Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Review of The Fearless by Emma Pass

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.

17338059.jpg

2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

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

Having previously read Acid by Emma Pass for the first Sci-Fi Month in 2013, and enjoying it much more than expected, I had quite high hopes for The Fearless. Sadly, these hopes were not met.

The Fearless brings us a world where a serum has been developed for the military, a serum that removes all fear from the user. Unfortunately, as meddling with things like this often goes, the serum has adverse side effects and turns the user into a zombie type creature, although more aware than your typical zombie. Cities and towns are overrun by ultraviolent army types, who start to convert civilians. The book opens with Cass aged eleven, escaping some of the Fearless with her parents, and heading to live on an isolated island society.

Initially, I did not realise that the book used multiple points of view. I do not mind this at all, apart from when the voices are not distinct, or it is not particularly obvious when the POV switches. This was an issue with The Fearless. Part of the blame lies on the formatting of the eARC, where the name of the character narrating the chapter was not immediately obvious, and this will not be an issue with the final publication. However, the voices of the three characters were so similar, that sometimes I had to go back and double check whose point of view I was reading.

I didn’t particularly think much of any character. Cass did not stand out, her childhood best friend Sol was petty and jealous. Of course, her childhood best friend is in love with her and Cass does not return these affections. Sol becomes abusive and violent, and Cass doesn’t seem to think until much later on that his reactions were unusual. Then there is Myo, the mysterious outsider whom Cass falls for, but isn’t quite who he seems. This relationship was just so… predictable, again. The romance had zero chemistry and no other reason but two teenagers thrown together. They even talk of love after less than a week has passed. Relationships are a deal breaker for me in books – they need chemistry, they need to feel genuine. I don’t just cheer for couples just for the sake of it, and Cass and Myo made no sense – particularly when Myo revealed his ‘big secret’ (that was also easy to guess).

This was quite a major disappointment after Acid, and at over halfway through I felt like barely anything had happened. Boring and undeveloped characters, a predictable plot and a ‘romance’ that lacks any real feeling. If you’re going to read some of Emma Pass’ work, I would definitely recommend you try Acid instead of this.

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?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Time Travel

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.

As an archaeologist, time travel is an exciting thought. Being able to go back in time and see if your theories are right? Being able to experience those past cultures and civilisations that you’ve studied and obsessed over for years? Yes please. This is one of the main reasons why I love science fiction that features time travel. However, the thought of heading to the future is just as thrilling. I’m always eyeing up the technology on screen in sci-fi films and shows – how cool would it be to get a chance to use some of it?

But the thought of travelling through time is also terrifying.

What if you get stuck in the past or future, unable to return to your own time? What if you change something in the past, however unknowingly or however small, and it has huge consequences on the future? Or even if they are not consequences that affect you, they could drastically alter the life of someone else. What if the people of the past or future see you as a threat or an enemy?

To enjoy time travel in science fiction, you often have to forget about these questions, and just accept it as it is presented. It is such a fantastic element, and I’ve read so many wonderful books featuring time travel:

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Of course that’s not all of them – it would take forever to list them all! Those are just recent reads or particular favourites. And there are several titles involving time travel that I really want to get my hands on:

Loop The Time Machine 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Of course, I don’t just love time travel in my books.

One of my favourite television shows, Doctor Who, is based around the concept of time travel. I discussed my love for the show in the first Sci-Fi Month, and also wrote a short guide to the series for new fans. However my interest has waned a little with the Twelfth Doctor, and that’s something I’ll be discussing this month.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won't be taking your reading advice.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won’t be taking your reading advice.

And not forgetting films!

One of my most recent favourites that used time travel was Looper. It was clever in that it didn’t feel too high tech for most of the film, with the majority of it set in an isolated farm house surrounded by cornfields. Now I feel like that is something I should rewatch this month…

I’m having slightly more trouble thinking up video games that feature time travel though. Most science fiction video games that I’ve played involve space travel, rather than time travel. Can anyone help me out here?

If time travel was possible, there’s a chance that my career would become irrelevant. What would be the point in researching history and archaeology, digging up evidence or hunting through ancient documents if you could just travel back to a certain period in time and see what actually happened? So maybe it’s for the best that time travel is fiction. 😉

Do you enjoy science fiction with the element of time travel? What are some of your favourite titles?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Dinosaurs in Science Fiction

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.

