The Stories of Ibis offers a sparkling, fresh stance on man vs. machine science fiction, proving that the lines between both camps are not so simple tThe Stories of Ibis offers a sparkling, fresh stance on man vs. machine science fiction, proving that the lines between both camps are not so simple to discern. Quite enjoyed the more heady philosophical debates on the role of machines in human lives and vice versa, how both parties rely on one another for companionship, purpose, and evolution. In particular, the idea of death as discussed between the nameless Storyteller and the android Ibis is a compelling one that will linger long after the book is closed. Also, loved how vital the act of storytelling is to this novel. Hiroshi Yamamoto places the writer in a central role as the preserver of human culture and as the bonding link between disparate civilizations. Meta-narrative at its most sci fi - delicious.
Some readers might be turned off by the dense technical writing that accompanies a couple of the short stories. Remember: this is science fiction. Science is a large part of said fiction. Understanding the physics behind the fiction is vital at times andYamamoto explores it with great depth.
Ideal for: sci fi lovers who need a sharp jolt from the genre; current or former philoso-philes who like a good android debate; amateur or professional writers who love to speculate on their influence over these narratives; physics nerds who like reading technical jargon in their spare time....more
Iconic for its defense of literature and its eerie accuracy with future technologies, Fahrenheit 451 proves its timeless qualities from the high schooIconic for its defense of literature and its eerie accuracy with future technologies, Fahrenheit 451 proves its timeless qualities from the high school classroom and beyond. Also impressive is this novel's power to dictate Ray Bradbury's public persona as a "science fiction writer," despite the fact his sci fi portfolio is limited to this book and another series of short stories set on Mars. Regardless, Fahrenheit 451 is a gateway novel for young readers to start articulating the importance of free speech and to realize the latent dangers stemming from constant distraction and the erasure of silence.
Some ideas are rather dated in the text (e.g. Men = Active Thinkers, Women = Passive Consumers), but the fundamental importance of engaged citizens and the importance of self-consciousness are as vital as ever.
Ideal for: High school students with a hard-on for Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four"; New readers to the science fiction genre; Writers who like a little affirmation on the importance of their craft....more
Felix Gilman builds a breathtaking, brutal world filled with the creeping horrors of progress against the wild backdrop of the West. The Half-Made WorFelix Gilman builds a breathtaking, brutal world filled with the creeping horrors of progress against the wild backdrop of the West. The Half-Made World combines the speculative nature of science fiction with the merciless gunslinging of the Wild West, and then populates the pages with imposing supernaturals. On one hand, we have the workers of The Line breaking the land under the steel tracks of new railroads, and enslaving the world in the name of progress; on the other hand, we have the Agents of The Gun chosen to fight The Line—even if it involves killing all of mankind to win. Only one man is capable of stopping them—and his mind was carved out under the weight of a devastating bomb from The Line. What follows is an epic adventure into the depths of the West to end the war between bitter, unseen Gods.
Brilliant read—I had to stop myself from drooling my appreciation across the pages. Prepare for me to pummel you with this recommendation.
Ideal for: Sci fi nerds who appreciate some gunslinging; readers who love grand mythology with a steampunk aesthetic; folks who like their morals (and heroes!) muddied....more
How can one feel alive without knowing the pain of living? Does disease and suffering create our consciousness and our sense of humanity? Harmony creaHow can one feel alive without knowing the pain of living? Does disease and suffering create our consciousness and our sense of humanity? Harmony creates a world in which human ingenuity has eradicated illness through the use of medicules, a clever injection of molecules that police our bodies and report our health to world authorities. With tailored diets, expert fitness routines, and regular psychological assessments, all of humankind have traded an individual-driven existence in order to live healthy, well-balanced lives. Declining population rates in the aftermath of nuclear fallout have made the human body the world's most precious commodity. The health and continuation of our species outweighs the selfishness of the individual—and yet, suicide rates among those born into this system are on the rise each year. Three girls come of age in this world, and each girl must decide whether to abide by the self-sacrifice of harmony or to rebel against the insulated lives the world expects them to live.
Hard science fans will find ample content to rejoice in—biological tyranny and terrorism combine for a thrilling chemistry of cutting-edge literature. In fact, tech nerds might even find the book's message can be enhanced through e-reader technology—HTML codes are embedded within the text for good reason, folks. Project Itoh delivers an astounding science fiction work that walks a fine line between utopian ideals and dystopian disillusionment, and provides ample brain candy for readers of all backgrounds.
