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Category Archives: Science Fiction

1984 by George Orwell

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc., Listening Length: 11 hours and 26 minutes, (328 Pages), ASIN: B000Q6ZLOI

Winston Smith, a member of the party, has been taught to hate. Everywhere around him are the thought police and he leads a life filled with drudgery, until he meets Julia. This novel shows one man’s struggle to try to overcome the oppression of “Big Brother”.

Mr. Orwell wrote numerous narrative documentaries and novels. His two most renowned works include 1984 and Animal Farm. 1984 is dystopian fiction and it is told in a third person narrative by the main protagonist. The story was first published in 1949.

The impact of World War II is clearly reflected in this storyline. Mr. Orwell shows his view of what our world would be like if democracy had been abolished and if an authoritarian government became the predominant force.  The book shows how “Big Brother” controls not only the media, but all print, and through this controls the people.  Mr. Orwell was opposed to totalitarianism, and this is reflected in his writing. He paints a depressing view of life, showing a dismal picture of how people can treat each other when power corrupts. At times the writing was amazing. I thought the contrast between a bird singing and the darkness of the story was very moving.

This book portrays how a few people can become power hungry and through control and manipulation can totally destroy humanity.  However, I do not think the human spirit can so easily be overcome.  I do not believe the grim view that Mr. Orwell portrays could ever come about.  I think the human spirit would triumph.

This is a standalone story that starts out great but leads the reader down through gloomy and desolate steps into a form of hell.  I recommend the story as a great read.

Favorite Quotes:

A thrush had alighted on a bough not five metres away, almost at the level of their faces. Perhaps it had not seen them. It was in the sun, they in the shade. It spread out its wings, fitted them carefully into place again, ducked its head for a moment, as though making a sort of obeisance to the sun, and then began to pour forth a torrent of song. In the afternoon hush the volume of sound was startling. Winston and Julia clung together, fascinated. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as though the bird were deliberately showing off it virtuosity.

Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability of the past, and the denial of objective reality, and to use Newspeak words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid any attention to that kind of thing. One knew that was all rubbish, so why let oneself be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo, and that was all one needed.

To Purchase: “1984” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Daniel X Series

Book Review: 0 Treasure Box/0 Trash Cans

First Book in the Daniel X Series

Publisher: Hachette Audio, Listening Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes (272 pages), ASIN: B001D066JU

Daniel X, a young man, is on his own and he has super powers. A praying mantis-type alien (The Prayer) murdered Daniel’s parents when he was just a child. Now Daniel is slowly and methodically seeking out and eliminating aliens, while he searches for The Prayer.

There are currently four books in this series with book five expected to be released sometime in 2012. Each book was co-written with Mr. Patterson with a different co-author. These books are science fiction and they are told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, the young man Daniel. His last name is unknown, hence the “X”. Mr. Patterson has written numerous books in the young adult, fantasy and science fiction realms. Most of these have been co-authorized by various individuals, which explains the profusion of books that he is able to crank out. Note some of the books are better than others.

The story was initially interesting, but as the plot unfolded, there were numerous plot holes. I liked the overall premise of this book, but I found that the execution was really weak.

I did not think the story was well told, but it did have some redeeming qualities. I was curious to see where it was going, and this kept me engaged, but I was disappointed with the ending. I would not recommend this book or series.

To Purchase: “The Dangerous Days of Daniel X” from Amazon, click here or on picture above.

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Neuromancer by William Gibson

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Sprawl Trilogy

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Ace Trade (July 1, 2000), Paperback: 288 pages, ISBN-10: 0441007465, ISBN-13: 978-0441007462
First book in the Sprawl Trilogy

Case, a computer hacker, has been permanently cut off from the Matrix. He misses the excitement and thrill of plugging into cyberspace and instead combs the underbelly of Chiba City, looking for drugs and continually flirting with death. Case is  given the opportunity to get his life back, to work once again jacking into the Matrix as a hacker, but there is a cost. The job is elusive but potentially deadly.  This new job requires an unusual crew, including a sociopath able to create holographic illusions, a professional mercenary who is partially fused and augmented with machinery and an insane commander.

