Over at The List Universe, they’ve been bold enough to post a list of what they consider the “Top 15 Great Science Fiction Books”. And I have to say, I agree with most of these. Click through to read what they have to say about each one, then come back and tell me which books you think are missing. My own thoughts about each book in this list can be found below.
A good friend and occasional commenter here, Greater Czarina (a.k.a. Hildy Silverman), happens to own and publish and operate a great quarterly magazine called Space and Time. It’s been around for more than 40 years, and deals in what she calls “strange and unusual fiction, poetry, and art” of the fantasy, horror, and science fiction variety.
As somebody who mostly reads genre fiction these days, when Hildy bought the book a few years ago, I was thrilled by the news. I’ve really enjoyed reading the issues every few months, and really really enjoy knowing somebody WHO OWNS A MAGAZINE. Seriously, how cool is that?
Another personal bonus is that Space and Time gave me the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream — writing a comic book. Well … half a comic book anyway. A 10-page story that has played out over the course of a year, and was illustrated with much brilliance by Jeremy Simser, another good friend of mine who draws storyboards for a living. The final 4-page installment appears in Issue #106, which hits the shelves any day now. So visit the website — which I recently redesigned — and learn how you can subscribe to this magazine, read some great fiction and poetry, and support a fellow gagglefrakker.
(Note to self: “gagglefrakker” sounds like a really nasty word. Never use it again.)
Edited to add: I just added to the site the first 6 pages of the comic story. Enjoy!
Best-selling author, film producer, film director, TV director, and medical doctor Michael Crichton died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 66, after a “courageous and private battle against cancer“.
I’d have a hard time believing that any science fiction fan out there hasn’t read at least one of Crichton’s novels, or at least seen one of the films based on his novels. Besides books, he also wrote and/or directed such classic movies as Coma (1978), The Great Train Robbery (1979), Runaway (1984), and one of my all-time favorites, Westworld (1973). Not to mention the long-running TV series, ER, which is wrapping things up this season after airing Thursday nights at 10pm on NBC for the past 14 years.
A thought-provoking writer with an uncanny sense for story, as well as a devoted family man, Michael Crichton’s contributions to the sci-fi/thriller genre over the past 40 years (that is, MY ENTIRE LIFETIME) are immeasurable, and he will be sorely missed.
This month marks the 70th anniversary of Orson Welles’ infamous “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast that brought my home state of New Jersey to its knees on Halloween night, 1938. The original “The War of the Worlds” novel by H.G. Wells, the radio broadcast, and the 1953 George Pal film have all been obsessions of mine since I was a kid. The 2005 Spielberg movie … not so much … but that’s a topic for another time.
Yesterday, thanks to the power of the internets, I stumbled across a small treat that I didn’t even know existed — a short conversation between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells on a radio program (KTSA, San Antonio) from October 28, 1940. A native of England and a prolific social commentator, H.G. Wells was 74 at the time, having written “The War of the Worlds” in 1898. Welles was 25.
To put the topics mentioned in this conversation into perspective, it takes place two years after Welles’ controversial radio broadcast, six months before Welles’ watershed film “Citizen Kane” would premiere to widespread acclaim, and about a year before Japan would bomb Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into WW2 (Britain had already been at war for a year). And that’s probably as much as you need to know to appreciate this cool bit of sci-fi history.
A very good friend of mine, Craig DiLouie, recently published a book of speculative fiction titled The Thin White Line: A History of the 2012 Avian Flu Pandemic in Canada. As the subtitle pretty much spells it out, this book describes what might happen in Canada if bird flu crossed over to humans and triggered a pandemic.
The book is written so that it reads as if it were a non-fiction history book from the future about a pandemic that has already occurred some years before, complete with realistic photos, tables, and graphs. It combines written history — names, dates, events, etc. — with oral accounts of people who survived the 2012 tragedy, and the “heroes” of the story are average people like you and me, doing the best they can in a terrible situation.
This story-telling technique is similar to that used by one of my favorite novels from 2006, Max Brooks’ World War Z, which assumes the pretense that a zombie epidemic has occurred many years before the writing of the book. So if you liked that one, odds are, you’ll like this one too.
For much more information about the book, about the author, to read some sample chapters, and for ordering information, just visit www.pandemicbook.com.
Would you like a free book? Of course you would. I do.
Well, between now and May 13th, to celebrate the pending release of Invincible, the final chapter in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series, Random House and Del Rey are letting the general public download a FREE audio or digital version of Betrayal, the first book in the series.
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Spanning 9 volumes, the Legacy of the Force series deals with events that occur in the Star Wars universe starting roughly 40 years after the original trilogy of movies (Episodes 4-6). Luke, Han, and Leia are back, but much older now, and they all have kids. And one of this new generation has not quite lived up to the standards established by his/her parents. Yes, you guessed it — somebody gets seduced by the Dark Side. And yes there’s a war. And yes … there is a Big Bad Sith Villain behind that war, a student of Darth Vader, who needs to be taken down.
I haven’t read the series myself, but it sounds like great fun, and each of the books have received excellent reviews. So I’ve already downloaded the audio version, and I’ll be adding it to my iPod this weekend. Remember, the offer ends May 13th, so if you’re going to download it, do it soon. Here’s the link again …
Missing in Action is the 16th book in the Star Trek: New Frontier series of novels by Peter David. I’ll freely admit that I’m a huge fan of Peter David’s work, whether it’s comics or fiction. So whenever a new installment in this ongoing saga hits paperback, I generally drop whatever else I’m reading to find out what he’s done with/to the characters this time around.
Peter David started this series back in 1997, and at the time, it was a bit of an experiment. There had been plenty of Star Trek novels written over the years, but all of them had been attached to one or more of the various TV shows — The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or Voyager (and later Enterprise) — and each dealt with the continuing adventures of such established characters as Kirk, Spock, and Picard, each in their own familiar milieu. What David decided to do (with the nudging of then-editor John Ordover) was start an entirely new and original ongoing story, one set in the same universe as but unattached to any of the established shows in the franchise, using everything that had happened in the TV shows and movies as its “history” and moving forward from there. Continue reading