Surgical abortions have slowed, but pills and chemicals are reaching more homes—and killing more babies
Culture Notable Books
Torris lives on a comet with one plant—a gargantuan tree that provides air, food, and water to its small community of humans. While on a vision quest to the top of the miles-high tree, Torris braves many dangers, meets a traveler from another comet, and encounters the arrival of a millennia-old human spaceship. Based on an idea by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, Moffit’s adventurous coming-of-age tale is both scientifically plausible and hugely engaging. Longtime readers of science fiction will see echoes of the space-faring adventure tales of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. (Caution: off-page premarital sex.)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard
In a distant future in which mankind no longer exists, intelligent, technology-enabled animals fill the universe. In this world lives the Fant species, big-eared creators of the drug koph, which enables users to contact dead loved ones. Other races want control of the drug and will violate traditional Fant isolation to get it, unless a pariah and a historian can stop them. The book’s heart-wrenching reflections on memory, sacrifice, and friendship express the deepest human motivations and longings. Christians may connect with this Nebula Award–nominated novel’s big questions about prophecy’s role in human lives and the link between the mind and the soul.
Pathfinder Tales: Beyond the Pool of Stars
Adventure fantasy, also known as sword-and-sorcery, combines action-packed quests, timely comedy, and a battle between good and evil. This adventure fantasy is set in the shared world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The protagonist is the estranged daughter of a seagoing trading family that can breathe underwater. To help her troubled family, she embarks on a quest to find a missing treasure. Others also want it. Likable rogues and fiendishly clever adversaries compete in a cat-and-mouse game full of swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Robin Hood, Tarzan, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
When the Heavens Fall
The usual epic fantasy features a cast of friends who band together to conquer a great evil. Here, the heroes have no connection to each other until they meet at the climax of the story. The result is a fascinating tale of mixed motives, accidental assists, and surprising solutions to the problem of a necromancer brimming with the power to best the gods. Great world-building and keen characterization keep the pace brisk despite numerous points of view representing members of the traditional pantheon of heroes: warrior, rogue, wizard, ranger, cleric, and healer.
Drawing inspiration from The Count of Monte Cristo, Pushcart Prize nominee Stephen S. Power uses his poetic power to narrate a tale of a man living only for retribution. In The Dragon Round (Simon & Schuster, 2016) a mutiny occurs aboard the ship Comber and leaves the captain stranded on a distant island. While struggling against the elements, he discovers a baby dragon that, if trained, could return him to his beloved city. Power contrasts the captain’s example of sacrifice, discipline, and honor with the self-interest, indolence, and infamy of his enemies. The captain’s primary motivation, revenge, leads to a surprising but fitting conclusion. The book’s dark tone and casual violence illustrate the emptiness of a world without joy or hope and a life consumed by vengeance. —J.O.