Giveaway, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Mission Complete + Giveaway

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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.

November has now come to an end, and with that another Sci-Fi Month! 2016 was the fourth annual Sci-Fi Month, and just as much of a success. I have been so proud of everyone who has taken part in this event since I started it in 2013 – you’ve shown me that science fiction is not the niche genre I once thought it was. Whilst we don’t always see science fiction in the mainstream – have you ever seen a science fiction title in a supermarket bestselling book chart? – it is definitely popular. And maybe even all our hard work this month has converted some new sci-fi fans, or encouraged people to try out new sub-genres or mediums of science fiction that they wouldn’t have considered before.

I have to admit, and some of you might have noticed, that November was not my month. It started out so well – for the first 10 days or so I tweeted every single post on the day it was posted, was full of enthusiasm. After that, I started slacking, not touching things for a few days, then catching up, but not always commenting – and I definitely haven’t commented on every post like I’d hoped.

And, as I’ve been open about my depression on here before, I will be honest and say that that was the reason why. It came back with a bite in November. I am really struggling with not being where I want to be in life in terms of my career. I withdrew from a lot of things in my life, and basically just shut myself away in my room playing video games or reading. For that reason I’ll probably be rather inactive throughout December whilst I focus on job hunting, as it is going to definitely involve moving again. A massive thank you to everyone for continuing to post and celebrate science fiction whilst I disappeared into the background a bit.

And now for this year’s Sci-Fi Month stats:

These stats were accurate on 29th November, when this post was written.

  • We had a total of 71 participants (at least), which includes authors, publishers and bloggers. And that’s not including all those who read and commented, but didn’t post, so the actual number is a lot more!
  • 315 posts were shared in November, especially for Sci-Fi Month.
  • Most of these were reviews, as with every year, but we also posted others. More specifically… (as of 29th November 2016)
    • 31 intro and wrap up posts
    • 123 reviews
    • 21 discussions
    • 63 lists
    • 12 guest posts/interviews
    • 23 fun & games posts (quizzes etc)
    • 42 misc posts (Waiting on Wednesday etc)
  • Authors reviewed included Wesley Chu, Nina Allan, Isaac Asimov, Emma Newman, Ann Leckie and so many more.
  • The book (or rather books) that seemed to appear the most throughout 2016 were Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
  • Topics discussed ranged from Star Trek to Farscape, dystopia, the importance of science fiction, women in science fiction, starship crews, sci-fi fandoms, time travel, ‘unpopular’ sci-fi opinions, movies and TV shows, robots, aliens, the best reads for book groups, sci-fi tropes, art and music.
  • According to Twitter Analytics, during November the @SciFiMonth account gained 42 new followers, tweeted/retweeted 322 times, and was mentioned 280 times. I also sent out 114 tweets in October, advertising previous years posts in order to build up interest.
  • My own Twitter account gained 12 new followers, and tweeted/retweeted 141 times, the large majority of which were SFM related.
  • I tried out a few tools to track the #RRSciFiMonth hashtag, just to see how many times it had been used in November but couldn’t find one that showed the entire month. However, I did find something interesting via Keyhole. #RRSciFiMonth had a reach of 216,984 in just 10 days, which means that many individual people saw the hashtag! That’s pretty amazing. The image below shows data for the hashtag between 18-28 November 2016:
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  • Like previous years, I spent hours re-tweeting, tweeting, commenting, maintaining the schedule and making sure things were up to date, as well as just generally spreading the word about the event. So think of all the time we must have collectively contributed towards putting Sci-Fi Month together!
  • Please let me know if you’d like to see anything changed/improved/added for next year, or you have any ideas or suggestions for 2017! 🙂

Thank you so much to everyone who took part this year – without you it would not have been possible!