Ideal for: Hard science aficionados and disease thriller diehards; Readers who like a female lead (or three!) in their science fiction; Dystopia worshippers who'd like a taste of the end of the world from a Japanese standpoint....more
Step aside, kids—the Grand Master of October Country and Dystopian Worlds has arrived. In A Pleasure to BurnFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Step aside, kids—the Grand Master of October Country and Dystopian Worlds has arrived. In A Pleasure to Burn, readers are walked through Ray Bradbury's creative process and introduced to sixteen shorter works that prefigure the landmark Fahrenheit 451. Immediate favourites include: "Bright Phoenix", where a Chief Censor marvels over the absence of witnesses at his book burning; "The Garbage Collector", where one man's life changes in a single day after learning the gristly details of his job should a nuclear war erupt; and "The Smile", where a young boy joins the men of his town to desecrate an iconic portrait from the past.
Bradbury's cold, sterile, lifeless worlds are punctuated by one colour only—the orange-yellow rage of fire. He burns through the past, through remarkable art, and through the written word with great fury, and he manages to sneak in a few rocket ships and a trip to Mars for all the sci fi kids in the crowd. However, I found the quality of the stories was not consistent—most of these works were originally published in journals, and were therefore refined under the eyes of an editor. But, in some cases, these stories were rough works not intended to reach publication per se. Also, the collection includes two novellas ("Long After Midnight" and "The Fireman") that are actual rough drafts of Fahrenheit 451—the average reader might turn down the collection at this point for its repetitiveness and for the painful, un-Bradbury prose of his rough work. Regardless, I will still champion the man and partake of the pleasure to burn.
Ideal for: Creative writing students who ought to learn from the masters; Editorial students eager to read the rough drafts of Fahrenheit 451; Readers with a mega-crush on all things Bradbury; Kids waiting in line for the official Hunger Games film release....more
Welcome to the future, where the apocalypse is a fixed point in the past. Most North American cities have beFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Welcome to the future, where the apocalypse is a fixed point in the past. Most North American cities have been wiped out by Malaspina, the Roving Glacier of Death, who unleashed its fury in the aftermath of global warming. Medical care is supplied by networked nanotechnology called the Bionet, and human nervous systems can now be hacked and re-programmed at the whim of underground DJs. And we haven't even touched on the Newman armies and human clones who aided the downfall of humankind…
In this post-FUS era, mysterious forces are drawing together an unlikely group of survivors for unknown ends. Abby Fogg is an anachronistic digital film archivist sent to recover an interview transcript from an aging pop star's personal collection. Al Skinner is a former mercenary of the Boeing Army and a recent "forgetfulness junkie, a man who's downloaded his memories to external hard drives in order to forget—but the past never stays silent for long. Woo-jin Kan is a gifted dishwasher with the Hotel and Restaurant Management Olympics medal to prove it. He lives with his foster-sister, Patsy, an obese "pharmer" subsidized by the government to grow various drugs and human tissue transplants within her fat. After Patsy's suddenly air-lifted from his life, Woo-jin is given the task to write a book about how to love people—but where to start?
Over them all hovers a mysterious man named Dirk Bickle who puts people in the right place at the right time—and all of it culminates in a full-scale replica of Manhattan under construction in Puget Sound. Just an average tale from the End of Days, no?
Blueprints of the Afterlife is bursting with plot and, sometimes, even calling it "surreal" seems an understatement. I loved the hard science behind the Bionet, the sinister edge to DJing, and the capabilities of downloading memories; however, I almost bailed on the book due to the first chapter. Dick jokes and excessive cursing can only take one so far. I worry that many readers would jump ship on this book after that intro, despite the fact that second chapter— Part One of Luke Piper's interview transcript—offers a fascinating, well-written antidote to Woo-jin's crass narrative. Also, gotta love the CanCon, even if most of it focuses on the nation's destruction by a sentient glacier. Nice to get a shout-out in a genre where few examples exist.
Overall, quite the tour-de-force when it comes to science-inflected, "End is Nigh" literature, though I do warn readers to proceed with caution (and not just because of the polar bears…)
Ideal for: Post-apocalyptic fans in need of an acid drop; Readers keen on discovering the space where hard science and surrealism collide; CanCon-aholics; Dystopian fans who like their narratives epic....more
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youthFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youth among the glamorous, self-made thieves of the Night Market and learned of London's mobster scene from the Dandy of Hoosegow himself. In the wake of his father's death, Joe renounced his title as the heir of crime and followed his grandfather, Daniel, into the honourable world of clockwork repair. Of course, Joe's business suffers under its anachronistic leanings, and he struggles to earn a living with his antique clocks and mechanical curios.
