Posts Tagged ‘Science Fiction’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Keith H’s Picks

December 31, 2014

They say too many books will spoil the broth, but they fill my life with so much, so much love.  I read primarily science fiction and fantasy, with a dose of comics and science fiction/fantasy for kids and teens.  I’m pretty well rounded.  These are my favorite science fiction and fantasy books that were new to me this year.

MMistbornistborn: the Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Vin is a street urchin who gets wrapped up with a gang attempting to overthrow the imperial Lord Ruler. She lives in a world  divided into  commoners and  allomancers, who are sorcerers able to ingest certain metals to give them a specific power.” Coinshots” can use steel to propel metal through space. “Tineyes” use tin to enhance their senses. “Thugs” use pewter to enhance their strength. Most allomancers can only use a single metal but the most feared are Mistborn, who can use the powers of all metals. Sanderson’s writing became increasingly well-known after he was selected to finish Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series. I prefer Sanderson’s own works, which are still epic fantasy with thorough world-building, but considerably less sprawling. (Trilogies instead of 10+ book epics)  Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first book of the Mistborn trilogy.

The Hundred Thousand KingdomsThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
After Yeine Darr’s mother dies, she is called to the imperial city by her grandfather, the emperor. Her upbringing as a barbarian leaves her outcast in imperial society. She soon finds that she has been chosen to compete for the throne against two cousins who are immeasurably more well-versed in magic and backstabbing than her. To top it off, gods made incarnate are also meddling with the competition. I read this initially because it was compared to Octavia Butler, but Jemison creates her own unique universe in this innovative work. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first book in “The Inheritance” trilogy.

The Knife of Never Letting GoKnife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Todd lives on a planet recently settled by humans. Unfortunately, a native virus has killed all of the women and given men the curse of “Noise”, constantly hearing each other’s thoughts. Todd learns a secret which causes him to flee their settlement with his dog, Manchee. Todd can also hear his dog’s thoughts. Manchee’s dog voice has replaced the voice of Dug, the dog from “Up”, in my imagination of what dogs sound like while speaking English . This story is told in a dialect that takes some initial getting used to, but becomes second nature quickly. This brutal, face paced story was published as a teen book but due to some disturbing themes, I wouldn’t give it to anyone under 15.

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
A historical fiction, immigration story with a fantastic twist: the immigrants are magical beings. Chava is a Golem, a lifelike woman made of clay by an outcast rabbi who practices Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a Jinni, a fire spirit born in the deserts of Syria, recently released from being trapped inside a copper flask. They meet while trying to find their places in the chaos of late 1800s New York City. The details of Jewish and Arab mythology and culture are well-researched and intriguing. Watching Chava and Ahamad become friends and soul mates was a pleasure straight to the end.

Among OthersAmong Others by Jo Walton
A seemingly unreliable narrator describes her life as the daughter of an evil fairy. After fleeing to her father’s home, Morwenna is promptly sent away to a boarding school in the English countryside. As an avid reader, she finds solace by joining a science fiction book club at the local library. Any speculative fiction fan will enjoy the club’s discussions of the great authors of SF:  LeGuin, Delaney, Heinlein, Asimov, et al. This book is like a love letter to SF combined with an awesome to-read bibliography.  Among Others was the winner of the 2012 Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novel.  Read another review.

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Dan B’s Picks

December 18, 2014

Some of my favorite books that were new to me this year include a space adventure with hostile aliens, the memoir of a comedy legend, a dystopian teen novel, a fantasy with a magic-wielding librarian, and a story of super heroes in the big city.

DreadnaughtDreadnaught by Jack Campbell
Admiral Jack Geary was rescued from cryogenic sleep several years ago to lead the Alliance Fleet to victory over the Syndicate. Now, however, humanity is also up against an unknown and hostile race of aliens on the far side of human colonized space. Geary also has to deal with a government that fears and resents him, as well as the remnants of the Syndic forces. This is the first in the Beyond the Frontier series, which is a continuation of Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, which starts with Dauntless.

What's So Funny?What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life by Tim Conway
Whether you know him from McHale’s Navy, The Carol Burnett Show, Dorf, or any of his numerous other appearances on TV and in film, Tim Conway is one of the great funny men of the last century. His touching memoir gives readers insight into his Midwestern upbringing, his Army service, and his career from the middle of the Twentieth Century through recent years. Anecdotes along the way will have you smiling, laughing, and genuinely appreciating Tim for all he’s given us. My only disappointment was that he didn’t narrate the audio book.

