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Say farewell to September with the month's best science fiction

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Sci-fi lovers! Get lost in what we think were some of the best science fiction books of September. There are a lot of promising titles out this past month, including a new novel from David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, and the legendary John Scalzi.

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales (September 9, 2014)

Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant

Full of humor, terror and lovingly rendered worlds, some science-fictional, some fantastical, Monstrous Affections is a can't-miss anthology for the fall of 2014. This new collection of short stories, selected by the inestimable Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, is a diverse anthology featuring many of the top sci-fi and fantasy authors right now. Monsters come in all shapes and forms, from the alien to demonic, or maybe even human.

This collection also comes with high praise from reviewers. Kirkus Review called this collection "an anthology of riches, even if they aren't always fair of form." Amelia Gremelspacher, in an Amazon review, said, "Even the vampire story is fresh."

Editors Kelly Link and Gavin Grant work their humor into the book, including a foreword with a pop quiz: "Monsters are A) hairy. B) fangy. C) slimy. D) strangely attractive to me, although I don't know why. E) all of the above." If you want to learn how to be an intergalactic smuggler (the successful kind), or learn more about the monster within, you definitely won't want to miss this book. Not convinced? Read a sample from this book, Holly Black's excellent story, "Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler," online at Lightspeed Magazine.

Stone Mattress -- 9 Tales by Margaret Atwood (September 16, 2014)

by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and Moral Disorder, is a master of speculative fiction, blurring the lines between science-fiction and literary fiction. Her characters live in fully fleshed universes drawn with acute, acerbic humor. In her first collection of fiction since 2006, Atwood offers nine new short stories, each inhabiting a new set of characters.

In a review, Booklist called this book "shrewdly brilliant, gleefully mischievous, and acerbically hilarious ... Atwood has the raptor's penetrating gaze, speed, and agility and never misses her mark." Amazon selected the book as the best book of the month for September.

With a long list of critically acclaimed novels and short story collections under her belt, it is exciting to see what Atwood will do in this new collection. Atwood is brilliant at deconstructing the roles between the sexes, and at using science-fiction elements to help us see more about ourselves. If this collection is anywhere near as good as her last, Moral Disorder, you won't want to miss this new book.

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome (September 30, 2014)

by John Scalzi

Haden's Syndrome is a terrifying new virus in John Scalzi's latest sci-fi novella, Unlocked. Taking place in the near future, this book follows health officials giving an oral history about the outbreak of Haden's Syndrome: how people missed it and how it changed the world. Haden's Syndrome isn't just another apocalypse story: it's a terrifyingly real story about a virus that seems not too far off from reality.

Unlocked was released earlier this month in e-book format, but a limited edition hardcover copy is coming out this week. Publishers Weekly called it "one of the most fascinating SF scenarios created in recent years."

John Scalzi burns bright as one of the leading modern authors in sci-fi. His work always forges new frontiers, and leaves its reader better for having read it. If you're a fan of Scalzi's previous work, or if you've never read him before, pick up this book when it comes out later this week.

Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future (September 9, 2014)

Edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer

Readers burned out by science-fiction stories about apocalypse, disease and destruction will love this new collection. Inspired by a conversation Neal Stephenson had with Michael Crow about the depressing state of the world's imagination, this collection was borne out of a desire to create uplighting sci-fi. Writers collaborated with scientists to brainstorm ways to write stories about how to solve world problems, rather than more apocalypse stories.

"[A] group of visionaries have banded together to offer stories that are more utopian, which they hope will contribute to a more positive future ... The stories still offer plenty of drama, death and destruction, but many have a sort of happy ending," the New York Times wrote in a review.

With stories by Cory Doctorow and Neal Stephenson, this collection promises to be well written. It's also nice to have a collection of stories that focuses on a hopeful note, rather than imagining the worst about the future.

The Bone Clocks (September 2, 2014)

by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks begins when a girl with a terrifying ability to attract psychic phenomena runs away from home. From its first words, you won't want to put down this gripping novel, which weaves interconnected tales in a way only David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, can. The Bone Clocks skillfully mixes science fiction with magic.

Meg Wolitzer called The Bone Clocks "one of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I've read in a long time." The San Francisco Chronicle said, "Rich in detail and incident, funny, rueful and terrifying by turns, The Bone Clocks is a tour de force."

The Bone Clocks is a superbly written novel with a strong voice and fully fleshed characters. If the success of Cloud Atlas is any indication, this book should be an incredible read.

Loved them, liked them, thought they were a waste of time? What other science fiction did you enjoy in September? Share in the comments!

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