Category: Science Fiction

Apr 26

The Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler

Science Fiction 11

Howdy Bookworms,

Can we talk about how brilliant Octavia Butler is for a minute? I refuse to discuss her in the past tense, despite her having shuffled off this mortal coil a little over a decade ago. I have read quite a chunk of her body of work at this point, and I am blown away every time. She never leans on a formula; every topic from time travel to dystopian societies and even vampire lore is fresh and innovative. Which is why I OBVIOUSLY had to dive into her trilogy on aliens. Because ALIENS!

Don’t be fooled by the attractive woman’s cleavage on the cover. This book is about aliens full of tentacles.

The Xenogenesis Trilogy (sometimes known as Lilith’s Brood) consists of three installments, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. The premise of these novels is that humanity has finally gone and done it and destroyed the Earth and themselves in the process. Big giant war, probably nuclear, wipes out all the things, and is horrible. Lilith Iyapo along with the other human survivors plucked from the wreckage of our now uninhabitable planet have been rescued by a mysterious alien race called the Oankali. The Oankali are motivated by two things. First, they feel compelled to heal any suffering they encounter. Second, they have a desperate need to merge with other species on a genetic level. While Lilith and the other survivors are given another chance at life, it’s nothing like the life they used to know.

I really don’t know how someone could NOT be intrigued by that story line. I mean, aliens cast not as aggressors, but rescuers? Complicated morality? SCIENCE? It’s as delicious and complex a series as anything else I’ve read by Butler and it’ll get the old noodle working big time. If you’re in the mood for a truly bizarre and innovative journey, you can’t beat The Xenogenesis Trilogy.

Alright Bookworms, who’s got Alien book recomendations for me?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 30

The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction 7

Rusting Earth, Bookworms!

I’ve told you before that I rely on my bookish friends on Twitter for oodles of recommendations, but I cannot thank Shaina enough for raving about NK Jemisin. I devoured The Fifth Season (with my ears) and waited on tenterhooks for a few weeks before the sequel, The Obelisk Gate was released. Obviously, I gobbled that book down as well, but I was only semi-lucky in the timing of my reading because now I shall utterly rot in wait for release of the conclusion to the trilogy. Siiiigh. But let me tell you about these phenomenal books in the meantime, so that you may read them and then join me in my anticipation.

fifth-seasonThe world is ending… Again. Sometime in the distant future, the Earth has begun a series of catastrophic “seasons.” Seismic instability leads to volcanic eruptions that cause apocalyptic ash clouds. Unprepared populations even in The Stillness are unable to grow crops during this period and populations dramatically decrease due to violence, illness, famine, and desperation. But humanity has evolved somewhat. There are some who wield power that can help control the tumultuous earth- or use it as a weapon. Post apocalyptic society plus geological superpowers equals WHOA.

That abstract I just wrote completely sucks and in no way explains how great these books are. In fact, the world building is so incredible and detailed, it takes a bit of reading to fully understand everything that’s going on. Stick with it, though, the payoff is one thousand percent worth it. NK Jemisin is a master craftswoman. I want to thrust these books into the hands of every science fiction and fantasy reader I know. And then I want to thrust these books into the hands of people who think they don’t like science fiction and fantasy. They’re just so dang innovative! I mean, this world has NOTHING WHATSOEVER in common theobeliskgatewith Medieval Europe. It’s not just the Middle Ages plus dragons and magic (not that that isn’t great in its own way) it’s a whole different world. Except it’s THIS WORLD. Sort of. It might make your head spin a little. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing. I’m sure the books are fabulous in print, but the narrator of the audio books is superb. Besides, I always like to hear how names are meant to be pronounced, especially in fantasy novels. It adds a little something to the experience, I think. Plus it prevents me from sounding dumb when discussing the book with folks in person. The ONLY problem I can find with these books is the fact that I unwisely started the series before it was completed and therefore am prevented from full binge reading.

