science fiction/fantasy

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

A horror-fantasy novel about librarians (who are also formidable gods) - with a bit of humor and romance too? I’m in! Author Scott Hawkins has been likened to Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman, and I think his first foray into fiction deserves this comparison. It takes a few chapters to really figure out what’s going on, but if you stick with it, the payoff is huge. Mysterious protagonist Carolyn is making plans to take over the library, which wields immense power over the universe, after the librarians’ brutal adopted Father disappears.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker bee, navigating the strict hierarchy of her beloved hive. She’s also curious, ambitious and unusually talented. A rare chance to rise above her low-caste estate comes when circumstances threaten the hive’s survival. Work and sacrifice conflict with an overwhelming maternal love and lead her to unthinkable and dangerous deeds. Paull’s imaginative prose protects the story from artifice. You’ll never look at the lowly honey bee in your backyard in the same way after reading this thrilling tale.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My name is Nick Weinstein. I’m a scriptwriter for a low budget sci-fi TV series, Chronicles of the Intrepid. The people I wrote in my scripts exist. I know because I met them right there in the flesh. I could reach out and touch them. Whenever I kill one of them off, they actually die. To me, it’s just putting down words on a page. To them, it’s getting eaten by a Borgovian Land Worm, or shot to smithereens by a rogue robot, or being eaten by a bear. Think about that.

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

“Smart, stoned neurofiction for the posteverything world” is how Cory Doctorow summed up this engaging thriller. Set in the near future, a group of friends designed a drug to solve many of the world’s longest-lasting problems. The drug allows the user to directly communicate with their own, personal god. Were it to make it to the market it could eradicate all religion - who needs an interpreter when you can have a private conversation with your deity?

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Holly Sykes is a typical teenager, breathing in the smells of "warm tarmac, fried spuds and week-old rubbish," and prey to inexplicable visitations and "daymares" in which she slips into another universe. Visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. Mitchell leaps through six different universes, crossing into epochs, and throwing off mini-novels that double as pieces of a fabulous jigsaw puzzle.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Sci-Fi dystopian fiction meets missionary tale. Peter once was lost, a drunk and a thief headed for an early death. Then he fell in love with a devout nurse and the two of them started a new life spreading the good word. The novel opens as Peter is just about to head millions of miles away from home to the next chapter in his life. A multinational corporation (and even that description seems too small, given their inter-planetary reach) has recruited him to work on a planet they are active upon.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Abandoned for dead by the rest of his crew after a horrific storm forces them to evacuate the planet, Mark Watney’s challenges are immense. Facing starvation, loneliness, broken machinery, an unforgiving environment, human error and no way to contact earth this botanist/engineer nevertheless is not willing to surrender. Will his ingenuity be enough to overcome the impossible odds he faces? A terrific adventure/survival tale. Check Our Catalog

Lock In by John Scalzi

Sometime in the near future a virus has infected thousands of people around the world and completely severed their ability to control their bodies. Being of sound mind these people (Holdens) are literally locked inside their human form. The virus had no respect for class or status and many very wealthy people were locked in. They were able to harness political power to subsidize rapid advances in technology that now enable people locked in their bodies to navigate the physical world by controlling very advanced robots - as well as habitating in expansive virtual worlds.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

No one writes dystopian science fiction quite like Octavia Butler. Captivating and terrifyingly real, Parable of the Sower tells the tale of young Lauren Olamina, an empath who feels and experiences the pain of others around her. Forced to flee her home in Southern California, Lauren finds an America where anarchy and violence have completely taken over as a result of unattended environmental and economic crises.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

This is a fabulous tale! It starts in the mid-1980’s in the English countryside when 15-year-old Holly Sykes storms away from home over her first-love - an older boy who does her wrong so fast its barely even mentionable. Earlier in Holly’s life she heard voices and had visits from what other’s chalked up to an imaginary friend. But it was never imaginary for Holly, and she is quite sane. The novel skips forward and around the globe, introducing several other interesting characters, all of whom have compelling stories of their own.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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