Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Redshirts

October 17, 2012

John Scalzi's RedshirtsAuthor: John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 317

Geographical Setting: Aboard the Universal Union starship Intrepid; Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: The distant future; 2010

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Redshirts builds an entire novel around the premise that on the television series Star Trek, the actors known as extras—usually wearing red shirts—who accompany the main cast members on away missions, invariably die a horrible death at the hands of whatever space monster is threatening the crew that episode. In a Star Trek-like universe aboard the starship Intrepid, Scalzi relates the exploits of red shirt-wearing junior officers determined to discover why their kind is being killed at such an alarming rate. Led by Ensign Andy Dahl, the redshirts follow the trail of a mysterious rogue officer, Lt. Jenkins, who lives a hermit-like existence in the bowels of the ship. Once cornered, the disheveled and wild-eyed Jenkins reveals the truth: that their reality is somehow being shaped by a poorly-written television program from Earth’s distant past. Although incredulous at first, Dahl and his fellow redshirts steal a shuttle craft and time travel to Hollywood in the year 2010 to confront the creators of the basic cable science fiction show, Chronicles of the Intrepid. With an irreverent, witty tone, and filled with eccentric characters, Redshirts satirizes familiar science fiction tropes in a fast paced story filled with enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing through the action-packed mayhem that ensues.

Subject Headings: Space warfare, Aliens (Humanoid), Interplanetary relations, Betrayal, Interstellar relations, Futurism, Human-alien encounters

Appeal: fast paced, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, action oriented, television references, plot twists, strong language, humorous, philosophical, suspenseful, colorful, conversational, jargon, unusual

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: quirky, plot twists, humorous

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet (2012) by Dimitar D. Sasselov

Redshirts protagonist Andy Dahl is a xenobiologist aboard the starship Intrepid, an expert in alien biology. For those readers who want to know more about the very real field of xenobiology, Sasselov’s work is a fast paced and thought provoking exploration of the blending of synthetic biology and extra-planetary astronomy that seeks to expand our knowledge of life in the universe.

The Physics of Star Trek (2007) by Lawrence Krauss

Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss has made his reputation as a popular author translating the frontiers of scientific thought for a mass audience. In this work Krauss discusses many of the dramatic devices of the classic television series Star Trek, such as warp speed and time travel, and demonstrates their connection with the very real ideas of scientists like Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Readers who enjoy the discussions of the plausibility of the science of Star Trek in Redshirts will appreciate Krauss’s unique brand of scholarly but accessible science writing.

So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel (2012) by Phil Hornshaw

Hornshaw’s humorous, offbeat study of the theory of time travel will appeal to readers of Redshirts who were taken with Scalzi’s descriptions of black holes, alternate timelines, and time paradoxes. Descriptive and engaging, this book uses real science as the basis for a handy guide for would-be time travelers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Lost and Found (2004) by Alan Dean Foster

In this first volume of the Taken trilogy, Foster tells an atmospheric tale of Marc Walker, who while camping is abducted by seven foot-tall aliens known as the Vilenjji. From his cage aboard an interstellar slave ship, he learns from a fellow abductee, a talking dog named George, that they are to be auctioned off to collectors of interstellar life forms. Readers who responded to Scalzi’s blend of humor and suspense will appreciate a similar tone found here in Dean’s writing.

Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson

Fans of Star Trek who delighted in seeing that show parodied in Redshirts—if they are willing to swap science fiction for horror with a humorous tone—will be amused by this book. Richly detailed in the lore of all things Trek, Anderson’s novel follows the exploits of Jim Pike, who is forced to lead a small band of survivors when a strange virus transforms most of the attendees at a Star Trek convention into flesh-eating zombies.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010) by Charles Yu

Time travel was central to the storyline of Redshirts, as it is in this novel, which depicts a future where time travel is commonplace, and about a young man’s quest through time to find his missing father—the very first time traveler. Both Redshirts and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe share a tongue-in-cheek meta-perspective about the genre of science fiction, are witty in tone and similarly filled with eccentric and interesting characters.

Name: John Rimer

We Can Remember it for you Wholesale

October 17, 2012

We Can The Collected Works of Philp K. Dick Volume 2Remember it for you Wholesale: The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume 2

Author: Philip K. Dick

Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Books to Movies

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 381

Geographical Setting: The not so distant future, variety of locals

Series: The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick (Volume 2)

Plot Summary:  One of the important names in the Science Fiction genre, Philip K. Dick’s influence has reached beyond the printed word and onto the big screen.  This is a collection of short stories dating from early in his career, 1952 -1955.  The stories in this volume read like Twilight Zone episodes.  He is somehow able to create believable worlds, with compelling characters, and in-depth plots, complete with twists that leave readers thinking, in the same number of pages as a single chapter in some novels.  These chilling stories, mostly set in the not so distant future, take place in a variety of locals including Chicago, Earth, and other planets.  The stories in this collection cover a variety of topics, including, but not limited to the importance placed on modern convenience, ethical responsibility, and time travel.  Contained in this volume is the short story, We Can Remember it for you Wholesale, which is the basis for both the 1990 and 2012 Total Recall movies.

Subject Headings: Futurism; Speculative fiction; Short stories; Stories to film; Aliens; Technology; Interpersonal relations; Science fiction; Time travel;

Appeal:  Thought-provoking; Descriptive; Chilling; Plot twists; Accessible; Conversational; Engaging; Atmospheric; Flawed; Issue-oriented; Exotic; Introspective; Fast paced

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Thought-provoking; Chilling; Engaging;

Three fiction read-alikes:

The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke (Science fiction; Short stories; Story to film)

A collection of thought-provoking stories from one of Science Fictions biggest names, this collection includes “The Sentinel”, the basis for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and stories not found in other collections.

A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories by Ray Bradbury (Books to movies, Science fiction, Short stories, Thought-provoking)

A collection of 32 thought-provoking stories that explore the depths of humanity by the genre defying Ray Bradbury.  The title story was adapted for screen in 2005.

Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov (Science fiction, Thought-provoking, Technology)

A collection of 21 thought provoking stories involving technology and humanity’s future from one of Science Fictions biggest names.

Three related non-fiction titles:

You are not a gadget: a manifesto by Jaron Lanier (Speculative, Technology, Social aspects)

Many people today worry about how social media, such as Facebook, is changing society.  In this book Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, discusses his opinions on how current computer technology is changing society and where it will take us in the future.

 

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku (Speculative, Technology)

This book discusses technological innovations, and speculates how these innovations will influence humanity in the future.

This will change everything: ideas that will shape the future by John Brockman (Inventions, Social prediciton)

New ideas are dreamed, new inventions are created every day, but which ones will change the way we live.  This book contains the opinions of 130 scientists about what innovations will come to pass and have the greatest impact on humanity.

Name: Shira

John Dies @ the End

August 1, 2012

Author:  David Wong

Title: John Dies @ the End

Genre: Horror

Publisher/Publication Date:  Thomas Dunne Books, New York. 2009

Number of Pages:  377

Geographical Setting:  “Undisclosed Location” in Midwest, United States of America

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  First two books of Web-Published novel

Plot Summary:  “Watch out for Molly.  See if she does anything unusual.  There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”  Such is the humor of David Wong and his buddy John, who dies at the end.  Dave is a guy in his mid-twenties, working a dreadful job at a video store, when John “accidentally” injects him with the black soy “sauce,” and everything around them goes to hell.  You see, Dave and John know the world’s going to end, and it is up to them to defeat the evil Korrock, a grotesque being from another dimension.  Along the way they recruit nerdy babes and hard-boiled cops, encounter genuinely scary (and original) foes like centipede-men who wear bad wigs, a man who is literally made of cockroaches, giant slugs and jellyfish, and the deadly bratwurst creature that can’t wait to “meat” you.  This is a tale for nerdy guys and the girls who love them, horror movie fanatics, and those who love creepy crawlies, because there are a lot of them.  Told in a style that is both funny and extremely graphic, you’ll be taken aback at how the characters develop over time, and you will care for them all the way to the explosive conclusion.

