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?

Top Lists

My Top Ten Summer Reads

top ten

Now that I’m back in the UK, I have access to ALL MY BOOKS! This is so exciting – although my Kindle was a bit of a godsend in that it allowed me to read a wide variety whilst in the Netherlands, I also really missed having an actual book in my hands most of the time. I was also aware of the many unread books I had back at home, not to mention review copies I’d received whilst away. Therefore I was eager to get back to my collection! 😉 So here are the top ten books from my shelf that I can’t wait to read this summer.

Summer Reads

  • Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee – I’ve heard a lot about this series since it was published, especially the first book. I was never particularly bothered about reading it, but then I got a free copy in my Glamour Book Club goodie bag. After checking out some reviews, it seems that plenty of my friends were surprised by it – it’s not quite as it seems.
  • The Bees by Laline Paull – I was kindly sent this by HarperCollins, and it sounds so unique. Told from the point of view of a bee? How could I not be intrigued by that?
  • Beneath London by James P. Blaylock – steampunk is something I’ve gotten into more recently, and definitely something I want to read more of. So when I was offered this one by Titan Books, I had to snatch up the opportunity to read it.
  • The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy – I won this from Goodreads, and I really want to give Benjamin Percy’s writing another shot. I read |Red Moon last year and felt there was something missing, so I hope I enjoy this one more.
  • The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin – it took me ages to find a second hand copy of this, and it was just before I left for Leiden last summer. So now I can finally read this sequel!

Summer Reads

  • Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1) by Stephen R. Donaldson – I picked this up for free at London Film and Comic Con last summer, and then managed to find the other two books in my local charity shop just after. It comes highly recommended, and also fits in nicely with this month’s DC vs. Marvel villain challenge!
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie – I read the first book in this series over Christmas, and really loved it, so it’s definitely time to read more.
  • Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – I’ve wanted to watch the film Edge of Tomorrow ever since it came out, but haven’t yet gotten round to it – now I’m going to try and read the book first. The original title was actually All You Need Is Kill, but versions published with the film cover have the new title. I bought this from Amazon, as part of a 3 paperbacks for £10 deal.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – this was Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group earlier this year, and I managed to get it as part of the deal with Edge of Tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but my book group seemed to enjoy it so here’s hoping I do too!
  • The Hunter’s Kind (The Hollow Gods #2) by Rebecca Levene – I was super excited to receive the first book in this series last year, and couldn’t wait for the sequel, which has just been published. Thank you, Hodder!

What are you planning on reading this summer?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #9: True Blood

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: True Blood.

true blood dvd

Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.

I am unashamedly a big fan of this wonderfully cheesy series. I’ve read all the books (written by Charlaine Harris), and finally caught up with the TV show last year. Although the series is VERY different to the books – the only season that follows the book plotline is season one and partly two – they’re both gory, silly and very, very fun. So apart from the obvious: read the books by Charlaine Harris – here’s some other books you might enjoy if you’re a fan of True Blood.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

One of the masters of fantasy wrote a vampire novel in his early days, and it is seriously underrated. Set in nineteenth century Louisiana, it follows a riverboat captain called Abner Marsh who is approached by a strange businessman called Joshua York, and offered a very good deal. However, York is not quite as he seems, and Marsh may have gotten himself into something deadly… It has all the traditions of a vampire story, with a more unusual setting. Yes, it’s Louisiana and Mississippi, like much of True Blood (and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), but it’s on a steamboat! Vampires! On a steamboat! Plus you can’t go wrong with GRRM’s writing (or maybe I’m a bit of a fangirl…).

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

I reviewed this one a while ago, and it really impressed me. A retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, from the point of view of one of Dracula’s transformed victims, Incarnation is a wonderfully written book. The tone really captures the writing style of the period in which it is set, and the author’s descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and dark London streets are very eerie. I was so happy that I requested it from Edelweiss, as it was really nothing like I was expecting. My review was also chosen to be featured on Edelweiss, which was exciting.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Less of a traditional vampire novel than the other two, but still a brilliant tale. It’s a huge book, with a wide cast of characters. In The Passage, vampires are created through a virus, similar to that of I Am Legend. The story follows a group of survivors, as well as a young girl who is central to the whole thing – but they’re not quite sure how. The sequel, The Twelve came out last year and I still need to get round to that one.

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

Top Lists

Horror October: My Top Ten Horror Books

For this week’s Horror October post, I’m sharing my top ten horror books with my lovely readers! Have you read any of these?
 


1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – more eerie and creepy than outright horrifying, this is not something you want to read at night. I haven’t yet watched the film – it doesn’t look like it’s completely captured the spirit of the book to me. Susan Hill is a master of suspense.

