10/20/14

Native American Nonfiction to Read (Because Boo Columbus Day)

https://memphisroom.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/three_young_native_american_men.jpgColumbus Day was the 13th, in case you were wondering why the bank and post-office were randomly closed. (Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? Good question).

When Columbus and other European adventurers first set foot in the Americas, they found not an empty wilderness (as some of us were taught in school), but a land inhabited by millions of people with diverse cultures and traditions. Over the past few decades, scholars of Native American history and writing have given us wonderful resources with which to understand how indigenous people interacted with one another and with the Europeans whom they encountered all those centuries ago.

I was fortunate enough to take a seminar on Native American culture during grad school, and the books we were assigned weren’t necessarily well-known or easily accessible. However, they each provided a fascinating perspective on native peoples and the violence and broken promises that characterized European expansion. Check these books out, and tell us about others in the comments.

Review: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

[This is an excerpt from my review on SF Signal 9/17/14. Read the entire review here.] 


http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0374104093.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL400_.jpg
Haunting, mesmerizing, moving: these are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. Each novel is under 400 pages, and each packs into it so much psychological, emotional, philosophical, and ecological inquiry that you start to think that they must be huge, hulking volumes that should make your bookshelves cave in.

Now, you’ve probably seen a million reviews of this trilogy, and rightly so, for it deserves recognition and invites   fascinating discussions. Therefore, instead of recapping the story or outlining the plot, I’m going to focus on three major mysteries/questions/problems in these novels and why they’re so compelling.

The Best of Steampunk

Random Recommendation Guest Post: Megan Whalen Turner's THE QUEEN'S THIEF series

This recommendation comes from Lorena O'English. You can follow her on twitter @wsulorena.


http://meganwhalenturner.org/TheThiefAug05.jpgThe Queen's Thief series (1996-2010) by Megan Whalen Turner


These four YA fantasy novels, set in classical Greece, follow a man named Eugenides ("Gen"), who claims that he can steal anything. In each book, we learn more about his life, but from a variety of perspectives, including those of the king and queen of Attolia. See Turner's website for summaries of each book and links to reviews.


10/18/14

In Translation: World Science Fiction on my TBR Shelf

I'm trying to read more science fiction (in English translation) from around the world, and I'm simultaneously keeping an eye out for new releases while combing books and sites for older titles.  Here are some of the latter that I hope to read in the near future (and please add to the list in the comments!):



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51FXrAJeA7L.jpg The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (Poland, 1965)


(recc'd by @redhead5318)










10/16/14

Call Me, Maybe: Modern Interpretations of Renaissance Poetry

queen
Lizzy says “wut up”
You remember how, in English class, you were told to dissect Renaissance poems (e.g. Shakespeare’s sonnets, Donne’s poems, etc.) word by word, letter by letter, and then close-analyze them and turn them inside out, in order to figure out their meaning(s)?

Yeah, well, that was then and this is now. It’s time for some real-life, relevant interpretations of these babies. So step aside, Critical Theorists; lemme show you how it’s done.




Review: War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, eds. Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak


http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9781937009267_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGWar Stories: New Military Science Fiction (2014), ed. by Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak

"War Stories reveals the truth. War is what we are."

With this statement, War Stories launches us into a dizzying, kaleidoscopic universe in which we see combat and killing, and soldiers and civilians, in uncanny new ways. The twenty-three stories in this anthology imagine scenarios ranging from drone attacks in Syria to interplanetary conflicts involving technology that is years ahead of our time; and it is this juxtaposition of the near- and far-future that clarifies how much war changes while staying the same.

Grouped into four sections ("Wartime Systems," "Combat," "Armored Force," and "Aftermath"), these stories consider war from a variety of possible angles and points of view. There are clones and uploaded consciousnesses, PTSD sufferers and drone operators, mothers and lovers. Many of the authors focus on what the future holds for soldiers' bodies- how they'll react to biological "upgrades," high-tech prosthetics, brain implants, and even teleportation. Others consider the role of militarized suits, advanced drones, and virtual reality.

10/15/14

Books to Look For (October): Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Humor

Science Fiction

http://images.abovethetreeline.com/ea/TW/images/jacket_covers/original/9780316246651_975ec.JPG?width=1000Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit, 400 pages, October 7)

Maybe you've heard something about a little book called Ancillary Justice and the fact that it recently won a TON of awards (including the Hugo and the Nebula). Well, Leckie's back with the latest installment in the Imperial Radch series, and this time, Breq is sent to protect the family of a man she murdered. It's complicated.




10/14/14

From the TBR Shelf #31: The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8PocPRM48Gk/T4a-YZPmPvI/AAAAAAAA2Og/lmqbkyrIHk4/s1600/The_Idea_Factory+Cover.jpg The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (2012) by Jon Gertner

I admit it- I'm a sucker for all things related to the history of science and technology, which was why I was so excited to listen to The Idea Factory. After all, despite having been born during the decade of the Bell system break-up, I only knew bits and pieces about the history of telephone communication in the United States. Its development is fascinating and multi-dimensional, and still influences how we communicate today.

Another admission: I nearly stopped listening to this audiobook by track 90, because up to that point, it seemed like nothing more than a list of all the brilliant minds recruited to work for Bell Labs (1920s-1980s), the research and development wing of AT&T. I mean, it was interesting to learn about how men like Mervin Kelly, Bill Shockley, Claude Shannon, John Pierce, and Bill Baker were brought to the labs because of their expertise and technical know-how, but I started wondering what the point of it all was.

10/13/14

Random Recommendation Guest Post: How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ

This recommendation comes from Meytal. Check out her website and follow her on twitter @Biblibio.
 
http://www.tor.com/images/stories/blogs/11_11/how-to-suppress.jpgHow to Suppress Women's Writing (1983) by Joanna Russ
In this work of nonfiction, Russ explores the patterns of Western patriarchal suppression in the world of literature, art, and theater. A sarcastic and irreverent guidebook, How to Suppress Women's Writing points to certain common methods of suppression, including "Prohibitions" and "Denial of Agency." Russ is also known for her science fiction.