John Gaines

09/11/2012 - 3:31am
Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter

H.G. Wells’ classic, The Time Machine, tells the story of a man who travels through time into the far distant future to find that humanity has evolved into two distinct species: the complacent, placid Eloi and the predatory, cunning Morlocks.  Falling in love with one of the Eloi, the protagonist is successful in recovering his Time Machine and using it to escape back to Victorian England.  But he feels lovesick and depressed without her, and finally uses the Time Machine to travel back to the future to rejoin her and help the Eloi create a new golden age free of the Morlocks’ terror…or so H.G. Wells assumed.

With its intentional emulation of a Victorian writing-style and elaborate machines recalling the dawn of science fiction, Morlock Night, K.W. Jeter’s sequel to The Time Machine, was the novel for which the phrase “steampunk” was invented. Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction rooted in the speculative fiction of the nineteenth century and is distinguished by its use of Victorian-era settings, steam-powered technology, and stylistic elements influenced by nineteenth century writing. Morlock Night’s combination of science fiction and alternate history proved to be a major stylistic influence that codified many aspects of the steampunk genre. Shorter and more action oriented than Wells’ novel, it is dominated by an atmosphere of darkness and suspense and an ironic, knowing wit. 

09/05/2012 - 10:56am

The rise of broadband Internet and the coming of the Great Recession have combined over the past several years to create a perfect storm for many different types of magazines. The 2000s and early 2010s have seen many respected publications end, either converting to online editions or shutting down entirely.  So many magazines have closed over this time period that I have become convinced that I should chronicle some of our former print resources and point out the online resources that have replaced them. So, let’s take some time to reminisce over the fate of those wonderful magazines that used to be in our stacks, and look at the Web sites and databases vying to replace them.

09/04/2012 - 3:30am
Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Many early science fiction “space operas” were simple narratives of good vs. evil, with clean-cut heroes, dastardly villains, and no more ambition than seeing the hero fly off to another adventure at the end. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, with its sprawling narrative, morally ambiguous characters, and realistic interpretation of both social and mathematical science, changed the course of science fiction forever. Asimov’s masterpiece presents an intriguing story of the fall of civilization, and the many people from varying walks of life who attempt to restore it.  With Asimov’s meticulous attention to detail and a vibrant, chaotic universe, this novel will satisfy any fan of thoughtful, socially-aware science fiction.

Foundation is the story of the planet Terminus, a resource-poor planet at the edge of the galaxy that becomes the seed of a movement to save civilization after the fall of the Galactic Empire.  The novel begins as the renowned “psychohistorian” Hari Seldon, having developed a mathematical model for the behavior of human beings on a mass scale, has foreseen the doom of the Empire and gathers up a group of scholars to create an encyclopedia of knowledge to aid humanity in the coming Dark Age.  

08/20/2012 - 3:30am
Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies

In 1972, Richard Adams’ classic fantasy novel Watership Down was first published. This exciting adventure follows the travels of a group of rabbits seeking a new home after the destruction of their warren.  Evocatively written and imaginatively plotted, this novel excelled in portraying the world we humans perceive as mundane as a place filled with danger and mystery, and also excelled in its depiction of the primitive religion and folklore the rabbits created to explain the natural environment.  After I finished reading Watership Down a couple of months ago, I searched for a similar fantasy told from the perspective of animals, but finding a novel of its caliber proved difficult.  Many of the other animal-centered fantasy stories I found were either too deliberately whimsical or too childish to live up to Adams’ novel. Eventually I found David Clement-Davies’ Fire Bringer and decided to give it a try based on the recommendation by Adams on the back cover.  Filled with adventure, suspense, and gripping depictions of the natural world, this novel lived up to my lofty expectations.

10/03/2016 - 1:22pm
If you like The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In early colonial Massachusetts, a young woman endures the consequences of her sin of adultery and spends the rest of her life in atonement. (catalog summary)

If you enjoyed The Scarlet Letter and are interested in similar classic novels, as well as stories with similar themes, the following titles may be of interest to you:


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The classic nineteenth-century Russian novel in which a young woman is destroyed when she attempts to live outside the moral law of her society. (catalog summary)




 



The Crucible
by Arthur Miller
In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town's most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence. (catalog summary)

 

 

06/15/2012 - 3:32am

Déjà Dead by Kathleen Reichs: "Dr. Temperance Brennan spends her days in the autopsy suite, the courtroom, the crime lab, with cops, and at exhumation sites. Often her long days turn into harrowing nights. It's June in Montreal, and Tempe, who has left a shaky marriage back home in North Carolina to take on the challenging assignment of director of forensic anthropology for the province of Quebec, looks forward to a relaxing weekend. First, though, she must stop at a newly uncovered burial site in the heart of the city. One look at the decomposed and decapitated corpse, stored neatly in plastic bags, tells her she'll spend the weekend in the crime lab. This is homicide of the worst kind. To begin to find some answers, Tempe must first identify the victim. Who is this person with the reddish hair and a small bone structure?"

