Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Common Concepts in Science Fiction

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Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
 
There are some factors that just make a science fiction book. That’s not to say that all sci-fi novels have to contain all, or even any, of these points, but they’re often found within works of the genre. In the style of my very first Fantasy Friday post, I’m going to do a similar post with science fiction and talk about common concepts in the genre. You’re more than welcome to join in, if you make your own post there is an InLinks widget at the bottom where you can share your post URL.
 

 
Time travel is something that has always fascinated humankind. I know some people do not get along with it in books, but personally I love it. There are series like Doctor Who where it is one of the main elements, or books like All Our Yesterdays. It opens up so many possibilities: parts of history can appear in a futuristic novel, historical figures can be brought to life – or civilisations even further ahead in time can be imagined. There are so many elements of time travel – alternate timelines, the grandfather paradox, many elements that would take a great deal more space to discuss!

See also: Doctor Who, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, The Time Machine by H.G Wells, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Looper, Back to the Future, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 
Space travel is another big factor, often hand-in-hand with time travel. What makes it so exciting is that it’s something we can already do – albeit on a smaller scale than appears in most science fiction – so events in many books could be ones we have yet to look forward to! In some cases spaceships are able to travel in hyperspace and reach destinations very quickly, but some works of science fiction show space travel in a different way. For example, in the Mass Effect game universe, the player can find objects called mass relays (shown above), which form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. In the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, there is a price to pay for space travel. Certain characters are able to travel through space at such a speed that it kills them – but they are resurrected on the other side. It’s every bit as painful as it sounds, much to the dismay of one particular character who has to make several journeys in a short period of time!
 
See also: the Mass Effect video game series, the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, House of Suns by Alistair Reynolds, Firefly, Sunshine, Star TrekStar Wars – in fact there are so many different books, TV series, films and games I could mention!

 
Aliens appear in so many works of science fiction, in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally they are friendly and help the human race, but most of the time… well you really don’t want to cross them. The Alien franchise (well, some of it) is a fantastic example of hostile alien races terrorising humans. I think they’re so popular because, admit it, we love the idea of there being some other form of intelligent life out there. There have been so many UFO spottings, abduction reports and other alien eyewitnesses that just prove we are obsessed. I for one am both really excited and kind of absolutely terrified by the idea of extra-terrestrial life. On one hand, they could be like the turians from Mass Effect (I’m a big Garrus fan), but on the other hand they might just be something like the creatures from Alien. And I don’t fancy meeting a facehugger, thank you very much.

See also: the Alien film series, the Mass Effect video game series, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Doctor Who, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 
This is one thing that makes me kind of sad when I read or watch sci-fi. I can’t remember ever seeing physical copies of books represented: characters always use ebooks or tablets to read or study. In fact it’s often some sort of multi-use device, for reading, communicating, studying and looking up information. I really hope that this is not our future; as much as I see the uses of an e-reader I would hate to live in a world without paperbacks.
 
See also: Acid by Emma Pass, the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Star Trek

 
It’s not just extraterrestrial life that fascinates us, but also artificial life. And like extraterrestrial life, it can be scary. In many examples, life created by humankind gets its own back on its creators – but in some cases, androids or cyborgs are seen as lesser citizens. One such example is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, also adapted into the film Blade Runner, where a bounty hunter has to dispose of several androids who have defied orders. As for YA fiction, there is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, where the eponymous character would be shunned from society were she to reveal her true status. In many cases, androids and cyborgs are indistinguishable from humans, which can be all the more dangerous. **Alien spoilers ahead** Think how shocked the crew of the Nostromo were when they discovered Ash was an android all along. **end spoilers** So maybe you should think about thanking that ATM next time it spits your cash out. Because one day, the machines might rebel against us!
 
See also: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Artificial Intelligence

What concepts do you often see cropping up in science fiction? I can think of plenty more but have chosen only to cover a few. Which are your favourites?

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Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Review of Acid by Emma Pass

Today, as part of Sci-Fi Month, I have a review of Acid by Emma Pass. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I have read a lot of Young Adult dystopian fiction lately. I really enjoy dystopian, plus there is a bit of trend for it at the moment (just a teeny weeny bit…). This means that these sorts of books have a lot to live up to – and I felt the tone of this one was quite different from the others, which made it even more enjoyable.

To start with, our protagonist, Jenna Strong, is supposedly a criminal. It opens with her in prison – an all-male prison, it’s never quite explained why she’s the only female in there – which sets her character up nicely. She is skilled in combat, tough-skinned and able to defend herself. In the time she has been there she’s forged a reputation for herself, and whilst the new inmates see her as easy pickings, the old ones know better. The reader is immediately given this impression of a cold-hearted young woman, but more and more of Jenna’s past and personality are revealed as the book progresses.

Jenna’s world, like all the setting of all dystopians, is not quite our world. She lives in the Independent Republic of Britain, which is ruled by a force called ACID (I can’t remember if Pass ever mentions what it stands for!). All content is monitored, news screens with approved feeds from the government must be switched on for a set number of hours per day, alcohol and tobacco are banned, prolonged contact with an unrelated member of the opposite sex is illegal, and people are put with a ‘LifePartner’ in their late teens, who they will be with for life. It’s very much your typical dystopian government, all seeing and all controlling – what I’ll never get is why so many of these dystopian governments force people upon each other – and it’s never really explained. It’s mentioned that the rest of the world hasn’t changed – for example, the Internet is just a rumour in the IRB but at one point one of the characters mentions how other countries still have it. So the reasoning behind this radical governmental change is never explained, but I can only assume it happened just within Britain, and not the rest of the world.

Yes, there is a romance. However, it’s only minor – and it’s not a triangle! I actually originally thought it was going to be another guy at first, and I was completely and utterly wrong, which was nice. And to top that off, Emma Pass adds in some great twists – some I saw coming, and others that I did not.

There were a couple of moments I had to question. At one point, Jenna wakes up after a certain big event to find that the people who have taken her in have performed cosmetic surgery on her (actually it happens twice), so she no longer looks anything like herself. She doesn’t even bat an eyelid at this sudden change, which was really weird. Sure, some people might not like their appearance, but I know for one that I would be pretty upset if someone did that to me. I’m used to my features, like my small nose and greenish-brown eyes, even if I do sometimes wish I could change things, and if I were to wake up one day with a big nose and blue eyes I’d freak out more than just a little bit! It would be unsettling, and you wouldn’t feel yourself at all. There was also a bit towards the end where Jenna does something really awesome, and then makes the stupidest decision and basically undoes all her work – and then has to fix it again a bit later on. However, she also makes some unexpected choices throughout the book which really surprised me, so kudos to the author there!

The last section of the story was really fast, tense and action-packed, and really fun to read, although I do think the story concluded a little too quickly. I was at about 95% thinking that it couldn’t possibly wrap up, and wondered if there was a sequel – but no, it did and it’s a standalone novel.

So whilst the world building and explanations could definitely be improved upon, I thought this was generally a really fun read, with a different feel to the other Young Adult dystopian novels out there, and am certainly glad I requested it.