2. The Shining by Stephen King – obviously. A tale of a man’s spiral into madness… or is it? This book is shocking, horrifying and downright scary, making it a perfect Halloween read. The film makes some big changes, so definitely give it a read even if you think you don’t need to after seeing the film!


3. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris – or rather, the whole series for this one. Not particularly plain ol’ horror, it’s about vampires, werewolves, fairies and other mystical creatures, but has a fair amount of horrific moments and gory shocks. I discussed the series a couple of months ago.


4. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – this book isn’t just scary because of the vampires/zombies. It’s the effect that isolation has on Neville, and how his human instincts react to that isolation. (my review)


5. Incarnation by Emma Cornwall – a semi-retelling of Dracula told from the point of view of one of his victims, this is a wonderfully written book and one of my hidden gems from last year. (my review)


6. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin – GRRM, a master of epic fantasy, has also written a pretty awesome vampire novel, set on the Mississippi. Typical of the author, it’s a very dark book.



 
 
7. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – this one seems to have such mixed reviews and ratings on Goodreads, but I personally loved it. It follows the story of a young woman chasing her family’s past and the evil that is connected.
 
8. The Passage by Justin Cronin – another vampire novel, but so, so well done, especially because, like with I Am Legend, the vampirism is a disease and the results are believable. Books like this are always much scarier when they could actually happen to you. I’m still hoping to read the sequel, The Twelve, which came out last year.
 
9. Carrie by Stephen King – another one from the master of horror, Carrie follows the story of a young high school girl who is relentlessly teased at school. One day it just gets too much…
 
10. Ring by Koji Suzuki – I never want to see the film of this one – the book was creepy enough. I’m sure you’re familiar with the story, the film was really big when it came out  seven or eight years ago (I think). If you watch a certain video tape, you get a phone call – and are killed seven days later by a mysterious force. Shame that the tape has become infamous with the local teenagers, who are casually passing it around…
 

This post is part of Horror October, hosted by Leanne at Literary Excursion.

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…

Top Lists

Top Ten Tuesday #1: Books To Get Into The Halloween Spirit

toptentuesday

I’m joining in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s theme is:

Top Ten Books To Get Into The Halloween Spirit

1. The Shining by Stephen King
Most likely a very popular choice on this Top Ten! I don’t think I need to explain this one. I love the book but I just can’t bring myself to watch the film…

2. Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist
One of the few books that has actually made me feel physically sick. It is graphic and shocking, and definitely not for the weak-hearted. I know my Goodreads rating of this one is quite low, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book – it was just not particularly to my taste (as I’m squeamish…). However, it most definitely fits this top ten!

3. Dead until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris
Not scary, but all about the paranormal. I love this series, although sadly the last couple of books have been quite a let down – it feels almost as though Charlaine Harris is writing to fulfil the quota of thirteen in the series, rather than because she wants to or has much to say about Sookie (Sookehhh) and co. They are good fun though.

4. The Passage by Justin Cronin
A fantastic vampire dystopian novel that feels more like a character study. A hefty volume, but definitely worth the read! The sequel, The Twelve, is released on 25th October 2012.

5. Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
If you’re a fan of A Song and Ice and Fire, then get on it and read some of GRRM’s other work – especially this one! A fantastic vampire novel set along the nineteenth century Mississippi river, and based around steamboats. I love the Louisiana accent so I had fun imagining this one in my head…

6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Not quite as action packed as the film adaptation makes it out to be. But a great read, and very harrowing. And I’m sorry for having so many vampire novels on this list!

7. Carrie by Stephen King
Here we go, a non-vampire novel! If you want to read some of King’s shorter works, this is a good one to start with. A tale of a social outcast with telekinetic powers, who is pushed too far…

8. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Not scary, as much as eerie. The stage production is terrifying, however. A friend of mine borrowed this from me and said she almost felt the need to keep it in the fridge when it got too scary, a la Joey from Friends 😉

9. The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman
This one is on my list because I figure it’s probably not on many others. A good, scary YA novel by the fantastic author Malorie Blackman (who wrote the Noughts & Crosses trilogy. Note to Victoria Foyt: that is how you tackle racism.)

10. Fever (Flu #2) by Wayne Simmons
A good old-fashioned, action-packed zombie breakout novel. I won this from Goodreads, so I have a copy dedicated to me by Wayne himself. If anyone reading is from the Gloucestershire area, Wayne will be at the Cheltenham Waterstones store on 31st October, as part of a Halloween event.
So that’s my Top Ten Tuesday! I will probably participate in TTT every so often, depending on the topic and how much time I have.

What would your top ten books be? Have you read any of the ones on my list?