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Friday, October 7, 2011

Soaring with Sci-Fi

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Science fiction (also known as sci-fi or SF), according to Project Gutenberg, is "a popular genre in which the narrative world differs from our own present or historical reality in at least one significant way. This difference may be technological, physical, historical, sociological, philo-sophical, metaphysical, etc, but not magical (see Fantasy)."

Sci-fi isn't a genre that I tend to seek out, but I have certainly read some science fiction novels that I've enjoyed!  Here are a few of them:

A Wind in the Door, by Madeline L'Engle, 1973
This is my favorite of the Time Quintet, which also includes A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.  (I have not yet read the last two books, however.)  In this book, Meg and Calvin must travel inside one of Charles Wallace's mitochondria -- along with Proginoskes (a cherubim) and school principal Mr. Jenkins -- to battle the evil Echthroi there and save the young boy from a deadly disease. 

I recently read this novel aloud to my sons.  Though some of the concepts and words were difficult for Ben (6 years old) to understand, he still liked the basic story.  Nick (12 years) is at a perfect age for the book, and was eager to hear more - I've encouraged him to read the rest of the series on his own.


The Books of Ember series, by Jeanne DuPrau...
The City of Ember, 2003;
The People of Sparks, 2004; 
The Prophet of Yonwood, 2006;
and The Diamond of Darkhold, 2008
One day, when Nick was in 4th grade, he came home from school all excited about a book his teacher had been reading aloud to the class -- The City of Ember.  He told me a little about the story.  I was intrigued, so I checked it out from the library.  I loved the book!  Later that year, our family went to see "The City of Ember" movie.  Nick and I both thought the book was much better, but the rest of the family (who hadn't read the book) enjoyed it. 

Last month I finally got around to reading the other three books in the series.  I thought they were all good stories, though The Prophet of Yonwood was not at all what I expected!  (I didn't realize, until I started reading it, that it was a prequel to the other books.)

The City of Ember is a post-apocalyptic novel about an underground city that is slowly running out of power and supplies.  Lina --a young girl -- and her friend Doon discover a message from the original builders of the city.  They must try to decode the message and find a way to save their city.

The People of Sparks continues the story as Lina, Doon, and other refugees from Ember come to the village of Sparks and ask for their help.  Tensions quickly mount between the two peoples....

The Prophet of Yonwood, as I mentioned earlier, is a prequel to the other books -- it takes place about 300 years before the events in the other 3 stories.  This book takes place in Yonwood, North Carolina, where a local woman has seen a vision of the bleak future that awaits the world.

The Diamond of Darkhole is the conclusion to the series, and returns to the village of Sparks where the people from Ember are finally settling in.  Lina and Doon return to Ember, where they find a family of roamers has taken over the abandoned city....


Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, 2008
Liam is a preteen who often is mistaken for an adult due to his height.  Posing as his father, Liam enters a contest for dads, hoping to win the chance to go on an incredible new ride.  (He doesn't know it at first, but the ride is a real spaceship, heading to outer space.)  He ends up receiving (and learning) more than he ever bargained for!

This is a fun book -- a quick, easy read that is "laugh out loud" funny!

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck
in the Farthest Reaches of Space
by Philip Reeve, 2006
The first book in the Larklight Trilogy (which also includes Starcross, 2007 and Mothstorm, 2008), Larklight is set in an alternate Victorian-era universe, where humans have been exploring the solar system for decades.  Art Mumby and his sister Myrtle live with their father in Larklight, a house that orbits Earth's moon.  One day in 1851, they are attacked by giant spider-like creatures.  Art and Myrtle escape, and their wild adventures through outer space begin!

Filled with aliens, space pirates, cliffhangers, and humor, Larklight is a thoroughly entertaining book!  I have not read its sequels yet, but plan to soon...


The Giver, by Lois Lowry, 1993
Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a "utopian" world where crime, poverty, war, and many other unpleasant things no longer exist.  His Community is meticulously ordered, and everyone strives for "sameness".  People no longer choose their careers or spouses -- a committee tells them what job they can do and who they can marry.  Jonas is selected as the next Receiver of Memory, a person who keeps all the memories and knowledge of past generations.  When he begins receiving memories from The Giver, Jonas realizes that there is much more to life than he, or the rest of the Community, has ever known.

My daughter Emmalie recommended this book to me after she'd read it for a class in middle school.  I found it to be a well-written, interesting, and thought-provoking story.


Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?  What are your favorite sci-fi stories?  I'm always looking for suggestions on what to read next!

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