It’s something that has cropped up again and again in science fiction, and will probably appear even more so with the revival of a certain Jurassic franchise. Dinosaurs have appeared many times in science fiction, through various formats. Here’s a look at the impact they have made on the genre.

The Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton Jurassic World

The Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series is, ultimately, a tale of man playing god. In the original novel by Michael Crichton, scientists have discovered how to recreate dinosaurs, using DNA extracted from mosquitoes trapped in tree sap. One ingenious businessman by the name of John Hammond decides to open a ‘theme park’ where visitors can, for a rather extortionate fee, see real life dinosaurs in the flesh. However, before it can open it must be approved by several professionals, which is where paleontologist Alan Grant and paleobotanist Ellie Sadler come in. Taken to the island, along with chaotician Ian Malcolm, they soon realise that this business venture is not one they can really approve…

Jurassic Park was adapted into a film in 1993, and was followed by two sequels: Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. Jurassic World is the beginning of a new part of the franchise, and is not directly based on Crichton’s work, apart from the basic ideas of the first novel. It is set twenty-two years after the first film, and the park has been running successfully for ten years. In order to prevent business going stale and people losing interest in dinosaurs, the Jurassic World team have decided to create their very own dinosaur, a hybrid of various different types. And as you’ve probably guessed… well, considering past events, probably not a good idea.

I absolutely LOVE the Jurassic Park/World series. So maybe the second and third films aren’t amazing, but they’re still a part of it. Jurassic Park has been one of my favourite films for a long, long time, and Jurassic World is definitely getting there. They are thrilling and sometimes silly, but I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I still get chills when the camera zooms in on the cup of water at the front of the Jeep, rippling in response to the T-rex’s heavy footsteps.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova

Just like Firefly, Terra Nova is another television series that was cancelled far too early… At only one season long, it packs in so much more than many series do in ten seasons. Set in the 22nd century, it shows a future where overpopulation and declining air quality have caused problems. In answer to this, an operation has been set up to send people back 85 million years, after the discovery of a time rift. Sent in groups called ‘pilgrimages’, the ‘pilgrims’ set up a colony know as Terra Nova, or New Earth. The series follows the Shannon family, a policeman, his doctor wife and their three children. However, it doesn’t just focus on the Shannons, but weaves in the stories of others in the colony.

Whilst you don’t necessarily see dinosaurs in every episode, they do appear quite frequently, often adding a sense of fear or adventure. Some are recognisable, others were made up for the show. Unfortunately, Terra Nova was cancelled after the first series, and although Fox tried to sell it to another network, nothing happened. This means that the finale leaves a LOT of unanswered questions and possibilities for where the show could have gone.

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved

I NEED THIS GAME. ARK: Survival Evolved is a fairly recent video game, where the player finds themself stranded, naked and alone, on an island. You must explore, gather resources, and stay alive. One slight problem though: the island is full of dinosaurs. An open-world sandbox game, Ark: Survival Evolved allows you to tame and ride, or kill dinosaurs, team up with other players or work on your own, and try to find the best way to survive.

Er… do I really need to explain why I want this game? You can ride a pterodactyl. Or command your own velociraptor team just like Owen. Why would you not want it?! If you need further convincing, just take a look at the trailer:

It would take forever to discuss all books/films/television series/video games that feature dinosaurs, so I’ve just picked a selection! Do you have any particular favourites, whether they’ve made this list or not?

Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Review of Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

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.

15839976.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

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

Red Rising. Red Rising. Why did I take so long to get to you?? Chosen as the Science Fiction Book of the Month by my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, this had actually been sat on my Kindle for months. Despite having heard some really wonderful things about it – which I now completely understand – its nomination as Book of the Month was what finally pushed me into reading it.

The opening gripped me straight away, introducing the reader to Darrow’s world. It is a dark, grimy world, with only a faint glimmer of hope. The people of this world work hard to terraform Mars, so that in the future their descendants can live normal lives on the red planet. Yet soon, Darrow discovers that everything he and his people have worked for is a lie – Mars is already terraformed. The Reds, as his people are known, are being used as slaves, tricked into thinking they are making a contribution to society, and other higher social groups benefit from their work. Darrow becomes involved with a group of rebels, and must disguise himself as a Gold, the highest of the groups, in order to infiltrate the system. To do this, he gains a place at their military academy, and what followed felt almost like a feudal setting on another planet: groups of teenagers vying for power and territory.

