Tag Archives: sci-fi

The Player of Games

playerofgamesby Iain M. Banks

This second volume of The Culture series by Iain Banks kept me entranced throughout its sprawling telling of a brand new “universe” in my reading world.

Banks created a Utopian future where ownerships of objects, places, or people (as in, exclusive relationships) are no longer the norm and where sexual identities and preferences are all treated equal: in fact gender changes and and having partners in both genders are considered common place. In such a “Culture,” how do people entertain themselves and what matters and what matters not? Fun questions to ponder and explore. However, most of the story was set in the off world of Asad which bears similarities to our own human world — or perhaps the more barbaric ages of our world. Asad’s social structure is highly organized around rules and punishments — and there are some very cruel ways that criminals are dealt with (also what constitutes a “crime” can be quite shocking.)

I enjoyed reading the many theories of how the games are constructed and played and the author kept me guessing as to what the outcome would be. Thanks to my role playing game friend Brian who introduced me to this book! I’m onward to the first book of the series: Considering Phlebas.

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

triggerwarning by Neil Gaiman

This is typical Gaiman: disturbing and unsettling little scenes, interesting observations of human natures, everything floating in between waking and dreaming. My favorite are the longer tales, “The Truth Is A Cave in the Black Mountains,” “The Sleeper and the Spindle,” and “The Black Dog.” The first two are folk/fairy tale reimagined, while the last one is an American Gods’ short with Shadow’s adventures continuing. Another small dosage to hold us over for the sequel to American Gods? Calendar of Tales with its many weird crowd sourced tales is also highly enjoyable. Oh, I can’t wait to actually WATCH a special episode (of the 11th doctor and Amy Pond) made based on “Nothing O’Clock.”

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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Even though there were passages and descriptions that are overly lengthy, as a whole, the story moves at an effective and at times breathless pace. Highly affecting! I am so impressed with how it set up so many prototypes, from physical descriptions to potential advanced technologies, for modern alien/alien invasion stories. A real classic!

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Grasshopper Jungle

grasshopperjungleby Andrew Smith

Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Horror

Basic Content Information: 17-year-old Austin from Iowa, our time, records the “history” of The End of the World when he and his best buddy Robbie Bree set off a chain of events that lead to the invasion of 6-foot-tall, hungry and horny, indestructible genetically engineered praying mantises that ravage and take over the human world.  The narrative is full of crude words and thoughts.  Austin is continuously horny, many of the characters are presented through the lens of their sexual behaviors, the descriptions of events are blunt and without the sense of bashfulness.  Austin is also in love with both his girlfriend Shannon and his best friend Robbie, who is openly gay.  There is much tenderness between Robbie and Austin.  There is much confusion and resentment but also acceptance and understanding amongst the main teen characters.  There is a lot of outlandish sci-fi elements that harken to the 50s horror B-Movies and the tone and Smith’s stylistic choices might remind readers of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing.   Most used words in the book: horny, semen, blood, fuck, eat, hungry, penis, and history — much discussion about how history gets to the truth and how it does not.

Edition: Paper Galley

Pub Date: February, 2014

Publisher: Dutton/Penguin

(I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

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Dangerous

dangerouscover by Shannon Hale

Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller

Basic Content Information: We follow two main teen characters with a supporting cast of adults (from trustworthy, to uncertain to purely evil) into a futuristic world that does not seem too different from our own except that some scientific discoveries and advancements have led the humans to encounter alien materials and finally aliens themselves.  The story is narrated from Maisie’s (mixed-race White/Latina) first person point of view, mostly in past tense.  Maisie is the brain and eventually also the brawn behind most of the operations and actions.  Her off and on, slightly torturous romance with Wilder (Jonathan) is what I came to expect from a Shannon Hale novel – whether Fantasy, Graphic Novel, or now, a SciFi.  The book is divided into 3 parts and could have easily been expanded and milked into a trilogy – but we got the whole story in one shot instead.

Edition: Paper Galley

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury, USA

(I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

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Saga Volume 2

saga2

by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Every bit as entertaining and thrilling as the first volume.  This one contains chapter 7 to chapter 12 — with beautifully rendered bloody and sexually explicit scenes.  What I reacted most strongly and favorably to are the cast of characters.  I hesitate to call them endearing (except for perhaps Marko and the Lying Cat) since many of them are so severely flawed and I probably will not want to deal with them in real life, but they definitely have sharply defined forms and the plot moves plausibly in accordance with their individual personalities.

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The Here and Now

hereandnow: Ann Brashares

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

Basic Content Information: Time Travelers from a devastated and plagued future back to our (Here/Now is May 2014, Tristate area) with the expressed desire to “fix the future” but as the protagonist (17-year-old Prenna) finds out, they are merely hiding in their new safe colony with stringent and suffocating rules. When an opportunity presents itself for Prenna to alter a current situation that will impact on her future, she goes for it with the help of her Time Native boyfriend. Notions of free will, choices, and sacrifices for one’s community are explored. Teen budding romance with physical ramifications are explored. Climate change, dirty and clean energies, and disease control are some scientific topics touched on in the book.

Edition: Netgalley

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

Publisher: Delacorte/Random House

(I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

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