Subject Headings:  Psychic Powers–Time-Travel–Aliens–Cockroaches–Shadow Men–Bugs (Slugs, Worms)–Meat–Teenagers–Mental Disabilities–Amputation–Las Vegas–Reptiles–Jellyfish–Video-stores–Drug Addiction–Art (Paintings)–Hell–Guns–Explosions–Video Games–Dark Comedy–Romance–Bro-mance

Appeal: Bizarre,Shocking, Graphic, Genuine, Comical, Quirky, Action-Packed, Bloody, Emotional, Character-Driven, Over-the-top Violence, Dark Humor, Manly, Geeky, Blunt, Silly, Intense, Weird

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Comical, Original, Bizarre

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

A History of Ghosts:  The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters.  Peter H. Akyroyd.

This is a novel about a man (a skeptic) who grew up in a household where Seances were a normal thing, and talking with ghosts was treated like a normal part of everyday life.  That man is Peter Akyroyd, grandfather of the actor Dan Akyroyd, who supposedly based much of his screenplay Ghostbusters on his grandfather’s life.  Did you know “ectoplasm” is something that actually exists?  This funny, insightful novel will appeal to Wong’s fans for its humor, quirkiness, and downright fun family history full of spirits!  Ghosthunters, look no further.

You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts.  By Cracked.com

David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, editor-in-chief of Cracked.com (the online humor magazine).  This hilarious novel combines articles from the various authors of the website into nugget-sized “facts,” with a semi-serious journalist tone.  Readers will love these tales that never take themselves too seriously, yet contain actual, researched information that skews societal norms, but, in turn, also defends them.  David Wong would be proud!

Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Films You’ve Never Seen:  A Celebration of the World’s Most Unheralded Fright Flicks.  Adam Lukeman, Fangoria Magazine.

Simply put, those who truly love horror subscribe to Fangoria magazine.  In fact, most probably came to know about John Dies @ the End because of it.  This handy reference guide contains a plethora of reviews on horror films, comics, video games, music, and books!  This guide contains a fair amount of “Terror-Trivia” that will appeal to fans of Wong’s work, providing geeky insider knowledge into the myriad details that are the horror world.  Both common and obscure horror titles are included.  Not to be missed!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft:  Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.  H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth (editor)

This collection of short stories contains perhaps the “best” stories Lovecraft has to offer (The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out of Time).  The ancient monster Cthulu is obviously a creature of great influence in David Wong’s work.  These disturbing stories contain dark creatures from other dimensions, insane human beings, devilish animals, and wicked prophecies and blood-thirsty insects.  Deeply moody and always frightening, a bit of dark humor is thrown in from time to time.  Truly for adults only, make sure not to read these before you go to bed.

Knee-Deep in the Dead ( Doom #1)  Dafydd ab Hugh, Brad Linaweaver

This first book in a series based on the popular computer game Doom contains far more depth than one might associate with violent computer games.  You are a marine with a troubled past, and have now just heard things are not going too well on a moon-post created for “mysterious purposes.”  All of a sudden, you hear a terrible noise, inhumane screaming over your radio.  A swarm of creatures, grotesque, devilish, have just emerged from a portal nearby.  Will you survive the inevitable onslaught?  This book is full of insane battles, logic puzzles, and vividly depicted locales told in a fashion quite similar to David Wong’s.  Highly cinematic.

Parasyte (Volume 1)  Hitoshi Iwaaki

“They arrive in silence and darkness. They descend from the skies. They have a hunger for human flesh. They are everywhere. They are parasites, alien creatures who must invade – and take control of – a human host to survive.”  Such is the introduction to Hitoshi Iwaaki’s sprawling sci-fi/horror manga series, Parasyte.  Shin is a typical high school student until he is infected by one of the alien parasites.  Instead of destroying the parasite he instead forms a mutual bond with it and travels about Tokyo, challenging evil beings and humans alike.  Very gritty and graphic, this series also has strong characters, philosophical musings, and fast-paced, unique battles.  Quite unique indeed.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

July 30, 2012

Author: Douglas Adams

Title:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1979

Number of Pages:  216

Geographical Setting:  Earth, various other planets and spaceships

Time Period: Present

Series (If applicable):  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series Book #1

Plot Summary:

With only seconds to spare before the world ends, undercover alien Ford Prefect saves his best friend and himself from annihilation. As the aliens known as Vogons destroy the Earth, Ford and Arthur Dent become galactic hitchhikers on a Vogon ship.  Eventually the two travelers meet up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, his girlfriend Trillion, a woman Arthur tried to pick up at a party once, and a depressed robot named Marvin.  They travel across space and time, learning about the mysteries of the universe (like where all the ballpoint pens go).

