Science Fiction

Gun, with Occasional Music

By Jonathan Lethem

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Gumshoe Conrad Metcalf has problems-not the least of which are the rabbit in his waiting room and the trigger-happy kangaroo on his tail. Near-future Oakland is an ominous place where evolved animals function as members of society, the police monitor citizens by their karma levels, and mind-numbing drugs such as Forgettol and Acceptol are all the rage. In this brave new world, Metcalf has been shadowing the wife of an affluent doctor, perhaps falling a little in love with her at the same time. But when the doctor turns up dead, our amiable investigator finds himself caught in the crossfire in a futuristic world that is both funny-and not so funny.

Also available on audio.

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The Sparrow

By Mary Doria Russell

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The Sparrow is a novel about a remarkable man, a living saint, a life-long celibate and Jesuit priest, who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience--the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life--begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

By Haruki Murakami

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"There ought to be a name for the genre Murakami ... has invented, and it might be the literary pyrotechno-thriller. ... Embellished with witticisms, wordplay and allusions to such figures as Stendhal heroes and Lauren Bacall, the tale is set in a Tokyo of the near future. Thanks to a wonderland of technology, an intelligence agent has had his brain implanted with a 'profoundly personal drama' that allows him to 'launder' and 'shuffle' classified data, and all that he knows of the drama is its password, The End of the World.

"But after interference from a scientist and from the Semiotecs, a rival intelligence unit, the subconscious story is about to replace the agent's own perceptions of reality. Intertwined with the agent's attempts to understand his plight are scenes from The End of the World. Murakami's ingenuity and inventiveness cannot fail to intoxicate; this is a bravura performance."

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Dune

By Frank Herbert

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Follows the adventures of Paul Atreides, the son of a betrayed duke given up for dead on a treacherous desert planet and adopted by its fierce, nomadic people, who help him unravel his most unexpected destiny.

On Film: people either love or hate David's Lynch's film version of Dune. But one thing you shouldn't miss is Kyle MacLachlan's performance as Paul Atreides. Having read the book first makes enjoying the movie easier.

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Shatterday

By Harlan Ellison

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"A revolutionary classic from one of science fiction's most highly regarded authors, this collection of 16 brilliant stories remains as scathing and influential today as it was when it was first published more than 20 years ago. These category-defying stories combine science fiction, horror, and fantasy with ironic humor, sardonic social criticism, and intense self-revelation.

"From 'Jeffty is Five,' the tragedy of an innocent child wrenched out of an idyllic past, to humanity's encounter with dangerously seductive aliens in 'How's the Night Life on Cissalda?' and 'Shatterday,' the dark allegory of an identity-stealing doppelganger replacing his inferior twin, this incendiary collection re-establishes its legendary author's place at the cutting edge of the short story form."

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Remake

By Connie Willis

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It’s the Hollywood of the future, where there are no more live actors and everything is done with special effects. But Alis does not want to be digitized. She wants to really dance in the movies.
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On the Beach

By Nevil Shute

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"In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river...
This is the way the world ends--
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

Nevil Shute placed this quote from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" on the title page of his chilling bestselling 1957 novel about life and death in Australia after a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere. The novel focuses on the crew of an American ship stranded in Australia after all of the northern hemisphere has destroyed itself in nuclear war. Radiation slowly travels south with the winds, and we meet memorable characters who try to grab what enjoyment life can offer before the inevitable end comes. Stanley Kramer's 1959 film starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck was very faithful to the book. This title is also available as a recorded book.

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Catacombs

By Paul McCusker

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Imagine a time in the future when faith can be fatal. All worship the same power. It is a time when faith and survival must work hand in hand. And death wants the last word. Welcome to the Catacombs!
First book of a series.
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1984

By George Orwell

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While the totalitarianism that provoked George Orwell into writing 'Nineteen Eighty- Four' seems to be passing into oblivion, his harrowing, cautionary tale of a man trapped in a political nightmare has had the opposite fate, and its relevance and power to disturb our complacency seem to grow decade by decade. This book was challenged in 1981 in the state of Florida in large part because it was viewed as "pro-Communist."

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Under My Skin

By Doris Lessing

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“Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Fifth Child and Memoirs of a Survivor.” The second volume of her autobiography is entitled, Walking in the Shade.

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