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Friday, August 21, 2015

What makes a scifi world seem real?

My husband doesn't like fantasy. When we were dating he always told me he liked his science fiction real, with convincing science and logic holding its strange new worlds together - be they ours or alien planets in the future. So why does he love Game of Thrones? I think it's because the social science is so convincingly portrayed. The history hangs together. The characters act according to their nature, or else reveal their nature convincingly through action.

And what makes me enjoy science fiction and fantasy? To be honest, I like some logic too. Vampires for the sake of added vampire, fairy because we've already used up every other creature, or volcano because it fits the storyline will probably distract me. But creatures that build into essential parts of the plot--they'll hold my attention. And logic. Ex Machine is a brilliant movie! But deus ex machina is not a very convincing plot device.

Anyway, here are three science fiction novels I've read recently, staring with one that I absolutely loved. Grab a coffee and enjoy.

Ted Saves the World by Bryan Cohen is middle grade/young adult science fiction at its best, with age-appropriate affections, great characters, smooth humor, successful nerds, superpowers, and just enough left unexplained to keep the imagination's wheels a-turning. Watch out for the blue-light special, and read with some rich, elegant and complex four-star coffee.

Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed is a cool, fast romp through an almost modern world of robbing of banks, the bombing of enemies with red jello, occasional hints of murder, and a high-society girl fallen on bad times. It's also a tale of familial love and forgiveness, mysterious hidden societies, secrets and lies. All told with a cheerfully convincing teen voice, it makes for a fast fun furious read, best enjoyed with some lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

And then there's Adam’s Tiger by Lawrence Lapin. This one takes place much further in the future, after life on earth has been destroyed by a meteor strike. The mysterious Adam with his ark of frozen embryos and genetic engineering skills is trying to create a better world; one where man won't hunt creatures to extinction, and where populations will all be perfectly in balance. It sounds like Eden before the fall, but of course, there's humanity in the mix, waiting to fall again. No taste for religion in this one, and some rather odd attitudes to science (given our "success" with radiation, it seems a little odd to deliberately irradiate mice in search of better mutations...), it's a long slow novel, packed with intriguing detail, carefully imagined future history, and plenty of thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes dark and definitely intense, it's one to enjoy with a dark intense five-star coffee.

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