Subject Headings:  Science—Fiction, Interstellar Travel, Interplanetary Voyages,

Appeal:  Fast -Paced, Clever Language, Sarcastic, Humorous Tone, Suspenseful, Multiple Points of View, Quirky Characters, Multiple Plot Lines, Plot-Driven, Imaginative, Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Well-Crafted, Witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  Details of Outer Space and Space Travel, Quirky Characters, Witty

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Megacatastrophes! by David Darling and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (2012)

Chronicles nine bizarre ways the world could suddenly end and how likely those endings are.

The Living Cosmos by Chris Impey (2007)

A study in astrobiology and how it leads to a better understanding of humanity’s place in the universe.

The Space Tourist’s Handbook by Eric Anderson and Joshua Piven (2005)

Details of the voyages made by wealthy tourists going to the International Space Station.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Malachi Constant is given the opportunity to travel the universe with a beautiful woman, who happens to be another man’s wife.  The woman’s husband, Winston Niles Rumfoord, has other plans and the trip does not turn out as any of them expect.  Similar because

Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor

All Lister wants to do is get home to Earth, so he boards the Red Dwarf, a ship that will travel to Earth in six or seven years.  Soon he finds himself three million years in the future and the only surviving member of the human race.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

After rescuing a girl named Door, Richard Mayhew finds himself in London Below, a completely new world of magical creatures both good and evil.  Richard and Door begin a quest to save the world.

Name: Erin Sloan

Ready Player One

July 30, 2012

Author:  Ernest Cline, Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton

Title:  Ready Player One

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publication Date:  August 16, 2011

Number of Pages:  Hardcover – 372 pages; Audiobook — 13 discs (15 hr., 41 min.)

Geographical Setting:  OASIS, a virtual reality/internet utopia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio.

Time Period:  Future, the year 2045

Plot Summary:  In Ernest Cline’s fun first novel, past and future collide in a geeky and nostalgic quest for the ultimate prize.  In the year 2045, the word is very bleak, and like most of humanity, 17 year-old orphan Wade Watts, lives most of his life plugged into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual reality and internet utopia, where anyone can be whoever they want to be.  OASIS creator, James Halliday, suddenly dies and it is revealed that not only is there no heir to his fortune, but that there are now three keys hidden somewhere in the OASIS.  Whoever finds the keys and solves their accompanying riddles first, inherits Halliday’s wealth as well as total control over the OASIS itself.  Halliday’s riddles and each of their clues are based on his favorite pop culture of the late 20th century, especially the 1980’s.   After years of no discovery of even the first key, Wade manages to become the first one to do so. He instantly becomes the most famous person (in the form of his avatar named, Parzival) in the world, relaunches a frenzy of competition for Halliday’s prize, and becomes the target of IOI, an evil corporation that is not only vying for control of the OASIS, but that is also willing to commit murder in the real world to do so.

Subject Headings:  Regression (Civilization), Virtual reality, Utopias, Puzzles

Appeal: accessible, earnest, cinematic, contemporary, detailed setting, fast paced, humorous, quirky, urban, jargon, sympathetic, lighthearted

3 terms that best describe this book:  Nostalgic, Richly-detailed, Action-packed

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to defeat an invading alien race, young Ender Wiggin, is recruited to fight in the ultimate war, where the line blurs between games and battle.  Both novels take place in the future and involve young protagonists who must use gaming skills to protect the world.

2)    For the Win by Cory Doctorow

      In a dystopian future, poor teenagers and children are forced by corporations to work in massive multi-player online games to mine for valuable objects.  In order to escape from slavery, the kids plot their escape.  Both novels are about teenagers squaring off against evil corporations in a virtual, online environment.

3)    Jennifer Government  by Max Barry

      Set in a comically dystopian future where corporations own entire continents and force their employees to take on the names of companies as their last names.  Both novels have comedic tones and writing styles, as well as the fact that both satirize today’s Corporate America.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)    1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die edited by Tony Mott

      A huge portion of Ready Player One deals with video gaming history and culture, and this immense reference book is a thorough guide for the uninformed.

