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Tag Archives: Science Fiction

The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde

This is the seventh book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.  I have been a huge fan of this series ever since I stumbled across the first book, The Eyre Affair, on the wrong shelf in my local library.  I was a little hesitant to read this one, however, since the fifth book ended in a big cliff hanger and the book after that spent the whole time following another character.  Basically, since I was all caught up with the series, I had to spend several years wondering if one of the major characters was dead or alive!  Although, we finally found out what had happened at the very end of the last novel, I waited a long time to read this one (because I had some trust issues!)  Fortunately, this book turned out to be the one I had been waiting for!

This series is very hard to categorize.  It has elements of multiple genres, particularly sci fi and fantasy, and it also has tons of references to classic literature.  The main character, Thursday Next, has worked in law enforcement both in the real world (which is mostly like ours, with a few key differences, like time travel) and in Bookworld.  In The Woman Who Died A Lot, Thursday’s injuries prevent her from jumping to Bookworld, and she is hoping to return to her old job as a Literary Detective.  Instead, she is named Chief Librarian.  Apparently, libraries in Thursday’s world are quite different from ours.  They receive huge amounts of funding, their names include corporate sponsors (like stadiums do here), and they even have security guards who can use SWAT-like tactics to retrieve overdue books.

While some of Thursday’s friends hope that this cushy job will make her life calmer and safer, there is still plenty of trouble brewing in Swindon.  The city is going to be smited by an angry deity unless Thursday’s brilliant daughter, Tuesday, can develop her Anti-Smite shield in time.  Thursday’s son, Friday, is struggling with a lack of purpose ever since the discontinuation of time travel erased his brilliant career in the ChronoGuard.  An old nemesis, Aornis Hades, is still causing problems for Thursday and her family.  And of course, the evil Goliath Corporation is up to no good as usual.  In other words, Thursday’s calm retirement is turning out to be just as dangerous and chaotic as her careers as a Literary Detective and Jurisfiction agent.

While I really enjoyed this book, I have to recommend that you read the series from the beginning.  The first two books are especially important, as they set up key elements of Thursday’s world.  Also, they are incredibly fun to read, and it would be a shame to miss them.  As I said before, these books are hard to place in just one genre, but the series’s predominant characteristic is a love of books and reading.  It was a lot of fun to see that theme expand to include libraries in the latest novel.  I give this particular book four stars, but the series as a whole is a solid five stars!  I highly recommend it to anyone that loves books!  ★★★★

-Elizabeth

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I remember first hearing about Ender’s Game as an undergraduate.  Some English majors from my freshman dorm had been assigned the book for one of their classes, and they absolutely loved it.  I made a mental note about it, but since I wasn’t entirely sure what the book was about, I never followed through by actually reading it.  I had forgotten all about it until I started seeing advertisements for the movie last fall.  I wanted to see the movie without ruining the book, so I figured I had better start reading!

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

Everyone on Earth knows that another war is coming with the Buggers, an alien race who have nearly destroyed humans twice before.  Someone comes up with a strategy of gathering child geniuses from all over the world and training them to become military leaders.  They hope to find a gifted general who can save Earth, despite the Buggers’ superior technology.  Ender is younger and smaller than his classmates, but even among his genius peers, his gifts for leadership and military strategy make him stand out.  At first, this creates problems with his classmates, but gradually he begins to find friends.  He learns to lead them, unaware of the constant supervision and guidance of the Battle School teachers.  Will Ender be able to become the general they need?  And will he be ready in time?

The best thing about this book is the characters.  The author has populated his story with many well-drawn, unique individuals.  In fact, getting to spend time with each of them is the main reason you should read the book and not just see the movie.  The plot has several surprising twists, and the characters face multiple challenges in multiple settings, which really held my interest as a reader.

While this book is not to be missed, I also highly recommend the movie!  So many film adaptations of books turn out to be a huge disappointment for readers, but they did an excellent job on this one!  The time constraints of a movie meant getting to see less of the minor characters, but the final product is still true to the original novel.  (And I think that is the highest praise for movies based on books.)

I give this book five stars.  I have already recommended it to other readers, and I know I will happily read it again in the future.  ★★★★★

-Elizabeth

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Hello!  Sorry for the long silence-I have been busy moving to a new apartment!  Now that I’m (a little) settled in, it’s time to catch up on what I’ve been reading!

My book club’s book for April was I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.  It’s a collection of short stories, which feature the fictional company U.S. Robots and Dr. Susan Calvin, preeminent robopsychologist.  It chronicles the rise of robots, from their beginnings as household servants through a period where they were banned on earth and predominantly used to work at mines in space, and concludes with a world where much of the work and decision-making is entrusted to robots.

A main theme running through all of the stories is the Three Laws of Robotics.  These laws are designed to protect humans from robots, and they are arranged in a hierarchy, so that the second law overrides the third and the first overrides the second.  The laws are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human or allow a human to be harmed.
  2. A robot must obey orders (unless they conflict with the first law.)
  3. A robot must protect it’s own existence (unless to do so would violate either of the first two laws.)

These laws figured in each of the stories.  For me, they really set this book apart from other science fiction I have read, which tended to be much more negative and pessimistic about technology.  I can see why Asimov is such a highly respected author-this concept was extremely well thought out.

I would probably give this book four stars.  The book held my interest and I would definitely consider reading it again someday.  It is also an interesting book to discuss, so I was glad to have some friends that I could talk about it with.  ★★★★

I took a turn hosting the book club for April, and to be honest, I had a little trouble coming up with any ideas that would fit a robot theme.  I considered making this craft, but I could not find the small candy sizes at my grocery store.  (I guess they’re easier to find around Valentine’s day.)  I kept an eye out for references to food in the book, but they were scarce, and not terribly appetizing.  I did have a bowl of apples, as a reference to “Evidence,” the first story featuring the character Stephen Byerly.  Beyond that, a friend suggested wearing metallics to the book club meeting, and I decided to use the same idea in choosing our food.  I grilled sausage and vegetables in foil packets, to go with the metallic theme, using this recipe as a starting point.

-Elizabeth