One thing that really struck me about this book was the relationships and character development. In a book that is very brutal and sometimes shocking in its portrayal of a society and human nature, there were also some tender moments. Darrow’s relationship with his wife, Eo, was wonderful. Having known each other since they were small children, their relationship is a close one and felt so genuine, nothing like many teenage relationships in books. This may also be a byproduct of Darrow’s society throwing children into adulthood too early.

Additionally, Darrow’s character progression was fantastic. The reader follows his journey from a courageous but perhaps reckless Red to a focused and determined Gold. He keeps to his roots, but on the way he develops so much. One scene that really stood out to me showed what Darrow could become if he really immersed himself into the Gold way of life, and demonstrated the stark contrast between the social groups. Although he becomes a Gold on the outside, he never really forgets why he is there, remaining a Red within.

The action slowed down a little towards the middle, but this doesn’t mean nothing happened. Darrow and his house prepared themselves for battle, allegiances were forged and shattered, friendships built and destroyed, enemies made and truths revealed. I finished this book in a matter of days – carrying my Kindle with me everywhere I went, reading it at every spare moment. Red Rising is an absolute must read for science fiction fans, but I would also highly recommend it to those who are new to the genre. I cannot WAIT to read the sequel, Golden Son!

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Recent & Upcoming Releases

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.

One of the most exciting parts of book blogging is being able to easily keep up with recent and upcoming releases, thanks to links with publishers. Here are some of my most anticipated science fiction releases that have either come out in the past few months, or will be on our shelves some time within the next few.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass

I have not yet read anything by Jim Butcher, although I have been recommended his Dresden Files series many times, and the first book in the series was recently chosen for Sci-Fi Book of the Month by my Goodreads book group. Yet his newest work, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, appeals to me more than any of his other works. It sounds a little Firefly-esque, and I’m drawn to anything that reminds me of the series. It is also a steampunk novel, which is a genre I intend to read more of. And finally, I do tend to judge books by their covers – and I really love this one.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass was published in September 2015 by Orbit | Goodreads

Speak by Louise Hall

Speak

Not only does Speak cover the topic of Artificial Intelligence, which has recently peaked my interest even more due to the film Ex Machina, but it also covers several hundred years in time. I really love the idea of this – there are so many novels featuring AI set in the future, but what about the past? I even broke my Netgalley ban (got to get that ratio up to 80%!) so I could download this, especially as I was auto-approved… in fact, by the time this has been posted, I may have even read the book – I just can’t wait!

Speak will be published in February 2016 by Orbit | Goodreads

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker

The End of the World Running Club

The title of this book, The End of the World Running Club, immediately caught my attention. It’s a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel with a bit of a twist – the protagonist is a slob, a useless husband and father, who has to embark on a journey across the United Kingdom to rescue his family. I really don’t feel like it will be a typical post-apocalyptic type novel, with a protagonist who struggles to do the things in day-to-day life.

The End of the World Running Club will be published in May 2016 by Random House | Goodreads

As well as my top three releases, I’m also looking forward to these:
Planetfall Sleeping Giants The Hive Construct

Which sci-fi releases are you looking forward to?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: We Have Lift Off!

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.

Aaaah, I can’t believe Sci-Fi Month is back again! This is the third year I have run the event, although I really feel as though I did not do much last year due to university – however this year I aim to make up for that. 🙂 I hope you’re all ready for a month full of science fiction celebrations, and I can’t wait to meet the new participants, as well as get back in touch with previous ones.

When the first Sci-Fi Month happened, I was working and saving up for my Masters degree. In the two years in between the first and current Sci-Fi Months, I’ve moved to the Netherlands, met amazing people and worked as hard as I could, had so many new experiences, done an internship at a museum, written a 30,000 word thesis, completed my Masters degree, moved back to the UK to live with my parents for a while, managed to get a job the day after coming back, moved to Oxford and started a career in museums. Phew! And read over 200 books in the meanwhile, many of which were science fiction.

I don’t want to answer the usual SFM introduction post questions here, as I feel like I will be repeating myself. But I will say that science fiction is a huge part of my life. Whether I’m reading it, watching it or playing it, I just love it so much. I started this event to find similar-minded people, because I believed that science fiction was underrated in the book blogging community. And can I just say that I am SO glad that I was totally wrong about that – we have so many sci-fi fans amongst us!

