You Know You Love Sci-fi if….

You know you love sci-fi if…

1. You see the words “Travel Program” in an email and think it says “Time Travel Program”.  (Yes, I did this! Wouldn’t that have been a great library program?)

2. Your collection of cosplay costumes is larger than your regular wardrobe. (Guilty.)

3. You have a working knowledge of Klingon. (Did you know that Klingon translations of works of world literature have been published? Just saying…)

4. You have strong feelings about the Star Wars versus Star Trek debate. (In the interests of not offending anyone, I’m going to give this a miss.)

5. When someone mentions the number 42, you laugh. (Every time.)

If this sounds like you,  you’re in luck! The Cheshire Library has a great collection of science fiction. Check out some of our new sci-fi arrivals:

The Hike
by Drew Magary
When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize he is falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects, and the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily.

A Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton
On a routine space flight, Major Ry Evine inadvertently frees a captive vessel that crash-lands on the planet of Bienvenido carrying the last, best hope for human survival: a baby. But a far from ordinary one. The child not only ages at a remarkable rate but demonstrates knowledge and abilities far beyond those of Bienvenido’s humans. Hunted by all, she is a crucial link to humanity’s lost past–and a  future already almost out of reach.

Take Back the Sky by Greg Bear
Marooned beneath the icy, waxy crust of Saturn’s moon, Titan, Skyrine Michael Venn and his comrades face double danger from Earth and from the Antagonists, both intent on wiping out their growing awareness of what the helpful alien Gurus are really doing in our solar system. Venn must  journey far beyond Pluto where he will finally understand his destiny and the destiny of every intelligent being in the solar system.

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley
On the outer rim of the universe, a galactic war has been waged for centuries upon hundreds of world-ships. But these worlds will continue to die through decay and constant war unless a desperate plan succeeds. Anat, leader of the Katazyrna world-ship and the most fearsome raiding force on the Outer Rim, wants peace. To do so she offers the hand of her daughter, Jayd, to her rival.

Navigators of Dune by Brian Herbert
Navigators, mutated by spice into beings far superior to normal humans, have made space travel possible: their prescient awareness allows them to foresee safe paths through the universe as starships “fold” space. Only one man knows the secret of creating Navigators, and he intends to use them to build a commercial empire that spans the galaxy.  What could go wrong?

Spaceman of Bohemia by  Jaroslav Kalfar
Hoping to become a national hero, Czech astronaut Jakub Procha accepts a dangerous solo mission to Venus and faces unknown dangers, wavering sanity, Russian rivals, and a giant alien spider who engages him in philosophical conversations.

November = National Novel Writing Month

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How many of us have ever thought it would be pretty cool to write a novel? Most of us, right? Maybe you’ve had a story idea you’ve been carrying around for years, revisiting it from time to time to add a detail or think through a character, like a pensive twist at an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Or, maybe you just like the idea of having something that you’ve created and completed yourself. Whatever category you find yourself falling into, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the perfect time to get writing.

Known to insiders as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-RYE-moh), it’s an annual challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s free to join and open to any adult: the only requirements are that you must start with fresh material and only work from midnight on November 1st to 11:59pm on November 30th. If you’re under 18, NaNo runs a special Young Writer’s Program for kids and teens with slightly different word goals.

If 50,000 words sounds like a huge number, you’re right. It works out to 1667 words a day, about the same as five typed pages of 12-point double-spaced text. It’s nearly impossible to write anything other than a very rough first draft of a novel, and that’s completely by design: to get to 50,000 words, you have to shut off your inner editor and become a high-velocity writing machine for 30 days. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be.

So what do you win if you reach the goal of 50,000 words? Mainly bragging rights and the satisfaction of knowing you were able to complete the challenge. There’s no monetary prize or anything, but you do get coupons for some writing products. And at our NaNoWriMo 101 program on October 16th, Diane Scarponi, the Municipal Liaison for the CT Shoreline area, informed us that one particularly sweet coupon from CreateSpace entitles you to two free printed paperback copies of your novel if you hit the 50k word goal. Hooray!

