Science Fiction – Communication

Focus on: Communication
The Word Exchange: A Novel
by Alena Graedon

Dystopian Fiction. Anana Johnson and her father, Doug, are lexicographers at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), a publication rendered obsolete by Memes, the technological implants that have largely replaced memory and spoken language. Though less of a Luddite than her conspiracy theorist dad, Anana begins to reconsider her position when Doug goes missing and a cybernetic “word flu” causes widespread aphasia among the population. If you enjoyed Max Barry’s Lexicon, check out The Word Exchange, which features a similarly compelling linguistic thriller with philosophical overtones.

Speak: A Novel
by Louisa Hall

Social SF. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When children become too attached to their AI dolls, the “baby bots” are banned and their creator imprisoned. How did such a promising invention become a menace to society? Spanning some four centuries and unfolding from the perspectives of a large cast of characters, this sweeping science fiction saga employs letters, transcripts, and other primary source documents to explore the relationships between humans and machines.

The Silent History
by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett

Social SF. At the center of this thought-provoking experimental novel (which originated as a smartphone app) is a generation of children born without language, nor, it seems, the ability or desire to acquire it. While their existence is recorded, debated, and analyzed in the testimonies of non-affected individuals, “the silents” themselves form clandestine communities that threaten to undermine the structure of human society. If you like suspenseful speculative tales about the power of language, such as Ben Marcus’ The Flame Alphabet, you’ll want to check out The Silent History.

The Flame Alphabet
by Ben Marcus

Social SF. Never again will parents instruct children to “use their words.” When 14-year-old Esther becomes a vector for language toxicity, a virulent disease that gives her speech lethal power over listeners, it’s only a matter of time before other children become carriers. The plague spreads rapidly as children discover that their parents have no immunity. But what will happen to the human race when the infected children grow up? Fans of Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby may enjoy this disturbing work of speculative fiction in which words not only hurt — they kill.

The Affinities
by Robert Charles Wilson

Social SF. In the not-so-distant future, researcher Meir Klein creates an algorithm with an unprecedented success rate when it comes to grouping compatible people. Building upon this research, a corporation called InterAlia develops a test enabling individuals to determine their inclusion in one of 22 groups, or “Affinities.” When Adam Fisk qualifies for Tau, the largest Affinity, he feels — for the first time in his life — a sense of belonging. But complications quickly arise. Klein intends, with the help of Tau, to release the now-proprietary testing code to the rest of humanity, the vast majority of which is unaffiliated with any Affinity. Meanwhile, Tau’s main rival, Het, will do anything to stop the algorithm’s distribution. Don’t miss this suspenseful near-future SF story of social media on steroids.

List created 8/3/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , , , .