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?

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2013: Patrick Ness & Meg Rosoff

Yes, yesterday I was lucky enough to meet both Patrick Ness and Meg Rosoff at the Cheltenham Literature Festival! I live about twenty miles from Cheltenham, and worked at the festival last year, so it’s just wonderful to have such an amazing event only a bus journey away. Today I met Sarah J. Maas, Maureen Johnson and David Levithan, but I’ll do a post about that event tomorrow.
 
Patrick and Meg were there to talk about their new books, More Than This and Picture Me Gone respectively. I originally wasn’t planning on picking up More Than This straight away – I tend to wait for the paperback – but when Patrick read the first chapter I just knew I had to get myself a copy! 
 
When I saw this photo on my phone, I was convinced I could see myself. High res on my computer showed otherwise… if Patrick had turned the camera just a tiny bit to the left then I’d have been on his Twitter!

Both authors briefly introduced their new books before reading the first chapter. This was then followed by a discussion session lead by a lady who works for the Guardian newspaper (I completely missed her name). They are both very witty people, capable of turning an anecdote into something very entertaining, and it was so nice to be able witness that – there was a real sense that they were there for their audience and fans, to talk to us about what we wanted to know, rather than just there to promote their next book.
 
Meg told the story of how her new book came into creation – she said she’d lied to her editor for months and months about having a story, and even came up with a name for the main character: Mila. Then one day, whilst walking in the park, a Bedlington terrier came bounding up to her and when she checked the nametag, it was called Mila. And so the story started from there, the character even tells the reader at the beginning of the book that she was named after a dog!
 
The book is actually a mystery, with Mila tracking down her best friend’s missing father, and Meg cited Sherlock (both Conan Doyle’s original, and the more recent BBC adaptation) as inspiration, and also mentioned that she loves adventure stories about nineteenth/early twentieth century explorers.
 
Meeting Meg! The only photo where we’re both looking at the camera too…
 
Patrick revealed that More Than This is the story he has been waiting to write since he was nine or ten years old. He’s had the idea for a long time, and said Seth is probably the closest character to himself that he has ever written. 
 
He’s now trying his hand at script writing, including scripts for Fox and Warner Brothers, and a film of the Chaos Walking trilogy is in the works, with a script written by Charlie Kaufman. He was hoping to give us some more updates on the film, but at the time of the event he wasn’t allowed to reveal too much, so I guess it’s just a case of keeping an ear out for as and when! What he could reveal, however, is that A Monster Calls is being adapted for the stage.
 
Me and Mr. Ness!
 
What followed was a mish-mash of discussion topics. One that we stayed on for a while was the topic of privacy and technology. So many people publish their every move online, and whilst I’m not a fan of posting about everything (I don’t post on my personal Facebook much), I share a lot of information when it comes to book-related topics – even now, I’m sharing images of myself for all to see. Meg said that she was working with a young man recently, and she Googled him – and couldn’t find a thing. She said it was a shock to realise that she actually found his lack of online presence very cool, the fact that he had no small space on the internet for himself was something rare and unique. One fan teased Patrick about his frequent selfies, and he shared his disdain for Snapchat.
 
Meg also raised an interesting point: people lament the death of the written letter, saying that children in this decade never hand-write letters. But back in the nineteenth century, people would have sent out short letters with the past day’s news: now we do it a different way, through text and email, through Twitter and Facebook.
 
As well as discussion on the potential films of the Chaos Walking trilogy, which sadly Patrick couldn’t tell us too much about, Meg discussed the new film adaptation of her novel How I Live Now. I first read this book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and I remember really enjoying it – it was quite a harrowing read at a time when I hadn’t read any sort of dystopian fiction before. Apparently the film process has been going on for a while, and Kristen Stewart was originally lined up to play Daisy, the protagonist. But then she went off to film the Twilight movies and they lost their lead. Kristen Stewart, then an unknown, was perfect for Daisy in Meg’s eyes. She admitted that Saoirse Ronan (who plays Daisy in the final version of the film) is not as she imagined Daisy, but that she has done a great job. She also said that the film isn’t quite as she imagined it – but that if she had done her own version, it probably would have been in black and white, with subtitles and had a total audience of six people! 
 
Both authors agreed that, whilst film adaptations of their novels are wonderful, it’s good that it is never quite as they would have done it – because that specific work is theirs, whereas the film is someone else’s vision.
 

After the event came a signing session, and I managed to get fairly close to the front of the queue so the wait wasn’t too long. I grabbed photos with both authors and chatted to them briefly. I told Patrick that the Chaos Walking trilogy made me cry at the end, and he told me that was good – it’s always fantastic when a book makes you feel so strongly about the characters and events. Meg asked me if I was going to see the film of How I Live Now, to which I replied that I wanted to but I wasn’t sure when – she misheard me and thought I said I didn’t want to, so of course I had to hastily correct her!
 

Overall a fantastic event, with some brilliant authors and lively chatter! Both were more than happy to engage with and chat back to the audience, and it felt like a really close gathering.

 
Past Features

Feature: Why You Should Read This Book #6 – The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Five Reasons Why You Should Read The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

1. It is one of those series that completely grips you, that makes you so attached to the characters that you can’t bear anything to happen to them.

2. It is fantastically written. I also love the use of various fonts to show different types of Noise.

3. You can’t help but love Todd and Viola, and Manchee. The characters are so real, complete with their flaws.

4. Patrick Ness has a way of completely shocking the reader. And he will manage it multiple times.

5. This series deserves more recognition. It is a fantastic light sci-fi series, that not enough people have read. If something like Twilight has achieved international success, a multi-film franchise etc, then why has something of this quality still not achieved that same status?

Misc.

A Year in Books 2012

This is my own wrap-up post of the past year, pointing out particular favourites, new authors and series, etc. To see all the books I have read this year, click here, or look at the graphic below (good ol’ Goodreads!)

 

I started off the year with reading all but the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, as I had read A Game of Thrones at the end of 2011. Definitely one of my new favourite series and authors! I don’t think I really need to explain what they’re about as I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of the series by now.
 
 
I started the Millennium series, by Stieg Larsson. My parents are fans, and were going to see the English language version of the film in the cinema, and I decided to go with them. I hadn’t read the books, so on the day we were going to watch it I started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and got about halfway through the book before seeing the film. But Blomkvist and Salander hadn’t even met by that point! I still haven’t read the third book of the series – I started it, but honestly found it rather dull, and from watching the film I know not much happens.
 
 
I won my first Goodreads giveaway – Antauge by Sarah Parker Morris, which I ended up giving a three star rating. You can read my review here. I won many other books after, some of which I still need to review!

 
Mass Effect 3 was released, and I played and finished it – and started reading the books because I just can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, the books are pretty bad… but that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I have reviewed Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn and Mass Effect: Homeworlds by Mac Walters; and read but not reviewed Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz and Mass Effect: Evolution by Mac Walters.
 
I also decided to read some more classic sci-fi, so read books such as I Am Legend by Robert Matheson and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I made sure to read it before I watched Blade Runner – which is one of my dad’s favourite films, and he’d been telling me to watch it for ages. I have to say, I definitely preferred the book! I also read some newer sci-fi, such as House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (amazing) and Gradisil by Adam Roberts (had so much potential).

  

I read The Hunger Games series, all three books before seeing the film. I absolutely loved them, and this led to me reading more YA books that weren’t quite so good… 

But I also discovered some new favourite series – the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I discovered some really enjoyable, underrated books such as The Silver Linings Playbook (which I’m sure is now more popular due to the film). I re-read some older favourites – Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses trilogy, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, some Bill Bryson.


I finally got round to reading (and really enjoying!) some of the more popular books that I’d been meaning to read – The Passage by Justin Cronin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.


But I also read a couple of books that I really didn’t enjoy. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Admitting to not enjoying either of those almost makes me feel blasphemous… but I just didn’t get along with them at all. I think The Scarlet Letter is the only book I’ve ever wanted to throw across the room. I really looked forward to reading Let The Right One In but spent the majority of it feeling rather queasy… I also read the infamously Goodreads-wide hated Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden, which made me feel rather sick for a completely different reason.


I founded this blog at the end of August, which is when I started reading ebooks – I’m still not sure what I think of them. I can see their uses, definitely, but I much, much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Since I started this blog, I have made 95 posts (not including this one), 29 of which are book reviews. I’ve gained 220 followers on Google Friend Connect, and over 500 on Twitter, as well as discovered some fantastic fellow book bloggers!


I’m actually finding it really hard to write this post, because there are so many books and aspects of blogging that  I want to write about, but I don’t want to turn this into an essay, and it would also take forever! Overall, I would say that I think it’s been a great year, reading wise. I read a wide range of genres, found some amazing new books/series/authors, and also found ones I know to steer clear of.


I think I’ll also just take the time to send a small shout out to some of my favourite book bloggers – Kelly, Kat, Ara, Aloi and Deneé – I visit your blogs regularly, and try to comment frequently. But there are so many others I love to visit, I would list my whole blogroll on here if I could…