Feb 23, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180223



If you heard about a movie so good that no other entertainment could compete with it, would you watch it? If you knew it would destroy your life because after watching it all you would want to do is watch it again repeatedly and if not watching it talk only about it... would you still watch it?

That's the topic our first article explores, it's a difficult one to answer.

Next up there are two articles, each to balance the other, they discuss opposing viewpoints of whether to be pro-library or anti-library, both have some good points of view and need to be considered.

And there's more, so when you've found a quite time this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and enjoy reading more, and thinking more.


We as a culture have stopped or are afraid to teach ourselves that pleasure is dangerous, and that some kinds of pleasure are better than others, and that part of being a human being means deciding how much active participation we want to have in our own lives.

When I was interviewing readers and library users for my PhD, one of the questions I asked them was how they decided whether to buy or borrow a book. The answers were interesting. I thought about my own answers. What made me buy a book versus borrowing a book? In the past decade, that answer has changed...

Stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven't read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you're way ahead of the vast majority of other people.

The head of one of the world’s largest book publishers has described the ebook as “a stupid product” that is unlikely to see further growth.

My story has come a long way since I first started writing it, and so have I. My story has changed and grown and improved, and I with it. I’ve learned a lot from this journey of mine, and I’ll try and share some of the key points here.



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Feb 16, 2018

Weekend Reads - The Last Jedi Edition 1802

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Several years ago when I heard Disney had acquired the Star Wars franchise and were planing on releasing a movie every year for the next 80 years (or so) I was excited.

During the 70's, my formative years, there was plenty of science fiction franchises on TV which kept me going, like Blakes 7, Doctor Who, Logans Run and Battlestar Galactica but Star Wars: A New Hope was my absolute favourite movie, I couldn't get enough of it and all the merchandise. I still have my collection of figurines, minus the guns and plastic capes.

It wasn't until I watched the remakequel, The Force Awakens that I realised nostalgia wasn't going to get me through the next 80 years of Disney's Star Wars. I felt a little deflated but still enjoyed the movie, even though the death of Han Solo still brings a tear to my eye.

Rogue One turned up and I was expecting to be disappointed, but enjoyed the film, even though a lot of others didn't. Then came The Last Jedi...

Please be aware - spoilers ahead - including the following articles

Feb 9, 2018

Top 5 Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

Looking Back - The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017


Today my children were discussing time travel and what might be needed to do so, my daughter decided all she needed was 'Some soft comfy cushions for the floor and something to snuggle in case you get scared!'

What great advice! Lets do some time travelling ourselves by taking a look back over 2017 and see what the best selling Science Fiction and Fantasy books were. I've reviewed Amazon's and Barnes and Noble's best selling list and compiled a list of the top five.

Two omissions which I was surprised didn't make the list was Nineteen Eighty Four, where sales of this book rose, in January 2017, these sales were seven times more than same time last year, 2016, and also The Handmaid’s Tale which Amazon Charts listed as the Most Read book of 2017.

I've only read the last book on the list, Norse Mythology, but most of these are on my list of books to read in the near future. Which ones have you read, and would you say they deserve a place on this list?

Time to spread out those cushions on the floor and let's go back to 2017.

At the top of both books sellers Science Fiction and Fantasy list is:

The Power

by Naomi Alderman
What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power? In the near future, women all over the world discover they have the ability to unleash “skeins” of electricity powerful enough to hurt, injure—even kill. The world order slowly erodes under the new math of this power imbalance.

The Power is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden
Arden’s debut novel is an incredible achievement, fusing Russian folklore and history into a thoroughly modern fantasy exploring themes of belief, feminism, and magic.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a fantasy novel in the same way that The Martian was a science fiction novel; Katherine's beautiful writing gives it universal appeal. I've given it to people who would never read fantasy, and every one has loved it.

Even thought Andy Weir's The Martian wasn't the sort of science fiction novel I would pick up, I was thankful that I did, so hopefully this endorsement holds true. If you've read it let me know what you think.
Speaking of Andy Weir...

Artemis

by Andy Weir
Another breezy, brainy, and addictive a read as The Martian, and it’s probably going to make for another great movie.

This one is a heist story set on the moon. Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.


Oathbringer

Book Three of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Oathbringer is an epic fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson who isn’t just writing some of the longest epic fantasy books running, if you've read any of this works you know that he’s also writing some of the very best.


Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
Master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths. Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

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Feb 2, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180202



Are we 'improving' ourselves to death? That's the topic our first article looks at. With the glut of self-improvement books and guru's out there today it's interesting to step back and take a look at this 'from the outside'.

Check out the greatest books of all times, as voted by one hundred and twenty five authors, it's interesting to see what's in there and what's not.

For the writers out there, I have two articles, one about creating a coherent fantasy language and the four elements of Epic story telling, but good reads.

And in technology this week we meet the 89 year old man who is updating an old idea about moving trains from A to B. So when you have some time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read through the following articles.


Jan 31, 2018

Discover | The Dying Game by Asa Avdic



Agatha Christie meets George Orwell ... a fascinating and original plot
Publishers Weekly


Another dystopian novel, for lovers of conspiracy and thrillers. The Dying Game is set in 2037 of an alternative future, and looks to have shades of And Then There Were None (by Agatha Christie)

Take a bit of alternate history, a dose of The Hunger Games, a little Handmaid’s Tale, and dash of Orwell and Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and you’d have The Dying Game. Set in a near-future dystopia where the Soviet Union never fell, the novel centers on Anna Francis, a bureaucrat assigned to observe the participants of a top secret intelligence project. Six candidates are locked in a house and told a murderer is among them – who will take control, who will crack under the pressure, and more importantly is anyone safe?
If you've read it let me know what you think.


A deliciously creepy novel revolving around a terrific paradigm shift: The job you think you’re doing? That’s not the job you’re really doing.
Chris Pavone, author of THE EXPATS

Jan 26, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180126



Welcome to Weekend Reads, the Science Fiction and Fantasy community had some sad news this week with the passing of Ursula K. Le Guin, probably best know as the author of A Wizard of Earthsea. She has received many awards including the Hugo, Nebula and National Book Award to name a few. You can find out more about her here on goodreads. The first article this week is from one of my favourite blogs, Tor.com and takes a look at Ursula K. Le Guin writings and gives you something to really think about.

Next up there is an article on how NOT to read this year but Jon Bloom. In it he argues that what you read will shape not only what you think, but how you think. Life is short so you need to be discerning in what you read this year. Some food for thought it aligns with what I try to promote here on this blog.

There is also a tech and science article which may blow your mind and change how you look at the earth and driver-less technology. So when it's time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read of the following articles.

Jan 24, 2018

Discover | Amatka by Karin Tidbeck




I recommend that you lay your hands on a copy.
Ann Leckie


Dystopian fiction has seen a rise in popularity over the last year and if you're looking for a dystopian novel which feels like it's doing something different, this may be the novel for you.

Here is a story with an intriguing premise: objects in this universe have to be constantly recognised and named otherwise they disappear. They need to be labelled for their function otherwise they cease to be useful, for example, a chair has to be label 'chair' or it turns to goo. The residents have to be constantly vigilant lest they lose important possessions.

In this world where physical objects are temporary the inhabitants react to this by creating a  rigid and unchanging society.  You've got to admit that sounds pretty interesting.


An instant classic.
Jeff VanderMeer