Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, May 06, 2016

Setting up my Sci-Fi Summer reads

No sooner than I have finished up with the last book in my Spring Into Horror readathon, Michelle at Seasons of Reading announces a brand new addition to her readathon roster.

 The Sci-Fi Summer readathon, which begins on June 1st and ends on the 7th, is slightly different from most of the other reading challenges at SOR in that it's more genre focused. For that week, you have to read either science fiction or fantasy, unlike some of the others that allow books from other categories. Now, I'm not a big sci-fi reader myself but in looking around my vast stacks of reading material, there are at least three that I think qualify for this special event:

STATION ELEVEN: This is one of my recent birthday presents and since it does take place in a post apocalyptic world, I think that this book will do nicely for this challenge.

The story follows a traveling band of actors touring about the remnants of a society struggling to make do after a vicious plague. They offer what comfort they can by performing the plays of Shakespeare, using the motto "survival is insufficient" but even so, some are opposed to this gesture of artistic good will.

The book has won heaps of praise from readers and critics alike, as well as awards including the Arthur C. Clarke last year. I'm glad to have such a great opportunity to indulge myself with such a beloved modern classic in the making here:

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION: I'm sure some of you are reading the title alone and thinking "How is this science fiction?" Well, it happens to be set in an alternate time line, which is one of the numerous themes to be found with the genre and Michael Chabon is no stranger to flights of fancy in his writing there.

In this universe, Sitka,Alaska has become the refuge for Jewish citizens fleeing Nazi oppression during WWII and homicide detective Meyer Landsman has landed a murder case that could have worldwide implications as it links to a plot beyond their borders.

This novel has won a slew of awards in this category, including the Nebula,the Locus and the Hugo, and I've liked Michael Chabon's style ever since I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's been languishing on my TBR pile for far too long and this Sci Fi Summer is high time that I get into gear with this one:

THE TOMMYKNOCKERS: When it comes to these readathons, I have a hard time resisting a Stephen King reread but it has been a very long while since I opened up this one. The book begins with Roberta,aka "Bobbi", a writer of Western stories who stumbles upon the edge of a spaceship out in the woods near her rural home in the small town of Haven,Maine.

As she begins to dig up the ship, the energy coming off of the vessel begins to change Bobbi and the rest of the town in ways that seem both good and bad. Only a visiting writer pal of Bobbi's is seemingly immune to these affects,with him alone having to lead the charge against the deadly alien influence growing all about them.

Granted, this is not one of King's better books(he's not a fan of it himself) but it does make for interesting reading and is certainly less goofy than the made-for-TV miniseries adaptation that aired in 1993:

Those are my picks for Sci-Fi Summer but I do have a few suggestions for folks not sure about what other types of science fiction are out there, with a brief list of authors to check out:

Margaret Atwood: She does tend to genre jump but her sci-fi works are solid reads. While she does have a trilogy of novels set in a futuristic world ravaged by genetic experimentation(Onyx and Crake, Year of the Floor and Maddam), if you haven't read The Handmaid's Tale, that is the place where you should start.

This tale of a woman forced into biological servitude due to the rise of a staunchly religious dictatorship has become a true classic and with Hulu now in the works to adapt it into a ten part miniseries, interest in this book will be higher than ever. Atwood claims that she doesn't write sci-fi but this certainly fits the bill and then some:

Ernest Cline: If you like old school pop culture, movies and video games, then you should adore the works of Ernest Cline. His first novel, Ready Player One, hit the ground running and is currently being made into a Stephen Spielberg flick.

The hero of the book is Wade, one of the many members of a trampled down society who plug into the available to all massive video game OASIS, where devoted players are in search of a set of keys left by it's creator that will lead him or her to find a vast fortune.

Wade happens to find one of these keys, much to his surprise, and his adventures in both the virtual and the real world begin. It's an amazing journey that references Back to the Future, War Games and Blade Runner among other cinematic gems and so much more. Cline's latest book Armada also has a video game theme(this time with space aliens) but if you haven't read RPO, that is the place to start especially before the movie comes out:

Dean Koontz: While many of his books fall into the horror category, there are several that have science fiction themes such as Watchers, Strangers, Lightning and so many more. He's a great developer of characters who you can't help rooting for or hoping to see them defeated in their twisted schemes.

One of the first Koontz novels I read was Watchers,which was made into a terrible film, and one that I strongly recommend. However, Phantoms does have it's merits and Ben Affleck was the bomb in the movie version. Personally, I think it's shame that Koontz hasn't had a truly decent film adaptation of his books on either the big screen or the small but that's a topic for another day:

There's plenty of time to sign up for Sci-Summer and you can check in at Facebook or follow the Twitter tag #SciFiSummerJune for more details. This sounds like a fun way to start off the summer reading season and certainly offers up a break from the usual rock-em-sock-em sci-fi fare that we get at the movies that doesn't always pack a popcorn worthy punch:

1 comment:

Michelle Miller said...

Great selections! And how great is it that you'll be able to read one of your birthday selections. I'm not sure what I'm going to read yet, but these are some great selections. Phantoms is one of my favorite Koontz books!