Sunday, December 31, 2006


I'd like to take a moment to talk about science fiction. It can be fun! It is not, however, to be read all the time. This is the domain of nerds. Here's a few very enjoyable sci-fi reads. Just get out of the sci-fi section once in a while. I like to visit "Transportation". Lots of hot dudes looking at car books there.
Anyhoo, if you're new to the site, here's how the rating system works. It's based on how tough a read, not how good the book is. The books are all good.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Wild Cards 1: Ace In the Hole, edited by Robert R.R. Martin
$4.95 at ISBN: 0743423801
*** (moderate)
A virus unleashed over the planet gives some people super powers, but makes other people into hideous monsters. These are their stories. It's all so fascinating: one fellow changes every time he falls asleep. Another makes a living selling out other mutants. My favorite story was the first: in which the hero, Jet Boy, tries to save the planet and dies in the attempt. His last words, "I can't die yet, I still haven't seen The Jolson Story." This book is an anthology, a collection of short stories
by different authors. Usually a bad idea, in my experience, but this book was a blast!
Daughter of Regals and Other Tales, by Stephen R. Donaldson
$6.99 at ISBN: 0345314433
*** (moderate)
Stephen Donaldson is best known for his Chronicles of
the Unbeliever, in which the hero is a leper who finds himself in the sort of bizarre fantasy world you might find in Lord of the Rings. Sound awful? It's not! It was actually a really good series, and I may write about it someday. For now, this is a collection of his short stories. My favorite involves a police officer in the future who investigates a hunting club where people hunt armed, mutant animals. In another, a man gradually changes into a unicorn. You're sure to find at least a couple stories you really enjoy, and I promise you'll never forget it.
Ender's Game
, by Orson Scott Card
$6.99 at ISBN: 0812550706
** (pretty easy)
Set in a bleak future, Ender is a child trained to kill as humanity fights a war on alien "Buggers". The fact that the hero and most of the other characters are young children gives this whole novel a very weird vibe. Imagine Lord of the Flies played out on a spaceship fleet. This has been a cult-classic turned real classic over the past 25 years. Many school districts have started including it on summer reading lists because it's just so enjoyable. You'll never find a main character you'll route for more. The whole thing is exciting and the ending is satisfying.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I read Ender's Game a few months ago without knowing beforehand that it was a kids books. I had a little trouble believing it though, considering the whole children-killing-each-other-in-the-shower bit and xenocidal theme.

It's pretty interesting, even if most characters are cardboard. (I have a great deal of experience with cardboard, incidentally.) But that's what you usually get with sci-fi - an interesting scenario or social commentary, with no real character development.

I read somewhere that Ender's Game is a sort of response to Robert A Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers'. Something about fascism vs. distributed responsibility. I also had no idea it was part of a huge series until I started seeing them all at the book store. I wonder if the others have anything to say.

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