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Blog Posts by Subject: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Conan the Barbarian: Off the Beaten Path of Fantasy

Quick. What's the first thing that pops to mind if someone asks you about fantasy books? Harry Potter?

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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: Joss Whedon's Firefly & Serenity

There is no discussion about science fiction television without talking about Firefly. This was the brainchild of Joss Whedon, the man who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, spinoff Angel, and more recently Dollhouse. Following nine people on a small spaceship on the outskirts of 

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Enchanted Ivy: A Review

Lily Carter’s future is at Princeton University. Her grandfather went to Princeton. Going to Princeton would allow Lily to move away from home without feeling guilt about not taking care of her mother. It’s the perfect school. Most importantly, Lily desperately wants to follow in Grandpa’s footsteps to make him and her mother proud.

Turns out her chance at Princeton might come sooner than she thinks when Lily accompanies her grandfather and mother to Princeton Reunions weekend where, thanks to Grandpa’s connections, Lily has a chance to take 

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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: The Teen Aliens of Roswell

"September 23rd. Journal entry one. I'm Liz Parker, and five days ago, I died. After that, things got really weird..." 

Here's a typical boy-meets-girl story. The girl is Liz Parker, a high school waitress from Roswell, New Mexico. The boy is the mysterious Max Evans, a high school loner who redefines "tall, dark, and handsome." Liz works at her parents' diner, the Crashdown Café, which plays up the town's touristy alien kitsch mentality. One afternoon while Max is eating and Liz is working, two guys get into an argument. One pulls out a gun. There's 

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A Tale of Two Castles: A Review

Elodie comes to the town of Two Castles with one goal: to become a mansioner. Her greatest hope, her only actual plan upon arriving in town, is to apprentice herself to a mansioner that she might become an accomplished performer in her own right.

When Elodie’s hope is dashed she is forced to look for another plan or starve in Two Castles with none of her family at home even knowing about her plight.

Help comes in the unusual form of a dragon named Meenore.

Mysteries (and cats) abound in Two Castles, which makes the town an ideal place for a 

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Sci-Fi Summer: Science Fiction Anime

Oh Japan, where would modern sci-fi be without you? With your vivid and thought-provoking visions of what the world could be, robots and all, you've given us countless rich and spectacular new arenas for our imaginations to run around in. From the philosophical man-and-machine melds of Ghost in the Shell to the adventurous natural majesty of Nausicaa 

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Book Review: "A Dance with Dragons"

The dance is done and I've come through the dragon fire unscathed. George R.R. Martin's latest, A Dance with Dragons, was six years in the writing. Six painful years of anticipation. It was worth every moment once I got ahold of it, got comfortable, and blew through all 1,016 pages in entirely too short a time. Go ahead and check that again: 1,016 pages. Better lift some weights before settling in for a read. There 

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Sci-Fi Summer: Light Up the Darkness with the Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau

Any child growing up knows that change is a difficult thing, but what if those changes included evacuating your dying city and the only home you've ever known? Or taking refuge in a struggling town that gets by on the artifacts of a long-lost world? Or even radical groups taking away your rights to sing or keep a dog? These are but a few of the challenges faced by the young protagonists of Jeanne DuPrau's tetralogy, the Books of Ember. In these four books, children and young adults alike will be engaged and enthralled by the adventures and mysteries of Lina Mayfleet, her best friend Doon 

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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: Into the Vortex! "Sliders"

"What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds? Where it's the same year and you're the same person... but everything else is different. And what if you can't find your way home?"

As far as science fiction concepts go, Sliders kind of cornered the market on weird. Our story starts with the main protagonist, Quinn, played by Jerry 

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Buried Treasure and Lost Adventure: Rare "Doctor Who" Stories at the Library

The phrase "lost episode" can evoke a number of different emotions in TV viewers. To some, it can evoke the excitement of lost treasure; to others, the sadness of an adventure they may never see. In the early 1970s, tapes for storing old television programs were very expensive in the United Kingdom, and the advent of home video was still a few years off. Figuring that most of the old black-and-white Doctor Who serials from the 60s (along with numerous other shows) had officially been milked for all their commercial value, the old tapes were wiped to make room for new 

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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: J.J. Abrams and "Fringe"

Teleportation. Precognition. Suspended Animation. Dark Matter. Fringe.