For the WinFor the Win by Cory Doctorow
In this dystopian future teens in countries like India and China must work for the corrupt bosses of huge corporations “gold farming” from massive online video games. The large cast of characters, each struggling to make enough money for their families, begin to learn that their plight is not unique. They start to form relationships online while also forming unions for this new kind of labor. The story is compelling as Doctorow blends a tech-heavy dystopia with real world lessons about economics. It’s also a great audio book.

LibriomancerLibriomancer by Jim C. Hines
What’s not to love in a book about magic wielding librarians versus evil vampires?! Isaac Vainio works as a librarian in Michigan, but, he also catalogues books for a magical group of libriomancers. Those are people who have the magical ability to draw forth objects from inside books. This branch of magic was founded by none other than Johannes Gutenberg. But what happens when Gutenberg goes missing and vampires start attacking libriomancers, leading to a war which could expose all magic to the rest of the world?

After the Golden AgeAfter the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
Celia West knows that her lack of super-powers has always been a disappointment to her father, billionaire industrialist Warren West, a.k.a. Captain Olympus. Celia is an accountant whose firm is working with the D.A.’s office to prosecute The Destructor, her parents’ arch-nemesis, for tax evasion. While he’s behind bars, a new crime wave breaks out, and though her parents think he’s behind it, Celia isn’t so sure. Is there a new evil at work in Commerce City, or is what’s going on now related to events from over fifty years ago?

Best New Books of 2014: Sharon S’s Picks

December 12, 2014

It is said that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” and to me it is just as interesting. I read fiction and nonfiction for the same reasons: to be entertained, instructed, and inspired. Here are my favorite new books for this year:

Pastor Needs a BooPastor Needs a Boo by Michele Andrea Bowen
A former FBI agent as well as a dedicated pastor, Denzelle Flowers of New Jerusalem Church in Durham got burned on the romance scene when his wife left him for a richer man. When the perfect Proverbs 31 woman shows up in his life he’s not ready to admit it, even though everyone else sees that she’s the one for him. Meanwhile, Pastor Denzelle decides to run for bishop, and has to pack both his gun and his Bible as major corruption sweeps through their denomination.

What Makes Olga Run?What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson
What makes a 93-year-old woman participate in track events worldwide, and set records that compare (in her age category) with those of the best athletes in the world? Well, she loves doing it, and her ability to do it stretches our stereotypes about aging. She is not alone—there are other “super seniors” like her around the world. Bruce Grierson leads us through a fascinating investigation of what keeps them going strong. See my full review.

William Shakespeare's Star WarsWilliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
Hang on to your lightsabers! Doescher cleverly conflates famous lines from Shakespeare with famous scenes from Star Wars, making for a blend of comedy and drama worthy of the Bard himself. What I like best is getting to see into the minds of the characters through the asides and soliloquys. The series is continued in The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. My family and I have been reading it aloud to each other (my husband plays the role of Chewbacca, and my 12-year-old son plays R2D2). See my full review.

Life is a WheelLife is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber
The death of his parents and other major changes shook Weber up and gave him a lot to think about concerning life, love, and death. It didn’t help matters that he had spent the last three years of his middle-aged life writing obituaries for The New York Times. He decided to do something to prove to himself that he was still alive and kicking — bike across America! I love books like this, where someone decides to do something semi-crazy, and I can go along for the ride without the expense or the sore leg muscles! Based on the daily blogs he sent back to the newspaper, this book is a very entertaining and interesting read.

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on CaesarThe Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow
One reason I like to read is to experience vicariously things I may never experience myself, or at least not in the same way. I love owls, and Martin Windrow gives me a window into what they are really like, close-up and personal. Mumbles is a charming little tawny owl who is nevertheless no pushover! I loved reading about her daily life, and her and Martin’s close relationship of many years. See my full review.