2)    VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s by Hal Leonord Corp.

      Ready Player One also deals with a ton of 1980’s pop culture, especially music.  This book lists the decade’s top songs.

3)    The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

      Based on various statistics, interviews, and observations, the author predicts what the world will be like in the next 40 years.  Ready Player One takes place in 2045, and the above book makes a nice companion to Cline’s novel.

Name:  Vadim Seyfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feed

July 30, 2012

 Author: M.T. Anderson

Title: Feed

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: Earth

Time Period: Future

Plot Summary: In a futuristic society where information is fed directly into the brain, a group of teenagers are enjoying themselves until one of their brain feeds malfunctions. The “feed” is an internet connection tied directly to the brain that gives immediate access to information, communication, and advertisements. Deeper meanings of existence are explored with overarching themes of over abundance of technology, consumerism, instant gratification, corporate empowerment, and disregard of environment. This compelling novel is a thought-provoking tale set in a dark and futuristic society. Although it starts out in a more measured pace as you get to know the characters, it builds in intensity towards the ending.

Subject Headings: Computers and civilization, Consumerism, Environmental degradation, Consumers, Teenagers

Appeal: compelling, builds in intensity, bleak, dark, chilling, contemplative, humorous, character-centered, issue-oriented, thought –provoking, disturbing, serious, high drama, tragic, engaging plot

3 terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, compelling, chilling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Future Tech: From Personal Robots to Motorized Monocycles by Charles Piddock – If you liked reading about the futuristic technology in the book Feed, you might enjoy this book that explores the future of technology.

2.    America in the Twenty-First Century by Opposing Viewpoints Series- If you enjoy reading books that provoke thought and contemplation, you may like this book of essays told through various viewpoints.

3.    Endangered Earth by Scientific American Cutting-Edge Science – If reading Feed made you wonder about how people are affecting our environment and possible ways they can lessen their effects, then you may enjoy this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington – If you like reading compelling and thought provoking books that are set in the future, you may enjoy this story about a boy who starts to question his own beliefs.

2.      Rash by Pete Hautman – You may like this book if you enjoy reading dark, futuristic novels with a humorous edge set in the United Safer States of America.

3.      The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – If you liked the compelling world-building nature of Feed, you may also enjoy this bleak and suspenseful story.

Name: Patty Prodanich

Jurassic Park

July 30, 2012

Author: Crichton, Michael

Title: Jurassic Park

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages: 399 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple Locations in the United States and Costa Rica

Time Period: 1989

Series: Has a sequel, The Lost World

Plot Summary: In this thrilling, fast-paced science fiction story, a genetic engineering corporation, InGen, successfully clones 15 species of dinosaurs.  Hoping to feature these previously extinct creatures in the greatest theme park of all time in an island off the west coast of Costa Rica, the visionary of the project, John Hammond, brings a group of people to evaluate it, including a paleontologist, Alan Grant, a paleobotanist, Ellie Sattler, an investment banker, Donald Gennaro, a mathematician, Ian Malcolm, a computer system analyst, Dennis Nedry, and Hammond’s two grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy.  While the theme park initially lives up to its fascinating premise, the underlying instability and chaos of the organization are apparent when an employee turns off the park’s power and security grid to steal dinosaur embryos for a competing genetic company, Biosyn.  The action that follows is a nightmarish fight for survival against several Tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptors, and other dinosaurs as every character tries to leave the island alive.  The novel alternates between the points of view of many different characters, although Ian Malcolm and his illustrations often serve as the main narrator and framework of Michael Crichton’s concerns regarding unregulated science and technology. As in many of his novels, Crichton uses clear language and technical details to tell a suspenseful and compelling story about the dangers of bioengineering and people’s desire to use science and math to control nature and the world.