For many NaNoWriMo writers, two copies isn’t enough: they want to share their novel with the world. Those who want to publish their work – after editing the daylights out of that first draft, of course – have a choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing. (It’s the same in the music industry: think musicians selling CDs out of a van, versus getting a contract with a major label.) It’s a tough game, but lots of authors who started their drafts during NaNoWriMo have gotten their finished projects into print via traditional publishers, and several of those novels have even gone on to become bestsellers.

The following titles all started as NaNoWriMo drafts, and against the odds, they’ve been published by major publishing houses and have made it onto the bestseller lists – and onto our shelves here at the library. Maybe you’ve already read them!

 

 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Perhaps the best known NaNo novel of them all, this was made into a film a few years back that starred Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Another circus-themed read that has been making the book discussion rounds since it came out in 2011.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The first installment of a super-popular YA series that features cyborgs, plagues, and outer space. You’ve got our attention!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park didn’t rest on her laurels after it began appearing on bestseller lists. No, she decided to write 100,000 words during NaNoWriMo 2011.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Perkins’ debut novel and the first in a series of three young adult romances, NPR called it one of the best teen reads for 2010.

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Before you start thinking NaNoWriMo writers are only doing chick lit and teen books, you have to know there’s some hardcore science fiction writers out there cracking their knuckles and then frantically typing. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle, a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers starting with The Darwin Elevator, got its start during NaNoWriMo.

 

Are you doing NaNoWriMo in 2014? Let us know in the comments, or stop by during one of our scheduled Write-In Wednesdays on 11/5 from 5-9 pm and 11/19 from 5-9 pm!

 

Susan Reads: Retribution Falls

WoW!  That’s all I can say.

Who doesn’t love the TV series Firefly?  Who doesn’t want to see Firefly come back?

Retribution Falls is about as close to a Firefly clone as you can get.  Better yet, Firefly crossed with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in a rough-and-ready blend of space faring steam punk. From almost the first chapter, the parallels, whether planned or endemic to the genre, are uncanny at times.

Have I got your attention yet?

Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, a second-rate ship he won on a bet, but it’s the only home he’s got. Frey is a minor-stakes air space pirate, picking up small legal jobs here and other illegal ones there, hoping to make enough to keep his ship running and his crew fed, with a few coins of profit left over (sound familiar yet?).  His crew is made up of a rag-tag group of misfits, each one on the run with secrets they’d prefer to keep hidden, from the secretive but aristocratic Crake (my mind cast Paul Bettany in the role) to the quirky navigator Jez, who can manage to fake death a little too easily (I can picture Angelina Jolie here), and more.

When Frey and his crew are framed for blowing up a ship during a petty robbery, he finds himself on the run for his life – but are the Century Knights after him, or one of his crew? Frey’s attempts to unravel the mysteries lead him down a trail of old flames and bad memories, while the secrets of his crew slowly come to light. The path of salvation appears to lie in a pirates’ haven called Retribution Falls, a place of myth no ship has ever returned from. Frey must make hard choices – entrust his beloved ship to someone else in case of emergency, or run the risk of execution if captured. In the end, Frey and crew find that being an oddball among a group of oddballs makes you nothing but normal, and that to get trust you also have to give a little.

I read one review of the book that nit-picked every line of dialogue and every motivation of every character until there was nothing left. That really irked me. Even as a writer, I don’t read a fiction book to beat the story to death. I want a good story that holds my attention, characters that I can relate to whether through abhorrence or camaraderie, and a thread of believability – I’ll believe your unicorns can fly, but don’t tell me they have dainty little shoulders. Beyond that – I don’t care that females or mermaids or talking parrots are underrepresented. I don’t care if air pirates are passé. I don’t care if you think mechanical golems are cliché. This is the way this story goes. The characters and situations read like the first of a series, and in a good series, it takes time to fully develop all the characters – otherwise, what’s the point of a series?  If you put all the food out at a banquet at once, who cares about the next course? 

If any book deserves to be made into a film – or better yet, TV series – this is the one.Read it. Enjoy it. It’s worth every page.