Best New Books of 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 10, 2014

This is my favorite blog post of the year; a chance to review my favorite new books of 2014. It is hard to narrow it to only five, but here are my selections. I love both fiction and nonfiction, especially those with lots of thrills and edge of your seat action! You never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

Destroyer AngelDestroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger. We think hats, nature lovers, and a big smile right? Not this park ranger. She is fierce and not someone you want to make mad. Anna and her friend Heath, a paraplegic, and Heath’s teenage daughter set out on a canoe trip with Leah and her teenage daughter. Leah designs outdoor equipment and she has a new design to make the outdoors more accessible to the disabled. This is supposed to be a trial run and a nice little vacation. Some bad guys decide to abduct Anna’s friends. Not a good idea. If you have read other Anna Pigeon books you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t, hold on and prepare for a wild ride.

HackerHacker by Ted Dekker
Nyah Parks is a hacker and she is in big trouble. Some bad people want her dead. Not a bad start to the newest Ted Dekker novel. He is known for his suspenseful, sometimes scary inspirational fiction. This tale starts off with a bang and hurtles forward from there. Computer technology, political cover-ups, murder, and a child’s desperate love for her mother cause Nyah to take steps that stretch our level of belief. We have heard that our brains are like a biological computer. Hacking computers is one thing, but how far would you go to save the people you love?

Denali's HowlDenali’s Howl by Andy Hall
Andy Hall more than remembers the events that occurred in Alaska in 1967; he was there. He was a child, the son of the park superintendent at Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Twelve young men set out to climb the mountain, only 5 returned. This is an amazing story of survival, man vs. nature, and mountaineering. We learn not only what happened on the mountain, but also the struggle of those who tried to save them. Hall is now a journalist and he spent years tracking down the true story of this tragedy. Through survivor accounts, radio transmissions, and buried documents he has produced a gut-wrenching, white-knuckled read you cannot put down.

UndetectedUndetected by Dee Henderson
I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s books long ago and her newest series does not disappoint. Naval warfare, romance, and family are intricately entwined as we are pulled into the life of Gina Gray, an ocean researcher. Gina is a genius and her discoveries shatter what we thought we knew of ocean science. Now she finds herself fleeing a broken relationship and seeking solace with her brother, a submariner. There she meets Mark Bishop, a friend of her brother and a nuclear submarine commander. He also happens to be a widower and newly open to the idea of love again. Now she is wrestling with whether she should continue to develop her new ideas, and will her knowledge save those she loves or destroy them?

Artemis AwakeningArtemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Welcome to the pleasure planet Artemis. At least it used to be. This former playground for the wealthy has been lost for centuries. Long after the war that shattered the galaxies, archaeologist Griffin Dane sets out to rediscover its mysteries. And he does, but not quite in the way he had planned. Now he is trapped on a primitive planet with no way to escape. All living things on this planet were bioengineered to better serve their wealthy guests. Rescued by a huntress, Adara, and her psych-linked puma, Sand Shadow, Griffin must solve the mystery of Artemis if he has any hope of surviving. This is a wonderful new book by the author who brought us the Firekeeper series. She is a master of writing stories involving humans bonded with animals. Technology, lost civilizations, and a pretty despicable bad guy all make for some amazing science fiction.

Best New Books of 2014: Allison D’s Picks

December 9, 2014

These are some of my favorite books that were published this year. You will probably notice that I not only love a well-written series, but that my reading interests vary across many genres. I enjoy juvenile books, graphic novels, romance, science fiction, fantasy, and I have a love-hate relationship with vampire novels.

Born of FuryBorn of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Born of Fury is the seventh installment in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s science fiction romance series, The League, and is one of my favorites. Like J.R. Ward, Kenyon picks up where she left off, catching you up on your favorite characters while also focusing in on a particular couple. Hauk is a trained warrior from his planet of Andarion. He is also a member of the Sentella, a group now openly in war against The League, along with friends whom he considers his family. Sumi Antaxas, a League assassin, is assigned to target Hauk. What she believes to be a simple task becomes increasingly entangled as she becomes a captive of her target. There is intrigue, adventure, action, and romance in this fast-paced fantasy novel. In any science fiction novel, there is a thin-line that an author must walk in order to build a believable world separate from our own while also retaining some mystery and not boring the reader from minute details. Kenyon demonstrates this in her League series by having a perfect balance of both.