Subject Headings: Genetic Engineering; Clones and Cloning; DNA; Dinosaurs; Prehistoric Animals; Amusement Parks; Business Sabotage; Scientists; Eccentric Men; Billionaires; Islands — Costa Rica; Science Fiction; Suspense Stories; Adventure Stories; Thriller Stories;

Appeal: fast-paced, compelling, dangerous, dramatic, foreboding, menacing, suspenseful, thought-provoking, thrilling, multiple points of view, flawed and recognizable characters, strong and interesting secondary characters, sympathetic characters, action-oriented, cinematic, violent, imaginative, issue-oriented, descriptive, detailed, informative, intelligent, persuasive, scientific, thoughtful, unique, vivid, well-crafted

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: unique, thrilling, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law, and My Life by Peter Larson and Kristin Donnan is an intriguing book about the politics and legal issues surrounding a real significant dinosaur discovery and excavation.

A Clone of Your Own?: The Science and Ethics of Cloning by Arlene Judith Klotzko is an informative and thought-provoking book about the moral and legal issues and history of stem cell research and cloning.

Blindsided: Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear by Jim Cole is a fascinating book about a grizzly bear that attacks the author during a trip to Yellowstone National Park and how despite his injuries, he still has empathy for grizzly bears and other animals that are still trying to survive in the wild.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston is an action-oriented, detailed science fiction thriller about Tom Broadbent who receives a journal from a dying man, Stern Weathers, in New Mexico that a murderer and the government is determined to get because of its description of the location of a special completely preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Shock by Robin Cook is a suspenseful and thought-provoking story about two Harvard graduate students Joanna Meissner and Deborah Cochrane, in Boston, Massachusetts, who investigate the use of their eggs at a fertility clinic and in the process, confront firsthand the hazards of cloning.

Esau by Philip Kerr is a fast-paced scientific story about Stella Swift, a paleontologist, who receives a fossilized skull from America’s greatest mountain climber, Jack Furness, and organizes an expedition to the Himalayas to investigate the possible new species that the skull represents.

In the presence of mine enemies

March 28, 2012

Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Genre: Science Fiction (Alternative Histories)

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 454p.

Geographical Setting: Berlin*

Time Period: Present-day (-ish)*

*In the Presence of My Enemies is a work of fictional alternate history wherein Germany has won the 2nd and 3rd World Wars (the 3rd resulting in the nuclear destruction of all significant American cities, and a new capital in Omaha, in case you were wondering about the home team) and has exterminated (to their satisfaction, at least—think slave labor) the world’s population of Slavs, Jews, Blacks, and a plethora of other racial, ethnic, and nationalist groups.  They are cozy with the Japanese Empire.

Series (If applicable): Not yet.

Plot Summary:  A small community of Jews, loosely allied by family and friendship, struggle to raise families, work, continue the Jewish faith, and survive clandestinely in “present day” Berlin as good “Germans” alongside their unknowing, yet legitimately Aryan, German friends and colleagues.  Adding to their many daily trials, the Reich has been hurled into a new and uncertain direction toward “reform” that leaves the Empire, and especially Berlin, in a heightened state of political and national unrest, boldness, and uncertainty, by the appointment of a progressive new Fuhrer and the political emergence of an enigmatic Party rabble-rouser (think Gorbachev and Yeltsin!).

Subject Headings: Nazi Party (Germany), Jews—German, World War 2, 21st century, Jewish families, Middle class families, Secrets, Secret identity, Identity (Psychology), Political upheaval, Political demonstration, Secret police, Police state, Fascism, Adolf Hitler, Revenge, Genetics, Germany—Politics and government, Genocide, Adultery.

Appeal: plot-driven, dark, surreal, steady, bleak, candid, claustrophobic, foreboding, melancholy, menacing atmosphere, paranoid, suspenseful, detailed, authentic, imaginative, intense, tense/anxious, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, political, urban, concise, straightforward, ominous.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: plot-driven, dark, thought-provoking.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

While the suggestion of reading this book might seem as appealing to a reader as stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork, it does merit consideration as Turtledove’s Nazi Empire is wholly dependent on it as both their Constitution and their Bible.  While the plot line of radical reformists calling for adherence to the more democratic-minded first edition of Mein Kampf in order to extend freedoms, liberties, and self-determination to the citizens and conquered nations of the Reich is clever and ironic, the real shivers happen as it becomes clear that Hitler has achieved God-like infallibility and reverence in Turtledove’s nightmare world.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric A. Johnson

