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Category: Science Fiction Book Reviews


Review: Far North by Marcel Theroux

This blog post appears courtesy of the FictionFiles blog and was written by our fabulous staff member, Ken.

Far North by Marcel Theroux

"Every day I buckle on my guns and go out to patrol this dingy city."
Thus begins this novel about a North where, despite the narrotors best efforts, law and justice are non-existent and life is a struggle against not only the elements, but against the predations of it's human inhabitants. Makepeace is the sole remaining member of a family that once lived in a community of thousands. But now there seems to be no one left, and the city is in ruins. But one day Makepeace, convinced that there is nothing left to live for, sees a plane fly overhead, and sets out to find the civilization it came from, the one spark of hope for a reconnection with human society. The journey to this imagined world leads through devastation and enslavement to another city, also long uninhabited, but with technological resources of value to unscrupulous and amoral survivors. Filled with images both bleak and hopeful, Far North provides a thrilling ride and a warning about where we could be heading if we do not take greater care of our world.


The Stand meets Lord of the Flies

Time of the Reaper (2007)
, Reapers: Book 1

by Andrew Butcher

The Cryptkeeper says:
Don't let the cheesy, cheap cover fool you; it simply does not do the story, or Andrew Butcher's writing, any justice. I call this kind of book a "pulp-riff-page-turner" -- you start reading and you have to keep turning the pages. The Time of the Reaper is The Stand for a teen audience, meets Lord of the Flies, with a twist of Dawson's Creek angst and melodrama thrown in for good measure. The formula is surprisingly addictive and I could not put it down for a moment. And I guess I won't have to yet, because this book is only the first of a trilogy!

Look for Books 2 and 3 in the RPL catalogue!

Slave Harvest, Reapers: Book 2

The Tomorrow Seed, Reapers: Book 3

Plot Summary: They call it the Sickness. Nobody knows what causes it or where it comes from. Nobody knows why it only seems to affect the adult population. But everyone knows that if you catch it and you’re over 18, you die. All around the world, teenagers like Travis, Richie, Mel, Jessica and Simon, find themselves thrown together and forced to cooperate. But a world without rules is not the utopia many survivors thought it would be. Everything, now, is deadly serious. Those who can’t adjust to their new situation find themselves going the same way as the adults. Factions form quickly. Some want to take what they need through strength of arms, but others -- the most organised -- want to try to rebuild the world their parents left behind. Restoring society will be hard, but not impossible. After all, they reason, the worst is over. But they’re wrong. It’s only just begun. . .

This post appears courtesy of RPL's horror blog


Stephen King's The Stand turns 30!

Originally published in 1978, Stephen King's post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Stand turns 30 this year.

In 1990, King re-released the novel as The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition. For this, King restored text originally axed by his publishers, added and revised other sections, changed the setting of the novel from 1980 to 1990, and updated a few pop culture references accordingly. The result is a whopping 1,138 pages of what many King fans and critics alike consider to be his most outstanding work.

In the decades since its first publication, this epic end-of-the-world saga has continued to engage readers from all age groups in many different languages all around the world. The universal appeal of The Stand remains undisputed and in these troubling times, its themes seem more relevant than ever.

Brimming with a vast array of richly defined characters supported by a complex and engaging plot, The Stand is a classic tale of the post-apocalypse. A man-made superflu known as Captain Trips wipes out the world's population save for a small band of survivors. What awaits them is unknown, but it becomes obvious strange forces are manipulating the survivors, setting them up for a classic battle of Good and Evil in which the fate of humankind depends.

Find The Stand: Complete and Uncut in the RPL catalogue has published a new interview with Mr. King to mark The Stand's 30th anniversary. Read it here.

More updates on The Stand: Following on the heels of Marvel's successful adaptation of The Dark Tower series, Gunslinger Born and The Long Road Home, Stephen King's classic novel The Stand is finally getting the graphic novel treatment. The first installment is called -- appropriately enough -- Captain Trips. Click here for details (and a 6-page preview!).

***Original post appears courtesy of the horror blog


The always wonderful Library Dragon (co-blogger on the FictionFiles Blog) has given us permission to repost her review of Stephanie Meyer's The Host on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog. Enjoy!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves-Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love. Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time. (From Barnes & Nobles)

This book had a lot of hype and the reviews were raving! I wanted to like it way more then I did. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good read but it just didn’t live up to the expectations I had. I think part of it was this book was just too long and took forever for things to happen. I struggled with the first 100 pages, and I have a rule if I don’t like it after a 100 pages I’m not going to bother, however it picked up somewhere around page 80 so I continued on. This certainly is not a gloom and doom type story and is actually full of hope….its just to long! For her first attempt at adult fiction it was good and I can actually see a sequel to this book, but she needs to make her stories just a little tighter and less rambling to make them really good. I hope she gets there as she has good story ideas.

-The Library Dragon


The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

From Publisher’s Weekly: This Highly original first novel won the largest advance San Francisco--based MacAdam/Cage had ever paid, and it was money well spent. Niffenegger has written a scarring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that skates nimbly around a huge conundrum at the heart of the book: Henry De Tamble, a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, finds himself unavoidably whisked around in time. He disappears from a scene in, say, 1998 to find himself suddenly, usually without his clothes, which mysteriously disappear in transit, at an entirely different place an years earlier--or later. During one of these migrations, Ire drops in on beautiful teenage Clare Abshire, an heiress in a large house on the nearby Michigan peninsula, and a lifelong passion is born. The problem is that while Henry's age darts back and forth according to his location in time, Clare's moves forward in the normal manner, so the pair are often out of sync. But such is the author's tenderness with the characters, and the determinedly ungimmicky way in which she writes of their predicament (only once do they make use of Henry's foreknowledge of events to make money, and then it seems to Clare like cheating) that the book is much more love story than fantasy. It also has a splendidly drawn cast, from Henry's violinist father, ruined by the loss of his wife in an accident from which Henry time-traveled as a child, to Clare's odd family and a multitude of Chicago bohemian friends. The couple's daughter, Alba, inherits her father's strange abilities, but this is again handled with a light touch; there's no Dime! cuteness here. Henry's foreordained end is agonizing, but Niffenegger has another card up her sleeve, and plays it with poignant grace. It is a fair tribute to her skill and sensibility to say that the book leaves a reader with an impression of life's riches and strangeness rather than of easy thrills.

Review: I absolutely adore this book. It is very character based, which I love. If I can really get into the life of a character and feel what their feeling and know what they know it enraptures me. For an author to write SO well that the story allows me to step out of my skin for a period of time and into another’s is extraordinary. I would never have guessed that it was her first novel. I felt like I was a part of Henry and Clare’s relationship. I felt every moment.
On the other hand though, I’ve had people remark that they did not enjoy this novel because it WAS so very character based. If you’re more of a plot or setting kind of person, perhaps this is not for you…especially since the setting does change so much with Henry’s condition.

I also find it funny that it is classed as science fiction. While it no doubt as the criteria to be classed there, it really IS the love story that you focus on and Henry's condition, though a major part of the story, takes a bit of a backseat. If I could make up a new genre for it I suppose it’d be called "Romantical" Science Fiction!

MOVIE ALERT: To ice the cake as well, there is a movie adaptation coming to theatres in November 2008 starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Who doesn’t love a movie starring a hunky librarian? I sincerely hope they don’t hack it up too much, I’m not so confident the passion of the book could be carried over to the movie…I guess we’ll see!

Click here to check it out!

--The Library Technician


Coens Tapped to Direct Movie Version of The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Columbia Pictures have acquired movie rights to the Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union and are tapping Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men and Fargo) to direct.

The book is set in alternate-history, where Alaska, rather than Israel, has become the homeland for the Jews following World War II. Detective Meyer Landsman and his half-Tlingit partner Berko investigate the death of a heroin-addled chess prodigy, who might be the messiah.

Booklist Review: The premise draws on an obscure historical fact: FDR once proposed that Alaska, not Israel, become the homeland for Jews after the war. In Chabon's telling, that's exactly what happened, except, inevitably, it hasn't gone as planned: the U.S. government now has enacted a policy that will evict all Jews without proper papers from Sitka, the center of Jewish Alaska. In the midst of this nightmare, browbeaten police detective Meyer Landsman investigates the murder of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who happens to be the disgraced son of Sitka's most powerful rabbi. No one wants this case solved, from Landsman's boss (his ex-wife, Bina) to the FBI, but our Yiddish Marlowe keeps digging, uncovering apocalypse in the making. Chabon manipulates his bulging plot masterfully, but what makes the novel soar is its humor and humanity. -- Bill Ott (Reviewed 03-01-2007) (Booklist, vol 103, number 13, p38)

Posted by May who is still sick but not contagious. (Or so she claims!)