Escape from LucienAmulet, Vol. 6: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
This may be a graphic novel series, and intended for a younger audience, but there is something in it for everyone. The Amulet series is a fast-paced, exciting adventure; each volume of which I devoured in one sitting. Emily, her brother Navin, and their friends are hurtling on a journey towards battling the Elf King. In order to survive, Emily has to keep her wits about her, find a way to trust the other Stone Keepers she meets along with way, and keep her family safe. In the most recent edition, Escape from Lucien, Emily has to team up with an enemy while attempting to get her friends and brother out of the city of Lucien alive. It ends with a huge cliff-hanger but, in a series that is so fun to read, I cannot find it in myself to be miffed.

Shadow SpellShadow Spell by Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts is known for her romance trilogies, and this particular series has a little bit of everything; romance, of course, as well as close-knit families, Irish lore, magic, and friendships. If you have read anything by Roberts before, I found it to be a knitting together of the best parts of what I enjoyed about her Sign of Seven and Three Sisters Island trilogies. In this second installment, Connor O’Dwyer and his sister’s best friend, Meara Quinn, realize that there is a bit more between them than just friendship. They have taken their relationship for granted but when their budding romance is put to the test by the evil Cabhan waiting in the shadows they find there might be something more than just chemistry. The best part of reading a book by Nora Roberts is that I felt like I had been whisked away to small village in Ireland, with its history and long-standing inhabitants. The worst part? Having to wait seven months for the final installment to come out!

The KingThe King by J.R. Ward
The King is the 12th book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you’ve never heard of the series before, I would start with the first book called Dark Lover. In The King, Ward revisits the couple from Dark Lover, Wrath and Beth. It is a different take on the vampire story and there certainly are no sparkly, vegan vampires to find in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. That being said, Ward has well-developed characters that come to life as you read further about their lives.  The King may center on Beth and Wrath, but Ward writes about the story lines of all of the other characters you have come to know and care about over the course of the series. What I love most about J.R. Ward’s series is that, in every installment, it feels as though I am stopping in for a weekend trip to check up on some friends of mine. There is a familiarity to it and a real character depth that you don’t find everywhere, especially not in romance series, which is one of the reasons I keep coming back for more!

The Mark of the Midnight ManzanillaThe Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig
I have been reading the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig for what feels like forever, each year eagerly awaiting the next addition to the series. The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is the 11th book in the series, not counting various novellas related to the assortment of colorful characters. If you are a fan of historical fiction set in the Napoleonic Era, with a dash of romance, some intrigue, spies, and lots of absurd humor then read this series. This book is, according to the author, the second to last book in the series. It follows the mysterious Duke of Belliston, Lucien, and Sally Fitzhugh. When a vampire novel that is all the rage in society sparks a rumor that Lucien is, in fact, a vampire, Sally must help Lucien solve the murder of a woman found dead at a party with the appearance of vampire bites on her neck. I enjoyed the absurdity that such a rumor sparked in the stuffy society setting and the hilarity that ensued as the two of them were thrown together to solve this strange murder mystery. The fact that Willig was making a jab at the current vampire craze in literature was an added bonus.

Best New Books of 2014: Dan B’s Picks

December 3, 2014

My favorite books of this year include a dark and grim Fantasy, a book about meditation, the newest Star Wars novel set far, far away, and two near future Sci-Fi thrillers. Here are some of my top picks from 2014:

Half a KingHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie
Move over George R.R. Martin, there’s a new author of grim, dark Fantasy in town. Prince Yarvi is the titular “half king” due to his deformed and crippled left arm, with which he can hold neither sword nor shield. That’s fine with Yarvi, as he never wanted to be a warrior or king, and is content to continue his studies. However, Yarvi’s plans change when his father the king and his brother are both murdered by a rival king from across the sea. Yarvi must strike back against treacherous enemies, but some are seen and others are hidden.  See my full review.

10% Happier10% Happier by Dan Harris
ABC newsman Dan Harris has never been a very spiritual guy. The news biz is pretty cut throat and for years he was driven to succeed and get on air as often as he could. One fateful day the mounting pressure got to him, and while reporting the news on Good Morning America, he had a nervous breakdown – live on national TV. Harris’ memoir-cum-self-help book about the benefits of meditation takes readers through his journey, and if doing something can make you 10% happier, wouldn’t you want to try it?

