Posts Tagged ‘speculative’


April 6, 2011

Author: Joe Hill

Title: Horns

Genre: Horror / Audio book

Publication Date: 2010

Length: 12 compact discs (13 hours, 50 minutes unabridged)

Geographical Setting: New Hampshire

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:
Ignatius Perrish seemed to have it all: a promising internship abroad, a devoted relationship with his childhood sweetheart, and the admiration of his family and New Hampshire community. Then the unthinkable happens: Merrin Williams, the love of his life, is found raped and murdered. Despite never being charged or tried for the crime, he is found guilty in the court of public opinion and lives in his own private hell.

After a particularly nasty bender, Ig wakes up to discover horns protruding from his temples. The horns give him the power of insight, compelling strangers and friends and family alike to confess their darkest impulses and feelings. While he uncovers the truth about Merrin’s death, he realizes just how dark human nature really is, and wonders if he should just give in to the devil inside of him.

Subject Headings:
Devil, Faith, Good and evil, Lovers, Revenge, Murder victims, Grief, New Hampshire, Telepathy, Monsters, Transformation, Brothers

Page-turning, descriptive, visceral, darkly humorous, compelling, violent, suspenseful, speculative, dark, bleak, engrossing, flawed characters, profanity, sexually explicit, flashbacks, unaffected language

3 terms that best describe this book:
Compelling, gruesome, cynical

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
King explores the darker side of human nature in this collection of four novellas, which include a rape victim taking revenge, a pact with the devil, and a murder victim that just won’t stay dead.
Similarities: Revenge, dark side of humanity, dealing with the devil

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta
Failed Hollywood filmmaker Eric Shaw is intrigued by a commission to produce a memorial documentary about billionaire Campbell Bradford, but finds himself in over his head when he arrives in West Baden, Indiana, Bradford’s mysterious hometown, a place that oozes with evil.
Similarities: Suspenseful and thriller-esque, well-developed characters, supernatural elements

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker
Action movie star Todd Pickett recovers from plastic surgery in a famous mansion, whose strange panoramic painted tiles unleash hellish creatures on the hunt for his soul.
Similarities: Dark humor, violence, morally ambiguous characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
But I Trusted You: And Other True Cases by Ann Rule
Exploration of criminal cases wherein the victims have been murdered by trusted spouses, lovers, friends, and family.
Similarities: Ig is suspected of murdering his lover, Merrin

People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck
A trained psychiatrist, Peck uses case studies, one of which details demonic possession and exorcism, to analyze ways that evil manifests itself in human behavior, and how one may combat it.
Similarities: Exploration of evil, demonic possession

The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna
The authors recount 10 contemporary tales of possession and haunting, also profiling the work of two active exorcists. They supplement the tales with historical analysis and an appendix of terms, rituals, and exorcism prayers.
Similarities: Demonic possession

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

October 28, 2009

Author: Philip K. Dick

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1968

Number of Pages: 244

Geographical Setting: Mainly post-apocalyptic San Francisco but also Seattle and rural Oregon.

Time Period: 2021

Series: No.  However, K.W. Jeter wrote a SF series of sequels to Blade Runner, the movie based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Plot Summary: The year is 2021, and World War Terminus has killed millions, driven countless species into extinction, and forced much of mankind to colonize Mars with the help of androids.  Those remaining on Earth are at constant risk from radioactive fallout and try to distract themselves from their grim lives by dialing up emotions on their mood organs, following the new religion of Mercerism, and caring for rare and much-coveted living animals.  One of these remaining Earthlings is Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who works for the San Francisco Police Department.  With androids banned from Earth for fear of the havoc they could wreak, Deckard’s job is to track and “retire” any illegal android immigrants from Mars.  When reports are received of eight new android fugitives on Earth, Deckard is sent to track them down, but there is a problem.  The Rosen Association’s new Nexus-6 android is so human-like that the Voigt-Kampff empathy test is potentially worthless in helping to differentiate them from humans.  As Deckard enters on his mission, many questions are raised:  What if the Voigt-Kampff test fails, and he mistakenly “retires” a human?  Can he outwit such sophisticated androids who are willing to fight for their survival?  What should he make of his complicated feelings for the Rosen Association’s android Rachael?  Most importantly, however, will Deckard make enough bounty to finally trade his electric sheep for a real one?

Subject Headings: Androids — California;  Bounty hunters — California;  Detectives — Los Angeles, California;  Twenty-first century;  Deckard, Rick;  Dystopias;  Los Angles, California;  Science fiction, American.

Appeal: engrossing, fast-paced, intriguing characters, cinematic, complex, plot twists, inventive, thought-provoking, urban, futuristic, post-apocalyptic, dangerous, suspenseful, speculative, satirical, philosophical, psychological, concise, direct and accessible language.

