Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: It’s The End of the World As We Know It

sfm15_5

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.

A common trope of science fiction is to show the Earth greatly transformed, or even completely destroyed, in some way. Our poor planet has been used and abused throughout the history of the genre. Here’s a brief guide to the (post-)apocalypse, or dystopian future, covering books, TV, films and video games.

Aliens

Mass Effect The 5th Wave Defiance The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds Independence Day The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 826847

In these titles, Earth is either destroyed or invaded by aliens. In the latter, it is altered to a state where it is unrecognisable: either through the collapse of society and government, or destruction of large portions of the planet. Sometimes the extra-terrestrials are aggressive, sometimes they are just inquisitive, and other times we’re not even aware of them until it is too late.

Mass Effect, The 5th Wave, Defiance, The War of the Worlds (plus the 2005 film version), Independence Day, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos.

Illness/Disease

The Passage by Justin Cronin Blindness Oryx and Crake Partials by Dan Wells Parasite I Am Legend by Richard Matheson The Stand Children of Men The Strain

These titles show an Earth ravaged by illness, disease or plague, including technological viruses and biological warfare. In many of them, the illness transforms humankind into something else, often zombie or vampire-like creatures.

Humankind

The Hunger Games Divergent The 100 The Years of Rice and Salt Unwind The Man in the High Castle How I Live Now A Canticle for Leibowitz

Science fiction frequently shows how humankind causes its own downfall, often through war or revolt. This is a particularly popular theme in current Young Adult dystopian fiction, although it’s not exactly a new trend in the genre. This is one of the more frightening sides of sci-fi: how we become our very own worst enemies. Occasionally, it shows a glimpse into an alternate future or past.

Natural Disaster

2012 The Day After Tomorrow The Maze Runner by James Dashner Deep Impact Armageddon The Drowned World

This could also technically come under ‘Humankind’, because most of the time the natural disasters are caused by people, namely through global warming and climate change. This category includes these as well as other things such as asteroids/meteors, tsunamis, earthquakes etc.

2012, The Day After Tomorrow, The Maze Runner, Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Drowned World.

Brainwashing/Government

1984 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Fahrenheit 451 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand V for Vendetta

Another terrifying thing about science fiction is how government is often portrayed. Often it is shown as being a totalitarian or ‘Big Brother’ society, a term coined from George Orwell’s 1984. Citizens often have very little freedom, or even free will, having been brainwashed into behaving in certain ways.

Machines/Artificial Intelligence

I Robot Robopocalypse Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick Love In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Prey Neuromancer

Okay, maybe there’s a lot of scary things about science fiction – another one being the very thought of the Earth being overrun or overtaken by machines or artificial intelligence. Many a sci-fi tale tells of the invention of some fantastic new technology, only for it to become sentient and rise up against mankind.

Can you think of any other titles that would fit in these categories, or any categories that I have missed?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: My Top 10 Science Fiction Novels of the Year

sfm15_5

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.

I feel this has to be a part of Sci-Fi Month every year: my favourite science fiction novels read this year. These are the ten novels that impressed me the most, listed in no particular order because I find it so difficult to order books… I just love them all too much. If you enjoyed any of these, let me know!

Steelheart & Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson Firefight

Both Steelheart and Firefight were extraordinary books. I have really enjoyed everything by Brandon Sanderson that I’ve read so far, but these two are written in a very different style to everything else, and are aimed at younger audiences. However, if you’re not a Young Adult fan, this series still comes really highly recommended – particularly if you like the superhero genre.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury & Tracer by Rob Boffard

Fahrenheit 451 Tracer

Reading Fahrenheit 451 meant making progress with my Definitive Science Fiction Reads challenge, created for Sci-Fi Month 2013. It is a haunting tale; the thought of a world where books are banned absolutely terrifies me, and many others I’m sure. Tracer was a Netgalley find, chosen for my post-The 100 needs. It is so action-packed and fast, and I can remember the opening scene really well as it was so vivid.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North & Armada by Ernest Cline

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Armada

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a more ‘subtle’ science fiction book, in that whilst time travel (of a sort) is the central concept of the book, it actually takes a backseat. How Harry time travels/is reborn is less important than what he does with his many lives. It is definitely the sort of science fiction book that would appeal to those who do not consider themselves big fans of the genre. Armada, on the other hand, is definitely one that will appeal to a certain group of people: video game fans. The story of a teenager who gets caught up in an alien invasion that seems inspired by the online game he plays, it is Ernest Cline’s second novel. I couldn’t wait to read it after Ready Player One, and whilst I did not enjoy it much as his first novel, I still rated it five stars because it was just so fun.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu & The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Time Salvager The Girl With All The Gifts

Time Salvager was one of those books that I had high expectations for, but it still managed to utterly blow me away. As I said in my review, it is the type of science fiction that I have been yearning for for a while. The Girl With All The Gifts is a very different type of book, but equally fantastic. A sort-of-zombie dystopian novel, unlike other books of the same ilk, the reader sees the zombies from a more ‘personal’ viewpoint.

