The best recent science fiction and fantasy novels – reviews roundup

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz; Blackfish City by Sam J Miller; The Wolf by Leo Carew; The Silenced by Stephen Lloyd Jones and The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S Buckell

Autonomous (Orbit, £8.99) is the debut novel from Annalee Newitz, a science journalist and co-founder of the SF website io9. It’s 2144 and in a hi-tech, down-at-heel US – a hybrid of Blade Runner and William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy – “Jack” Chen manufactures illegal drugs for the poor. She also pirates a drug known as Zacuity, designed to aid concentration. When she learns that it has lethal side-effects undisclosed by its makers, the Zaxy Corporation, Chen turns whistleblower and must flee the ruthless agents of the International Property Coalition. What could easily descend into a routine run-around chase caper is given moral and intellectual depth by Newitz’s examination of corporate behaviour and the limits of personal freedom. A ...