War Dogs by Greg Bear

The novel “War Dogs” by Greg Bear was published for the first time in 2014. It’s the first book in the trilogy of the same name.

Sergeant Michael Venn is a Skyrine – Sky + marine – part of an international force specialized in fighting against the Antags (Antagonists), the aliens who reached Mars. On his latest tour he’s sent to the Red (Mars) but the Earth’s fleet is attacked in orbit by the Antags and only some of them survive and land. Weapons, equipment, supplies and above all air are limited.

Venn’s group is left looking for resources on Mars in the hope of finding air, water and food while trying to get in touch with other groups of survivors or receiving messages from the Earth’s spaceships with information on the Antags’ positions. The impact of a comet suggests that the Antags can control its trajectory. A hope for the Skyrines comes from the encounter with a Muskie, the daughter of Earthlings who arrived on Mars decade earlier to colonize it.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

The novel “Under the Dome” by Stephen King was published for the first time in 2009.

Chester’s Mill is a normal Maine town until one day a transparent dome covers it completely. Its origin is unknown and the only activity it shows is to blow up all the electronic devices that get too close, otherwise it’s a passive barrier that seems impossible to breach.

Chester’s Mill’s isolation immediately becomes an opportunity for James “Big Jim” Rennie, one of the city’s selectmen, to assert his power. Taking advantage of the weaknesses of the other selectmen and the death of the police chief, whose pacemaker exploded near the Dome, he quickly turns the police into his personal militia. Dale “Barbie” Barbara, an ex military man, and Julia Shumway, the owner of the city newspaper, are among the few who oppose him.

Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod (Italian edition)

The novel “Cosmonaut Keep” by Ken MacLeod was published for the first time in 2000. It’s the first book in the Engines of Light Trilogy.

Matt Cairns is a programmer who also accepts jobs that are not exactly legal, exploiting his ability to penetrate computer systems. His contacts lead him to try to penetrate the system of a space station where he discovers much more than expected and ends up involved in a story that also concerns the first contact with an alien species.

On the planet Mingulay, human beings live together with saurs and kraken, on which they have to rely for interstellar travel. Gregor Cairns is part of a family that would like to discover the secrets needed to build their own interstellar starships, but this requires not only to solve a series of technical problems but also to avoid causing the gods’ wrath.

Martha in the Mirror by Justin Richards

The novel “Martha in the Mirror” by Justin Richards was published for the first time in 2008.

After centuries of war, Anthium and Zerugma are on the eve of a peace treaty. The place chosen to sign it is very symbolic, Castle Extremis, a strategic place whose control allows to maintain a stronghold in the area. The end of such a long war is a great achievement but there are many interests that don’t necessarily aim to it.

When the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones arrive at Castle Extremis, they find a very tense but also strange situation due to the presence of an out-of-the-ordinary mirror, a book with glass pages and a strange little girl who lost her twin sister. The dangers can come from the most unexpected places in a place full of ghosts and reflections.

Chanur's Homecoming by C.J. Cherryh (Italian edition)

The novel “Chanur’s Homecoming” by C.J. Cherryh was published for the first time in 1986. It’s the fourth novel of the Chanur series and follows “The Kif Strike Back”.

Pyanfar Chanur must juggle a number of more or less serious threats that come from various sources. The whole Compact has been shaken by clashes between various species and between factions within some of them, and the Meetpoint Station is at the center of some of the toughes conflicts. Among the hani there are also contrasts with the Ehrran clan opposing the Chanur clan.

More than ever, understanding who are the allies and who are the enemies makes the difference but there are many unknowns, beginning with the news about the humans’ actions as their role is still far from clear even if Pyanfar Chanur has their representative Tully aboard her spaceship. The right choices will make the difference for her, for her planet and for the whole Compact.