Thursday, October 15, 2009

From Here to Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature
Michael D.C. Drout | English | Recorded Books | ISBN-10: 1419388754

(This is another reason libraries are EXCELLENT! Lately my local libraries that subscribe to offer this audiobook NOW in ipod-friendly MP3 form!! Maybe yours does too!)

Excellent survey of SF. It was a delight to listen to such a well done, scholarly, treatment of Science Fiction. Drout takes it seriously and really knows his stuff. It was a pleasure to listen to a lecture and learn AND know so much about the topic (even more than he in a few rare instances) at the same time. I'd love to talk to him about things he doesn't cover like franchise fiction (media tie-ins) and series books that he doesn't cover. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The End Is Now by Rob Stennett

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From the Publisher

One week from tomorrow, at precisely 6:11 in the morning, the rapture or apocalypse or Armageddon or whatever else it is you’d prefer to call it, is going to occur. But only in Goodland, Kansas.

Stuck in the middle is the Henderson family: Jeff, a struggling salesman who lives with a nagging fear that something will happen to his family; Will, who’s just trying to figure out life in the fifth grade; Emily, whose greatest concern is that she won’t be nominated homecoming queen; and his Amy, who is growing stir-crazy from being a housewife for eighteen years—and is convinced this was God’s plan B for her life.

The Hendersons are longtime residents of Goodland, Kansas, a small Midwest town where nothing new or exciting ever happens … until now. Are the recent happenings and catastrophic weather mere coincidence, or more? The town spirals into chaos and confusion as its residents discover the end is no longer near—the end is now.

Rob Stennett’s second novel is both a satire and a story of the apocalypse, a thriller and an exploration of family, community, belief, unbelief, and the two thousand-year-old Christian tradition of looking to the sky because the end is near.

Whoa. What if someone hired Anne Tyler to write a Left Behind book? I'm not saying it would be exactly like this.... but that's what I thought of. Clever, thoughtful and a nice turn on "the rapture."

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (Illustrator)

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From the Publisher

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.
Oh man - this was GREAT! This is the first book I've come across by Westerfield, who appears to be a real YA book SF superstar - I'm going to have to look up Uglies, et al (since the NEXT book in this series won't be out till October 2010!!!).

He really gets it - the idea of steampunk as well as a nice hand on alternate history stories. I think his attitude differences between clanker and darwinist culture is very nicely done. And the plucky girl/orphaned prince characters (gee, I wonder what might happen between them?) is nicely done.

Living Witness: A Gregor Demarkian Novel by Jane Haddam

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From the Publisher

In her 91 years, Ann-Victoria Hadley has often been the most hated person in Snow Hill, Pennsylvania. But now, it’s worse than ever. After a new school board inserted “intelligent design” into the curriculum, they were sued by a coalition including Hadley, the one member of the board who wouldn’t go along with the rest. With the trial about to start and the town a national laughing stock, Annie-Vic is found clubbed into unconsciousness and not expected to survive. The local police chief, one of the school board members, can’t investigate it himself and doesn’t trust the state police. So he brings in Gregor Demarkian.

Gregor Demarkian, former FBI agent, is happy to help—his wedding is coming up and he’s desperate for a bit of time away from his too-involved neighbors on Cavanaugh Street in Philadelphia. Even if it is to investigate a brutal crime in a powder-keg of a small town.

Well, of course I liked this - I enjoy all the Demarkian stories. I wouldn't rank this as high as some of the others. It needed more Tibor (like ANY Fr. Tibor - he hardly appears. I'd love to have seen him meet Pastor Nick, they'd be great together), and some toning down of the "crazy fundies." It isn't that there isn't craziness out there, but it just broke the mood of the story - it was too frothing at the mouth.....