Category Archives: Science Fiction

Book Review: The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

index-phpIn a land called the Stillness—a single continent atop unstable fault lines—civilizations have risen and fallen attempting to survive frequent seismic activity. Among the land’s inhabitants are stills, non-magical humans, and orogenes, who can quell tremors and harness seismic power. As the Stillness experiences a cataclysm that will throw it into an extended period of ash and darkness, one orogene sets out to find her abducted daughter. This is speculative fiction at its best: a compelling narrative with parallels to the real world. Jemisin’s world building is masterful, rooted in the geography and history of the Stillness. She deftly uses her prose to draw readers into this world, to develop complex characters, and to examine the ways society oppresses and dehumanizes its people. The first installment of the Broken Earth series, The Fifth Season won the 2016 Hugo Award for best novel.

Rating: * * * * * One of the best

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Reviewed by: LW

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Filed under Fantasy, General Fiction, Science Fiction, Staff Picks

Review: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

This is the author’s fourth novel, but her first with a post-Apocalyptic setting. It starts out with the heart attack death on stage of a fading movie star who is playing King Lear at a Toronto theater. Jeevan, a member of the audience, rushes onto the stage to perform CPR on the dying actor. Later that evening Jeevan is called by an old friend, a doctor at a local emergency room who warns him about patients arriving with a virulent flu strain who are dying after only a few hours. The story next picks up fifteen years later when 99% of the world’s population has died from this Russian flu and civilization as we know it has collapsed. There are a few alternating story lines which converge by the novel’s conclusion. I found this novel to be compelling and very good.

Emily St. John Mandel will discuss her book at the Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under General Fiction, Science Fiction, Staff Picks

Review: 11/22/63: a novel, by Stephen King

This is the first Stephen King novel that I have read. At 849 pages be careful not to drop it on your foot! The plot involves time travel and the Kennedy assassination; no gory horror, which is what I associate with this author. Jake Epping, high school English teacher in present day Lisbon Falls, Maine, is shown a time travel portal back to 1958 in the storeroom of his friend Al’s diner. Al persuades Jake to go back in time and try to prevent Kennedy’s death. King does a great job portraying Texas in mid-twentieth century America. One of the critics compared this book to “Time and Again” by Jack Finney which is a particular favorite of mine.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Science Fiction, Staff Picks

The Domino Men, by Jonathan Barnes

Henry Lamb thinks he is just an ordinary file clerk in an ordinary office where mounds of paper are sorted and filed for various government departments in London. But one day he is suddenly transferred to the “Directorate” and finds himself fighting supernatural beings in human disguise as well as members of the Royal Family who are part of the plot to bring London to irreversible ruin. I listened to the book on cd and the narrator, Gerard Doyle was excellent.

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RATING: * * * A good read
Reviewed by: kh

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Filed under Audiobooks, General Fiction, Mysteries and Thrillers, Science Fiction, Staff Picks

The Santaroga Barrier, by Frank Herbert

This book is creepy, mysterious, and eloquently written.  It is about a young psychologist who takes an assignment in a too perfect town in a valley, Santaroga, that has no juvenile delinquency, barely any cigarette smoking, no mental illnesses, and barely any crime.  He is assigned to investigate these mysterious circumstances.  He also has other motives behind accepting the assignment.  His girlfriend, Jenny, lives in the valley.  He enters the valley and is almost killed twice.  Alarmed, he decides to investigate a mysterious substance that the Santarogans consume in almost all of their foods, Jaspers.  The more he pries, the more danger he puts himself in.  Can this lone psychologist figure out the mystery behind the “Santaroga Barrier?”

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: YA/Teen reviewer, K.G.

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Filed under Science Fiction, Young Adult

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

Twelve year old Miranda lives in 1970’s Manhattan, with typical concerns about friends, boys, school–and helping her mom win the game show The $20,000 Pyramid. Then she starts receiving mysterious unsigned notes that give her instructions, appear to predict the future, and contain vague mentions of danger.   What do they mean?  Miranda’s favorite book is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and fans of that book (or the Time Traveler’s Wife) will enjoy this one, too.

Rating:  **** Very, very good
Reviewed by:  stc

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Update, January 2010:  When You Reach Me was awarded the 2010 Newbery Medal.

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Filed under Award Winners, Children's, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Young Adult