If you enjoyed the mystery plots and attention to forensic detail in Reichs' novels, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
A series of shocking crimes that end in abduction and death terrorizes Boston during a boiling summer. Forced again to confront the killer who scarred her--literally and figuratively--Detective Jane Rizzoli is determined to finally end Hoyt's awful influence on a murderous disciple. (worldcat.org)
 

 

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it's only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer's twisted work becomes clear. (worldcat.org)
 

 

10/04/2016 - 10:52am
If you like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess at Thornfield Hall, a country estate owned by the mysteriously remote Mr. Rochester. (catalog summary)

 

If you enjoyed this book's combination of romance and mystery themes and are interested in similar works from the time period, here are some other titles you may enjoy:



The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins
The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel's household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels," The Moonstone is a marvelously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear. (catalog summary)

 

 


The Mystery of Edwin Drood
 by Charles Dickens
Edwin Drood is contracted to marry orphan Rosa when he comes of age, but when they find that duty has gradually replaced affection, they agree to break the engagement off. Shortly afterwards, in the middle of a storm on Christmas Eve, Edwin disappears, leaving nothing but some personal belongings and the suspicion that his jealous uncle John Jasper, madly in love with Rosa, is the killer. And beyond this presumed crime there are further intrigues: the dark opium underworld of sleepy cathedral town Cloisterham, and the sinister double life of choirmaster Jasper, whose drug-fuelled fantasy life belies his respectable appearance. Dickens died before completing Edwin Drood, leaving its tantalizing mystery unsolved and encouraging generations of readers to try to work out what happened next. (catalog summary)

 

09/21/2016 - 10:19am
If you like Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.

Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn
The stately calm of a Washington morning is shattered when a group of terrorists descends, killing dozens and taking nearly one hundred hostages as they massacre their way into the White House. The Secret Service evacuates the president to an underground bunker--and while officials argue over how to negotiate with the enemy, Mitch Rapp, the CIA's top counterterrorism operative, moves stealthily among the hidden corridors and secret passageways of the executive mansion, to save the hostages before the terrorists reach the president. But another adversary--someone within Washington's elite--is determined to see Rapp's rescue mission fail. (catalog summary)
 

If you like Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn, here are some titles and authors that you may enjoy:

 



The Black Echo
by Michael Connelly
For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch -- hero, maverick, nighthawk -- the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal. The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who fought side by side with him in a nightmare underground war that brought them to the depths of hell. Now, Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city to the tortuous link that must be uncovered, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. (catalog summary)


 


By Order of the President
by W.E.B. Griffin
Army Maj. Carlos Guillermo Castillo, whose Spanish name belies his fair-haired, blue-eyed appearance (he had a German mother), is working as a special assistant to the secretary of homeland security. Because of post-9/11 concerns, when a Boeing 727 is hijacked from a remote airport in Angola, it becomes a top priority for the U.S. government. Vicious infighting between several agencies results in a snafu that leads the U.S. president to assign Charley Castillo to use the search for the plane as an excuse to launch an investigation into the internal workings of all the government agencies and personnel who need to cooperate in terrorist situations. (Publisher's Weekly)

 

08/12/2010 - 9:57am

The late Philip K. Dick's works were one of the strongest influences on science fiction writers in the first decade of the 21st century, including the fields of alternate history and paranoid thrillers.

07/26/2010 - 12:04pm

Lists of the worst literature ever written tend toward the eclectic and diverse. Alongside such standards as James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth, people have been known to list authors as diverse as Stephanie Meyer, Dan Brown, Christopher Paolini, and even (on one list) Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Compiling a worst-of literature list is highly subjective and dependent on individual tastes, but there seems to be one thing the literary world agrees on—the horrible high-fantasy novelette The Eye of Argon belongs at the top of the list.

Pages

Subscribe to John Gaines