Out of This World: Great Sci-Fi and Fantasy (Nancy Pearl's Picks)

Nancy PearlNancy Pearl

"I don't consider myself at all a science fiction/fantasy fanatic, I must say that selecting the books for this topic was harder than any of the others that I've done. There is simply so much excellent stuff out there — both new and old — that I know people would enjoy, that the list could have been at least four times as long.

Did she pick any of your favorites?

The Life of Stile

Stile is a serf on Proton and a player of the Game. His alternate self, the Blue Adept, on Phaze has been killed and now Stile can travel between the worlds. Can Stile find his enemy that kis trying to kill him on both worlds? You can follow Stiles adventures on both worlds in Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, Split Infinity, Blue Adept, and Juxtaposition.

Move over Spice Girls

The Spice Boy has come to town. Hi name is Paul Atreides. Paul was the son of Duke Leto of the House Atreides. Paul's father dies, leaving Paul as heir. Unfortunately, he's on the run for the Harkonnens. You can learn all about Paul in Frank Herbert's science fiction classic Dune. After being turned down by 20 publishers until it was finally picked by by Chilton, the company the prints car repair manuals. Dune went on to receive the 1965 Nebula award for best novel and shared the 1966 Hugo award. You can also listed to the book on cassette or CD. The book has been adapted to the screen twice, in 1984 and in 2000.

Psychohistorically Speaking

Psychohistory, the fictional science developed by Hari Seldon which combined history, sociology, and mathematical statistitics to create a (nearly) exact science of the actions of very large groups of people. The entire fate of the Galactic Empire rested upon those principles. You can learn more by reading Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series, Foundation (Book/Audio), Foundation & Empire (Book/Audio), and Second Foundation (Book/Audio). As the years went by, Asimov expanded his Robots and Empires series to make them part of the same universe. Other authors have contributed to the series after Asimov's death.

TweenReads

Into sci fi or fantasy? Of a good, fast-paced read? Try Atherton: The House of Power by Patrick Carman. Atherton is the story of a boy named Edgar who lives on a planet that was created because the Earth is dying from pollution. Atherton is a world geographically divided into three tiers, where the elite at the top live off the work done by the people that live down below. Edgar is a farmer on the middle level and decides one day to climb up to the top level and discover what it is like to live on top.

But Atherton isn’t a safe place to live either. The three levels are starting to fall into each other and all people are in danger of being eaten by the scavengers living at the very bottom. Check out the Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve for more exciting dystopia reads.

What is a Slan?

A Slan is a highly evolved human, discovered by Samuel Lann. The legend says Lann exposed his wife to a mutation machine, producing three mutated offspring, two girls and a boy. Over a period of 1500 years, more Slans appeared. During that time, mankind and Slans fought a bitter war, in which the humans triumphed. It is not the human policy to hunt down and kill any Slan. So goes Slan by A. E. van Vogt, written in 1946. We also have an audio version.

Banned but not forgotten.

Join us as we celebrate Banned Books Week. Here are four classic science-fiction/dystopia novels.

1984 by George Orwell - Banned in the USSR for political reasons. Accused of anti-semitism. Challenged in Florida for pro communist and sexual theme.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin - Banned in the USSR for political reasons.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - Removed from a high schools (1976 and 1977) for "objectionable" language.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley -
Banned in Ireland (1932) and multiple times in the US.

Space Opera

I just finished the first book in the Saga of the Seven Suns series, Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson yesterday. The story is full of twists and turns with a great cliffhanger ending. In the first book you're introduced to a wide ranging cast of characters from a variety of species spanning much of the Milkyway Galaxy. My only complaint with the story is it jumped around a lot and there was no real sense of how much time passed from beginning to end. Instead of reading the book, I listened to it. One of my favorite narrators reads the story, George Guidall. The audio version is available both on cassette and CD.

Fabulous Fiction First #86

If you liked The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, or Andrew Greer's The Confessions of Max Tivoli, you would enjoy Camille DeAngelis' debut novel Mary Modern.

Though not strictly time travel, critics are calling it "imaginative, near-future, genre-bending" and "a literary mix of love story, s(cience)f(iction) and thriller".

The year is 2009. Frustrated geneticist Lucy Morrigan decides to clone her own grandmother when both academic tenure and pregnancy elude her. A blood-stained apron and her father's experimental equipment in the basement of the family home produces an indignant 22-year-old version of Lucy’s grandmother, Mary. While finding life in the 21st century challenging, Mary quickly adjusts, with the help of a little book called Everyday Life in the Twenty-First Century, penned by another mysterious time-traveler.

What Lucy does not anticipate is for her lived-in boyfriend, a classics professor to fall hopelessly for Mary. What is Lucy to do?

The plot-twists, competent characterization, and inventive storytelling will keep you turning pages. The religious-moral-ethical issues at the heart of the story would make this a good book group choice.

Pull Up a bar stool

Aliens have landed and they like to hang-out in a bar in Siberia, or so Larry Niven writes in The Draco Tavern. Set in the not too distant future, the book is a collection of short stories written by Niven over almost 30 years. Rick Schumann is the owner of the Draco Tavern, where a wide assortment of aliens stop as often as a Chirpsithra liner passes through the system. If you liked the cantina scene in Star Wars, you'll love this book. We also have an audio version.

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