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Current Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 11:42 pm EDT, May  4, 2005

This book is a must read. It is absolutely worth the time.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller.

Elegant, witty and utterly compelling, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell creates a past world of great mystery and beauty that will hold the reader in thrall until the last page.

Here are some of the reviews:

Neil Gaiman: "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years."

Time magazine: "A chimera of a novel that combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien."

Washington Post: "Many books are to be read, some are to be studied, and a few are meant to be lived in for weeks. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is of this last kind ..."

Kirkus: "An instant classic, one of the finest fantasies ever written."

In March, it was announced that New Line Cinema (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) is adapting the book for a feature film production.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Frek and the Elixir
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 2:11 am EDT, May 11, 2004

Rudy Rucker published a new book in April.

In the year 3003, nothing in the world is the same, except maybe that adolescents are still embarrassed by their parents. Society and the biosphere alike have been transformed by biotechnology, and the natural world is almost gone.

Frek Huggins is a boy from a broken family, a misfit because he's a natural child, conceived without technological help or genetic modifications. His dad, Carb, is a malcontent who left behind Frek’s mom and the Earth itself several years ago.

Everything changes when Frek finds the Anvil, a small flying saucer, under his bed, and it tells him he is destined to save the world. The repressive forces of Gov, the mysterious absolute ruler of Earth, descend on Frek, take away the Anvil, and interrogate him forcefully enough to damage his memory. Frek flees with Wow, his talking dog, to seek out Carb and some answers. But the untrustworthy alien in the saucer has other plans, including claiming exclusive rights to market humanity to the galaxy at large, and making Frek a hero.

Frek and the Elixir is a profound, playful SF epic by the wild and ambitious Rudy Rucker.

... Like every great science fiction novel, "Frek and the Elixir" is really about the present -- about the power of corporations, about media and entertainment, about bioengineering, about quantum mechanics, about your wife or girlfriend, your next-door neighbor, and your boss, and about you, at age twelve, and now.

Frek and the Elixir

A Place So Foreign and Eight More
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 7:29 pm EDT, Oct 18, 2003

"As scary as the future, and twice as funny.

In this eclectic and electric collection, Cory Doctorow strikes sparks off today to illuminate tomorrow, which is what SF is supposed to do. And nobody does it better."

Cory Doctorow has published this collection of short stories. You can read six of the stories online and buy the dead-tree edition for $11.

A Place So Foreign and Eight More | Truncat by Cory Doctorow
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 1:58 am EDT, Sep  1, 2003

What if you could file-share someone's consciousness? Would it be a violation, or the ultimate communication therapy?

A new short story by Cory Doctorow. | Truncat by Cory Doctorow

'Pattern Recognition': The Coolhunter
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 2:02 pm EST, Jan 18, 2003

Can a book with references to Starbucks, iBooks and Hummers become a classic?

Can anything transcend its time now? Or is any novel about our tumultuous era bound to be a blip on the radar screen -- the equivalent of 20 seconds of stray footage on the Net?

"Pattern Recognition" considers these issues with appealing care and, given that this best-selling author is his own kind of franchise, surprising modesty.

Gibson's novel succeeds in being both up-to-the-nanosecond and also, in Cayce's highest praise, "curiously difficult to date."

NYT reviews the new Gibson novel. You can also listen to audio of Gibson reading an excerpt from the book (approximately 13 minutes).

'Pattern Recognition': The Coolhunter

Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 11:03 am EST, Jan  4, 2003

Cayce Pollard is a coolhunter, "a 'sensitive' of some kind, a dowser in the world of global marketing," able to recognize trends (i.e., patterns) before anyone else ...

Gibson's usual themes are still intact -- globalism, constant surveillance, paranoia, and pattern recognition -- only with the added presence of real-world elements (pilates, Google, Bibendum, Echelon, Buzz Rickson's). With incredibly evocative prose, Gibson masterfully captures the essence of a specific time and place ...

Gibson fans will not be disappointed.

The book goes on sale February 3, 2003.

Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson

'Prey': Attack of the Nanoswarms
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 11:19 am EST, Nov 25, 2002

From a purely techno point of view, "Prey" may be Crichton's most ambitious techno-thriller yet. Crichton sets out to generate suspense from a truly daunting trio of applied sciences: nanotechnology, genetic engineering and computer-based artificial life.

Unpredictability is meant to be the great theme of "Prey."

Despite its absurd moments, "Prey" is irresistibly suspenseful. You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another, even if the two levels do ultimately diverge.

A columnist for Slate reviews Michael Crichton's latest for NYT. You can read the first chapter online. (The book goes on sale Monday, November 25.)

'Prey': Attack of the Nanoswarms

Shadow Puppets, by Orson Scott Card
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 10:52 am EDT, Aug 29, 2002

In Shadow Puppets, Orson Scott Card continues the storyline of Shadow of the Hegemon, following the exploits of the Battle School children, prodigies who have returned to an Earth thrown into chaos after the unifying force of the alien invasion they stopped in Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow has dissipated.

... [Shadow Puppets includes] thought-provoking musings on geopolitics, war, courage, arrogance, good versus evil, and the concept of children wise beyond their years dealing with grave responsibility.

Shadow Puppets, by Orson Scott Card

Philip K. Dick's Mind-Bending, Film-Inspiring Journeys
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 6:14 am EDT, Jun 16, 2002

To call Philip K. Dick, whose 1954 story "The Minority Report" is the basis for the new Steven Spielberg movie, a science-fiction writer is to the underscore the inadequacy of the label. Dick, who died of a stroke in 1982 at 53, was fascinated by the scientific future largely as a vehicle for examining his own anxieties, longings and unstable perceptions. It would be more accurate to call him one of the most valiant psychological explorers of the 20th century.

... Thinking about these ideas can make your head hurt, which is true of virtually all of Dick's 36 novels and more than 100 short stories: mind-bending was almost his religion. Calling himself a "fictionalizing philosopher," he began with an assumption that causality is a shared delusion and that even concepts like space and time have a limited basis in reality.

"Minority Report" (opening Friday) stands as the most fluid and conventionally exciting of all the Philip K. Dick adaptations.

Philip K. Dick's Mind-Bending, Film-Inspiring Journeys

A Business Proposition From the Fourth Dimension
Topic: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature 7:22 am EDT, Jun 15, 2002

Rudy Rucker has a new book out.

For those in San Fran, he'll be at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia St., today (Saturday, June 15) at 2 PM for a reading and signing.

Publisher's Weekly says: Like a Mobius strip, Rucker's new hard SF satire tweaks the dot-com Y2K subculture into a hilarious tribute to Edwin Abbott's Flatland (1884). ... Combining valid mathematical speculation with wicked send-ups of Silicon Valley and its often otherworldly tribespeople, Rucker achieves a rare fictional world, a belly-laugh-funny commentary ...

NYT says: Rudy Rucker's Spaceland challenges readers to imagine what life might be like in a world with four spatial dimensions. ... "Spaceland" makes mild fun of self-important dot-commers and their venture-capitalist backers.

Amazon says: Usually, tribute novels are like movie remakes: a bad idea. However, this tribute to Edwin A. Abbott's classic novel Flatland works wonderfully.

Library Journal says: As always, Rucker laces his hard science with ample doses of humor to create an SF adventure for the dot-com generation. A good choice for most SF collections.

After you've read the book, you should check out "Spaceland Notes", which is basically a writer's diary that Rucker kept while working on the book. It's at

A Business Proposition From the Fourth Dimension

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