Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Review of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

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

When I was first sent a copy of Revenger for review, my immediate thought was of the excellent but criminally short-lived TV show Firefly. However I seem to draw this comparison now for all books revolving around a spaceship crew. I love stories of life on a spaceship, from Firefly to my favourite video game Mass Effect.

Unlike many of the previous tales I’ve read, watched or played, Revenger is told from the point of view of a teenage girl. Arafura is a privileged young woman, the youngest daughter of a wealthy man. Her sister, Adrana, is the more confident of the two, the more adventurous and bolshy. Arafura seems meek and timid, reluctant to follow her sister into trouble but also too scared to let her go off alone. The book starts with them escaping their ‘nanny bot’ and stowing away on a ship, where the adventure begins.

There is just so much action from the very beginning of this novel that it is impossible not to feel draw in instantly. I was unsure of Arafura as a narrator at first – the boring sister, perhaps, the less adventurous one – but actually this decision worked so well. The reader follows Fura as she grows in confidence and matures, as she learns what revenge means. There were plenty of other likeable characters too, although there wasn’t always time to get to know some and get a sense of who they really were due to a rather quick changeover in some cases. The villain of the story, Bosa Sennan, has some fantastic folklore built around them that really made me feel as if humankind had been space-faring peoples for centuries. And the idea that Bosa Sennan’s ship could just come out of nowhere, undetected was pretty terrifying.

I actually really enjoyed the premise of what the ship’s crew actually did – exploring abandoned alien bases/ships/planets, that were only accessible during certain periods of time, and looting everything that could be found. I’d love a whole novel based purely around that! It sounds like some cool sort of space archaeology/exploration.

Whilst this is pitched as a Young Adult novel, don’t let that put you off if you’re not normally a reader of YA. Similarly, if you’ve ever felt intimidated by Alastair Reynolds’ galaxy-sprawling works of science fiction, don’t be scared off by this one. The tone is completely different, his writing style almost unrecognisible from his previous work such as House of Suns, but every bit just as fantastical and epic. To top it off, the cover is simple but so perfect, demonstrating the vastness and emptiness of space.

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: My Top SF Novels of 2016

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

With what has become something of a tradition amongst my Sci-Fi Month posts, here are my top science fiction novels of the year, in no particular order! This includes novels read this year, regardless of year published.

Revenger Calamity Vicious by Victoria Schwab

I received a copy of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds for review at the end of September, and had read it within a few weeks. I just absolutely love the whole premise of following a spaceship crew, and Revenger tells the story through the eyes of one of the new recruits, plus it has space scavengers, robots and space battles. Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson is the final book in the series, and was an excellent conclusion. The whole trilogy has just been hugely fun from the very beginning, and I honestly have never not enjoyed a Sanderson book. A previous book group read, Vicious by V.E. Schwab was one that I devoured in a couple of days. I loved reading a villain origin story!

The Lives of Tao Long Way Morningstar

The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu was a book I picked up by chance from the library, and I’m so glad I did. It is so clever and unique, and confirmed my belief that Chu is an excellent writer, after reading another of his books last year. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers was, quite honestly, one of my absolute favourite books this year in ANY genre. It felt like it was written just for me, and was exactly what I needed to read. Like I mentioned above, I love stories that follow spaceship crews, and this does nothing but. It’s more about the relationships between the characters and their backstories than any action. In fact, I almost want to re-read it again this year. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown was the conclusion I sorely needed for the entire Red Rising trilogy. I fell in love with the first two books the instant I read them (almost back to back) and waiting for the final book to come out was utter agony. Another series I want to re-read already!

Unwind The Forever War New Pompeii

I thought a little while about adding Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Shusterman to this list, and then decided I would. I was expecting it to be a rather typical dystopian YA, with a horrendous cover that quite honestly reminds me of The Human Centipede, but actually… well, it was terrifying. And really very disturbing. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me in the way that it did, which is why I ended up giving it a higher rating. I’m not normally a fan of military science fiction, but The Forever War (The Forever War #1) by Joe Haldeman was an excellent book. It’s less about the military action, and more about the impact. If these soldiers have to travel through time and space to fight their wars, what happens when they finally return home and hundreds of years have passed back on Earth? How do they adjust to life without families and friends, and in an unfamiliar world? I immediately bought the next two books after reading this. New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey was a book I first saw mentioned in the back of A Darker Shade of Magic, and one that I just KNEW I had to read, as it sounded a bit like Jurassic Park meets the Roman Empire. It’s such a clever story, and that cover is genius!

