Science Fiction

Starslip by Kris Straub

Starslip by Kris Straub

As with my review of Altered Carbon, I've arrived at the Starslip webcomic party a little late, as in, the seven-year series is finished.  However, that might add a welcome bittersweet flavor to each strip I read as I come closer and closer to the end.  I have fallen head-over-heels in love with all of author Kris Straub’s characters, his artistic style, and his off-kilter sense of humor as he simultaneously pays homage to and lampoons the best and worst traits of sci-fi soap operas.  With every click of the forward-pointing arrow I know I am coming to the close of an incredible story, but, like with any good book, I can't stop!

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

I'd put off reading Altered Carbon for a few years, always reading something newer.  Shame on me.  This Philip K. Dick Award-winner is a brilliantly dark and gritty mixture of hardboiled detective fiction and cyberpunk that anyone looking for a story with a razor-sharp edge will love. 

Mangaman by Barry Lyga, illustrated by Colleen Doran

Mangaman by Barry Lyga

In the world of manga, Ryoko Kiyama is an ideal character. His eyes turn into pulsating hearts when he sees the object of his affection, sadness creates literal storm clouds overhead, and he is an expert at combating giant lizards and robots without getting injured. After accidentally falling through an “interdimensional cross-rip,” however, Ryoko’s ordinary behavior suddenly becomes freakish and bizarre. Ryoko has accidentally fallen into Western comics, a place populated by American teenagers who struggle to understand and tolerate such a strange visitor.

If you like Zero History by William Gibson

Zero History by William Gibson

This readalike is in response to a patron'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.

Zero History by William Gibson: "Former rock singer Hollis Henry and ex-addict Milgrim, an accomplished linguist, are at the front line of a sinister proprietor's attempts to get a slice of the military budget. When a Department of Defense contract for combat-wear turns out to be the gateway drug for arms dealers, they gradually realize their employer has some very dangerous competitors--including Garreth, a ruthless ex-military officer with lots of friends. Set largely in London after our post-Crash times."

If you enjoyed this book's depiction of a plausible near future and integration of philosophy into the narrative, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Blood Music by Greg Bear
Experimenting with biochips, Vergil Ulam creates instead a microscopic intelligence that mutates. Vergil injects himself with the disease culture to smuggle it out of the country. That is how the end of the world begins. (worldcat.org)
 


 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley's tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a "utopian" future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.  (amazon.com)

 

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Let me get this out of the way: if you're not a "computer person," someone with more than a vague knowledge of computer networking technology, Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner, is probably not the book for you. If, however, you ARE such a person, Brain Jack will start off as the kind of thriller that you think you will love, but its ending, like so many other cyber-thrillers, feels rushed and absurd. Don’t get me wrong--you'll enjoy reading it, but don't expect anything too deep from this book.  

Sam is the generic hero of our story. He's 17; he's a computer prodigy; and he's going to save the country from itself. The world of Brain Jack is set only a few years into our future. Falkner does a good job of building a world that, initially, is entirely conceivable based on our present. Computer technology is even more prevalent, and its consequences all the more potent. Las Vegas has been the victim of a nuclear attack that has left it in ruins, and the rest of the country is decaying under strict martial conditions.

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a brisk and inventive novel that incorporates elements of science fiction, humor, historical fiction, and moody introspection. James Morrow utilizes these disparate narrative modes in order to portray the life story of a B-movie actor named Syms Thorley. Thorley has spent most of his screen time bringing monsters to life. His devoted fans fondly remember him as “Kha-Ton-Ra the living mummy, Corpuscula the alchemical creature, and Gorgantis, King of the Lizards.” However, no one suspects that Gorgantis, a grotesque fire- breathing lizard, originated as a top secret military project designed to swiftly end World War II.

If you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldus Huxley

This readalike is in response to a patron'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.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Huxley's story shows a futuristic World State where all emotion, love, art, and human individuality have been replaced by social stability.

If you like Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Told through a central character, Alex, the disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism. A modern classic of youthful violence and social redemption set in a dismal dystopia whereby a juvenile deliquent undergoes state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior.(worldcat.org)


 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in the (perhaps near) future when "firemen" burn books forbidden by a totalitarian "brave new world" regime. The hero, according to Mr. Bradbury, is "a book burner who suddenly discovers that books are flesh-and-blood ideas and cry out silently when put to the torch." (worldcat.org)

 

 

If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

This readalike is in response to a patron'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.

Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson: "In the early 21st century, things are beginning to change in Antarctica. Scientists still come down to the American base at McMurdo to do research, but they now bump shoulders with tourists hoping to retrace the treks of early explorers. More seriously, with the world's oil fields almost depleted, multinational corporations are jockeying for position, conducting secret explorations for oil and spending millions to defeat the renewal of the Antarctic Treaty, which has reserved the continent for purely scientific research for half a century. And other, even more secretive groups apparently haunt the Antarctic outback as well: feral human societies and radical environmentalists whose motives are only partly understood. Antarctica is undergoing major climactic change, too, perhaps the most dramatic example of the global warming that has turned much of the world's former temperate zone into a steam bath. The Ross Ice Shelf has largely broken up and the enormously greater Antarctic icesheet may be about to follow suit."

If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson, you may also like these titles that feature adventure at the South or North Poles:

Black Ice by Matt Dickinson
"Deep beneath the Antarctic ice cap, scientist Lauren Burgess has discovered a secret that could change the face of human knowledge. Then a desperate mayday call comes in. Two explorers, one of them the legendary Julian Fitzgerald, are stranded out on the ice and a rescue is their only hope. Lauren puts the ground breaking scientific work on hold as she leads a dangerous rescue mission into the frozen void. But after returning to the base, the pressure of isolation gradually takes its toll on Fitzgerald and his true dark nature is revealed. Lauren and her scientific team must fight for their very lives. On the run with injured members of the team, sub-zero conditions and a madman on the loose, the odds are against them and time is running out."-catalog summary

Choosers of the Slain by James H. Cobb
"Cobb brings feminism and environmentalism to the naval thriller and does it remarkably well in this lightning-paced and well-informed tale of a lone U.S. destroyer holding off an Argentine incursion into Antarctica. Amanda Garrett captains the USS Cunningham, a stealthy, well-armed vessel with the best technology available in the year 2006.
        The ship is on patrol off Antarctica when a surprise invasion by Argentina (seeking mineral wealth and prepared to abrogate existing international treaties) leaves her as the only defense for treaty partners and for the ecologically fragile continent itself. As captain, Amanda uses her seamanship and her knowledge of the talents of her staff in a breathtaking sea battle fought in one of the most challenging environments on earth. Cobb not only demonstrates his control of action and plot but also incorporates intriguing military and political topics that couldn't be more timely. Best of all, he allows Amanda to command her ship as a woman, not as a manly soul in a woman's body."-Publisher's Weekly review
 

If you like To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

This readalike is in response to a patron'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.

To Say Nothing of the Dog: "It is 1888 and Ned Henry is shuttling between the 1940s and modern day, researching Coventry Cathedral for a patron who wants to rebuild it. But when the time continuum is disrupted, Ned must scramble to set things right."

If you like Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, you may also enjoy these titles:
 

Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories by Terry Bisson
Readers turn from 'Bears Discover Fire', a meditative tale that blends the irreconcilable sadness of the loss of a loved one with the weirdness of the very literal title, to the delightfully silly 'They're Made Out of Meat', a dialogue between two odd aliens about the nature of life on Earth, to the elegaic 'England Underway', in which a bookish Englishman confronts the New World, bringing all of England with him. Leavening even his most serious tales with humor, Bisson can deal with issues frequently blighted by stridency: three stories address environmental concerns with a black humor that enhances rather than mitigates their impact."-from Pusblisher's Weekly
 

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
"Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. ... England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in Wordsworth poems, militant Baconians roam freely spreading the gospel that Bacon, not Shakespeare, penned those immortal works. And forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. This is all business as usual for brainy, bookish (and heat-packing) Thursday Next, a renowned Special Operative in literary detection -- that is, until someone begins murdering characters from works of literature. When this madman plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's novel Thursday faces the challenge of her career. Aided and abetted by characters that include her time-traveling father, an executive of the all-powerful Goliath Corporation, and Edward Rochester himself, Thursday must track down the world's Third Most Wanted criminal and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide."-(from the Book jacket)

Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

Robopocalypse

My first thought upon reading the description of Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse was "Terminator rip-off."  But I kept thinking, "Robots and the apocalypse, two of my favorite things to read about in fiction."  I'm not making that up.  And really, anything after Terminator 2 in the franchise doesn't, in my mind, count.  I've always wanted a lot more detail about how the robot uprising occurs and how people struggle in the coming war, especially people who are not John Connor.  After reading Robopocalypse, I want to assure you that it is as far removed from Terminator lore as anything "robot apocalypse" could possibly be.  If you're someone who likes to be frightened and enjoys books where the mundane is made decidedly strange, then you might enjoy Robopocalypse.