Tag Archives: Science fiction

Book Review: Amped

Book: Amped

Author: Daniel H. Wilson

Recommend: Definitely an interesting and thought provoking what if.

I picked this book up ages ago and found it the other day while working on the last couple of boxes that needed to be unpacked. I had originally found the concept behind the book fascinating and so when I stopped and decided that I would just read a few pages in, I found myself getting up a few hours later having finished it.

This book is all about the idea that we could fix the brain and mental issues that we have whether they be medical, intellectual or someone just wanting more than they naturally had in some kind of ability. How would the world treat these people who had amped their brains for the sake of a cure from some kind of defect. When the world decides that people with altered or amped brains no longer deserve the rights that everyone else enjoys, suddenly there seems to be no where save for these people.

I thought it was an interesting read. I think that the theme has been a bit overdone but the point is that we shouldn’t discriminate based on people’s choices. I think this is a dangerous idea to put out there in a way. In this instance for this book it makes sense. However, if you follow this idea to its logical conclusions, you are going to end up saying that someone’s choices shouldn’t have consequences. For example, if someone has violent tendencies, following this idea would say that they are not responsible for their violent actions and should be accepted the way they are, no matter how many people they kill. While the example is extreme, the point should be fairly obvious. Where is the line where a person’s choice becomes wrong and who is to judge whether or not it is wrong. This idea, while valid, depending on the circumstances, creates a slippery slope that could quickly turn into a mess.

While I applaud the author for using science fiction to really examine deeper ideas through fiction, I wonder why the author never addressed why there is a line and this idea shouldn’t be carried past a certain point. Definitely an interesting read but one with some potentially disturbing conclusions.

Final Rating:

 

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Book Review: Redshirts

Book: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Recommend: If you’re a fan of star trek and understood what the title meant without looking then absolutely!

I’m a big star trek fan. My favorite series is Next Generation by far. I can’t stand the original series in more than tiny occasional doses. I have liked some of the other series and have one I simply couldn’t stomach but yep, I amΒ  Trekkie. When I was younger I used to sneak out after I was supposed to be in bed and hide behind the couch in order to watch episodes of TNG, only getting caught occasionally.

So when I saw this book at the library it simply had to end up coming home with me and when I finally got a chance to crack it open, it definitely did not disappoint. The whole thing was hilarious and set in a show that was a bad ripoff of Star Trek (probably due to copyright issues). There are few books that made me laugh as much as this one did.

The only slight negative that I could find was that in some places the adult situations while not overly explicit simply didn’t feel like the fit the overall tone of the book. There are a couple of places where you can really feel the author poking through which can be a bit distracting. Other than that, if you are a Star Trek fan and can handle a bit of Trekkie satire, this one is worth picking up.

Final Rating:

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Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I would like to see more of…

Top Ten TuesdaysI really felt the need to share what I want to see less of as well so…

10 settings I would like to see more of

1. The desert – There are so many things that can be done and hardships to face. I wish there was less forest setting and more desert settings. Growing up in the desert, to me I always have a better connection with the scenery when they are set here.

2. Utopian societies – I know dystopia is all the rage but I would love to see more of the kid fighting to get back to his perfect world than the kids fighting to escape their horrible situations. Or even adult Utopia. Please??

3. Suburbia – Please someone for the love of all things interesting, for once set a book in the world where most of us live. I’d love to see an action scene where someone is getting chased through Target or Walmart or trying to escape the cops in a cookie cutter planned community. Think of the challenges they might face.

4. Turn of the century – I want more steampunk. I want good steampunk. Even – dare I say it – American steampunk. There I said it πŸ™‚

5. Made up worlds – I need more science fiction. Good science fiction that ISN’T set on earth. Even fantasy not set on earth. Please?

Okay… the other half of this list are things I NEVER want to see again. Seriously.

1. Boarding school/ Prep School – Please stop. Just stop. It’s lame and overdone.

2. New York City – Okay, I can’t say that I NEVER want to see books set here again, just a whole lot less of them…

3. Dystopias – Yep. As much as I like them, I can’t seem to find a book lately that isn’t dystopian. Write something else.

4. The Beach – Ugh. Yes, it’s pretty but…

5. The seedy bar – I don’t think this even needs explaining.

What do you want to see more/less of?

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Book Review: The Hollow Man

Book: The Hollow Man

Author: Dan Simmons

Recommend: It was a change of pace with a depressing ending… I wouldn’t go straight to recommend… but it wasn’t awful either.

