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Culture Books

Sci-fi and fantasy novels


Sci-fi and fantasy novels

The Long Sunset

Jack McDevitt

Award-winning author McDevitt explores the politics and rewards of space exploration in his newest novel. As the government space program winds down, independent explorers attempt to mount an expedition before growing xenophobia shuts it down. Space explorer extraordinaire Priscilla Hutchins leads the mission to find the source of a strange extrasolar transmission of a beautiful waterfall. What they find sets off a mad dash to save a species. McDevitt’s exciting adventure tale shows that reaching the stars is a chance to prove humanity’s image-bearing nobility.

How to Stop Time

Matt Haig

Haig joins writers from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Poul Anderson who have explored the virtues and vices of immortality. Protagonist Tom Hazard was born in 1581 but looks just 41 in 2017. He’s desperately lonely and has memories of the past that threaten to consume him until he meets a lovely French teacher. Their romance will either be Tom’s liberation or his ruination. This finely wrought, name-dropping (Hemingway and Shakespeare make appearances), and history-hopping tale warns against being so burdened by the past that you can’t enjoy the present. (Caution: profanity)

The Experience Arcade and Other Stories

James Van Pelt

Former English teacher Van Pelt’s somber yet tender stories brilliantly explore life’s ordinary anxieties. In the title story, an unusual carnival provides a false and temporary escape from reality. Death—or the fear of it—works its way into “In Memoriam,” “Titan Descansos,” and “ProLong.” The lonely child of “Orphaned” may bring tears to your eyes, and happiness is fleeting in “The Golden Daffodils.” Despite the melancholy mood, the stories almost always contain a note of hope or peace. Van Pelt’s front and end notes for each story serve as excellent mini-lessons in the art of storytelling.


Jo Walton

In The Republic, Plato postulates a perfect society ruled by philosopher-kings. Walton’s three vivid, action-packed, and deeply philosophical novels (now in this single volume) build on that idea. In them, Athena and Apollo gather classicists and Greek-speaking child slaves from throughout time on a remote island in the Aegean Sea. Apollo joins the chorus as a child himself, bound by human limitations and mortality, in order to discover humanity’s joys and sorrows. But as in any human institution, this Republic bears the seeds of its own destruction unless compromises can be found. (Caution: sexual content, including rape)

(Bill Vanderbush)


In The 49th Mystic (Revell, 2018), award-winning author Ted Dekker returns to the world(s) of his popular Circle trilogy. The book follows blind teenager Rachelle as she awakens to her true identity (Inchristi) in two worlds: one a near-future utopia known as Eden, and the second, a fantasy world where Albinos (believers) and Horde (unbelievers) battle for dominion over future Earth.

Occasional plot holes and unimaginative symbolism (a demon called Shadow Man, a lion named Judah, a Horde skin disease representing sin) detract from the story. Still, the quick pacing will enthrall readers of fantasy or thrillers, and the overt Christian symbolism fits Dekker’s unique mix of sermonizing and storytelling. The novel may serve as a gateway for new Christians and those seeking to understand new life and sanctification in and through Christ (John 17:22-23). —J.O.