Way Down Dark by James Smythe & Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid

Way Down Dark Catalyst

Way Down Dark was another wonderful Netgalley find, that I partly took a chance on just because of the cool cover. This felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the whole host of science fiction/dystopian Young Adult novels that have recently been released. Unfortunately as it has been labelled as ‘for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, I fear this will put many people off the book who actively avoid those series or those similar. Ignore that! Catalyst is the final book in the Insignia series, and was a really great ending. It follows young teens training for the military, and somehow often feels simultaneously tense and light-hearted.

Have you read any of these, or are you planning to? What are your thoughts?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, July 2015

DJ16

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!

DJ_SF
Fahrenheit 451

Goodreads

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

DJ_F
Magician

Goodreads

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician – and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever.

Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun.

Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.

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

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2015

monthlyru16

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.

January 2015

Last month I read a total of eleven books: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson, Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks by Justin Richards, Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez, The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1.5 by Jonathan Stroud, Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson, Pawn of Prophecy/a> (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings, Asylum by Madeline Roux, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie.

I’m so glad I finally got to read The Blade Itself, it was well overdue and I loved it. I also finally read Pawn of Prophecy which was a birthday present from and highly recommended by two friends. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, and the one that follows it! Steelheart pretty much blew everything out of the water though, and The Well of Ascension was a fantastic sequel. BRANDON SANDERSON IS A WRITING GOD.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read nine books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. I managed to defeat the Joker, mwhaha!
  • I have currently read eleven books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

How was January for you?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #18: Primeval

tottvheader

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 TV series this week is: Primeval.

Primeval

When strange anomalies in time start to appear all over England, Professor Cutter and his team have to help track down and capture all sorts of dangerous prehistoric creatures from Earth’s distant past.

BECAUSE DINOSAURS!!! DINOSAURS!!!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is one of my favourite books, and the 1993 film adaptation also happens to be one of my favourite films. The book is a whole lot more technical than the film, but in general it’s pretty faithful. It’s just such a clever and thrilling story, plus who doesn’t love the idea of a park filled with actual, real life dinosaurs? Unless perhaps you’re being chased by a T-rex or something…

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may be known for his Sherlock Holmes series of books, but they weren’t the only thing he wrote. Another of his series followed a character called Professor Challenger, and the first book, The Lost World, tells the story of a discovery of a remote area of the Amazon rainforest. The most astonishing part of the discovery however, is the fact that prehistoric creatures are living there.

Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey

Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey doesn’t just write about dragons. The creator of the well-loved Dragonriders of Pern series has also written about dinosaurs. Dinosaur Planet follows the crew of ARCT-10 as they head to Ireta (the titular dinosaur planet), in order to catalogue its flora and fauna. However, it doesn’t seem like the inhabitants of the planet are particularly welcoming…

Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury

Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury

Until I started researching books for this post, I had no idea that Ray Bradbury had written a book about dinosaurs. Dinosaur Tales gathers together a collection of short stories that Bradbury wrote on… well you guessed it, dinosaurs.

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

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #10: Supernatural

tottvheader

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 TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the third of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Provenance’ (Season One, Episode Nineteen)?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

This episode is about a haunted painting that Sam and Dean have to somehow obtain from an auction house, and then dispose of. So what would be a better choice than The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? This infamous story follows the eponymous Dorian Gray, who sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and good looks. However, his recently commissioned portrait reflects the extent of his sins, whilst the real Dorian remains perfect – at least in appearance. It was a pretty scandalous book when it was released, and there’s also a fairly recent film adaptation starring Ben Barnes which only builds upon and adds to the scandalous moments. And then there’s The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1), the first in a brilliant new series by Jonathan Stroud, about young members of a ‘supernatural agency’. Like the Winchesters, Lockwood & Co have to deal with many haunted and possessed objects. I reviewed this book earlier in the year.

Enjoyed ‘Devil’s Trap’ (Season One, Episode Twenty-two)?

