Tag Archives: Sci. Fi.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (review by Connie M. ’17)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

2001: A Space Odyssey depicts the first encounters of humankind with alien intelligence. This story has become one of the most well known sci-fi tales and is written by one of the greats. The story begins as a series of seemingly unconnected accounts, but gathers speed by the time we reach the halfway point. The second half of the novel blazes by in a suspense-filled whirlwind. The last 30 pages of the book holds perhaps as much action as the rest of the book put together, culminating in a thought-provoking and poetic ending. Clarke writes without extravagant vocabulary yet manages to vividly depict the beauty of space. While 2001 has little humor and no romance and thus may not appeal to everyone, it is a must read for any true science fiction lover and contains much food for thought for any reader. – Connie M. ’17

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The Martian by Andy Weir (review by Connie M. ’17)

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Looking through Goodreads for a sci-fi book, I found that The Martian was voted the top sci-fi book for 2014, and decided to give it a try. Well, I certainly did not regret that decision.
The Martian was, yes, filled with highly technical scientific explanations. This, however, only added to the legitimacy of the story. But above all, The Martian is one of the most engrossing novels I have ever read. Not only was a stellar sense of humor imbued into multiple characters (I literally laughed out loud multiple times), but as the hero encountered challenge after challenge, I was so terrified of what might happen next. I could only pause my reading when the challenge was resolved. This was partly because of how realistic the story was. All challenges seemed completely plausible, and all solutions made complete sense and I was completely drawn into the story.
The Martian is a must read for any sci-fi fan and a wonderful experience for any reader.” -Connie M. ’17

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review by Andrew R.’17)

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ready Player One has the amusing (if unlikely) premise of a massive ’80s cultural revival in the year 2044 following the death of billionaire video game designer James Halliday. In a famine-stricken vision of future America, Halliday’s will is the last hope for many of the country’s hopeful gamers: it bestows the designer’s entire fortune upon the first person to complete a series of ’80s-themed riddles set in the OASIS, a sprawling virtual-reality videogame that redefines MMORPGs. For a future-world teenager, intrepid fortune-hunter Wade Watts spends a surprising amount of time obsessing over minutiae of ’80s culture that seem more likely to appeal to the author himself. (Case in point: the president of the OASIS is Cline’s fellow science-fiction novelist Cory Doctorow.) My only qualm with this book is that, while the OASIS is constantly glorified, it’s clear that the collapse of the real world is a direct result of the citizenry’s lack of regard for anything outside their alternate-reality visors. One character hints at this, but, of course, he immediately recants his views and never brings them up again. Still, Ready Player One is a fun diversion from the real world—for the author as well as the reader. – Andrew R. ’17

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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (review by Lauren L. ’17)

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker's Guide, #2)The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second installation of Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe continues the adventures of the three-headed, two-armed ex-president of the universe, his cousin, his girlfriend, and an unfortunate and bewildered human being. (And a depressed robot, but of course, everybody’s already forgotten about him.) Just as absurd as the first book of the series, Restaurant, reveals the man who actually controls the entirety of the universe and sends Arthur and Ford to Earth two million years ago, where they find that a group of telephone sanitizers, hairdressers, and marketers aren’t the best people to start a new civilization, since sticks are best used as curling tongs, and to discover fire, you need to first research it to find what people want from it. Just like the previous book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe will be enjoyable to all . Lauren L. ’17

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (review by Lauren L. ’17)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in a dystopian future after a devastating war, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? later became the inspiration for the film Blade Runner and cleverly utilizes the unspoken need for company and labor that created the market demand for androids in the first place to emphasize the empathy and lack of appearing in the human race. The protagonist, Rick Deckard, is a bounty hunter who finds and kills rogue androids for the police on a dying Earth where animals have become a precious rarity and owning and caring for one is an indication of humanity. Most people have left to colonize Mars, and Deckard is trapped in a claustrophobic marriage with ownership of only a single animal- an android sheep. Though the writing itself didn’t appear to be anything special, the plot and the action are transfixing enough for any sci-fi reader to enjoy. – Lauren L.’17

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For the Win by Cory Doctorow (review by Andrew R. ’17)

