Review: Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii

[This is an excerpt from my review on SF Signal 7/21/15. Read the entire review here.] 

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1421580276.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL400_.jpgOnce again, Haikasoru has given us English-language readers some great Japanese science fiction for our brains to chew on. Taiyo Fujii’s Gene Mapper (translated by Jim Hubbert) brings together genetically-modified food, trippy virtual-reality technology, and a world recovering from the combined blows of an Internet collapse and a devastating famine. Have I piqued your interest yet?

It’s the year 2036, nearly two decades after the Internet went haywire and a famine swept across Asia, killing millions. These two devastating events led to the rise of genetically-modified, tightly-controlled crops and a new world wide web called TrueNet, also highly controlled and administered. What do these two things have to do with one another? Both the crops and TrueNet are supposedly upgraded, “better” versions of their earlier counterparts, which still exist in certain places. Despite the rise and success of superior genetically-modified crops, the possibility exists that something could go wrong (and it does), just as the Internet survives in a fractured way as an alternative to TrueNet (and a place where one goes to salvage old/hidden data).


Books to Look For (September): Biography & Autobiography

http://images.abovethetreeline.com/ea/PUP/images/jacket_covers/original/9780691145112_c7070.jpg?width=1000  http://images.abovethetreeline.com/ea/PS/images/jacket_covers/original/9780789212351_d484e.jpg?width=1000  http://images.abovethetreeline.com/ea/NO/images/jacket_covers/original/9781631490019_f4077.jpg?width=1000  http://images.abovethetreeline.com/ea/RH/images/jacket_covers/original/9780802776402_18354.jpg?width=1000


An Absolutely Serious Analysis of CLICK, CLACK, MOO

clickclackmooI recently took my kids for their yearly check-up and the pediatrician gave them each a new book: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and The Ant and the Big Bad Bully Goat. Of course, I was pleased. I mean, FREE BOOKS.

We took them home and I read them aloud to my boys. And wow the disappointment. I mean, Click, Clack, Moo, has so many problems. What a terrible book. I decided to write a critical analysis of it here on Book Riot to explain why I was so irritated by this supposed classic.

Happy “Women in Translation” Month!

http://www.pressingsave.com/golfpro/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/woman-writing-spiritual-memoir1.jpgAugust is “Women in Translation Month” (#WITMonth), and we should thank Meytal Radzinski (@Biblibio) for hosting and promoting this awareness effort on her blog.

As Meytal notes (and I myself have tweeted and written), a disproportionately small number of books in English translation are by women (and the numbers for sci-fi in particular? It’s pretty depressing). So in this post, I’m going to do my part to encourage more translations of women writers by listing a cross-section of those books by women that have been translated into English (or newly-released in paperback) this year.

So You Want to “Read Deeply"?

I’ve been on a tear lately against all of those people who claim that the internetz are destroying our ability to read books. Because puhlease.

And I started wondering what these people thought they meant when they bemoaned our supposed inability to engage in “deep reading.” What is “deep reading?” Well, here’s how a recent Time article put it (warning: nonsense up ahead)

"slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity — [it] is a distinctive experience, different in kind from the mere decoding of words… A book’s lack of hyperlinks, for example, frees the reader from making decisions — Should I click on this link or not? — allowing her to remain fully immersed in the narrative."

Ok, ok, if people are so concerned about our abandonment of “deep reading,” I have a few helpful suggestions for how to keep this practice going:

Random Recommendation Guest Post: He, She and It by Marge Piercy

This recommendation comes from Shaina. Check out her blog and follow her on twitter @shainareads.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bgUCHH6vL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHe, She and It (1991) by Marge Piercy

"In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions--and the ability to kill....From the imagination of Marge Piercy comes yet another stunning novel of morality and courage, a bold adventure of women, men, and the world of tomorrow. "


Rachel's Random Recommendation #49: Night & Horses & the Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/416J7ZPQPVL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Night & Horses & the Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature (1999) ed. Robert Irwin

"Spanning the fifth to sixteenth centuries and societies that range from Afghanistan to Spain, this anthology is a testament to the astonishing grandeur and variety of classical Arabic literature. ...In Night & Horses & the Desert we encounter the dashing Byronic poetry of Imru’ al-Qays and a treatise on bibliomania by Al-Jahiz, possibly the only writer to have been killed by books. There’s a sorcerer’s manual from 11th century Spain and an allegory by the mysterious “Brethren of Purity,” in which animals argue their case against humanity. Encompassing piety and profanity, fables and philosophy, this volume is a thrilling and invaluabe introduction to one of the world’s great bodies of literature."


From the TBR Shelf #47: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

http://dauntlessmedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/the-gunslinger-196x300.jpgThe Gunslinger (1982) by Stephen King

I've been a hard-core Stephen King fan for a while now, but somehow never got around to his Dark Tower series. I'm changing that now by listening to the audiobooks each night, and between the often exhilarating prose and the narrator's dynamic reading, I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience.

For those of you who haven't yet read this series, I'll try to summarize the plot, but that might be difficult since I'm still trying to process it. So in the world of the novel, the characters live in a time after "the world moved on," whatever that means, and Roland Deschain of Gilead is chasing "the man in black," whoever he is. I mean, he sounds like Mephistopheles, but who knows. Ultimately, Roland wants to reach "The Tower," where all universes? dimensions? converge.

Review: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

[This is an excerpt from my review on SF Signal 7/7/15. Read the entire review here.] 

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0316098108.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL400_.jpgAurora is the first of Robinson’s books that I’ve read, and now it certainly won’t be the last. I started the novel knowing that it had something to do with space travel on a generation ship, and the search for other habitable planets, but I never expected such an in-depth, detailed, and downright vast exploration of the implications of human space travel and relocation.

Some of you, I assume, will think about Battlestar GalacticaThe Martian Chronicles, Severance, and the like while reading Aurora, and rightly so, since stories of humans setting out to find a new home run throughout American sci-fi. What makes Aurora stand out, though, is just how far Robinson takes the narrative: dropping us into the generation ship as it approaches Tau Ceti, following the small group of settlers who test out the chosen moon, then returning with the ship and its remaining passengers (in stasis) to Earth, and finally following the surviving passengers as they set foot on a planet they’ve never seen but nonetheless call “home.”