I realized at my most recent trip to the library that I had picked this book up a half a dozen times and not taken it home so I decided that I needed to finally put it in my bag and read it already. So in the amazingΒ  Disney Villains bag it went.

The centers around a man who can hear everyone’s thoughts and his journey after his wife dies. She was the only thing keeping everyone at bay and the moment she was gone, there was nothing to keep him from hearing everyone’s thoughts. When he decides to end it all, he will end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and it will start a desperate journey all over the country desperately trying to outrun the mob and himself.

I have to say that this book was written really well. Simmons has a way of allowing the reader to see and understand what he is talking about. The depth of his characters are wonderful. The action is exciting and watching this character grow and change through the book was very engaging and in some ways kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the fact that this had a huge element of real science fiction and even though it was there it still read a bit like fantasy and straight up serious fiction.

I will say that there were quite a few drawbacks in this one for me. Honestly, I hated the ending. I hate it when I grow to like a character so much only to have them decide that the world is better off without them. I’m sorry but suicide is not a good way to end a book. I hate when this gets romanticized. Suicide is the most selfish decision that someone can make and yet so many authors feel the need to make it look like this beautiful release from life. It’s not. I also found that sometimes the book would get far too technical. While that was part of the appeal, it took it a bit too far. I also thought a few of the action pieces were too abrupt. There was no build up, which was exciting and shocking but it really hard to keep up with.

I think that I might try something else by this author because I liked the way he wrote but the story line of this one got really old.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Shift

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Book: Shift

Author: Kim Curran

Recommend: It’s a fun fast and fascinating read…

I picked this one up as an advanced reader copy and was instantly hooked. This seemingly normal kid turns out to have this amazing ability to change his decisions and go back and do them again, altering his future in the process. Turns out that he is not the only one and that what he is doing is rather illegal without training thanks to Aubrey, the agent that detects his first shift. Quickly he’s pulled into a crazy life of multiple realities that only he can remember since even among the gifted he is special.

I liked this book quite a bit. The main character is interesting, his family makes you feel a connection with him and his typical average nerd qualities make him a lot of fun to explore this new world with. Aubrey is the jaded girl that he doesn’t seem to have a chance with and yet he is head over heels for and together they uncover a conspiracy threatening their way of life. Great story. Easy to read without being too simple. My only slight complaint is that the formula stands out quite a bit. The story is almost a bit too clique underneath the unique shifting ability. I was hoping for a bit more originality in a few places that it was lacking but overall it was a solid story and quite a fun quick read.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Glitch – the Matrix meets 1984

Book: Glitch

Author: Heather Anastasiu

Recommend: I can’t wait for people to discover this one! What an amazing teen read!

Very rarely does the cover of a book accurately tell a part of the story but with this book the cover pretty much gives you an idea of what you are in for. In a future society after a war, society moves underground, and everyone had a port in the back of their neck in order to block almost every emotion except for pain, necessary to preserve life. People are pair together, not for love, but genetic compatibility and no one seems to care that they have no rights or freedoms. Well almost all of them. Zoe is the exception because she is anomalous, a glitch. Society doesn’t’ have complete control over her mind. The she sees the beautiful bright blue eyes of another boy connect with hers and her life will never be the same again.

I thought this was a wonderful book filled with everything that makes a teen novel a great read. There is a fight against society, obstacles to overcome, new skills to be explored, and of course a bit of a love mess to untangle. This book also includes a rich dystopian society built on the backs of the common people, a conspiracy that was shocking, and a muddled idea of who is on what side. This book was a fast paced romp through many different ideas that somehow work seamlessly together.

I would say that the biggest flaw with this book was the fact that in some places I found the book a bit too predictable. There were a couple times that I knew exactly what was coming long before it showed up, although every time it was a welcome twist. I don’t want to get into specifics because I don’t want to ruin the story but there are a couple things in the last 75 pages or so that I saw coming but it wasn’t too distracting.This is one I might be suggesting to everyone who asks for the next fun piece of teen fiction to read.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: The Map of Time

Book: The Map of Time

Author: Felix J. Palma

Recommend: Definitely worth the read!

I originally saw this book sitting on the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble. I really wanted to pick it up and read it but there was something else I needed to read and so I decided against it. I subsequently forgot about it until I saw it on the shelves at the library a couple of weeks ago. Immediately I recalled my desire to read it and hastily shoved it in my overflowing book bag. I cannot go to the library, it seems, without filling my bag to the brim and beyond.