When Joe's mischievous pal, Billy Friend, offers him a glimpse of a clockwork "doodah", Joe takes the fate of the world into his very hands. His tinkering activates a contraption called the Angelmaker, a veritable doomsday machine commissioned by Shem Shem Tsien—the sadistic Opium Khan of Addeh Sikkim—and built by Frankie Fossoyeur, a Frenchwoman consumed by her own brilliance. With the clock running, Joe must call upon his thieving roots and put his street smarts to work in order to survive. At the same time, one woman named Edie Banister—a former British intelligence agent from the Second World War era—holds the well-guarded secret of the Angelmaker's origins, and only she knows how to stop the deadly clockwork swarm within…
Nick Harkaway captures a brilliantly gritty and violent world of organized crime, espionage, and government-sanctioned torture, while creating a vibrant cast of characters overflowing with amusing tics and cutting humour at every turn. He's got an excellent ear for dialogue as well, and he wields a dark, very British sense of humour in the most unlikely situations. I found I took an immediate shine to Joe Spork for his loveable, somewhat self-defeatist attitude at the start, and for his hesitant charm throughout.Readers are treated to a rare example of a coming-of-(middle)-age novel, which proves to be a delightful twist to a common generic convention.
Overall, Angelmaker proves an addictive read with a stinging sense of humour, and readers will find an eclectic blend of noir mystery, science fiction, and espionage action all in one shot.
Ideal for: Noir newcomers with a penchant for sci fi; Dark humorists craving the glitz and swank of London's underworld; Readers craving complex narrative puzzles within their looming-apocalypse books; Folks interested in coming-of-(middle)-age stories and their unpredictable outcomes....more
In the future, the end of the world rests in our very mouths.
What started as a vague, unexplained illness among couples with children has morphed into a global epidemic where language itself—in spoken and written forms—is lethal. Sam and Claire are among the first victims of the new plague, having contracted the illness from the words of their teenaged daughter, Esther. Comprehension blockers and white noise machines are losing their effectiveness, and the streets are filling with clouds of salt and the deadly sounds of orphaned children. Even Sam's experiments with homemade medicines cannot stop the increasing lethality of his own words…
With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their last means of survival is to abandon Esther and set out for the silence of the countryside. However, on the evening of their escape, Claire disappears into the woods, and Sam, determined to find a cure for the new toxic language, sets out alone to raze our old alphabet and create a perfect language from its ashes.
The Flame Alphabet had the perfect grouping of keywords for me: pandemic, language toxicity, "intellectual horror story", and so forth. Yet, I found the ideas fuelling the work were lost in its novelized form. Given its focus on the pitfalls of language and the ineffectiveness of communication, The Flame Alphabet became a linguistics essay rendered in fiction as opposed to a novel. Ben Marcus does introduce some compelling ideas, though the novel had few plot points and I often found myself wondering when the actual story would start.
Last, I found Sam's first-person narrative detracted from the panic surrounding this language-targeted illness. Sam spends a great deal of time explaining the revulsion and the nausea that hits whenever Esther speaks, and he details the lethal properties of words rendered in text—and yet, he's telling his narrative from his own voice. And I am holding a written record of this testimony. About halfway through The Flame Alphabet, I realized its own form—an English-language, first-person novel—undid its own premise. Weird moment, indeed.
I suppose I had a different novel in mind when I picked up The Flame Alphabet, which might explain my reaction to the work. As it stands, the book has a cool idea behind it, but the follow through left me wanting....more
Far in the future, children with special abilities have been collected and contained under a set of militaryFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Far in the future, children with special abilities have been collected and contained under a set of military directives known as the Clover Leaf Project. "Clovers" possess unusual, unexplained powers over various technologies, allowing them to teleport people and objects, to summon weapons from thin air, and more. In this world, Sue is the sole four-leaf Clover, and she has grown up isolated in a gorgeous, clockwork cage. She is barred from all human contact as her attachments to and feelings for others could become weaponized, thereby jeopardizing the nation's security. Instead, she spends her days conversing with the disembodied voice of her "Grandmother" (one of the Elders) and the tragic one-leaf Clover, Ora, who lives out in the world as a singer.