From the mind of J.J. Abrams (who brought you Alias, the Cloverfield monster, and an updated Star Trek movie, to name just a few) comes the story of a mad scientist, his estranged son, and the F.B.I. Agent who brought them all together. A large part of ... Read More ›

Teen Authors in the Adult Section

This summer, two of my favorite teen authors have taken their talents into the realm of adult fiction. Ann Brashares is taking her popular Sisterhood series into the world of young adulthood, and Melissa de la Cruz is expanding her Blue Bloods universe, where vampires are really immortal fallen angels and witches may not just be ordinary witches.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Random House, 2011)

In 2001, Ann Brashares published

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Sci-Fi Summer: Climb Aboard the TARDIS — A Classic "Doctor Who" Starter Kit

Since 1963, the BBC's sci-fi epic Doctor Who has followed the adventurous and enigmatic alien time traveler known only as the Doctor as he races through space and time and our TV screens solving problems, saving worlds, and making new friends who join him on his travels. Unfortunately, the current season is on break and won't be back until this fall (with an episode curiously titled "Let's Kill Hitler.") Let's say you're a newer fan — someone who's only recently 

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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: 4400 Taken, 4400 Returned

"Over the last 60 years 4400 people have been abducted. All at once they were returned. With no memory of where they've been. They haven't aged a day. And some have returned with new abilities. All are trying to reconnect... with a life interrupted."

Such is the basis of The 4400, a show that, similar to Battlestar Galactica, started out as a five 

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Reader's Den: "Software" by Rudy Rucker (Discussion #4)

Thank you for joining us for the June edition of Reader's Den. We hope that you have enjoyed reading (and discussing) Software by Rudy Rucker and that you will return for E.M. Forster's A Room With a View in July!

Some final discussion questions:

    What did you think of 
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Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: The Fifth Column Lives! "V"

"We are of peace. Always."

These are the words spoken by Anna, the leader of the intergalactic strangers known only as the "Visitors," when they first arrive on Earth. Sending 29 ships that appear above all major cities in the world, Anna is able to simultaneously address the many nations of our planet in their various native languages. While she professes coexistence and mutual cooperation, it becomes quite clear early on that the intentions of 

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Reader's Den: "Software" by Rudy Rucker (Discussion #3)

For our third installment of this month's Reader's Den, let's take a look at what Rudy Rucker's Software has to say about humans, technology, and what it means to exist.

In several places in the text, the author explores the idea of software being analogous to the soul. When Sta-Hi meets an attractive robot-remote stewardess on his way to the moon, she gives him a crash course in this new, technological metaphysics:

"You wanted to know who I am. I gave you one answer. A robot-remote. A servo-unit operated by a ... Read More ›

Sci-Fi Summer Television We Love to Watch: The New "Battlestar Galactica"

There are 12 Cylon models.

This was not always in the case. In 1978, Battlestar Galactica was very different than its 2003 reimagining. Both shows have the same basic plot: the enemies of humanity, the Cylons, are able to wipe out most of humanity in a devastating attack, leaving a ragtag group of survivors aboard the titular ship.

In the original series and its follow up, 

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Sci-Fi Summer Film Series: "Cat-Women of the Moon"

Be afraid. Be afraid of women, especially if they live inside the moon, are cat-like, can control your mind, and have pet spiders. Arthur Hilton's film Cat-Women of the Moon is a funny Sci-Fi B-movie that shows the gender stereotypes present in films from the 1950s. The actors are given laughably horrible lines that don't even attempt to hide the typical roles of the male "cowboy" and the female "ditz."

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Reader's Den: "Software" by Rudy Rucker (Discussion #2)

Thanks for tuning in for the second discussion of Reader's Den for June! This month we are discussing the science fiction classic Software by Rudy Rucker, which is the first book in The Ware Tetralogy.

This book exemplifies a style of writing Rucker has termed "transrealism." In his 1983 Transrealist Manifesto, he argues that the tropes of science fiction can be viewed as symbols for the "modes of perception," i.e. time 

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