This book was not what I was expecting. The jacket gives a hint of the plot at the end of the book, but is rather misleading. I’m not sure the jacket writer actually read the book. The Map of Time begins with a wealthy young man falling in love with one of Jack the Ripper‘s victims and his attempt at suicide. His well-meaning cousin enlists the help of H.G. Wells and they fake an episode of time travel to ‘save’ her, even though he cannot be with her.

H.G. Wells, 1910

H.G. Wells, 1910 (Photo credit: LSE Library)

The basic idea of the book is how one writer’s flight of fancy can have an effect on the real world in simple yet profound ways. I found the book very interesting and was able to make it through rather quickly, even though I am currently fighting off a reading slump. Particularly, the very obvious narrator was written in a refreshing, humorous way that made me laugh out loud a few times.

The only negative I can find with the book were some moments that could have been left to the reader’s imagination that were for some reason described in detail. For me, this is a personal pet peeve since I end up skipping over such material, even though I don’t like missing part of book.

This one is definitely worth picking up, especially if you are a fan of H.G. Wells, time travel or speculative fiction in general. I personally enjoyed it more than the work of Mr. Wells itself. I am very eager to read his next book, which should be out in the near future.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Strain

Cover of "The Strain: Book One of The Str...

Book: The Strain

Authors: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

Recommend: If you like horror, vampires and post-apocalyptic fiction, this one is for you. Graphic language and violence warning.

Okay, I have to admit that when I saw that the author of this book was the same guy who directed one of the darkest movies I have ever seen and was the man directing the two Hobbit movies that are coming soon, I was immediately interested. When I realized that it was a vampire book, I simply had to read this one.

A plane lands at JFK international in New York City. Just after it lands, the whole plane goes dark. Every single shade is drawn down. Everyone on board is dead and missing something rather important – their blood. As the CDC frantically tries to figure out what killed them all, darker forces are at work, trying to cover it all up.

Okay, this was a great read after the last book I picked up. It was fast-paced, adrenaline pumping action with absolutely no wasted words. This book was simple straightforward horror in the best sense. It reminded me of ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King but a bit cleaner and with vampires that are more like the ones seen in The Passage by Justin Cronin. It was a fun read, full of gore and suspense.

I would say that the only negative for this book would be the amount of swearing. I’m not a big fan. I don’t think it adds to the story line. I would also say that it is a very violent book (but given the subject matter, that is to be expected). This is definitely not a book for everyone.

I definitely want to get my hands on the next two books in the trilogy but will be reading them during the daylight hours. Vampire books at night are never a good idea (unless of course they are written by Stephenie Meyer).

Final Rating:

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The short stories can be even better!

Book: Keeper of Dreams

Author: Orson Scott Card

Recommend: If you like short stories or the work of Orson Scott Card or even if you don’t. He’ll win you over almost instantly…

I love everything I have ever read that Orson Scott Card has written. I haven’t picked up a single book by him that I didn’t enjoy reading. I also have his first book of short stories, Maps in a Mirror. So I was expecting to be thrilled with what I was reading. I wasn’t disappointed at all. His short stories are almost more fun to read than his long fiction because he tends to be more creative in a shorter format and it tends to be better written than his longer fiction and his longer fiction is amazing already.

The book is divided into different sections. The only thing that I could say is that the Mormon stories might be interesting to some but for many they might be confusing if you haven’t grown up in a church background they might not make much sense and in particular his sarcastic story about God and the Devil could be easily misconstrued as something very inappropriate if you didn’t understand the Mormon’s view on God.

I definitely would recommend picking this one up. It’s a great book to have in hand (or on your nook or other less worthy e-reader device) for when you have a few minutes to spare but not enough time for a good book. I would definitely check it out.

Final Rating:

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Robots take over the world… again.

Book: Robopocalypse

Author: Daniel H. Wilson

Recommend: If you like post apocalyptic books..

I got this one through the library after seeing on the shelf at the bookstore and being rather intrigued by the title and cover (even though I try NOT to let a book’s cover influence me) but I didn’t want to pay for a rip off of Asimov or the Matrix and so when I saw that it was available through the library, I decided to check it out.

This book was in interesting read. Fast-paced with an interesting story-telling premise, it got me hooked immediately and made me want to keep reading to the end. I wouldn’t say that there was anything unique about the book though. The story telling was almost exactly like World War Z, the plot was something out of the work of Issac Asimov with a touch of the matrix thrown in, and the whole thing felt more like The Passage or an episode of The Walking Dead. Personally, I think that in some ways these robots were not quite enough robot for me. There were too many important questions left unanswered and there seemed to be a lack of logic that would have made more sense if it had been zombies or feral vampires. These robots lacked the logic that I would have expected from them.

