Am I the only one that spends a significant chunk of their free time browsing through books online? If I am the only one, don’t tell me. I’d like to think this online window-shopping is a problem for all booklovers! 😛
Recently during one of these window shopping binges, I stumbled upon a new science fiction series called FORWARD. Looking into it, I discovered that it was a collection of 6 original stories put together in a collection distributed by Amazon, featuring some of the most well known authors in modern fiction, like the Divergent series’ Veronica Roth, and horror favorite Paul Tremblay.
“Take a leap. For some, it’s the end of the world. For others, it’s just the beginning. With brilliant imagination, today’s most visionary writers point to the future in a collection curated by bestselling author Blake Crouch. These stories range from darkly comic to deeply chilling, but they all look forward.”
The series is 6 books long, but each of them are pretty short in length – more your standard novella size than full novel. If you have a Kindle Unlimited membership, you can read (and listen via Audible!) all 6 of them at no cost, which is pretty awesome. I downloaded these both as ebooks and Audible books, and switched between formats depending on whether I was commuting to/from work, or hanging out at home.
I really, really loved this series and am hoping Amazon does more things like it in the future. Reading these different takes on what the future may look like for us was really neat, and some of the perspectives were not what I was expecting!
I’ve written little mini-reviews for each of the stories below – definitely check them out and let me know which ones were your favorites! These little futuristic minis will help boost your annual book count for the year, and they’ll entertain you! It’s a win/win. 😀
1) ARK by Veronica Roth (Buy it here!)
On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent trilogy.
It’s only two weeks before an asteroid turns home to dust. Though most of Earth has already been evacuated, it’s Samantha’s job to catalog plant samples for the survivors’ unknowable journey beyond. Preparing to stay behind and watch the world end, she makes a final human connection.
As certain doom hurtles nearer, the unexpected and beautiful potential for the future begins to flower.‘
This one is a bit slower than the others in the series, so just know that going into it. I read this one first, and based on it alone, almost didn’t go on to the next – not because I didn’t think it was good, but because I wasn’t in a very introspective mood, which is kind of what this story is going for. That said, it’s a really bittersweet look at a possible future for our planet, and I enjoyed it.
Rating: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐
2) SUMMER FROST by Blake Crouch (Buy it here!)
A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.
Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?
This is probably my favorite of the bunch! I’d recommend the narrated Audible version of this one especially, because it’s so well done and so believable. I loved how inclusive the cast of characters was here, and there’s a twist at the end – which you know is my favorite thing! Plus, it has to do with video game NPCs becoming sentient, which is fucking terrifying! I can’t recommend this one highly enough, it was so good!
Rating: 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
3) EMERGENCY SKIN by N.K. Jemisin (Buy it here!)
What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.
An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out ages ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.
I really liked this one – all the little dialogue bits were great, and it had more humor to it than some of the others in the collection. I sort of knew where things were going pretty soon into starting, but it played out in an interesting enough way that it kept me hooked. I felt myself wanting to know what came next after the ending, which is a great thing to say about a short story. If the author ever continues it into a full book, I’d buy it!
Rating: 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
4) YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT YOUR DESTINATION by Amor Towles (Buy it here!)
Nature or nurture? Neither. Discover a bold new way to raise a child in this unsettling story of the near future by the New York Times bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow.
When Sam’s wife first tells him about Vitek, a twenty-first-century fertility lab, he sees it as the natural next step in trying to help their future child get a “leg up” in a competitive world. But the more Sam considers the lives that his child could lead, the more he begins to question his own relationships and the choices he has made in his life.
Review: This one was okay – genetics is always a simultaneously interesting and terrifying thing to read about in sci-fi, ’cause it usually leads to bad stuff happening. In this one, we’re presented with a future in which we can control personality aspects of our children before they’re born, which sounds like it’d make for a super cool story. Instead, we mostly just listen to a pretty basic guy compare himself to his unborn child and the different lives he may lead, and then make rash choices without consulting his wife at all – despite how much those choices impact her as well. It wasn’t my favorite in the series, but it was very well written and the subject is one I’d love to see explored in a different way.
Rating: 3 ⭐⭐⭐
5) THE LAST CONVERSATION by Paul Tremblay (Buy it here!)
What’s more frightening: Not knowing who you are? Or finding out? A Bram Stoker Award–winning author explores the answer in a chilling story about identity and human consciousness.
Imagine you’ve woken up in an unfamiliar room with no memory of who you are, how you got there, or where you were before. All you have is the disconnected voice of an attentive caretaker. Dr. Kuhn is there to help you—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She’ll help you remember everything. She’ll make sure you reclaim your lost identity. Now answer one question: Are you sure you want to?
I love Paul Tremblay, so I think I may have hyped this one up a bit for myself. That isn’t to say it wasn’t good, ’cause it is! But I think of Paul more as a horror writer, so I expected maybe a tinge of that. This was purely sci-fi / speculative fiction, which, once I realized, I was totally on board with! I started figuring this one out partway through, but I think you’re supposed to – the story doesn’t try to hide anything or pull any harsh punches. It does give a really deep look at the relationships between people, and the lengths some may go to to keep the people they love alive & with them.
Rating: 4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
6) RANDOMIZE by Andy Weir (Buy it here!)
In the near future, if Vegas games are ingeniously scam-proof, then the heists have to be too, in this imaginative and whip-smart story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.
An IT whiz at the Babylon Casino is enlisted to upgrade security for the game of keno and its random-number generator. The new quantum computer system is foolproof. But someone on the inside is no fool. For once the odds may not favor the house—unless human ingenuity isn’t entirely a thing of the past.
Another one I absolutely loved, and again, I’d really recommend listening to this one if possible! The voice narration is so good for the story! This one kept surprising me, and I wasn’t sure where I’d end up. The characters here were so developed and believable, and I really loved the theme of a go-getting woman that’s possibly a bit too smart for her own good. I don’t know anything about casinos or betting, but that didn’t matter! So good.
Rating: 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Do you read a lot of audiobooks, or just stick to normal reading? Audiobooks are so good for me during my drives to and from my various jobs & events – I love getting lost in a story while in traffic! It took me awhile to figure out what sorts of things entertained me, and some narrators just throw me off and I can’t get into. But recently I’ve loved so many good ones – I’ll probably do a post soon with recommendations for audiobooks I’ve enjoyed this year!
In writing this post, I actually also discovered some other Amazon Original Stories series!! Check this page out for a full listing! I’m so excited, omg!
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