Fabulous Fiction Firsts #218

When a critic remarks that "Michael Crichton might have produced this had he had a literary sensibility. Thoroughly well-written, grounded in science and a sorrowful sense of human nature, this book is utterly memorable", you pay attention.

Science writer and journalist Laurence Gonzales' debut novel Lucy** is "explosive and daring".

Scientist Jenny Lowe rescued Lucy, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a primatologist from the jungles of the Congo during a civil war uprising and brought her to live in the suburbs of Chicago. It turns out that Lucy's incredible physical and intellectual powers are due to her unique heritage: she is half human and half bonobo. Forced to go public, Lucy becomes an instant and endangered celebrity, accruing marriage proposals and death threats.

"Lucy is irresistible, her predicament wrenching, and Gonzales' imaginative, sweet-natured, hard-charging, and deeply inquisitive thriller will be a catalyst for serious thought and debate", raising profound questions about identity and family, the moral, ethical, and philosophical issues of genetic engineering.

As part of his research, Gonzales observed the largest colony of bonobos in the world at the Milwaukee Zoo, an hour from his home. Bonobo extinction is a real threat, hear and watch the many faceted discussion on the Diane Rehm Show.

For a first person account of working with bonobos in the wild, read Vanessa Woods' Bonobo Handshake : a memoir of love and adventure in the Congo (2010).

Readers interested in relationships between primates and humans will not want to miss Sarah Gruen's Ape House coming out in September. This is her new novel after the blockbuster of a debut Water for Elephants.

** = Starred Reviews (In the interest of full disclosure, reviews are mixed. You be the judge but I LOVED it).

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #216

Urban fantasist Seanan McGuire writing for the first time as Mira Grant introduces a new series with Feed* - a gripping, thrilling, and brutal depiction of a postapocalyptic 2039, the first in the Newsflesh Trilogy.

Twin news bloggers (as in RSS. Get it?) Georgia and Shaun Mason are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead (that's right, zombies) invites them to cover his campaign. Then Ryman's daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a dark conspiracy behind the infected and the virus with one unstoppable command: FEED.

With "genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported."

* = Starred review

Alright, so you are still not quite sure you trust me. Would you trust NPR? Here is the poll for the 100 All-Time Best Killer/Thriller and do you see what's on the list of the finalists?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #214

Debut novelist Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion** is "Shakespeare's The Tempest in a steampunk setting".

It opens with Harry Winslow, a lone narrator floating endlessly in an enormous zeppelin, with only the voice of his beloved Miranda for company. In a wild tale full of tin men, monsters, a magical playhouse, and a unicorn, Harry recounts his history with the Taligent family: Miranda, his lifelong love, her mad scientist of a father, and the role he plays to render them virtual prisoners in perpetual motion.

"Intoxicatingly ambitious", this novel is pointedly a commentary on language, art, technology, and alienation... It walks the tightrope between madness and genius, between profoundly difficult truths and pure nonsense, without a safety net for either writer or reader. A novel of ideas that holds together like a dream". Thoughtful, challenging and totally captivating.

Dexter Palmer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the works of James Joyce, William Gaddis , and Thomas Pynchon.

** = starred reviews

Recent Fiction Award Winners

In the past month or so, a few big awards have been announced in fiction in various genres. Paul Harding’s debut novel Tinkers won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A New England clock repairer lies on his deathbed. The novel intertwines his final thoughts, with the memories of the death of his father, with an intricate look at life and death. Many star reviews for this eloquently written work. Apparently the book was rejected several times from publishers before being picked up.

John Hart’s The Last Child, won the 2010 Edgar Award for best novel, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. (This is the second Edgar in a row for Hart, as he also won it in 2008 for Down River.) In The Last Child, 12 year old Alyssa goes missing in rural North Carolina, and her twin brother Johnny is determined to find her. His family fell apart after the disappearance, a local officer is trying to solve the case, a year later another girl goes missing, and Johnny is convinced it was the same perpetrator. A well written stunner of a case.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America awarded the 2009 Nebula Award for best novel to Paolo Bacigalupi for The Windup Girl. This debut novel is a tale of Bioterrorism in a post-petroleum future Thailand. Calories become currency and bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profit. Star reviews are all over the place for this book.
AwardsAwards

Author Birthdays: Eoin Colfer

Today, May 14th, is the birthday of Irish author Eoin Colfer.

Perhaps best known for his Artemis Fowl series, Colfer has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list many times over.

In 2008, Colfer wrote Airman, a teen novel which Publisher's Weekly believes is "An homage both to the 19th-century science fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and to the superheroes of Marvel and DC comics..."

More recently Colfer has written a sixth book, And Another Thing... for Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

One of his most interesting recent works is the collaborative novel Click. Published in 2007, it is the work of ten well-loved authors, including Colfer. Each of the authors, including such greats as Linda Sue Park, Gregory Maguire, and Tim Wynne-Jones, wrote a chapter of the life and impact of a photographer named George Keane. Also, the royalties for the book are donated to Amnesty International.

Steampunk Discovered (and rediscovered)

If you (like me) are new to Steampunk, here is a good definition : "A subgenre of science fiction, it typically (but not always) employs a Victorian setting where steam power and advanced technologies like computers coexist and often features themes, such as secret societies, found in mystery novels."

