Ring in the new year with new science fiction
January 2nd marks National Science Fiction Day, commemorating famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s birthday. This year to celebrate the occasion, we compiled a list of some of our best science fiction books and primers on the genre, including titles in our Radium Age and Twelve Tomorrows series. Explore our collection below, and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear the latest updates from the Press.
Forthcoming: R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life by Karel Čapek
R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life offers a new, highly faithful translation by Štěpán Šimek of Czech novelist, playwright, and critic Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots, as well as twenty essays from contemporary writers on the 1920 play. R.U.R. is perhaps best known for first coining the term “robot” (in Czech, robota means serfdom or arduous drudgery). The twenty essays in this new English edition, beautifully edited by Jitka Čejková, are selected from Robot 100, an edited collection in Czech with perspectives from 100 contemporary voices that was published in 2020 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the play.
“This indispensable volume offers a new English translation of Čapek’s influential play, restoring its original structure, as the accompanying array of essays provide valuable context and interpretation. Čapek’s prescient meditation on human-android relations is timely and necessary.” —Mark Kingwell, University of Toronto; author of Singular Creatures
Science Fiction by Sherryl Vint
The world today seems to be slipping into a science fiction future. We have phones that speak to us, cars that drive themselves, and connected devices that communicate with each other in languages we don’t understand. Depending on the news of the day, we inhabit either a technological utopia or a Brave New World nightmare. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series surveys the uses of science fiction. It focuses on what is at the core of all definitions of science fiction: a vision of the world made otherwise and what possibilities might flow from such otherness.
The Truth and Other Stories by Stanisław Lem
Of these twelve short stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, only three have previously appeared in English, making this the first “new” book of fiction by Lem since the late 1980s. The stories display the full range of Lem’s intense curiosity about scientific ideas as well as his sardonic approach to human nature, presenting as multifarious a collection of mad scientists as any reader could wish for. Many of these stories feature artificial intelligences or artificial life forms, long a Lem preoccupation; some feature quite insane theories of cosmology or evolution. All are thought provoking and scathingly funny.
“As our world changes faster than we can make sense of it, Lem’s prescient imagination shows the power of science fiction for peering into the future.” —Scientific American
Read the eponymous story: The Truth, by Stanisław Lem
Forthcoming: Man’s World by Charlotte Haldane
In the not-too-distant future, England’s population quality and quantity are under scientific control: Only those deemed the fittest are permitted to procreate. Women are groomed to be “vocational mothers”—or else sterilized and put to other uses. Written by an author married to one of the world’s most prominent eugenics advocates, this ambivalent adventure anticipates both Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale. When a young woman rebels against her conditioning, can she break free?
Forthcoming: The Inhumans and Other Stories: A Selection of Bengali Science Fiction edited by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay
Kalpavigyan—science fiction written to excite Bengali speakers about science, as well as to persuade them to evolve beyond the limitations of religion, caste, and class—became popular in the early years of the twentieth century. Translated into English for the first time, in this collection you’ll discover The Inhumans (1935), Hemendrakumar Roy’s satirical novella about a lost race of Bengali supermen in Uganda. Also included are Jagadananda Ray’s “Voyage to Venus” (1895), Nanigopal Majumdar’s “The Mystery of the Giant” (1931), and Manoranjan Bhattacharya’s “The Martian Purana” (1931).
Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction edited by Ida Yoshinaga, Sean Guynes and Gerry Canavan
The explosion in speculative/science fiction (SF) across different media from the late twentieth century to the present has compelled those in the field of SF studies to rethink the community’s identity, orientation, and stakes. In this edited collection, more than forty writers, critics, game designers, scholars, and activists explore core SF texts, with an eye toward a future in which corporations dominate both the means of production and the means of distribution and governments rely on powerful surveillance and carceral technologies. Unlike other books of speculative/science fiction criticism, Uneven Futures uses a think piece format to make its critical insights engaging to a wide audience. The essays inspire visions of better possible futures—drawing on feminist, queer, and global speculative engagements with Indigenous, Latinx, and Afro- and African futurisms—while imparting important lessons for political organizing in the present.
“An invigorating and wide-ranging intellectual.” —H-Net Reviews
The Night Land, Abridged Version by William Hope Hodgson
In the far future, humankind’s survivors huddle below Earth’s frozen surface in a pyramidal fortress-city that, for centuries now, has been under siege by loathsome “Ab-humans,” enormous slugs and spiders, and malevolent “Watching Things” from another dimension. When our unnamed protagonist receives a telepathic distress signal from a woman whom (in a previous incarnation) he’d once loved, he sallies forth on an ill-advised rescue mission—into the fiend-haunted Night Land!
“[An] extravagantly baroque vision.” —Washington Post
Communications Breakdown: SF Stories about the Future of Connection edited by Jonathan Strahan
In Communications Breakdown, award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan asks some of the world’s best science fiction writers to consider how the very idea of communication might change in the future. Rich terrain for speculation, this anthology brims with human stories about the future face of our age-old need to connect. As cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson said, “The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.” So what happens when inequalities keep the future from everyone’s front door? Who is in control? These stories show humanity’s ability to construct the best possible worlds while also battling our potential to inflict unlimited harm.
“With stories ranging from zany and intense… there’s plenty to chew on here.” —Publishers Weekly
Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Anthropocene edited by Jonathan Strahan
We are living in the Anthropocene—an era of dramatic and violent climate change featuring warming oceans, melting icecaps, extreme weather events, habitat loss, species extinction, and more. What will life be like in a climate-changed world? In Tomorrow’s Parties, science fiction authors speculate how we might be able to live and even thrive through the advancing Anthropocene. In ten original stories by writers from around the world, an interview with celebrated writer Kim Stanley Robinson, and a series of intricate and elegant artworks by Sean Bodley, Tomorrow’s Parties takes rational optimism as a moral imperative, or at least a pragmatic alternative to despair.
“‘Hard’ sci-fi at its best.” —Nature