Orange World – Karen Russell impressively manages to build rich worlds and characters within a few dozen pages. The people and places she imagines are strange, yet grounded in the mundane interpersonal issues we all deal with. When I finished one story, I could not wait for the next batch of weirdness that Russell had for me. This was one of the most fun (though sometimes dark) books I’ve read so far this year.
Friday Black – These short stories often imagine a near future for our United States, one that is possibly years away, but maybe, more frighteningly, months away. Either way Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah manages to take preposterous fictionalized societies and pulls them so close to our current reality as to almost mirror it. Sometimes the scariest things are those that are most like us.
Exhalation – In this collection Ted Chiang moves beyond the strange to ask the bigger questions about the universe and humanity. It is certainly science fiction, in a way that the other two books are not quite. But in a sense Exhalation uses science fiction to get us to look much deeper into our own reality, shooting beyond the genre to something meaningful.