Neuromancer, a science fiction, cyberpunk novel, was released in 1984, it won numerous awards and it was William Gibson’s debut novel.  Subsequently he wrote many more novels, some of them critically acclaimed, in a number of different genres including science fiction, steampunk and alternate history. Neuromancer takes place in the future on a dystopian form of earth in Chiba City, Japan. It is told in a third person narrative primarily from the point of view of Case, (Henry Dorsett), a 24 year old man who has fallen from the top all the way to rock bottom.

The story jumps right in without very much exposition. I found it took me a long time to really come to understand the world in which it takes place. The opening sentence immediately captured my interest with its co-mingling of electronic and organic imagery.  This sets the stage for the novel which continues to combine these elements throughout.  I was intrigued with Mr. Gibson’s notions of the matrix, cyberspace and computers, especially considering he wrote this in 1984. Molly is a fascinating character and I really enjoyed reading her back story. All the characters were interesting, complex and unique, each with their own special abilities and corresponding history.

This is a standalone novel which builds up to an exciting, satisfying and thoughtful ending. Once I was able to comprehend the world that the story takes place in, I was hooked and became engaged with the characters, anxious to see where it all would end. I recommend this book as a very good read for anyone who enjoys reading cyberpunk.

Interesting Quotes;

Opening sentence:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

A description of Molly:

“He realized that the glasses were surgically inset, sealing her sockets. The silver lenses seemed to grow from smooth pale skin above her cheekbones, framed by dark hair cut in a rough shag.”

 Question to ponder: Jack Womack has suggested that Mr. Gibson’s creation of “Neuromancer” influenced and helped to create the internet as we know it today.  What are your thoughts on this, do you think this novel helped to bring it about? 

TJo Purchase: “Neuromancer” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Against the Tide of Years by S. M. Stirling

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Nantucket Series

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Book two in the Nantucket Series
Publisher: Tantor Audio (November 17, 2008), Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 21 hour(s) and 47 min. (454 pages), ASIN: B001NNC0KG


The Island of Nantucket moved 3,000 years into the past 8 years ago. Against the Tide of Years shows how the Islander’s are adapting, what impact they are having on the Bronze age society. Walker and his evil wife Alice Hong are still rampaging and causing strife wherever they go, it is now time to track them down and stop them but something always seems to interfere with this task.

This is the second of three books in the Nantucket series, and it is considered both science fiction and alternative history.  Mr. Stirling has written numerous books and series in the science fiction, fantasy and alternative history genres.  It is told in a third person narrative by the various different characters.

The Islander’s have set up a good operation with a decent political system, the only problem is, they are starting to get complacent. They know they have to deal with Walker but it is simpler to put it off, until trouble comes looking for them. I was appalled that Hong has been torturing and disfiguring people for 8 years and I want to see her and Walker captured and tortured, but based on Hong’s personality, she might like this. We are introduced to a few new characters and some of the gang has moved into new territory.

I enjoyed the story, but I felt there were too many battle scenes with too little character development. I will read the final book in the series, but I am going to wait a while.

Question to Ponder: Based on the actions that Hong and Walker have particpated in, if and when they are finally stopped should they be made to suffer for all the pain they has caused, or would it be better to just remove them from existence?

To Purchase: “Against the Tide of Years” from Amazon, click here or on picture above1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible

 

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Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Emberverse I

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
First book in The Emberverse I Series
Publisher: Roc (September 6, 2005), Paperback: 592 pages, ISBN-10: 0451460413, ISBN-13: 978-0451460417

What would happen to our world, if technological processes were no longer available? The same phenomena that caused Nantucket to move back in time 3,000 years from Island in the Sea of Time has affected our current society in Dies the Fire. Imagine how our world would respond with the ability to only utilize the technology available at the end of the bronze age (1,500 BC.)  This is an interesting concept and Mr. Stirling does a wonderful job of analysing the various situations that would arise while examining how different people would react.

S. M. Stirling has written numerous books and series, primarily in the fantasy, science fiction and alternate history genres.  There are three books in The Emberverse I series and currently there are five books in The Emberverse II series, with two more books expected to be released over the next few years. The book is told in a third person narrative from the various different characters point of view.  The main protagonists are the leaders of the two separate groups: Michael Havel from the Bearkillers and Juniper Mackenzie from Clan MacKenzie.

