In The @washingtonpost, by Nancy Hightower:
  1. "Beacon 23," by Hugh C. Howey (John Joseph Adams, $28)
    A wise-cracking ex-soldier operates a space station that helps illuminate the Milky Way so ships can safely maneuver through it. The perfect blend of a fast-paced plot and a psychologically insightful portrait of loneliness, of the little idiosyncrasies we develop when living on our own, craving companionship.
  2. "Version Control," by Dexter Palmer (Pantheon, $27.95)
    Rebecca Wright is a high-functioning alcoholic in a loveless marriage. Her growing unease is disrupted by a car accident that destabilizes her future. In one version, she has lost her son in the crash. In another, her husband is the casualty. With time travel as a backdrop, Palmer examines the stories we create when trying to separate “the information from the truth.”
  3. "Every Anxious Wave," by Mo Daviau (St. Martin’s, $25.99)
    Bar owner Karl Bender has discovered a wormhole in his closet that’s a portal to other eras. He decides it can be used only to attend past rock concerts and that nothing in history can be altered. But that changes when his friend Wayne tries to save John Lennon and is accidentally sent to 890 AD. Whoops! Reminiscent of Wayne Gladstone’s hauntingly funny “Notes from the Internet Apocalypse.”