A New DawnA New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Kanan Jarrus is a former Jedi student who’s become a loner, never staying put too long. Almost 20 years before A New Hope, the Empire defeated the Republic and the people of the galaxy began to suffer. The Emperor has sent Count Vidian to the planet Gorse and its moon Cynda to ensure productivity is high in their mining operation, no matter the cost. There just might be a spark of rebellion soon. This novel takes place shortly before the new Star Wars Rebels cartoonSee my full review.

Lock InLock In by John Scalzi
In the near future, a virus spreads that leaves about 1% of our population locked inside themselves, unable to control their bodies. They can interact with the world two ways: through an “integrator” (a person who lets them ride inside their body), or through the use of a robotic body that they control remotely, known as a “threep.” When a murder occurs involving an integrator, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is partnered with Leslie Vann to solve the case. Chris, a victim of the disease who uses a threep, soon discovers the real mystery goes much deeper.

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
Astronaut Mark Watney becomes stranded on Mars when a dust storm forces his team to evacuate and return to Earth earlier than planned. He is presumed dead, but has miraculously survived, and although he knows he’ll be the first human to die on Mars, he fights to stay alive. As the mission’s engineer, Mark may have just enough know-how to figure out how to get enough air, pressure, food, and water to live. By turns thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny, this tale of survival set against a Science Fiction backdrop will have you turning pages past your bedtime.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

October 8, 2014

Star Wars: Jedi AcademyJeffrey Brown brings the heavily cartoon illustrated middle-grade novel popularized by Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to the Star Wars universe.

The story features a young boy, very reminiscent of Luke Skywalker, named Roan. Roan dreams of being a fighter pilot like his father. His dreams are crushed when he finds that he has not been accepted into pilot school, but must instead begin training to become a Jedi.

Yoda, as the headmaster, is one of the only characters from the movie world, but there are plenty of familiar alien species and droid types. One of the most entertaining was his unintelligible female Wookie gym teacher, often pictured wearing head and wrist sweatbands like a furrier Bjorn Borg. Others include the tutor droid T-P3O, the Mon Calamri Librarian Lackbar and a school bully who looks remarkably similar to Darth Maul. This book documents an eventful school year where Roan learns to make friends, duel with a light saber and use the force. Anyone who has experienced middle-school will empathize with Roan’s experiences and root for him to find the Jedi Path.

Jedi Academy is not to be confused with author Tom Angleberger’s equally laudable Origami Yoda series, which takes place in a realistic Earthbound setting featuring characters who are fans of the Star Wars mythos. I would recommend this series for upper-elementary and older Star Wars fans. It is filled with many Star Wars puns and movie references. For example, the kids go to Ralph McQuarrie Middle School and a couple of the origami villains are named Jabba the Puppet and Darth Paper.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Join us on Saturday, October 11 from 3-5 p.m. for Star Wars Reads Day when we’ll have fun crafts, trivia, books, and more in an event for all ages to celebrate all the reasons why we love Star Wars.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

October 6, 2014

Star Wars: A New DawnA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

The legendary “Dark Times” in Star Wars span about twenty years between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. This is when the Empire rises, growing in power and taking over across the galaxy. A New Dawn takes place about six years before the events in the new Star Wars Rebels cartoon. This novel is also the first in the new, official Star Wars Expanded Universe – created in consultation with Lucasfilm.

In this story we’re introduced to a whole new cast of characters. Kanan Jarrus is a drifter, a loner who never stays in one place too long. He’s been hauling miners and explosives between the dark side of the planet Gorse and its moon, Cynda, when he gets sucked into larger events beyond his control. Hera Syndulla is a Twi’lek female and one of the earliest members of the secret, underground rebellion. She’s come to Gorse to observe the Empire’s takeover of the mining operations and to scout for potential recruits. Skelly is a Clone Wars veteran and munitions expert who believes that the moon Cynda is in great danger of being destroyed through unsafe mining practices. Unfortunately for him, he can’t seem to get anyone in power to listen to him and he comes off as if he’s got a few screws loose.

Count Vidian, Emperor Palpatine’s efficiency and business expert, has been dispatched to Cynda aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer to increase production of the mining facilities – by whatever means necessary. Count Vidian is a cyborg, part human and part machine, similar to other baddies like General Grievous and Darth Vader. The Count makes for a ruthless villain, treating everyone from the Captain and crew of the Star Destroyer ship to the mining industry representatives with contempt and violence. He cares only that the Emperor’s demands are met – and that he’s able to turn a tidy profit while doing so.