Can genocide become an everyday facet of society? Apparently so, the author would argue.  Over 3,000 Germans of the era (Jews and non-Jews, victims and perpetrators) took part in the research for this book.  The conclusion: the average German lived not in fear of the Gestapo or anything else for most of Hitler’s reign, but existed rather comfortably and prosperous.  The estimated 1/3 of Germany that knew of what was happening in the concentration camps, chose to ignore what was going on in their backyards, as well as those citizens that knew of the extermination through rumor.  By the time of Turtledove’s Reich, the extermination of millions (billions?) of people around the globe is viewed simply as historical fact and a privilege of the victors.  This book is a well-deserved kidney punch to German ambiguity and nostalgia when it comes to the pre-War years, as well as to those who think a movement like the Nazis could never threaten the globe again.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan

This book attempts to answer the age-old question of why the Jews didn’t leave Nazi Germany en masse.  The author uses interviews, diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to portray a Jewish population as confused as they were frightened as the Nazis slowly stole freedom and property until they were trapped in a hostile country, completely deprived and isolated.  This book puts the machinations of genocide into motion with enough momentum to be a fully realized institution for the Jewish families in “Presence”, who know fully well any disclosure of their true identities would result in immediate execution.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Legendary and iconic sci-fi author Dick gives his version of a world in which the Germans and Japanese won the 2nd World War.  Almost a companion piece to In the Presence of Mine Enemies in depicting the goings-on on the other side of the globe, Dick portrays a 1960’s United States that is German-Japanese occupied and has reinstated slavery.  What few Jews who survived live hidden under the cloak of assumed identities.  Sound familiar?

1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy

This is another WW2 based alternate history.  The twist here is that instead of surrendering after the dropping of the atomic bombs, military extremists assume control of the nation, vowing never to surrender.  The ensuing U.S. invasion of the home island unleashes death and carnage in apocalyptic proportion.  This is all the more disturbing given the fact that in reality the Emperor being deposed in a coup by hardline generals vowing to fight to the last man, woman, and child was a very real possibility, narrowly escaped.

Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book One by Taylor Anderson.

Again, WW2 is the stepping off point for this first book in an on-going series.  In the heat of battle the bloodies and battered destroyer USS Walker seeks escape from faster, deadlier Japanese boats by heading directly into a massive, otherworldly looking squall.  As the storm subsides, the Captain and colorful crew notice that while geographically things look familiar, everything else in the parallel Earth they find themselves trapped in is very, very different.  In no time at all, Walker is tossed into the middle of a genocidal (and carnivorous) war begun by the Grik (human sized vicious, but mindless, lizards) against the Lemurians (human sized noble and peace-loving lemurs).  As this New Earth is technologically somewhere in the 18th century, the allegiance, modern armament, and know-how of Walker and its crew may prove decisive to the fate of this world.

Name: Bill S.

The Sky People

March 21, 2012

The Sky People

Author: S. M. StirlingTitle: The Sky People

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 301

Geographical Setting: Jamestown, Venus

Time Period: Cold War, 1960s, 1980s

Series: First book of the Lords of Creation series.

Plot Summary: The Space Race has lead to the discovery that Venus and Mars have life! The Eastbloc and America soon establish living areas on Venus. The Eastbloc’s Cosmograd and the United States’ Jamestown extraterrestrial zones harbor earth-life while the astronauts and scientists are researching the strange planet. Life on Venus is eerily similar to life on Earth – dinosauriods can be seen among space mammals that look genetically similar to earth mammals, blowgun wielding clans fight against neanderthaloids. When an Eastbloc shuttle crashes in the dangerous wilderness, Jamestown becomes the Eastbloc’s only hope. In exchange for their top-secret research and knowledge about Venus, Marc, his crew, and his greatwolf puppy sail off in a space-blimp to find the missing Eastbloc crew. The blimp isn’t built for great distance, and the crew’s survival instincts are put to the test as they encounter the dangers of Venus.

Subject Headings: Space colonies – Fiction, Life on other planets – Fiction, Human-Alien encounters – Fiction, Aliens (Humanoid) – Fiction, Cold War – Fiction, The Eighties (time period) – Fiction, Space Programs – International Competition – Fiction, Space warfare – Fiction, Scientists – Fiction.

