With ThrillerFest and Comic-Con landing on the same weekend, this week’s Shelfie Picks were a no-brainer: We needed some fantastic sci-fi, fantasy, and general thriller novels to recommend.

If you’re traveling to either of the aforementioned events this weekend, or you plan to travel elsewhere this summer, you need some thrilling diversions. Who wants to stare at the back of an airplane seat for hours? The train has some old-world charm but eventually, it tries to put you to sleep. And heaven forbid if you’re traveling by bus; then you really need something to take you to another world.

Enter three new novels by some of the genre’s most respected and successful authors. These picks come courtesy of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, an independent bookseller opened in 1993 that specializes in all things sci-fi, fantasy, horror and mystery. If you’re in the San Diego area (not coincidentally the home of Comic-Con this weekend), you should definitely check out Mysterious Galaxy, and don’t forget they’ve got discussion groups, in-store events, and even signed copies of some of the latest and greatest books. Linda Tonnesen, one of the booksellers, was good enough to us give us these three titles:

1. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, July 7, 2015)


After many generations, a spaceship carrying humanity’s last hope approaches a planet that could serve as a new home for humans. The intrepid explorers left the decimated earth behind but can they face the perils of a new planet? Robinson bravely tackles everything from environmental to personal obstacles. The Los Angeles Review of Books said it “may well be Robinson’s best novel…breaks us out of our well-ingrained and supremely well-rehearsed habits of apocalypse.”

Linda added:

“This is really a sci-fi space opera and the author is well known for addressing environmental issues; he’s always very aware of nature and our environment, and the scientific aspects of the book are very accurate. He also did a book called 50 Degrees Below, which showed a flooded America due to global warming. So he likes to give us new worlds and show how we might adapt.”

2. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (Knopf, 2015)


The New York Times bestselling author of The Windup Girl and a National Book Award finalist, Bacigalupi pens a near-future thriller that will keep you turning every page. The American Southwest is suffering from an intense drought; Nevada and Arizona are fighting over what remains of the Colorado River, while California is considering taking the entire thing for itself. Enter Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez, who is both an assassin and a detective. He “cuts” water so his boss’ luxurious arcology development can bloom in the desert.

As Linda says:

“This is a dystopian sci-fi thriller and it’s obviously very topical [given the current California drought]. This book takes the problem a step further and it’s interesting because basically, it’s about ‘water is power.’ I’d say it counts as both a thriller and sci-fi.”

3. The Fold by Peter Clines (Crown, 2015)


Out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists have miraculously invented a device they call the Albuquerque Door. By utilizing a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so the traveler can pass across large distances with a single step. Teleportation has become a reality! But the evidence is pointing toward more dangers and it seems there’s more to the Door’s creators than meets the eye. Linda says the mystery of the concept might appeal to many:

“This is a sci-fi novel that focuses on time travel; people can be transported over long distances with just one step. But this new scientific phenomenon might open up to…we don’t know what.  This has more of a fun action/adventure vibe.”

Many thanks to Tonnesen and the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore for handing out this week’s Shelfies, and check back weekly for more recommendations. We always have new reads for your own reading shelf.