by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
This month my adult book club at the library is reading The Martian by Andy Weir. We don’t usually read science fiction, so this is a stretch for the group, but it has been a best-selling, mainstream book. Personally, I like to read science fiction and fantasy, but then I’m a geek. Following are some of our newest science fiction books (and a movie) that you might enjoy if you’re a geek, too.
A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. Science fiction and fantasy books tend to come in series. The first book is called A Darker Shade of Magic. The novels are set in London in four parallel universes. A few magicians have the ability to travel between them, carrying correspondence between the leaders of each and smuggling people who want a glimpse of a different reality. Somehow this is categorized as science fiction as well as fantasy; maybe it’s the parallel universe aspect of the story.
Morning Star is the third book in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. The whole trilogy has received glowing reviews for its fast-paced, well-written story. The main character Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste in society. They live a miserable life underground on Mars, mining to help make the planet habitable for future generations. When Darrow learns that the upper classes live comfortably aboveground, benefitting from their oppression, he becomes a revolutionary. These books have been compared to The Hunger Games, A Game of Thrones, Ender’s Game, and Dune.
The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray is set in the early twentieth century, but the main character wakes up one morning to find he has been exiled from the flow of time. The novel is described as a mixture of historical fiction, romance, mystery, and time-travel science fiction. This one is a stand-alone, not part of a series.
Version Control by Dexter Palmer is a time-travel novel that’s character-driven. Rebecca Wright has found her way out of grief and depression after a personal tragedy, and she works for the online dating company she used to meet her husband. She feels like reality is somehow off-kilter, but she can’t put her finger on what’s wrong. Her physicist husband has been working for ten years on a “causality violation device” that he doesn’t want called a time machine. Could his invention be affecting their reality?
Saga is a series of graphic novels by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. Our library has book one of the deluxe edition; the original editions of the entire series came out a few years ago. It’s the story of two people from opposite sides of an intergalactic war who fall in love and start a family. Critics can’t say enough good things about it.
If I’m talking about science fiction, I need to mention that we have the new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens in our collection. As you’d expect, it’s very popular. This latest Star Wars installment smashed U.S. box office records. J. J. Abrams did a first-rate job directing and co-writing a very nostalgic Star Wars movie, really a throwback to the original film, and it pleased a wide range of people. I went to see it in the theater twice, but like I said, it’s my kind of thing.
Science fiction readers never make up a large percentage of library borrowers. Studies have shown that adults who read science fiction have higher average incomes than the general population. It may be that most buy rather than borrow their books. However, some sci fi readers are a steady part of the library’s clientele. If you’d like to read something imaginative, branch out with one of our science fiction books and find something really mind-bending to think about.