Alright Bookworms, who has already read The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate? And does anyone know if NK Jemisin’s backlist titles are anywhere near this awesome? I think I’m going to have a LOT of reading to do while I wait for the final installment of this series… 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The author will too, obviously, because royalties, so you’d be doing us both a solid.*

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Aug 15

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Science Fiction, Vampires 7

Greetings Bookworms!

I know I whine from time to time about how often I get bitten by mosquitoes because it is very unpleasant to be itchy. It’s not just mosquitoes, though. I’m really, really delicious to all blood-sucking insects (they ALL make me itch, the jerks.) This has led to my hard and fast belief that vampires cannot possibly exist because I would have perished long, long ago. Until, that is, someone comes along and turns vampire lore upside down. That’s right, kids. We’re talking about the incomparable Octavia Butler today. I decided to pick up Fledgling after some twitter discussions reminded me how freaking amazing Kindred (review) was. I wasn’t in the mood to pick up a series at the time (though I’ve heard some fabulous things about her series which are obviously on the endless TBR pile), so I went for Fledgling, a standalone novel. It was an excellent decision, if I do say so myself.

Fledgling kicks off with a little girl who seems to have lost her memory. Though she remembers nothing about her life prior to waking up in fledglinga cave, she displays some startlingly inhuman abilities. This, eventually, leads to her discovery that she is, in fact, a 53-year-old genetically modified vampire. I’ll let that last sentence sink in for a second. I’ve found that the story lines that sound the most ludicrous out of context tend to fuel the best books when in the right hands, and Butler is a master craftswoman. Because seriously. 53-year-old genetically modified vampire? That’s quite an ambitious starting point!

I absolutely LOVED Butler’s take on vampire lore. Most vampire stories feature vampires laughing off at least a couple of vampiric stereotypes, but Butler’s take was easily the most creative I’ve ever read. Where other authors will dismiss one or two tropes, Butler just SMASHED the dominant narrative. I want to give you all the details but that would be super spoilery and that’s not a nice thing to do. I will tell you that although the main character was significantly older than she appeared, I did get pretty weirded out by her, um, extremely mature behavior. Largely because for a decent section of the book neither she nor her companions were aware that she was, in fact, 53 years old. But you know how it is when you’re reading awesome science fiction/fantasy. You fully commit to the characters and the narrative and it’s not too hard to let your pesky real world hangups slide away.

If you have ever enjoyed a vampire novel, you need to pick up Fledgling post haste. Trust me on this one, okay?

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite vampire superstition? I find the garlic thing fascinating myself. But, fun fact? Taking garlic pills does jack to keep mosquitoes from biting. Just an FYI right there. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 26

Thursday, 1:17 pm by Michael Landweber

Coming of Age, Science Fiction 9

Greetings Bookworms!

Have you ever had one of those moments where time just seems to freeze? Poetic types are wont to attribute the sensation to meeting their one true love, but in my world, this feeling typically precedes disaster. Still, the whole “time freezing” thing is usually a short-lived moment, things don’t just stay frozen. Unless you’re the main character in Michael Landweber’s new novel, Thursday, 1:17 p.m. *I received a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher for review consideration, thanks to Monika’s insatiable book pushing (I love her for it.) I am too ill mannered to be polite for politeness’s sake, so you can trust I’ll tell you exactly what I think.*

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Time stopped on a lovely Thursday afternoon at 1:17 pm. Duck, our 17 year old protagonist, is the only person, animal, or thing still moving in Washington DC. As far as he can tell, he’s the only, um, noun? on the planet Earth not in a state of suspended animation. Which is just freaking great. It’s not like he’s already got enough to deal with, what with his mother having succumbed to cancer that very morning and his father having been in a mental hospital for years. Not that having parents would be of much help in the current situation, since they’d be frozen. Fortunately, Duck is a smart kid and a good egg. He takes his new reality in stride and tries to do the right thing in the face of some seriously weird circumstances. He’s got all the time in the world (apparently) to face his demons, and with any luck he’ll figure out how to get time moving again.