I guess now my main worry is that the community concentrates mainly on new releases, particularly those of the contemporary genre, so here I want to encourage you to post, tweet and chat about all science fiction – no matter how long ago it was written or released. Bring back some of those golden oldies 😉

As for my own intentions during November, I have several reviews to share with you which were part of my Netgalley Readathon, as well as discussions of my favourite sub-genres/elements of science fiction. There will also be a post on dinosaurs in science fiction, my thoughts on the 12th Doctor and as many other things as I can fit into the month! I have what feels like a million and one ideas, so I hope I can write up as many of them as possible.

Addtionally, I have created a small challenge on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, aiming to get everyone to ‘consume’ as much science fiction during November as possible – even if they don’t blog. Feel free to join the group and take part!

I will also, of course, be aiming to comment on and tweet about as many of your posts as possible, so make sure to tweet/email links my way!

What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Two Weeks To Go!

sfm15_5

Yes that’s right, Sci-Fi Month begins in two weeks time! I thought I’d do a small reminder post, as well as perhaps notify anyone about the event who is interested but has missed the news so far. If you’re sat there wondering ‘What on earth is Sci-Fi Month?‘ then let me direct you to this post. 🙂

Introduction Posts

For the past two years, participants have mostly contributed introduction posts on the first day, or as their first post of November. It’s a really wonderful way to get to know the participants and share why you’re joining – and you are of course welcome to write whatever you want. However, if you do want some questions to fill in instead, then here’s the format we’ve previously used:

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
  2. How long have you been a fan of science fiction?
  3. Why do you like sci-fi and what is your favourite thing about it?
  4. Favourite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?
  5. What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?
Some Post Ideas
  • Reviews of science fiction novels, films, TV shows or video games, whether old or new
  • Lists along various sci-fi topics: planets, spaceships, aliens, galaxies, technology, different series etc
  • Quizzes, wordsearches, bingo cards
  • Discussions of different elements of science fiction
  • Blogger panels, similar to the above but involving several bloggers in one discussion post
  • Read-alongs, play-alongs, watch-alongs… etc
  • Interviews with science fiction authors
  • Guest posts by science fiction authors
  • Giveaways
Sharing Your Posts

Please don’t forget to add your posts to the schedule so they can be easily viewed by others! You can do this at any point, you don’t have to wait until the post is up. You can add it without a URL until it is posted, or if your blogging platform allows you, add the shortlink that will allow access once posted. The schedule can be found here.

Additionally, sharing your posts via Twitter is also a great idea: tweet @SciFiMonth or use the #RRSciFiMonth hashtag, and it will be retweeted by the official account. I will also be making sure to tweet about each post, whilst sharing other exciting science fiction news throughout the month.

Sci-Fi Month Mini Events

If you’re organising your own ‘mini event’ as part of Sci-Fi Month, please let me know! 🙂

For example, Lisa is organising a read-along of The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet.

The next two weeks are going to go super quickly – are you ready for Sci-Fi Month 2015? 😉

Blog Admin, Sci-Fi Month

Announcement: Graphics for Sci-Fi Month 2015

As many of you know, Sci-Fi Month is returning for another year. At the time of the announcement, I had no prepared any graphics for the event, but I’ve since had time to put a few together, so here they are. Please make sure to save them to your own server. You are more than welcome to make your own graphics of course, and if you’d like them shared on this page (with credit, naturally) so that other participants can use them, please let me know!

Banners

sfm15_2 sfm15_3 sfm15_5

Badges

sfm15_1 sfm15_4

I hope you’re excited for Sci-Fi Month! 🙂

Misc.

Netgalley Science Fiction Readathon

NetGalley

In preparation for Sci-Fi Month 2015, I thought I’d set myself a bit of a challenge: to read as many of my science fiction Netgalley ARCs as possible for the event. This has two purposes: it provides me with content for the event, AND it helps me raise my Netgalley ratio even higher! If you want to join in with this readathon in preparation for Sci-Fi Month, you are more than welcome.

I’m posting about this because I need help deciding which books to start with! I don’t think I’ll manage them all before November, so let me know if you recommend any of these. I will definitely be reading Red Rising, as it’s part of my book group’s monthly pick for September.

Here’s what’s on my list:

The Water Knife The Mechanical The Buried Life Avalon Rising The Body Electric Red Rising Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel The Fearless The Forever Watch by David Ramirez Black Moon The Waking Engine by David Edison The Almost Girl The Six Gun Tarot Viral Nation

As you can see, I have a lot to choose from. So I turn to you, my readers: have you read any of these? Are there any you would recommend?