What were the best science fiction books you read in 2016? Have you read any of the ones on my list?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2016

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of fourteen books: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by V.E. Schwab, The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury,
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin, Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb, Aristocrats: Britain’s Great Ruling Classes From 1066 To The Present by Lawrence James, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide #1) by Douglas Adams, Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom #5) by Garth Nix, The Fireman by Joe Hill, Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, Nerve by Jeanne Ryan, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I have to say, October was a really great reading month. I managed quite a few books, and half of them were 5-star reads. I re-read two books this month: A Game of Thrones (which I have been meaning to re-read for about five years) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. It’s really hard to pick a standout because so many were amazing: Goldenhand, Greatcoats, Americanah, This Savage Song… not to mention my first ever Robin Hobb novel, Assassin’s Apprentice. Basically I would say read them all!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I managed to defeat October’s villain, Jack O’Lantern, in the DC vs Marvel Challenge. Next month’s villain is Indigo, who I am not familiar with.
  • I have currently read 107 books towards my Goodreads goal. I’ve now hit the goal of 100, but I won’t raise it as I don’t want to pressure myself.

 

Currently reading:

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
How was October for you?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Space Opera

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Continuing my discussion of some of my favourite elements of science fiction, space opera is my final post on this subject. And just to clear things up, here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, and often risk-taking as well as chivalric romance; usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology.

Space opera is what I think of when I think of science fiction. It feels like the ‘classic’ sci-fi element and covers so many different possibilities: space travel, colonisation, alien contact, adventure, action, exciting technologies, a dash of romance. Many of the early works of science fiction fit the space opera sub-genre.

Here are some of my favourite space opera reads:
The Empress Game House of Suns Ender's Game

The Empress Game is a fairly recent release, and my review of it will be posted next month. House of Suns is an epic, sprawling space opera for fans of hard science fiction, whereas Ender’s Game is aimed at Young Adult audiences onwards. I’ll be sharing my thoughts of the film adaptation in a post next month.

And some space operas I’d love to read:
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach Dark Run Inherit the Stars

I can DEFINITELY think of a space opera video game, because it is one of my absolute favourites: Mass Effect. This game sees you traversing the universe as Commander Shepard, gathering your forces to defeat an ancient alien race known as the Protheans, who are hellbent on destroying all civilisation. I discussed my love for the series in a previous Sci-Fi Month post from 2013, which also included a guest post by one of the ‘Story Doctors’ who worked on the game. In fact I seem to have discussed the game quite a lot, as searching for ‘Mass Effect’ on this blog comes up with five pages of search results… So if you’re looking for a good, solid science fiction video game that lets you explore space and communicate (and er… more…) with aliens, then Mass Effect is the game for you!

Mass Effect

And of course, we can’t discuss space opera without mentioning Star Wars…

Who else is excited for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens? Just a few people I think… The Star Wars films are classic space opera, adventure with a dash of romance. I remember when I was young, my dad sat me and my sisters down and showed us the original trilogy shortly before we went to see The Phantom Menace in the cinema. Although that film is ignored by many a hardcore fan, I love it because it felt like my way into the Star Wars universe – it felt less complex than the original, which was good as I was young at the time, and I LOVED pod-racing. However, that film has one massive flaw and I won’t tarnish my blog with his name 😉 Whatever you think of the Star Wars franchise, there’s no denying its impact on the space opera sub-genre.

Are you a fan of space opera? What does the term mean to you?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: YA to Adult SF Recommendations

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Science fiction can be a scary genre. The potential that it holds can be daunting, and it can be difficult to know where to start. I know many readers who are more than happy to delve into Young Adult science fiction, but are wary of going any further. So I thought I’d make some recommendations of ‘heavier’ science fiction, based on YA books. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share your ideas!

If you enjoyed Insignia by S.J. Kincaid…

YA to Adult Recs

… then try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

In both books, real life and online gaming become very entangled. So many of my fellow bloggers have read and loved both of these books! The 80s references only serve to make Ready Player One even more awesome.

If you enjoyed Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld…

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… then try Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding.

Although one is an alternate history, and the other is a space western, they’re both steampunk books that really gave off the same sense of adventure to me. If you loved the steampunk inventions of Westerfeld’s series, as well as the fast pace of the story, you’ll enjoy Retribution Falls!