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

After their father, John Winchester, is captured, Dean and Sam along with Bobby succeed in trapping the demon Meg, who reveals that their father is in Missouri. Unfortunately, he has been possessed by Azazel, the yellow-eyed demon that killed their mother. There are countless books on demons, demon possession and demon worship – and quite a few episodes to do with Ol’ Yellow Eyes throughout the show, so I’ll just recommend three books for now. Firstly, there’s the super obvious one – The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Do I really need to explain the plot?? A more recent release, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea tells the story of Violet, who lives in a sleepy little town where nothing much happens – until River makes an appearance. It’s a classic tale of that enticing new stranger being not quite what they seem… And finally, The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates describes how a whole town falls under the influence of a supernatural force. Although it’s part of the Gothic Saga, it can be read as a standalone as the series is more a collection of gothic novels by the same author, rather than novels containing the same characters and similar events.

Enjoyed ‘Everybody Loves A Clown’ (Season Two, Episode Two)?

It by Stephen King Joyland by Stephen King Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

The Winchesters investigate a series of murders at a travelling carnival, which turns out to be a Rakshasa (of Hindu mythology), transforming into a clown in order to trick children, before then murdering their parents. Of course, the first book that came to mind linked to this episode was It by Stephen King, which I won’t be reading any time soon thank you very much. Clowns are already creepy enough as it is. Another Stephen King novel with a carnival theme (maybe we should just avoid carnivals and funfairs??) is the more recently released Joyland – now this one I definitely want to read sometime. And now for a non-Stephen King book: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, in which a creepy carnival (*makes a mental note to avoid carnivals in the future*) comes to town, and two young boys have to save their home from its evil clutches.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Challenges, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Definitive Science Fiction Reads

scifipostheader2

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

scifipostheader2

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: Favourite Sci-Fi Book Covers

scifipostheader2

Today I’m going to share my favourite science fiction book covers with you. Feel free to join in and share your link in the comments below! 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.

 

Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1 & #2) by Dan Simmons – I love these editions of this amazing series. Silhouettes are always a good choice, and the pilgrims on the front of the first book and the Shrike on the front of the second emphasise  whom each book centres around. And I really like it when series use a similar format for each book, changing small details like a main colour.

Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury – these editions of Bradbury’s books are just gorgeous. The vector illustrations and colour schemes work so well, and they’re eye-catching without being too cluttered.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – this abstract cover works so well. It represents the blueprints and designs for the time machine, and is as mysterious as the workings of the machine itself. I always love the Penguin Classics covers!

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – I chose this one because of the bright colours, it really catches my eye. I don’t actually particularly like a lot of the SF Masterworks covers, but this one is pretty. Plus giant man-eating plants attacking London!

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card – this cover really says ‘science fiction’ to me. It’s pretty simple, whilst being gorgeous – I love the NASA photos of deep space, all the wonderful colours and different stars.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 8-bit cover! Pretty much instantly captures the book in one. Whilst not a ‘pretty’ cover like some, I think this one works so well with the subject matter.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer – I mostly just think this cover is really clever. Cinder is a cyborg after all, so instantly conveying that message whilst using a traditional Cinderella image was a really good idea.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – this one is so much nicer than the UK cover! The drab, grey buildings and stormy sky remind me of the dullness of every day life, and the clock in the middle represents the excitement of time travel. But that’s just me… just waiting for the TARDIS to arrive.

Jack Glass by Adam Roberts – definitely one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen so far this year, of any genre. It looks absolutely gorgeous and completely bends the stereotype of a ‘typical’ science fiction book cover.

What are your favourite science fiction covers? If you make your own post, feel free to link it up and let me know in the comments!

Past Features

Weekly Roundup #23

weeklyru_16

My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.
 
Fahrenheit 451 

Bought

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury a sci-fi classic I’ve been meaning to read for a while, this was a charity shop find – and it’s also the lovely 50th anniversary edition! Sadly, Ray Bradbury passed away just over a year ago, in June 2012. I enjoyed reading his The Martian Chronicles, but haven’t yet read any of his other works – this is next on the list.
  • Serena by Ron Rash – I don’t often buy books brand new anymore. I’m trying to save as much as I can for my Masters, so second-hand books are much more affordable. However, if I think a book is really worth reading and I just want a copy of it, rather than hunting the charity shops I will occasionally just buy it brand new. I don’t know what it was about this book that drew me in – it just sounds really good, and is totally the kind of thing I want to read at the moment. Ordered from the Waterstones website.

What new reads do you have this week?