the real threat come from the spaceship, or from those who seek to learn its secrets . . . ?”

That sounds pretty bloody good to me. Well worth the number one slot to my mind.

While I hope that these choices for my top five science fiction novels of 2018 turn out to be as good as I expect, I would be surprised if one or two don’t get supplanted when I stumble across something especially engaging or unique. Quite often the best thing about predicting things is in seeing just how wrong you can be.

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