Science Fiction 4 All Seasons

Four Science Fiction eAudiobooks featuring four different styles of Science Fiction stories. Happy listening!

Anne Manx in Lives of the Cat by Larry Weiner, read by Claudia Christian and Patricia Tallman

[Science Fiction Noir] For fans of Science Fiction Radio Serials
Anne Manx is an honest detective, maybe the last one remaining in the star system. And because of this, when a sudden insurrection within the police force puts the entire system on the edge of anarchy, she finds herself on the wrong end of a gun barrel. But this is not where Anne Manx’s story ends. For this end is merely a beginning, and like the mythical cat with nine lives, Anne Manx is one hard cat to kill. A fast-paced romp through space full of campy fun, this fully-staged radio production is an homage to radio serials of old, like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, mixed with the satirical adult humor of Barbarella.

Armada by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton

[Science Fiction] For fans of Ready Player One, Ender’s Game, and all things growing up in the 80’s
From the team that brought you the new sci-fi cult classic novel and audiobook, Ready Player One, author Ernest Cline and narrator Wil Wheaton, have reteamed to create another ode to the 80’s in Armada! This fast-paced science fiction adventure is the perfect blend of two 80’s Sci-Fi classics, Jonathan R. Betuel’s film, The Last Starfighter and Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Game. High school senior Zack Lightman is doing what he does most days in class, staring out the window and daydreaming, when suddenly he sees something that he certainly couldn’t have seen. If you asked him what he saw, he wouldn’t tell you. Absolutely not. Because if he did, you’d think he was going crazy. Just like his dearly departed dad. Because, what he saw in the sky that day wasn’t a bird, or a plane, or even a super-man, but a spaceship. A very specific spaceship, as a matter of fact. A spaceship from his favorite game, Armada. But that can’t be right. Because that would be crazy. Continue reading “Science Fiction 4 All Seasons”

Science fiction and fantasy books about change

During these times of uncertainty, many of us are looking to our favorite writers for comfort and guidance. For decades, speculative-fiction writers have shown themselves to be especially well-versed in the subject of uncertainty, using their magical worlds to explore social problems and existential questions that complicate our daily lives. Here are three science fiction and fantasy novels that offer empowering perspectives on change and adjusting to a new normal.

The Left Hand of Darkness book cover imageThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This novel is perhaps best known for its commentary on the social effects of gender roles, thanks to Le Guin’s detailed, almost anthropological portrayal of an alien society where gender does not exist. These are the Gethenians, who live out their days on the planet Winter, named so because it is covered eternally in snow, wind, and ice. As narrator Genly Ai learns about the Gethenians’ culture and lifestyle on their frozen planet, the patient reader slowly learns along with him and ultimately is rewarded with profound meditations on change, ephemerality, and living under harsh conditions in a world full of great unknowns. Continue reading “Science fiction and fantasy books about change”

Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic

There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine  what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.

In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”

Speculative Short Stories to Read or Listen to Online

Friday the 13th of March was a dynamic scene at the Central Library, with patrons queuing for help to find good books to read during the library’s closure, and the DVD aisles packed with browsers. I miss assisting patrons in person in finding a great story to read or watch – though do visit my colleagues at I at Your Next Five Books where we continue to advise readers and listeners online. Fortunately, there are many other ways to enjoy stories right now.

If you have internet access, here are some places to find speculative stories – e.g. science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, slipstream, and anything in the realms of the imagination. Because it times like these, we need stories that take us away from our current realities, don’t you agree?

Tor.com is a publisher of books, yes, but they also post full-text short stories, as well as blog posts about books and popular culture weekly. Stories are updated in the carousel at the top of the site. Recent stories stories have been written by the likes of Maria Dahvana Headley, Charlie Jane Anders, Harry Turtledove, Garth Nix, and Neil Gaiman. Continue reading “Speculative Short Stories to Read or Listen to Online”

Fantastic Librarians of the Future!!

Many years ago – back in the ‘oughts – we did a couple of popular posts on librarians in fiction, and in fantasy. Since then, librarians have only stepped up their fictional game, appearing in more and more novels, not so surprising when we consider that many authors basically grew up in libraries. They pop up in all genres, from Romance to Mystery to literary fiction from around the world, such as Dag Solstad’s T. Singer, Jennifer Tseng’s Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera’s The Awakening of Miss Prim, or Jenny Offill’s novel Weather. But most of all, librarians appear in the extraordinary realms of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Here are a few recent examples: find more on our list in the catalog.

Continue reading “Fantastic Librarians of the Future!!”