Jason Sheehan

Here's the thing you gotta know about Blake Crouch.

You remember that guy from college, sophomore year? The one that was always there at the bar, on the strange nights when it felt like you could hold off last call just by talking fast enough and thinking big enough? He was the one you'd find yourself listening to at 3am, sitting on the floor, weed and cheap beer twining together in your head as he spun out some bonkers theory about perception, psychology, memory, reality. The one who never seemed to sleep. Who always said the most fascinating things.

The story begins with the death of one woman. It ends with the death of a city.

Elvia Wilk's novel Oval is like an ever-expanding sphere. A slow-growing, smoldering fire that doesn't really dig in and become something until the very, very, very end.

Neal Stephenson has a new book out, called Fall, or Dodge In Hell.

For some of you, that means nothing. Couldn't care less. For some of you, it's a curiosity — Stephenson is a big deal among sci-fi fans of a certain taste and vintage, and adding a new book to his canon is, at the very least, noteworthy.

There's an alien under the bed and another on the lawn. Zoe Snapp has a pearl in her pocket that's really a transdimensional gateway, opened solely by playing a particular riff on her trumpet. A few blocks away, Villy (who is maybe, kinda, Zoe Snapp's boyfriend) and his younger brother Scud are arguing about hamburgers, the replacement of spark plugs and the road trip Villy and Zoe have planned.

It begins with Roger Middleton and Dodger Cheswich. Twins, separated at birth, not entirely human. Telepathic twins, sporadically present in each other's heads and each other's lives. Destined (it seems, possibly by design) to never be long apart.

There are books so jammed with brilliant, mind-exploding ideas it's like the author packed fireworks between the covers, all strung together on a very short fuse.

The astronaut alone in their capsule. The explorer stranded far from home. The one who wakes to the flickering light and failing systems of their underground bunker. The lonely survivor in a ruined world — Last Man Alive.