If you enjoyed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Why? Because TIMEY WIMEY! Hyperion features a lot of (complicated but amazing) time travel, and is just a fantastic, fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough (seriously I’ve recommended it so many times over the past two and a bit years).

If you enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

If you want the classic dystopia disguised as a utopia, as seen in Divergent, then give Brave New World a try. It’s a harrowing tale of good intentions gone horribly wrong.

If you enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer…

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… then try Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

If you enjoyed reading about cyborgs in Cinder, then you might enjoy PKD’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Like the cyborgs in Cinder’s world, the androids of this book are so human-like that it is almost impossible to tell. Philip K. Dick was a master of science fiction, and this is one of my absolute favourite science fiction books.

If you enjoyed Beta by Rachel Cohn…

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… then try House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

Now I have to admit that I haven’t actually read Beta, but I really wanted to recommend House of Suns as it is another of my favourites – and as both books are about the lives of clones, I thought it was a good match. Now to read some more Alastair Reynolds and see if he is favourite author material…

What recommendations would you make for someone wanting to move from YA sci-fi to the ‘heavier’ stuff?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Archaeology in Science Fiction

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Simply put, archaeology is one of the most amazing fields of study and career paths ever. And I am not at all biased here. Okay – well maybe a little bit. I am so happy that I made the decision to study it alongside ancient history, because I know that I’m definitely on the right track to the career that I want. Every time I read a book or watch a film that features archaeologists, I do a little cheer in my head for my fellow lovers of the ancient.

I love you, Doctor, but I do not appreciate your tone.

I love you, Doctor, but I do not appreciate your tone.

One thing I have noticed is that archaeology seems to crop up a lot in science fiction. Whether it is used as a form of exposition to explain the history of a planet or civilisation, or forms a major plot point such as the uncovering of an ancient terror, I love to read about it. Sometimes it makes me cringe and want to throw the book/TV/whatever across the room because UGH SO INCORRECT (one time I saw a series where they wanted to do dendrochronology on a bone, it’s used for TREE RINGS), and other times I wish I had access to all that crazy future archaeological technology. Within science fiction it is often referred to as ‘xenoarchaeology’.

So, where have I spotted archaeology in science fiction?

Archaeology in books

Revelation Space Rendezvous with Rama

Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space opens with the excavation of a 900,000 year old civilisation on the planet Resurgam. The evidence discovered reveals a lot more than was previously known, and the archaeologist directing the excavation soon becomes involved in a rather complicated and dangerous plot. I haven’t read this particular Reynolds book so cannot comment on the archaeology, but since I loved House of Suns so much, it’s definitely on my radar.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke is another prominent example of archaeology in science fiction. Set in 2130s, it follows a group of explorers who must intercept a spaceship (nicknamed ‘Rama’) hurtling through the solar system towards Earth. I actually managed to pick up a copy of this one at an archaeological book sale a few weeks ago.

Archaeology in film

Prometheus

Prometheus is one of my favourite films, despite being rather silly, because SPACE ARCHAEOLOGY AND AWESOME TECHNOLOGY (and Michael Fassbender doesn’t hurt either…). It follows two archaeologists who are following a pattern they have discovered: the same images, of what they believe to be extraterrestrial life, reoccurring in many ancient cultures, thousands of years and miles apart. Together with their crew, they follow the ‘star map’ and discover a planet – with obvious signs of civilisation.

Archaeology in Prometheus is mostly just used to get the plot rolling, and give the crew a reason to start their mission. Their treatment of artefacts is questionable (shoving extra-terrestrial remains into a bag without any care) and techniques lacking (no apparent planning), but the technology is pretty amazing. A tool that allows you to instantly date something, without having to wait an age for carbon 14 results to come back? Yes please.

Archaeology on TV

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UGH RIVER I LOVE YOU. I think the most obvious example of an archaeologist in a science fiction TV show is River Song from Doctor Who. We never get to see her showing off her Professor of Archaeology skills, but she got into archaeology so she could track the Doctor through time and studied at Luna University. Unfortunately, the Doctor doesn’t care much for archaeologists, which makes me sad. I just love that she is such a badass: smart, witty, quick on her feet and also a pretty damn good shot. I’m going to put that all down to her being an archaeologist, and having nothing to do with her being a child of the TARDIS. Definitely.

