cover image Firebreak


Nicole Kornher-Stace. Saga, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-982142-74-2

A steadfast heroine stands up against a tyrannical corporation in this vivid work of dystopian sci-fi from Kornher-Stace (Latchkey). In 2134, Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf Industries have taken over the United States and are locked in a war over the country’s last unclaimed supercity. Stellaxis develops synthetic humans with superpowers, or SecOps, who fight for Stellaxis’s cause and put a “human” face on the war, keeping citizens invested in the fight. The SecOps are also cloned into a virtual reality game where players can log on and interact with them. Mallory and her roommate, Jessa, “middle-of-the-road streamers” who broadcast their in-game adventures to a modest following, are approached by the mysterious B, who offers to sponsor their explorations in hopes of gathering enough data to prove a conspiracy theory about the operatives’ origins. When B vanishes unexpectedly and Mallory discovers that Stellaxis is watching her, she realizes B was on to something and starts digging until she uncovers a sinister secret. Now her best defense against Stellaxis is her followers—the company can’t kill her while everyone is watching. Though the ending is abrupt, the effortlessly detailed worldbuilding is captivating. Kornher-Stace leads readers through the cinematic landscape of her imagined future with an expert hand. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary. (May)