There were some amazing scenes in this book, like the fact that some of the robots take up against the others, that the robots turn human beings into something not quite human but not quite machine and the cars. I think the most inventive thing in the whole story was the cars (which he over-used after the fact but I couldn’t blame him too much).

It was definitely a fun read but I’m not sure it’s something that I’m going to get the bug to pick up again. I’m glad this was a library find.

Final Rating:

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A musical journey

Book: Songmaster

Author: Orson Scott Card

Recommend: Definitely with one caveat..

Okay, I have been wanted to read this due to the title alone for a long time. I’ve read Card’s short stories and find the way that he discusses music extremely powerful. I bought this one at Bookman’s even though it smelled like cigarette smoke and I sneezed the whole time I read it. I was that excited to read this book! I got it right before I got my nook though and for a while anything paper fell by the wayside.

It turns out that it was an extension of one of his short stories which I had loved. It is a wonderful read. The characters literally leap off the page. As a musician I felt an instant connection with it. The main character’s amazing journey is not to be missed. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it will give away too much of the story on this one. I think that the plot becomes more obvious as you connect with this character.

There was one big negative in the book for me that I was blindsided by because of who the author is. Mr. Card is Mormon and though I felt the build up to this, I was shocked by it being included in one of his books. I know that it will prevent many people who read my blog from picking it up and would have a serious problem with it if I didn’t warn them about this. One of the supporting characters is bisexual and there is a scene in the book that makes it very clear. I didn’t expect this of him simply because of the Mormon stance on the issue. While for me, this isn’t something that will keep me from reading a book, I know there are others that it would. While it wouldn’t keep me from reading the book, I do hold to the Biblical view on the issue.

For me, this is one of the most powerful books Card has written. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle it.

Final Rating:

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A what-if based on genetic engineering

Book: The Windup Girl

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Recommend: It was alright but not he best thing I’ve ever read- but definite social commentary…

Okay, I picked this one up almost a year ago, long before I got my nook but felt the need to read it this week. It was sitting on my shelf all lonely and unread- a very sad sight to see. I just finished the Cassandra Clare series and wanted something that I could get through in a few hours instead of a few days. So I sat down last night and got started.

This book tells the story of a man named Anderson who works for a calorie company. Calories have become one of the most important things in a world where disease has killed almost all the natural crops. The generippers attempt to stay ahead of the deadly blood rust and other horrible diseases by designing new versions of food that are sterile, guaranteeing themselves a monopoly on the world’s food supply. The world suffers from famine and no one worries about the taste of food as much as getting enough calories to survive. In the middle of this, the generippers have gone far beyond creating new foodstuffs and have created new animals and even people like Emiko- a windup girl.

This was an interesting read. It appealed to my intellectual side in a way that most books don’t. I found the idea interesting as many of the fruits and vegetables that we currently eat are genetically alters (like Cuties oranges- designed for kids). Then on one of the less standard news services that I follow, there is constant talk about the importance of having seed banks as a reserve for famine that they are sure is around the corner. I found this book interesting simply because it poses a what-if scenario playing to those fears. I didn’t like the fact that the author seemed to ignore the validity of the argument made by the Grahamites in his book even though there is logic to it.

I found the book to be an interesting read but I will say that there is some very rough stuff in this book. Emiko works as a sort of slave in a sex club and while the scenes are not overly graphic, they do NOT fade to black in the slightest. Also there is quite a bit of gruesome description of death and mutilation in the book. While I think that it was necessary for the story, it is not the easiest thing to read. It definitely made certain sections of the book a bit harder to get through. I found myself putting it down a few times, just to get a break from it.

This book is definitely worth looking into if you enjoy science fiction that takes a more serious approach. This is not a lighthearted fluff piece but is a worthwhile read.

Final Rating:

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A book about my friends and I…

Title: Geektastic:Stories from the Nerd Herd

Authors: Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Recommend: Definitely!

I picked this book up at one of the many closing Borders stores in my area. I really just couldn’t resist it on account of the amazing title alone. I must admit- I am a geek of epic proportions. My friends are even worse. I tend to be a literature and music geek but I dabble in most of the major geek areas (except math- cause I’m hopeless at it- that’s what my best friend is for).

I swear that most of these stories happened to me or someone I know. (Especially the last one- you know who you are!!). I loved every second of it. Most of it is funny but some of it really makes you think. This is a great title for the lonely geek who is feeling vastly outnumbered. It will remind you how many of us there are out there. I honestly hope for another installment.