Archaeology in video games

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Oh would you look at that, my favourite video game series ever also features archaeology. Mass Effect centres around the discovery of ancient Prothean civilisation and artefacts, and Liara T’Soni is an Asari archaeologist with expert knowledge on the subject. She joins your crew in the first game, where you can speak to her in her super high tech laboratory aboard the Normandy. There is also a mission set on an archaeological excavation. AND THE GAME ADDRESSES THIS SUPER ANNOYING COMMON OCCURRENCE:

Garrus: So Liara, ever dug up – what do humans call it – a dinosaur?
Liara: No. Dinosaurs and other fossils would be paleontology. I’m an archaeologist. I study artifacts left by sapient species. The two fields are completely different. And… you were joking…?
Garrus: A bit. But at least you’re catching on these days.

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Archaeology appears in so many more areas of science fiction, but I just wanted to discuss a few. Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes the author/writer obviously has no idea how archaeology even BEGINS to work, and occasionally you find a future fictional archaeological development that you hope will become fact one day. It’s a field that can lend a lot to science fiction, allowing the history of past alien cultures to be set out easily.

What do I like most about archaeology in science fiction? The fact that it is still a thriving area of research and work in these future civilisations. There will always be more history for us to dig up, especially if we are able to do it on other planets – and that’s an exciting thought.

Have you ever encountered archaeology in science fiction? What did you think of how it was presented – did it seem plausible to you?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: My Top Ten Science Fiction Novels

For my penultimate post I want to finally share with you my top ten science fiction novels! When writing this list I realised that I hadn’t read as many ‘classic’ sci-fi books as I’d thought, but *insert comment about too little time here* and I have plenty on my list to read! 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.

And now, in no particular order, my top ten science fiction novels:

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane – two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences – must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

1. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds – when I was reading this for the first time, I actually almost gave up on it. But then suddenly something just clicked and I couldn’t stop reading – and it ended up being one of my favourite books. Reynolds’ writing produces such vivid imagery, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – this is one highly original, utter whirlwind of a book. Packed with pop culture references that actually have meaning within the context of the story, it is perfect for gamers, 80s pop culture fans and geeks worldwide. You can read my review or five reasons why you should read this book if you want to know more.

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

3. Hyperion by Dan Simmons – a sort of retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this space epic and the rest of the series (known as the Hyperion Cantos) is like nothing I’ve ever read. In the first book, each pilgrim tells their tale on the way to Hyperion and each tale is so varied and fantastical that you can’t help but fall in love with Simmons’ writing. My favourite story is that of the priest, Father Hoyt. I’m also really excited to read Dan Simmons’ other series, which is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Creatures once extinct now roam Jurassic Park, soon-to-be opened as a theme park. Until something goes wrong… and science proves a dangerous toy.

4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – you’ve most likely seen the film, but have you read the book? Written by Michael Crichton, this sci-fi thriller is brilliant fun and the film is actually fairly faithful – with the book you get more scientific depth. My only problem is the sequel: Crichton resurrects a deceased character because he was so popular in the film. Ugh.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live even called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she see it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her survival is second nature.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – this YA dystopian had me hooked from the very first chapter, and it seems to have done the same to many other readers. Now also a massive success on the big screen, with the second film having recently been released, it is a brilliant and terrifying view of a dystopian nation and corrupted government.

A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans.

6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – if you only read one science fiction classic, I urge you to read this one. Dick’s brilliant novel of a future where animals are almost extinct, and possessing one is a symbol of status, is quite different from the film adaptation, Blade Runner, but absolutely and definitely worth the read.

Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a front assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens: but who?

Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.

Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. In simulated war games he excels. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game… right?

7. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I expect this will be a lot more widely read now there is a film version, but Scott Card’s tale of a space military school for youngsters has been around for a while. I’d been wanting to read this for ages when I spotted it at a local charity shop, and was not disappointed. It’s just a shame that the author has such disgusting views.

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

8. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – I didn’t realise this was a sci-fi novel when I started reading it, but it’s actually set on another planet and the people are settlers from Earth. This whole series is just an emotional rollercoaster, and due to Ness’ brilliant writing, had me blubbing like a baby at the very end.

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common near London. At first, naive locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag – only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilization is under threat, as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroy all in their path with black gas and burning rays, and feast on the warm blood of trapped, still-living human prey. The forces of the Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they at first appear.

9. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells – the mother of all alien invasion novels, this book gives me the shivers. Written long before science fiction was the genre it is today, Wells’ account of a Martian invasion is terrifying, fabulous and oh so clever.

Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

10. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – this recently released YA novel centered around time travel is a fantastic addition to the genre. It’s clever, fast-paced, well thought out and very, very emotional. I hope it also encourages people who don’t normally read science fiction to give the genre a try!

What are your favourite science fiction novels? Tell me in the comments!

Challenges, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Definitive Science Fiction Reads

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Today I want to share a challenge with you all: my definitive list of science fiction reads! They are books I feel every sci-fi fan should read at least once in their lifetime, and as well as creating a challenge for myself I hope that it can be challenge for some of you too. Although I already have a Top Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Challenge, I wanted to create one that reflected all different types of science fiction, including Young Adult. So it will actually be a mix of books I’ve loved, books I really feel I should read because they’re considered classics, and some titles that might often be overlooked, as well as some books that I’ve heard a lot of good things about.
 
If you’d like to join in, feel free! I’ll be keeping track of my progress too, on a separate postDon’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.

‘Classic’ science fiction

Newer science fiction

Young Adult science fiction

What do you think of the challenge? Are you going to join in?

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?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: It Finally Begins!

After months of planning (I came up with the idea in August), Sci-Fi Month has finally begun! If you’ve missed my chatter about the event, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a month long event, spread over many, many blogs, to celebrate the wonderful genre that is science fiction! During this event, all my regular features will be suspended.

Today, all participants will be posting an intro post. Leave a comment if you link up, and I’ll be sure to visit your post and comment back. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the list of posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Let Sci-Fi Month officially begin!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I’m 22, from the UK and currently working as a medical receptionist. I’m working to save for my Masters degree, so I can go on and become a museum curator – however I really enjoy my current job too, which is a bonus! I studied ancient history and archaeology for my undergraduate degree, and graduated last summer.

Apart from reading (and sci-fi based things) I also love discovering all sorts of things about ancient cultures and archaeology, listening to music 24/7 (you can sample my tastes here), playing video games/talking out loud to video game characters/obsessing over Alistair with Paola, wasting far too much time on the internet and catching up with a million and one TV shows I still need to finish (here’s looking at you, Supernatural). I also volunteer at a local museum, where I record finds (I love finds!) on the database, and create handouts for the exhibits.

2. How long have you been a fan of sci-fi?

Eh, I’m not really sure. Probably since before I was really aware it was a genre… ever since I could read I’ve loved fantastical stories that took me to new worlds. I’ve always been a massive science fiction and fantasy fan (the two tend to go hand in hand). My dad loves sci-fi so I’ve often asked him for recommendations – or more recently recommended things to him! He totally wanted me to get Dan Simmons to join in this event – but I couldn’t find any way to contact him…

3. Why do you like sci-fi, and what is your favourite thing about it?

I guess I can sort of answer this in one sentence: because of all the amazing worlds and possibilities it opens up. It’s really cool to think that one day (not in every case of science fiction, but in many) something like that could happen. It’s not really a feeling you get with fantasy books. So in one word: the possibilities. My favourite aspects are time travel and space exploration.

4. Favourite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?
  • Books: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Ughhh there’s so many more but I can’t list them all! I shall go into more detail later on in the month.
  • Games: the Mass Effect trilogy – it breaks my heart in so many places, and stamps on it – but I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Bioware make amazing games with compelling stories and fascinating characters and… well… who knew aliens could be sexy? But you know, I mainly play for the plot. Yes. Plus Borderlands 2 (Borderlands co-op is just the best thing). I have Deus Ex: Human Revolution waiting to be played, and I’m excited for it – I just need to complete several other games first…
  • Films: Alien, Prometheus (even though it’s kind of cheesy and full of plot holes I just love how it looks and the music is amazing) and Avatar (can I live on Pandora please?). I also really love the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds (I just generally love that story) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (I know, I know – hardcore Star Wars fans probably hate me now. But this one brings back good memories of seeing it in the cinema as a kid and wanting my own podracer!). Looper was also pretty awesome.
  • TV shows: Doctor Who (I bet you never guessed!), Firefly (why was it cancelled??) and Torchwood.

5. What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

I will be posting every day, because I’m slightly insane. Here are just some of the things I have in store for you wonderful people: the top five sci-fi objects I wish were real, a publisher profile on Hodderscape plus a giveaway, an interview and giveaway with science fiction author Jaine Fenn, a guest post by Katherine Roberts about whether dragons are science or fantasy, and a tribute post to Mass Effect.

Of course, you can always view the schedule to see what I’m posting everyday, as well as view what other bloggers are posting!