Appeal: Detailed, plot-driven, atmospheric, multiple points of view, well-developed, engaging, descriptive, smart, well-researched, magical, suspenseful, vivid

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: well-researched, multiple points of view, suspenseful.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon by James Harford. (Information on the Space Race, a theme of The Sky People.)
Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of our Mysterious Twin Planet by David Harry Grinspoon. (Scientific information on Venus, the new home of many Earthlings.)
Extinct Animals: An encyclopedia of species that have disappeared during Human history by Ross Piper. (The wildlife of Venus is strangely similar to Earth’s creatures. All animals seem to be a cousin of the Earth animal. It’s hard for the scientists to understand this mystery as Venus’ fossil record stops with no explanation. Use this book to help understand the connection between Earth animals, and imagine the connection with their cousins from Venus.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (Life is found on a planet similar to Earth however alien Apes have enslaved humans).
Freedom’s Ransom (atmospheric books about space colonies and alien life).
Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove (Similar in that it is science fiction with a spin of alternative history, Earth is attacked by aliens. Space warfare becomes the new fight).

name: Jaymie

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

March 21, 2012

Author: Philip K. Dick

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1968

Number of pages: 244

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA

Time Period: 2021 A.D.

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In the year 2021, two of the few human beings left on earth struggle to find peace, belonging, and satisfying relationships. Rick Deckard, bounty hunter, and John Isidore, a “special” human being, are fervently seeking the aforementioned human needs. Deckard and Isidore both live and work in San Francisco. 2021, in Dick’s text, is a place devoid of most life forms, and covered with dust and mounds of useless items. Deckard is a bounty hunter of androids – machines that most convincingly pose as true humans. In Dick’s science fiction classic, the lines become effectively blurred between the real and true, and the unreal or machine. Obviously, life as we know it is much altered. Deckard seeks to destroy androids, while Isidore is seeking to protect them. In the end, the reader may question who or what he or she is capable of truly loving and why.

Subject Headings: San Francisco, CA – future; Seattle, WA – future; androids; robots; love; relationships; extinction; Planets – Mars; bounty hunters

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, multiple points of view, introspective, eccentric, layered, plot twists, thought-provoking, bleak, darker (tone), philosophical, suspenseful, complex, conversational

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engrossing, introspective, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Planets by Dava Sobel – Sobel has created a poetic view of all of the planets in this book as she discusses their individual histories. She also masterfully weaves the subjects of art, music, history, poetry and more into their past and present “lives” as well. Readers will especially enjoy Sobel’s stories of Mars and science fiction’s writers regarding life on the planet.

Under a green sky: global warming, the mass extinctions of the past and what they can tell us about our future by Peter Douglas Ward – This scientific text discusses extinctions of creatures of the distant and recent past and what will happen if our climate continues to change as it has already been. Ward, a NASA astrobiologist, presents us with a factual account of one of nature’s most devastating patterns.

We, robot: Skywalker’s hand, blade runners, Iron Man, slutbots, and how fiction became fact by Mark Stephen Meadows – Meadow’s compares fact with fiction when it comes to robots in today’s world. He draws very detailed connections between what the science fiction visionaries of the past thought would become of robots today, and how far they have come in actuality. The results may or may not be shocking, but will most definitely interest many science fiction aficionados.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Dead Iron: The Age of Steam by Devon Monk – Bounty Hunter Cedar Hunt lives in Monk’s view of a different America – it is an America that is wholly gritty and darkly apocalyptic. Hunt can save his long lost brother if only he can locate the Holder, a mysterious mechanical device that is currently being held captive somewhere on earth.

Foundation’s Triumph by David Brin – Brin’s story of two worlds in collision is also the third in a series of novels written by different well-known science fiction authors. This book, however, depicts the battles of two groups of robots, which ultimately also threatens to destroy human civilization as they know it.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – Asimov, one of science fiction’s most renowned authors, has here created a compilation of nine stories depicting robots in their varied roles/forms. Readers will enjoy the author’s imaginative extension and explanation of the “jobs” that robots can fathomably perform in their personal “lifetimes.”

Name: Melissa