Kazuhiko, a retired black-ops agent, has been called out of retirement to take on a special assignment—General Lee reminds the young agent of his previous court martial and the strings pulled to free him from terrible persecution. Kazuhiko has been instructed to escort Sue to a destination only she knows; however, as the pair move through the dangerous back alleys of the city and encounter the fearsome powers of military and gangster forces, Kazuhiko uncovers his deeper connections to Sue and discovers a greater heartache than he's ever known…
Clover demands great respect for its minimal, breathtaking art. Mokona uses white space to her advantage, and often uses that emptiness to reinforce the acute loneliness of Sue and her fellow Clovers. Sadly, I did find the writing repetitive in numerous places—Sue and Orha compose a song together that captures their shared isolation and their wish for escape and eternal happiness. I loved the lyrics the first few times around, but there came a point where the song became the entire plot line/dialogue and I found myself skimming over large sections of the text.
Overall, manga fans ought to check out Clover for its groundbreaking artwork, but do proceed with caution when it comes to those lyrics…
Ideal for: Science fiction fans who appreciate refined, elaborate technical designs; Steampunk kids looking for outfit inspirations; Manga readers curious about the genre's classics....more
In the beginning, there was time—and with it came the dire knowledge of Mr g's napping regimen. Eons had pasFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
In the beginning, there was time—and with it came the dire knowledge of Mr g's napping regimen. Eons had passed in the shimmering Void as the Creator slept, meditated, or moderated the arguments of his headstrong Aunt Penelope and his long-suffering Uncle Deva. But one decision leads to the creation of time, space, and matter governed by Mr g's three laws and his innate love of quantum physics. With its foundations in place, Mr g's universe—Aalam-104729—evolves before His very eyes, forming stars, planets, animate matter, and intelligent beings challenged with endless moral dilemmas and questions of faith. Through trial and error, Mr g's creation takes its own shape and buzzes to its own intoxicating music…
But one unforeseen hitch complicates Mr g's plans. Out in the Void, a clever and devious rival appears. Belhor's intentions are unclear, but his intellect is razor-sharp and, worst of all, he's developed a keen interest in the animate matter that will soon develop its own independent thought…
What follows is a tale both playful and profound, and a narrative celebrating our mysterious, beautiful, and tragic place in the cosmos.
Such grand ideas in such a small package—Alan Lightman proves that logic and ration can co-exist with spirituality and mystery in breathtaking ways, and he even suggests that, perhaps, our great Creator planned for both sides to complement one another. I admit, I've read very few books that romanticize quantum physics and chemistry successfully, but Lightman reminded me of my first love for the unknown depths of space and the wonder of all that lies beyond our meagre planet.
Lightman offers beautiful reflections on science, music, morality, and philosophy as seen through the eyes of the Creator himself, and he does so with great humour and a nice touch of domestic tension to boot. Star-gazers, make sure to set your sights on Mr g next time you're in the bookstore.
Ideal for: Science nerds and music fiends; Armchair philosophers and theologians who appreciate absurdist humour; Readers who marvel at the majesty of our universe and fancy a complicated portrait of our origins....more
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six trFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six troubled teens pack their lives into a single suitcase each and tie up loose ends in their hometowns. Casey's thrilled with her scholarship, while Ike's mother can't believe the school would scout her psychopathic son. Zoe's a serial dater with a disinterest in school, Hunter's a Canadian sweetheart from a broken home, Jade (formerly Jane) has an obsession with vampires and a clear stalker streak, and Fukayama Jin has a quick wit and a killer's instinct. However, once the teens arrive on campus—in a drug-induced blackout, no less—their fight for survival begins, and the mysteries behind these hallowed doors reveal themselves one by one…
Nick Spencer's written quite the introduction to his series, and his main cast possesses quite the loveable crew of anti-heroes. I took an immediate shine to Casey, the blonde bombshell who's also the leader of the new recruits. She's clever, organized, and she puts a bit of fear into her über-sadistic teachers. Also, I will have to honour fellow Canadian, Hunter—his talents have yet to be seen at this point (aside from his good-natured, beta-male approach to this murderous new life), but I get the sense he's got a few tricks hidden up his sleeves.
I found Joe Eisma's panels were well-structured and the pacing of the horrific scenes was good—the nightmarish images averaged about one-per-comic and tended to occur after a page flip (again adding to the general warning at the start of this post…). I did find some of the artwork became repetitive at times and duplicate panels or panels with minimal differences between them were regular features.
I expect I'll pick up the next volume in the series, if only to delve deeper into the dark secrets of Morning Glory Academy. Of course, next time around, I'll make sure to start reading well before 10 PM…
Ideal for: Readers craving a labyrinthine mystery in their sci fi horror; Teens looking for clever, convoluted, sixteen-year-old protagonists; Fans of secret societies, government training programs, or other sinister (and lowdown) groups....more