Sharon Reads: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult novel about a world in which the children and teens of the world have either died from a strange illness or developed mental powers. The adults are both scared for their children and, in some cases, of them. Ruby was only ten when her parents locked her in the garage and she was sent to a camp for the newly ‘gifted’ children. Six years later, Ruby is still struggling with her abilities, the conditions she has survived, and the idea of freedom. On the run, Ruby discovers that there are multiple faction and dangers working in the world. Much has changed since she was last outside a fence, and discovering who she can trust is more challenging than surviving in the camp ever was. Can Ruby survive on the outside, and can she protect those that help her from her uncontrolled abilities?

The Darkest Minds is a highly entertaining and engaging read. It is however, not easy emotionally. It is very highly charged.  Just for starters, they round up kids and send them to ‘rehabilitation’ camps and fear them. The world building is so well done that you could believe that the scenario could happen anywhere at any time. The fear, mob mentality, and power plays in the world are something I could honestly see playing out.

I highly recommend The Darkest Minds to young adult and adult readers. This dystopian novel has rich characters, a world to fear, and deep set conspiracies and plots that will have you looking over your shoulder long after putting it down. There are significant amounts of death, violence, and cruelty in the book- so I do not recommend it for younger or more sensitive readers. I am looking forward to reading the sequel(s) that I have been told are coming.

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Brightly Woven

Alexandra Bracken’s other book in our collection, Brightly Woven which is about sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, an unusually talented weaver, must master her mysterious power and join a young wizard in stopping an imminent war in land. I also recommend a reading this book, perhaps while waiting for sequels of either to be released.

One to Watch: After Earth

After Earth is a big-budget ($130 million) science-fiction adventure film starring Will Smith and his son Jayden as a father & son who crash-land on Earth a thousand years after man has abandoned it, and the adventure they have trying to escape the dangerous wild habitat the Earth has become. Smith himself came up with the basic story, and worked with screenwriter Gary Whitta to carry the idea further.  Due for release on May 31, 2013, it is expected to be a blockbuster.

Will Smith, acting as producer, hired director M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Signs) for the film. This was the first time in twenty years that Shyamalan accepted a project based on someone else’s screenplay (the final screenplay was done by Stephen Gaghan). This would also be Shyamalan’s first digital film.

Science-fiction adventure stories come and go, but what makes After Earth a [Cover]unique film is the backstory. Normally, a film is scripted, filmed, and then if it is successful, writers are hired to create backstory, a “Bible” from which movie tie-ins, novels, short stories, and future scripts can draw material to make a unified vision of that world.  After Earth is the first film to flesh out its backstory before the scripting was even finished. Three expert writers were hired for that task: Peter David, Robert Greenberger, and Michael Jan Friedman, all of whom were well-versed in writing not only successful science-fiction and comics, but media tie-ins as well. All three collaborated in creating the “universe” in which the story takes place, the what, why, where, when and how, working on set with Smith, Shyamalan, and the scriptwriters to make the story as cohesive and believable as possible.

As told to me by Bob Greenberger, the three authors worked from the original Whitta script, taking tiny open references and creating minute details that would answer any questions the production team might have as to what cataclysms sent man from Earth, why Nova Prime, and what happened in the intervening years. Over a period of two years, this background encyclopedia grew to more than four hundred pages! If you’ve seen anything about the film in print, on the internet, or in film references, you can pretty much guarantee that information came from their work.

Of course, such detail and planning spawns stories on its own. Several novels centering around the movie are poised for release: After Earth, the novelization of the[Cover] film by Peter David, The Perfect Beast (After Earth: Ghost Stories) by Peter David, Robert Greenberger, and Michael Jan Friedman, and After Earth: United Ranger Corps Survival Manual by Robert Greenberger, as well as several short e-stories available for Kindle Purchase, with more to come in the ensuing months.

With a top-notch cast and writing crew like that, how can After Earth be anything but a hit? Check out these other books by these great authors, (or meet them in person at the Shoreleave Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore this August).

[Cover]   All Good Things...  [Cover]