I have two giveaways to say thank you, one is international and the other is UK only so please make sure you enter the correct one! The UK based giveaway is provided by Titan Books, and is for The Race by Nina Allan. The international giveaway is open to all countries that the Book Depository ships to for free, and is for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

The Race Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

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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 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…

YA to Adult Recs

… 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?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, November 2014

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Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

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

Goodreads

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.

DJ_F
The Six Gun Tarot

Goodreads

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #19: The Island

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: The Island.

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A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a “harvestable being”, and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.

I first watched this film in Year 10 Biology at school, when we were studying cloning. Which obviously means it’s totally scientifically accurate and highly academic. Yeah. In reality it’s an action packed and explosive (well it is directed by Michael Bay…) film about two people who discover their lives are a complete lie. The utopian community they believe they live in is in fact a medical facility to house clones – clones harvested for organs when their ‘owners’ are ill. It may not be the best film out there, but it’s always been one I’ve really enjoyed. Plus it has Sean Bean!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a similar tale to The Island – narrated by Kathy and following the lives of her and two of her friends, the teenagers discover that their ‘special school’ is in fact a home for people created purely for organ harvesting. It’s a bleak tale, and has none of the flashiness and explosions of The Island, which makes it even more heart-breaking. Although I didn’t find it as enjoyable a read as I expected, I would definitely recommend it for fans of The Island because of the very similar subject matter. It has also been adapted into a film version, with Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

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

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

Although it doesn’t feature human clones in the same way as The Island, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? always reminds me of it, giving off the same sort of bleak and desolate vibe. In this world, androids have become so advanced that it is almost impossible to tell them apart from humans – one of the only ways is to submit the suspected android to something called the ‘Voight-Kampff test’, which tests empathy and reaction times. Whilst the androids may not be human beings, they are shown as being incredibly close – and are persecuted and controlled for this very reason. This book has also been adapted into a film, known as Blade Runner.

Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Schusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Apart from the cover of Unwind by Neal Schusterman unfortunately reminding me of The Human Centipede, it sounds like an interesting premise. In this dystopia, parents have so much control over their children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen that they can choose to donate their children’s organs to those in need. This is known as unwinding, and technically keeps the child alive, making it a very extreme form of punishment for a misbehaving teenager…

Are you a fan of The Island? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Museum of Literary Wonders

Museum of Literary Wonders #2

Museum of Literary Wonders

Hello, and welcome back to the Museum of Literary Wonders! Are you ready for the second part of the tour? Perhaps some of you have just joined us for the first time today, in that case let me explain. I am Rinn, the curator and your tour guide for today. The museum holds many wonderful objects from many different worlds and universes, preserved in this museum because of their importance – perhaps they hold a lot of meaning, perhaps they’re important plot points or maybe just because they’re pretty… For whatever reason, they have been carefully stored in the museum collection so that generation after generation can learn about them. Without further ado, let us go on!

Please do not touch the exhibits!

There have been many reports that these strange objects are in fact dragon’s eggs. Perhaps they were at one time, but now they’re petrified and will never hatch – good thing too, imagine the damage they could do. But no need to worry, that will never happen! They were found in a wide expanse of grassland known as the ‘Dothraki Sea’, and kindly donated by a bearded and behatted gentleman.

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Please do not touch the exhibits!

This signet ring may not look very flashy or expensive, but it certainly has a lot of meaning. It supposedly belonged to the Scarlet Pimpernel, a mysterious and elusive (and demmed!) figure who rescued various members of the French nobility from the guillotine during the French Revolution. Every time he freed a family or person, he would leave a note, complete with a wax seal stamped by this very ring. Odd’s fish, what a brave man!

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Please do not touch the exhibits!

This strange contraption is a Voight (or Voigt)-Kampff test. Supposedly it was used as an interrogation tool, to determine whether someone was human or android, as at the time the two were almost indistinguishable – apart from an androids lack of empathy. Therefore the interrogator would ask questions to design emotional responses. Fascinating!

Are there any questions? What exhibits would you like to see next?

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!