Three terms that best describe the book: Fast-paced, Futuristic, Philosophical

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hydrogen Steel by K.A. Bedford — Former homicide detective Zette McGee is called out of retirement to help an android friend accused of murdering his family.  Efforts to clear her friend’s name take Zette deep into space to confront the powerful artifical intelligence Hydrogen Steel as well as her recent realization that she too is an android.  (plot twists, thought-provoking, suspenseful, futuristic, philosophical, intriguing characters, artificial intelligence)

Chimera by Will Shetterly — In a grim twenty-first century, androids and humans genetically crossed with animals serve as slaves for the rest of mankind.  When a cheetah woman asks PI Chase Maxwell for protection against a wrongful murder conviction, a thrilling sci-fi mystery begins that explores the definitions of freedom and humanity.  (plot twists, though-provoking, suspenseful, philosophical, futuristic, fast paced, intriguing characters, artificial intelligence)

Man vs. Machine edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers —  This themed anthology of fifteen short stories explores a future world where humans must interact and compete with computers who achieve genuine Artificial Intelligence.  Includes stories by Jean Rabe, Simon Brown, Ed Gorman, and Rick Hautala.  (futuristic, artificial intelligence, thought-provoking, complex, inventive, speculative, philosophical)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood —  This NY Times Notable Book from 2002 explores the efforts of humans over the past three centuries to build machines that resemble themselves.  Included are examinations of human-like mechanical flute and chess players from the 18th century and a robotic duck that fooled and fascinated Europe.  This book’s exploration of actual efforts at artificial intelligence compliments Dick’s speculative look at a future with androids.

The Seekers: A Bounty Hunter’s Story by Joshua Armstrong with Anthony Bruno —  This fascinating memoir tells the story of a New Jersey-based team of bounty hunters who capture 85% of their fugitives using spiritual, non-violent methods.  Although Rick Deckard often violently “retires” his targeted fugitives, the spiritually informed bounty hunting in this book resembles Deckard’s changing attitude toward his job as he begins feeling empathy for androids.

I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick by Emmanuel Carrere —  Written by critically-acclaimed French author Carrere, this biography of Philip K. Dick traces the sci-fi author’s traumatic early life, drug experimentation, and multiple marriages.  It also, and most importantly, looks at the philosophies and creative inspirations that influenced Dick’s more than fifty novels including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Name: Russ

World War Z

April 1, 2009

World War Z

Author: Brooks, Max
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Genre: Best-seller,
Horror, Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 352 p.
Geographical Setting: Multiple global locations
Time Period: near future: mid- to late-21st century
Series: NA

Plot Summary: When taken piece by piece, the speculated future presented in World War Z sounds speculative at best, and like a laughable horror-movie cliché at worst. Zombies take over the world! However, the author’s chosen format and the scope and circumstances of his story create an engrossing and horrifyingly believable scenario that gives the story an overall affect of believability that makes it even more frightening. Brooks presents his story—a global epidemic of a virus that reanimates the recently dead and imbues them with a single purpose: to attack and infect the living—in a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse. These detailed, emotional, and terrifying accounts are arranged in roughly chronological order, exploring the origin of the outbreak in rural China, tracing its spread across the planet, delving into the reactions of various governments—which range from brutally harsh plans that some see as tantamount to genocide to so fueled by denial as to have the same ultimate effect—and the different military reactions to the threat. The survival stories are not limited to the political or military, however. Also included are accounts by common citizens—a Midwestern teenager whose family flees north (zombies are slowed by cold temperatures) and discover another threat in a massive, unregulated refugee camp, a soldier who fought in several key battles across the United States, a blind hermit in Japan, a European historian who discusses how various groups used the continent’s medieval fortresses as defense. Brooks’ interview format allows him to focus on the smallest facets of his detailed characters, and the stories they tell are action-packed and rich with fascinating details of any number of topics, well beyond the physiology of zombies and the best way to survive their ceaseless attack. World War Z is much more than a zombie horror story. It is a spellbinding study in speculative history, sociology, and epidemiology, as well as a cautionary tale for today’s shrinking world.

Subject Headings: Undead; Zombies; Supernatural; Epidemics; Diseases; Post-apocalypse, Oral histories; Survival (after epidemics); War

Appeal: alternative history, apocalyptic, atmospheric, bleak, candid, character-centered, cinematic, compelling, complex, conversational, darker, detailed settings, details of military strategy, details of survival techniques, details of zombies, direct, dramatic, edgy, engaging, engrossing, episodic, explicitly violent, frightening, futuristic, jargon, journalistic, menacing atmosphere, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view, nightmare, oral history, plot-centered, political, recognizable characters, resolved ending, retrospective, speculative, speculated near-future, strong language, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking, tragic, unusual narrative voice, vivid, well-drawn characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Darker Angels, S.P. Somtow. 1998. (horror, zombies, alternate history, Civil War)

· Earth Abides, George R. Stewart. 1949. (post-epidemic apocalypse, speculative “near future,” survival)

· Oryx and Crake, Margaret Attwood. 2003. (post-apocalypse, near future, genetic engineering, survival)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

· The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. Studs Terkel. 1984. (oral history, war stories, inspiration for World War Z)

· The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Deadliest Epidemic–and How It Changed the Way We Think about Disease, Cities, Science, and the Modern World. Steven Johnson. 2006. (epidemics, detailed study of origin and spread of cholera in urban setting, microhistory)

· False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. Marc Siegel. 2005. (fear, epidemics, manipulation of public fear, propaganda)

Name: Cynthia