The only negative I can say about this book is that they seemed to deliberately avoid certain geeks. The biggest glaring omission for me was not a single mention of World of Warcraft. This game is the end all be all of geekness. What geek hasn’t logged considerable hours grinding for rep? This needed to be in there and it was completely absent.

I loved that some of the writers were people I actually had heard of and read (most notably, Cassandra Clare- my new hero). I think this is a book that needs to get more notice. If you are a geek, have friends that are geeks or are the parents of a geek- you need to pick this one up.

Final Rating:

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How to die in a science fiction universe… of boredom!!

 

The cover should have tipped me off!

Book: How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe

 

Author: Charles Yu

Recommend: Umm… no

Okay. I am a huge fan of all things science fiction. I have read a large amount of science fiction and honestly enjoy the genre. So when this book came up on my list of recommended books on my nook, I had high hopes for it and I was extremely disappointed with it.

This book is supposed to be about a guy who gets stuck in a time loop while time traveling. The problem was that the plot line wandered around for half the book until we finally got to the plot line. It was like reading a bad copy of something by Douglas Adams minus the comedy. Honestly it was one of the biggest wastes of time I have ever read. I got the point but honestly I just thought it was a huge waste of the couple of hours it took me to read it.

The writing was poor, the plot was a jumbled mess with very little logic behind it. The only thing mildly amusing was a few Star Wars references. It was literally the only bright spot in the whole abysmal work. I want the hours of my life back that I wasted on this pathetic waste of trees or in my case web space.

Final Rating:

 

TRASH IT!!

 

 

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Number 4

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Book: I am number four

Author: Pittacus Lore

Recommend? Definitely.. Was a good read

So I took today for myself and decided to go bum around the book store. I had been wanting to read this book for a while but just hasn’t gotten to it yet. I want sure if I would like it or not but I was intrigued. I also had to get it read before the movie came out. I hate seeing a movie before I read the book and avoid it when I can.

The time flew by while I read and before I knew it, I had finished the whole thing.

The book tells the story of a boy who is one of nine surviving gifted members of his race. He was sent to earth as a young child running from the cruel race that had killed all the people of his world. They have been found but must be killed in order. Three are already dead and he is number four.

The story us really well written and fun to read. The characters are believe and contain some depth.

The only complaint I would have about this book is that the author needs to be a bit more descriptive sometimes. I don’t think you get a real good sense of what is going on at the ‘ climax. It gets a bit tough to follow.

That being said, it’s a fun fast paced read that well make you not want to put it down. I’ll be reading the next one when it comes out.

Final rating:

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Interesting Read

The really bad cover

Book: The Singers of Time

Author: Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

Recommend: If you are a die-hard science fiction fan

I picked this up at the library after laughing at the ridiculous cover. It literally has some of the most cheesy aliens I have ever seen, including the original Star Trek. If you can get past the cover however you’ll find a book worth reading.

The story is good and it moves quickly. The major complaint I would have with this book is all the lectures that one of the characters is ‘listening’ to. I felt like I was back in theoretical physics or hanging out with my best friend (who is a science and math guy). However if you realize that they are discussing the theories that lead up to string theory and are talking about wormholes and black holes, that’s all you need to know and you can skip over the lectures to the actual storyline which is interesting. Thank goodness they only take up about 7% of the book.

The characters are a bit unbelievable in our world of inventive CGI aliens due to their simplicity and similarities to common animals.

However, even though there were some definite negatives, it was not a difficult book to get through and it was a fast-paced and mostly enjoyable read. If you are looking for something just slightly different than all the new stuff coming out, this is an old one that might be worth your time.

 

Final Rating:

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Slightly different hero…

Book: Lovelock

Author: Orson Scott Card and Kathryn H. Kidd

Recommend? Only if you are die-hard Card fan otherwise run away fast…

I realized that so far, everything I have talked about has been stuff that I have loved. I decided it was high time to talk about something that really isn’t one of my favorites.

A friend of mine who loves books with animal main characters recommended this to me since she knows that I love Orson Scott Card. I dutifully read the book and was underwhelmed.

The main character came across as very unrealistic. It assumes that we can understand how any animal could think instead of giving them humanistic responses. This book fails at doing that miserably. The only redeeming qualities was that Card’s familiar style shined through. The family dynamics were interesting as well. However unless you are a Card fan, this one is definitely one to skip.

This is supposed to be the first book in a triology but so far it is the only one completed. This book is going to the used book store.

 

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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