The characters are interesting and diverse with the introduction of two separate groups of “good” people who start out small but slowly attract others.  They draw together and using a little bit of brains and plenty of luck manage to carve out an existence for themselves in the new world. These groups initially do not know each other, but soon come into contact with some interesting consequences. There is lots of action, especially in the last third of the book which focuses primarily on battles being fought. There were perhaps just a few too many battle scenes for my taste.  There are plenty of bullies and bad guys who emerge as well and this is where the majority of the conflict resides.

I enjoyed the book and I really liked the concept.  I probably will read the next book in the series, but I need a break from all the battle scenes.

Favourite Quote: There’s no real refuge from what’s happening in the world, and what refuge there is, is in other people.

Question to ponder: if our current society lost all its technology and there was no gun power of any kind,  only brute strength and physical weapons, who would end up ruling the world? Would there be enough good people to pull together and become the dominant society or would the bullys end up ruling the world?

To purchase: “Dies the Fire” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Island in the Sea of Time by S. M. Stirling

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Nantucket Series

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
First book in the Nantucket Series
Publisher: Tantor Audio (October 27, 2008), Audiobook – 25 hour(s) and 13 min. (608 pages), ASIN: B001JK662G

Imagine how different our world would be if the knowledge and technology of the 21th century was introduced to the people of the Bronze Age?  Island in the Sea of Time brings up this concept when Nantucket is inexplicably thrown into the past.

This is the first of three books in the Nantucket series, and it is considered both science fiction and alternative history.  Mr. Stirling has written numerous books and series in the science fiction, fantasy and alternative history genres.  This book takes current day Nantucket and places the island over 3,000 years in past. It is told in a third person narrative by the various different characters.

This is a great book, I love the concept. There was plenty of action with lots going on all the time. The characters are interesting and likeable, even some of the bad ones, but I did not feel they were as deep as I would have liked. Overall it is an exciting and fascinating read. First we deal with the adjustment the Americans had to go through once they realized where in time they were and then we see the impact they are having on the people in 1250 BC.  Hindsight is definitely an asset in this situation.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading alternative history. I am looking forward to reading Against the Tide of Years, which is the next book in the series.

Question to Ponder: Would our world be better today or worse, if our technology was introduced and implemented within the confinements of 1250 BC?


To buy: “Island in the Sea of Time” from Amazon, click here or on picture above
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The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Maximum Ride

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Maximum Ride, Book 1
Publisher: Hachette Audio (March 18, 2005), Listening Length: 4 hour(s) and 19 min. (464 pages), ASIN: B00083FZCW

The Angel Experiment is about a group of children who refer to themselves as a flock, because they are part human and part bird. They became a unique family helping and protecting each other from the evil scientists who created them in a test tube. Scientists who are hunting them for some mysterious and loathsome purpose, or were they created to save the world?

This book introduces the characters and is told in the first person narrative with the voice and thoughts of the main protagonist, a teenage girl named Maximum Ride who leads the flock. This young adult, science fiction book is the first of eight in the series, with the eighth and final book expected to be released Feb 2012. James Patterson has written and co-written numerous books and series in the thriller, young adult, science fiction, fantasy and romance genres.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters.  I thought the story was intriguing and I am very interested to learn who or what the voice is and why only Max can hear it. At times I thought the writing was juvenile and I am not convinced that a thirteen year old girl would really think and speak they way that Max does, but the story has captivated my curiosity. There was plenty of action, it started from the first page and kept building right up to the end. We are left with many unanswered questions, so I am going to be reading School’s Out Forever, so I can (hopefully) find out why they were created.

This book did not really resolve anything and it ended with a cliff-hanger. If you enjoy reading young adult, science fiction books that have an interesting twist you should give Maximum Ride a chance, but be forewarned that you will be drawn into reading the series since this is not a standalone book.

My favourite quote from the book: “I stopped at home to change my wings and buff my halo.”

 

To Purchase: “The Angel Experiment” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series The Hunger Games

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 2
Publisher: Scholastic Press; Reprint edition (July 1 2010), Paperback: 384 pages, ISBN-10: 0439023521, ISBN-13: 978-0439023528


For the first time in 74 years there are two survivors in the annual hunger games. Katniss and Peeta have just beat the system and came out as victors, just to face the games once again but this time with shocking results.