The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair: a Novel by Jasper Fforde.

Summary: In a world where one can literally get lost in literature, Thursday Next, a Special Operative in literary detection, tries to stop the world's Third Most Wanted criminal from kidnapping characters, including Jane Eyre, from works of literature.

Review: I read this book because of one of my colleagues raved about it and knew that I enjoy reading both science fiction and mystery novels. I was certainly intrigued by this book which seemingly blends both literary genres. At first, there was quite a bit of interesting stuff to be amazed by. After all, who wouldn't want a cloned Dodo bird as a pet? Or the possibility of time traveling and entering alternative dimensions of reality? However, after meeting an endless supply of odd characters and waiting for the main action to start, I never got into the book and found myself wondering if I cared whether or not Tuesday would ever catch the criminal. Obviously not. I read a number of book reviews afterwards that praised the book for its weirdness, including one that went so far as to pen this about the book, "So unusual you've got to read it to believe it!" Personally, I think what did the book in for me was the abundant "weirdness". I was happy to hear that another colleague of mine shared the same opinion because I don't think this book is for everyone.

However, if you are a huge fan of Jasper Fforde and the Tuesday Next character, then you will be happy to hear that there are four other novels in the series, which are all available at Regina Public Library:

- Lost in a Good Book (Book 2)

- Well of Lost Plots (Book 3)

- Something Rotten (Book 4)

- First Among Sequels (Book 5)

In the meantime, if you happen to really like this series or read this book in spite of my negative review and enjoyed it, then let me know why you liked it. Should I bother giving this book a second read?

Reviewed by May who freely admits that she is not a fan of Bronte but did not hold it against this book!


Hmm...So That's What Happened on the Planet Krypton...

Okay, I freely admit that I do KNOW what happened on Krypton even before I read Kevin J. Anderson's Last Days of Krypton novel but it is always nice to have a refresher.

In his latest book, Anderson who is noted for co-writing the prequels to the Dune series and a number of spin-off books for Star Wars, explores not only the last days but really the last year or so of Krypton's existence. Longtime fans of Superman already know that the Kryptonians' ultimate demise was the result of a thermonuclear reaction in the planet's core but the writer tries to confuse you by throwing in a number of other possible disasters that could destroy the one-time civilization, including a civil war and a rogue comet. But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

The story begins with an introduction to Jor-El (Superman's father) and his brilliance as the planet's foremost scientist. His inventions, such as the Phantom Zone, are considered "dangerous" by the Commissioner of Technology, Zod, who promptly seizes Jor-El's inventions and stores them in his secret vault rather than destroying them. In spite of this, Jor-El stubbornly holds on to his naive faith of Zod who masterfully manipulates everyone around him. The planet and its inhabitants are constantly pushed to the extreme over the next several months as one pending disaster after another keep popping up and Jor-El is forced to save them time and time again. Of course, amidst all of this chaos, Jor-El still manages to find time to romance and marry Lara, a budding artist and writer. Despite all of Jor-El's efforts, the planet is still doomed.

Overall, the book provides non-stop of action with lightening speed resolution. Since fans already know the outcome, the ending will not come as a complete surprise to anyone. Aside from the Superman fans who will certainly read this book, the story should also appeal to the average science fiction fan who are looking for an easy read between their current series.

Reviewed by May who enjoyed last night's premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


It's All About the Pyramids...

Anyone who enjoys humour mixed with their fantasy will enjoy this pair of novels:

Pyramid Power by Dave Freer & Eric Flint

A large alien object appears in the middle of a University of Chicago library. It cannot be touched by any terrestrial weapon, it is expanding through the city and people who get close to it vanish and then eventually reappear—dead. All except Dr. Jerry Lukacs, expert in mythology, biologist Elizabeth De Beer, maintenance man Lamont Jackson and two tough paratroopers. This mismatched bunch find themselves in a world of Greek myth, fighting off Jason and his piratical Argonaut crew, and the Olympian gods who are allied to the aliens. Fortunately, magic works where their modern gadgets don’t, and some of the Egyptian gods are friendly. Spiced with outrageous puns, a new slant on Greek mythology and a wacky plot, this will have you laughing out loud.

Pyramid Scheme by Dave Freer & Eric Flint

And in Pyramid Power, the heroes take on the Norse gods…

Reviewed by Claire, "The Wonderful"

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