There’s plenty of action as the events unfold, and some great world-building too, since just about everything happens on either Gorse or Cynda. We learn quite a bit about the unusual relationship between Gorse and Cynda, as well as the hardy miners and rough civilization that has settled on a planet that has a permanent dark side. One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel is that the characters and setting were all new, while still very much a part of the larger Star Wars universe.

John Jackson Miller also wrote the great Sci-Fi Western story, Kenobi, which I reviewed last year.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Join us on Saturday, October 11 from 3-5 p.m. for Star Wars Reads Day when we’ll have fun crafts, trivia, books, and more in an event for all ages to celebrate all the reasons why we love Star Wars.

Influx by Daniel Suarez

September 17, 2014

Influx, published this year, is Daniel Suarez’s fourth novel. It deals with a shadowy and overlooked federal government organization: the Bureau of Technology Control. The Bureau was long ago tasked to suppress disruptive technologies, for the sake of the status quo. Lax oversight has allowed the Bureau not only to suppress, but also to further develop and utilize these technologies for its own sinister purposes.

An unconventional physicist comes up with a way to alter gravity. As you can imagine, this might disrupt both the air travel and shipping industries. On the eve of the invention’s debut, there is a disastrous explosion right after the inventor is abducted by the Bureau.

The physicist finds himself in a matrix like prison, subjected to various tortures undertaken to gain his cooperation. Slowly he makes contact with other prisoners who have invented many of the hoped for scientific breakthroughs society has yet to see. Working together, these inventors are able to help the physicist escape so he can expose the Bureau and rescue them.

Suarez is a former technology consultant to big business and government. He knows his science. Suarez has developed into a writer that not only can present technological issues through his storytelling but also turns out a crackling page-turner that readers won’t want to put down.

I’ve since read Suarez’s three other novels in their published order. Out of the blocks, Suarez proved himself a capable writer. His first book, Daemon is about a computer game let loose in the real world that slowly begins to change how the world works. In Daemon’s sequel, Freedom, the Daemon is overcome. His third book, Kill Decision is about militarized autonomous drones that have the ability to kill people without a decision being made by a human.

Ultimately, two things made me decide to read Daniel Suarez’s books. The first was a cover blurb by my trusted guide Stewart Brand, a Merry Prankster and creator of the Whole Earth Catalog. The blurb reads, “Daemon is better than early Tom Clancy…The tech is invoked with inside knowledge, the writing is better, and deeper issues are explored with greater imagination.” The second is that Suarez’s blogroll includes Homestar Runner.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

September 16, 2014

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

I first experienced The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in high school, and I think I have not gone more than a week without thinking about that one particular line since then. I chose the word “experienced” rather than read because H2G2, as Neil Gaiman dubbed it, comes in many forms. It was initially a radio play for the BBC, then became a five volume trilogy of books (don’t try to make sense of this), a legendarily difficult computer game, a BBC miniseries and a feature film, among other incarnations. I first encountered the story as an audiobook read by the author, and among the many lines and ideas that have been swimming around in my brain like a Babel Fish ever since, this notion of the illusory nature of time is at the forefront.

It’s illustrative of the real genius of Douglas Adams, which is often found in the footnotes and at the margins, in his gift for amazing throwaway lines and casual asides that are simultaneously make the reader laugh and reconsider everything that they know about the nature of the universe. The story of H2G2 begins with ordinary Englishman Arthur Dent attempting to prevent his house from being demolished, continues with the destruction of the Earth, joining up with the two-headed galactic president as he absconds with a new spaceship and then arriving at an ancient planet where they discover the answer to life, the universe and everything. This is only the first book, mind you.

It’s an engaging and entertaining story, and the characters are instantly memorable and iconic. Besides the lovable everyman Arthur the reader gets to know and adore Ford Prefect, an alien who had been working undercover on Earth to compile the entry about earth for the titular intergalactic guidebook and encyclopedia, the aforementioned two headed president Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin, the depressed, paranoid android and the Vogons, a vile race of aliens known for their love of truly abysmal poetry, and that only scratches the surface of this staggering, multimedia comedic achievement. If you’ve never experienced H2G2, hang on to your towel and don’t panic. It’s mostly harmless.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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