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy. It is a young adult, dystopian science fiction that takes place on Panem, which was once the continent of North America, at an unknown futuristic date. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Suzanne Collins has also written The Underland Series plus a couple of other books written for youths.

The story started out a bit slow, but quickly built up steam and the pressure kept building and building to an exciting, shocking and unexpected ending.  I enjoyed the writing, especially the detailed pictures describing the arena and the events that occurred within.  This is an original series with an interesting look at what happens when a small group of elitists suppress the masses into slavery.

I enjoyed this book, I am curious to see where the story is going so I will read the next book in the series. If you enjoy reading dystopian science fiction books that are aimed at young adults, then you should give this series a try. Just be sure to read the books in order.
To purchase: “Catching Fire” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Running Man by Stephen King

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Penguin Audio USA; Unabridged edition (April 6 2010), ISBN-10: 0142428213, ISBN-13: 978-0142428214

If your infant daughter was sick and dying and the only way to raise the money to save her was to sign up for a competition that resulted in your death, would you sign up? The Running Man examines this question and shows what a young father would go through to save his baby, with some unexpected results.

Stephen King wrote The Running Man, one of four books written under the pen name of Richard Bachman. This book is a dystopian science fiction, taking place in the United States in 2025. It is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of Ben Richards, the main protagonist.

I found the beginning to be a bit slow and initially I wasn’t clear on exactly what was driving the story, but as the tale started to unfold I was completely drawn in. We are painted a picture of a very dysfunctional society, where there is a large discrepancy in the classes and The Network drives everything. They control the masses with free TV and realty TV has taken a terrible turn focusing on murder and death. I really began to care for Ben and I was rooting for him throughout.

This is a standalone story full of lots of action with a surprising, although somewhat sad ending. I was glad that Ben decided to take the action he did, but I do not think it will change anything. I recommend this book, it is a quick read and if you enjoy reading dystopian science fiction, then you should not miss The Running Man.

My favourite quote from the book:

“They looked oddly incomplete, like pictures with holes for eyes or a jigsaw puzzle with a minor piece missing; it was a lack of desperation. Richards thought. No wolves howled in these bellies, these minds were not filled with rotted crazed dreams or mad hopes.”

Question to Ponder:

Do you think that Ben’s final action will create any changes in the society that he lived in?

 

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The Immortality Virus by Christine Amsden

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Twilight Times Books (April 14, 2011), Format: Kindle Edition, File Size: 533 KB, ASIN: B004WOY0W4
What would happen if people stopped aging? How long until the world becomes overrun? Aging has stopped for four hundred years and the world is so over-populated it is difficult to move around. Grace Harper has been contacted to find the scientist who invented the anti-aging gene, with hopes that this gene can be removed from humanity and people can start aging again.  The only problem is, many people in The Establishment don’t want that to happen.

The Immortality Virus is the second book that Christine Amsden has written.  It is science fiction, taking place on earth towards the end of the 21st century.  The story is told in the third person narrative primarily from Grace Harper’s point of view. As the main character, she is a caring, independent private investigator who has been black-listed by The Establishment.

There are several interesting concepts examined in this story. As the world becomes overpopulated it becomes a dying society with all focus on feeding the people and none on technology resulting in astonomically high unemployment. The society that develops creates a huge disparity between the haves and the have-nots, with the weathly Establishment doing anything to keep what they have in the dwindling resources by oppressing everyone else.

This is an interesting portrayal of a world where people haven’t aged for 400 years. I found the story interesting and it grabbed my attention from the first page. As the tale unfolded I was never sure where we were going and there were a few twist and turns along the way as well.  At times I could tell that Ms. Amsden is still developing her writing style and technique, but overall I liked how the story was told. The story was not really resolved in any way, so I found the ending to be a bit disappointing.

This is a stand alone book. If you enjoy reading an original and thought provoking science fiction, then you should give The Immortality Virus a try.

 

My favourite quotes from the book: “Most of the time, too much trust will kill someone in my line of work. This time, though, I think I have no chance without trust, and precious little chance with it.”

and

“She dreamed at a million miles a second, as if she’d never properly dreamed before and needed to make up for it.”

 

Question to ponder:

Would you want to live indefinitely, if you could
stop aging after hitting 25?

 

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