For the WinFor the Win by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the one hand, For the Win reads like a video game ad. Cory Doctorow describes, with childlike delight, his ideas for massive multi-player online role-playing games with titles like “Svartalfheim Warriors” and “Zombie Mecha” in such painstaking detail that the reader has to wonder why he chose a career as a novelist instead of a game designer. But then the other face of the book shows itself, the professional, educational side that balances out Doctorow’s nerdy fantasies with lessons on economics, of all things. At first, pairing unions and finance with video games seems an odd strategy, but when Doctorow starts drawing parallels between the two, the offline world he’s created is fleshed out as fully as his online ones. There are characters, mostly impoverished gold farmers and corrupt businessmen; there’s a plot, even if it only appears between video game descriptions and economics lessons. But the real meat of the book, the part that Cory Doctorow fans old and new will recognize as part of the author’s style, has nothing to do with the characters or plot. Rather, all the substance lies in novel’s empowering message, its inspiring moral about equality, freedom—and video games. Andrew R. ’17

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Plague by Michael Grant (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Plague (Gone, #4)Plague by Michael Grant
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

By the beginning of the fourth book of Michael Grant’s FAYZ series, the situation is grim: deadly epidemics sweep the population, young children resort to cannibalism to survive, an invincible sadistic demon prowls the streets, mutant insects lay eggs inside humans so their larvae can gnaw their way free upon birth…If this description of events makes this book sound over-the-top gruesome, that’s because it is. Grant forgoes any semblance of a plot in favor of graphic death after graphic death, introducing scores of characters whose sole purpose is to be eaten or burnt or flayed or stabbed, and he often undercuts the horror of his plot by going too far with his ideas. Sure, wasps with bulletproof carapaces that can gnaw through stone are scary enough, but making them the size of minivans and perching undead whip-wielding demons on their shoulders is such absurd overkill as to make them seem ridiculous, not frightening. I could go on about the story’s repetitiveness, its clichéd characters, its depressing love interest, or its awful attempts at humor, but I’ll have to be content with warning potential readers that the FAYZ takes a serious turn for the worse at this point in the series. – Andrew R. ’17

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Uninvited by Sophie Jordan (review by Sophia S. ’15)

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A teenager manages to obtain a gun and uses that weapon in a public place, causing panic and terror, all of which is publicized in the media. Sound familiar? Jordan explores a world where violent behavior is spawned by the Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS). And the country representative of the free world is the leader of the international movement to oppress the doomed individuals who carry the HTS gene. But do genes define who you are? Davy Hamilton used to think so, at least before she tested positive for the HTS gene. Can a harmless, popular, Julliard-bound high school girl be the chillingly mindless killer society thinks she is? The only thing “chilling” about this novel is the possibility of this society arising from a government desperate to appease the terrified victims of violence. Jordan taps into the deep well that is speculation of societal behavior but shies away from that meaningful subject to lash together a rote chick flick. Select parts of the story are stimulating, but the majority of Uninvited is mind numbingly cliché. Recommended for readers in a mood for light reading. – Sophia S. ’15

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Pyramids by Terry Pratchett (review by Mr. Silk)

Pyramids (Discworld, #7)Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fans of science fiction with a twist of Egyptology will really enjoy this entry into the Discworld series. “Pyramids” is basically an alternate history, asking what if the ancient pyramids really held magical powers, and what if those powers got out of hand? There is plenty of action, adventure, and comedy throughout the book as we follow the dead king – frustrated that he is being mummified, the new king and his camel (a brilliant mathematician; the camel, not the new king), and the pyramid builders as their world starts to unravel around them. Not for everyone, but if you like stories that are a bit “wacky” this one is for you. – Mr. Tony Silk (Harker teacher)

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The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer (review by Monica K. 14)

The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2)The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The surprise sequel of The House of the Scorpion, The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer follows Matt’s dismantling of his predecessor’s drug empire. In particular, it explores the plight of the microchipped eejits, ethics of cloning and microchipping, and the polluted, future world. While the novel had potential (and is still well-written and recommended to fans of the first book), it could have been truly great with a serious round of editing. My main problems with it were that the pacing was off and main characters shifted personalities from the first novel or acted out of character to move the plot along. I also missed the world building and suspense of the first book. In the end the Lord of Opium is pretty good but not a must-read – however, I really, really recommend The House of the Scorpion. – Monica K. ‘14

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