Though steampunk has been around since the 1980s, (check out these classics) there is a recent crop of exemplary new titles. A personal favorite is Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - a must-read for alternative history fan. It's the 2009 winner of the PNBA Award; and has been nominated for the 2010 Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Seattle, 1860, rumors of gold, greedy Russians and inventor Leviticus Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine set the stage for this "impressive and auspicious genre-hopping adventure". When this machine inadvertently triggers the release of a deadly gas that transforms people into the living dead, a wall is built around the uninhabitable city to contain the epidemic. 16 years later, teenage Zeke Wilkes, Blue's son, impetuously decides that he must go into the walled city to clear his father's name. His distraught mother Briar, follows in an airship to try to rescue him.

Boneshaker is exceptionally well written. The plot credibly builds around zombies, steampunk technology, underground societies, mad scientists in a mix of horror/mystery. The fast-paced action is balanced by captivating characters, a strong female protagonist, and tender mother-child relationship. The young courageous Zeke will appeal to the YA crowd.

I first discovered the versatile YA author and an associate editor for Subterranean Press Cherie Priest in her genre-bending adult debut Fathom : a chill/thrill fantasy tale set in her native Florida. Part fairy tale, part modern gothic horror, it had me sleepless for a week.

Swan Song

This is my last blog for aadl.org. It has been my pleasure to share this bit of cyberspace with you. Instead of trying to create new content, I feel it is time to bring some of my old blogs back to life. Hope you enjoy them...

If I should die before I wake... where I discussed my most favorite books, the Bible and The Hobbit.

The Martians are coming, the martians are coming. War of the Worlds in its many forms.

This is l33t, where the lines between reality and fiction get a bit blurred and I learned I'm not very l33t.

Psychohistorically Speaking, honoring the the grandmaster of science fiction, Mr. Asimov.

Going on a bug hunt. This book has its share of controversy. I'm not militaristic, but I do respect those that are willing to serve.

Have Sword Will Travel about my hero, Conan.

If TV killed the book, what did the Internet kill? This story scares me a bit. Does it scare you?

The Captain's Tale, where Captain Nemo dies. Gotta love a giant squid.

The Last Man Alive, one of my son's favorite stories and I think what got him hooked on horror books and movies.

and lastly, the blog that made me famous...

Move over Spice Girls, the story of Dune

As the great Douglas Adams said, "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish".

March Books to Film (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #202)

The latest adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is based on the perennial classic by Lewis Carroll.
This time, 17 year old Alice returns to the whimsical world she first encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends, and embarking on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.

For a intimate perspective of the real Alice, try debut novelist Melanie Benjamin’s fictional biography in Alice I Have Been, as Alice Liddell looks back on a remarkable life, from a pampered childhood in Oxford to difficult years as a widowed mother, and how she became immortalized through a problematic relationship with the author.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on the first of Stieg Larsson's international bestselling Millennium trilogy, in which a disgraced journalist and a troubled young female computer hacker investigate the mysterious disappearance of an industrialist’s niece.

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her beloved uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
AliceAlice

The Ghost Writer is based on The Ghost by Robert Harris. It stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan with Roman Polanski directing.

When a successful British ghost writer agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister, his agent assures him it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start. Before long he begins to uncover clues suggesting a dark secret linking the PM to the CIA. (See The New York Times review).

The novel The Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is adapted for the motion picture starring Matt Damon as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a rogue U.S. Army officer assigned to hunt down Saddam’s WMD, who must wade through faulty intelligence and high level Washington cover-ups before war escalates in an unstable region.

The Last Song is based on the bestselling novelist Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel.

This tearjerker is set in a small Southern beach town where an estranged father gets a chance to spend the summer with his reluctant teenaged daughter. He tries to reconnect with her through the only thing they have in common --- music, in a story of family, friendship, secrets and salvation, along with first loves and second chances.

Forest Whitaker and Jude Law star in Repo Men, a sc-fi thriller adapted from a novel by Eric Garcia (originally published as The Repossession Mambo).

Human lives have been extended and improved through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. But if you don't pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property. Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business, until he too, find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement...as well as a hefty debt.

It's Funky...

This morning I was walking down the sci fi section, looking for something unique to blog about. As I looked at all of the books, the title of this one jumped out at me, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust. With a title like that, how can you go wrong? Set in Edmonton Canada, the book is filled with quirky pop culture references, like RPG style statistics for all of the major characters and Star Wars quotes just to name two. Follow the exploits of Hamza and Yehat, The Coyote Kings, best friends and underachievers as they search for a lost artifact with the mysterious Sherem. Can they find it before their rivals do?

The End... Or is it?

Tonight after work, I'll be playing Dead Reign with my son and his friends. The game is set during a zombie apocalypse. The dead have risen and man kind is holding on my its fingernails in hopes of surviving another day. Why is the genre so popular? Every where you turn you see something about the end, H1N1, global warming, and dirty bombs just to name a few.

In today's spotlight is The Suicide Collectors, the debut novel by David Oppegaard. A strange disease has spread across the globe, the Despair, causing approximately 90% of the world's population to commit suicide. After each death, the mysterious Collectors appear to take the body. After the death of his wife, Norman decides to take a stand against the Collectors and kills the one sent to take his wife's body away. This one act of defiance leads Norman on a cross country adventure to Seattle, the possible home of a rumored cure for the disease.

Syndicate content