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If you’re thinking “this sounds like a Twilight Zone episode” then you and I are on the same wavelength. I went into the book expecting some cool descriptions of the frozen world and I was NOT disappointed. Remember that scene in Big Fish where the circus freezes? It’s kind of like that. But cooler. This book blended sci-fi, humor, and a heaping helping of emotion into one neat little package. It’s a great book and a fast read. If you’re even the slightest bit intrigued by my rambling, you should DEFINITELY check out Thursday, 1:17 p.m.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If your world froze, what would you do with all your spare time? (I’m asking this even though I know the vast majority of us are going to answer “READ ALL THE THINGS!” I just want to encourage the mania.) 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Aug 24

Armada by Ernest Cline

Audio Books, Science Fiction 12

Hello Bookworms!

Remember when Ready Player One (review) got me hooked on audio books? It was an AWESOME book and Wil Wheaton as narrator SLAYED. I’ve been waiting on baited breath for Ernest Cline’s followup novel and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Wil Wheaton would be narrating again. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find out that Armada was being released WITH Wil Wheaton narrating AND it was available on Scribd. The “Hallelujah Chorus” sang, y’all.

armadaArmada begins with high school senior Zack Lightman. He’s a video game geek to the core and constantly pines for more adventure in his mundane suburban life… And then a flying saucer shows up outside the window of his math class.

As it turns out, the Earth is being invaded by aliens, and the government has been slowly conditioning the world’s population to defend itself through science fiction culture and video game simulations. Giant conspiracy. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!

Because Ready Player One was so utterly fantastic, it was inevitable that Ernest Cline’s followup wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. I read several reviews that were disappointed in Armada, so I went in with my expectations tempered. I’m not sure they really needed tempering, though, because I thought Armada was great fun! I mean, Wil Wheaton does a Carl Sagan impression that is spot freaking on. I cannot recommend the audio book highly enough. My word. Wil Wheaton needs to read all the things. Well. All the things that Neil Gaiman isn’t reading, anyway.

If you liked Ready Player One I recommend giving Armada a try. It’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a darn good time. Video games and aliens and conspiracies, y’all. It’s a whole lot of fun. And you can totally make “pew pew pew” noises the whole time you’re reading it. Because lasers.

Talk to me Bookworms! Do you think it’s detrimental to have your debut novel be TOO good?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 07

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Audio Books, Science, Science Fiction 7

Howdy Howdy, Bookworms!

I’ve been on a bit of a sci/fi kick lately, haven’t I? I hope you’re not sick of it yet, because a few weeks ago I saw that Ray Bradbury’s classic The Martian Chronicles was available on audio through my library. Since I’d just listened to The Martian (review) and Packing for Mars (review), I thought it would be fun to compare their depictions of Mars. Ooooh the entertainment!

martianchroniclesIn fairness to Ray Bradbury, he wrote The Martian Chronicles in the late 1940s. Man had not yet landed on the moon, let alone poked around on Mars. I can’t be tooooo hard on him for his depiction of a Mars full ‘o Martians, can I? Plus, it kind of reminded me of a bunch of old school Twilight Zone episodes. Still, though. Some of the things that happen in this book from a scientific perspective are kind of laughable. I mean, humans are fine to breathe Martian air, it’s just “a bit thin.” After hearing Mary Roach’s glorious explanations of all things science and Mark Watney’s misadventures, I had a hard time imagining Martian air as roughly equivalent to hanging out at high altitudes. Also amusing is the unabashed speediness of travel between Earth and Mars in this novel. It’s not QUITE a commuter flight, but it’s getting there.

Of course, as usual, I’ve digressed. Bradbury had some very cool and very creepy ideas of how alien life would react to earthly invaders. The book is actually a collection of short stories, so it’s difficult for me to discuss it without spoiling any one of them. I will say that NOBODY likes chicken pox, telepathy is kind of freaky, and people can be awful to each other regardless of their planetary address.

The Martian Chronicles is a good, entertaining read, particularly if you’re in a Mars mood. Your snarky inner armchair scientist will get a chuckle out of it, too!

Tell me something, Bookworms. If colonizing another planet were a legit possibility, do you think you’d ever consider making the big move? (Can you even IMAGINE what your mother would say?! LOL)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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