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Science Fiction Fabulous! October 6, 2011

Posted by stacey in Genre Book Discussion, Science Fiction.
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If I had known then, what I know now? Well then, it would have made the perfect start to a science fiction book –and that would have made it perfect for our recent genre book discussion! Science fiction books are generally based on current thinking about the world around us, from politics to the social sciences to hard science, and then the author will alter something in that known world to become –an unknown future. If you’re an inventive dreamer, this genre could be just the right fit for you! Maybe you’d like to see what everyone wrote about their selection?

Megan: White Cat by Holly Black is about Cassel Sharpe, the black sheep in his family. Not only is he not a curse worker, a person who has the supernatural ability to manipulate people’s emotions, luck, and memory, he is a murderer. He has spent three years trying to forget the night he killed his friend Lila. When nightmares and sleepwalking plague his nights he is kicked out of his boarding school and sent to live with his brother. Here he begins to uncover dangerous family secrets and unravel the mystery of Lila’s death. This supernatural thriller is full of danger, mystery and suspense.

Rosemary: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan is the second book in the Ranger’s Apprentice fantasy series. Will is a Ranger in training for the Kingdom of Araluen. He is apprenticed to Halt, a highly respected Ranger who has become Will’s mentor. When Will and his friend Horace are sent on a mission to a nearby village, they find a ghost town, instead of the bustling village they expected. Where have all the villagers gone? Will begins to suspect that the murderous Morgarath is behind the devastation. If this is true, Will and Horace are in for the battle of their lives. The Burning Bridge is another excellent addition to the series. Readers will find Will’s courage and intelligence very appealing. The book, of course, has a cliffhanger ending, which will make readers rush for the next installment.

Janet: Life As We Knew It by young adult author Susan Beth Pfeffer is the first book of a trilogy. The book opens with the introduction of one family and their daily routines. They, along with the rest of the world are anticipating the collision of a large asteroid with the earth’s moon. The collision knocks the moon out of its normal orbit, which is an unexpected turn of events. Starting with twenty- feet- high tsunamis buffeting our eastern seacoast planet earth is changed forever. Survival becomes the name of the game. Our family of four (Mom, Matt, Miranda and Jonny) and neighbor Mrs. Nesbitt work together to help each other in the months that follow. The book is presented in a journal format that is written by Miranda. Life becomes challenging and at times harrowing. The author’s story is quite engrossing. There are many twists and turns and a day-to-day expediency which makes this book a suspenseful story.

Carol: The Clone Codes by Pat, Fred, and John McKissack is set in 2170, a future where humans are ‘firsts’ and clones and cyborgs are known as ‘seconds.’ Clones have been created (with human dna) to do jobs humans don’t want to do. Seconds have no rights and are not treated as humans. 13-year-old Leanna believes this, but things change when her mother is arrested for treason, for fighting for clone rights. When Leanna learns that she is actually a clone, even her friends now want her arrested. This slim novel is the first in a trilogy. Hand this fast-paced, suspenseful read to a young teen or reluctant reader.

Emma: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is the story of Kivrin, a time-traveling Oxford history student in 2048. She expects to travel back to 1320 but ends up in the path of the Black Plague in 1348. Kivrin lives with and nurses the members of a local family who all eventually succumb to the disease. In 21st century Oxford, the community is dealing with another epidemic which hinders the return of Kivrin to present time. Eventually her university tutor arrives from the future and takes Kivrin back home as she is burying the final victim in the small village.
Julie: You might normally skip a novel written by a leading theoretical physicist, but Icarus at the Edge of Time is worth it. Brian Greene transforms the Greek myth into an quick introduction to relativity and black holes with all the drama of the original story and pictures from the Hubble telescope as illustrations.

Ann: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Miranda’s journal starts the way any teenager’s journal might (talking about school, boys, friends), but then an asteroid hits the moon and knocks it askew and closer to Earth. Miranda’s journal becomes a chronicle of survival. Horrible things happen- tsunamis destroy the coastal areas, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions cause major climate changes. As Miranda’s family copes, little by little everything changes, and life as we knew it ceases. This is a compelling and down to earth, but often bleak story. It makes you want to get a storehouse of supplies ready in case of disaster. The Booklist review sums it up- “each page is filled with events both wearying and terrifying and infused with honest emotions.”

Dori: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. This science fiction thriller, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke award, stars Zinzi December, ex-journalist, ex-junkie, ex-prisoner. After the death of her brother, Zinzi becomes a ‘zoo’, marked for her crime by an animal companion, a magical skill and a home with the rest of the ‘zoos’ in a violent slum of Johannesburg. Zinzi’s got a sloth slung on her back, a sarcastic wit and a talent for finding lost items. Desperate for cash, she takes a job finding a lost person and ends up entangled with a reclusive record producer and a pair of ‘animalled’ con men. This is a page turning, gritty, fascinating look at a world that parallels our own.

Stacey: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is one awesomely inventive, Steampunk book. The first of a trilogy, this title introduces the main characters, the alternate version of our world that they live in, and builds to a big action sequence at the end of the novel, making a great cliffhanger for Behemoth, the second of the trilogy. The Archduke of Austria and his wife are murdered, which forces their son Alek to run for his life. Alek comes from a Clanker, mechanically dedicated, country but finds he must hide with an English airship crew; England being a Darwinist or genetically engineered species dependent country. Can such diametrically opposed groups find a middle ground?

Our next discussion will feature literary fiction or books that are viewed as “high quality” or “prize-winning” titles that can be experimental, but should still create a thoughtful, thought-provoking interaction between book and reader. I wonder what everyone will pick?

— Stacey

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