Steampunk is a genre that imagines what would happen in a society where technology is powered by steam instead of electricity. Many steampunk novels grapple with our fear of technology and explore what technology can do to us or make us do.
The Girl With All The Gifts, by M.R. Carey, is one of my favorite books of 2014. It's an adult science fiction novel about a 10-year-old girl named Melanie who goes to a special school. She develops a deep love for one of her teachers named Miss Justineau who has also developed a deep affection for her student. Please don’t read anything on the book’s jacket description. Instead, let the story unfold like a flower.
What would you do if you knew that a large asteroid would be hitting the Earth on a specific date just a few months in the future, with no way out, no place to hide? Would you keep working? Would your children go to school? What about food and fuel? What kind of existence would it be while everyone waited for the inevitable end? This is the terrifying dilemma facing the entire world in Ben Winters' novel Countdown City.
Technology for good and wonderful purposes is good and wonderful, right? That is the jumping off point for The Circle, by Dave Eggers. The Circle is a company that has figured out a way to link every bit of online life into one package. Banking, blogging, buying—it’s all connected. No anonymity online—everything is completely polite and nice, as well as totally secure. The company has created or invested in other awesome projects—and all of them are things that Make Life Better. Who doesn’t want to eliminate child abductions? Or, make voter registration super easy—AND immune to any fraud! Or map the entire Amazon rainforest. Or, or, or, or. The list of what the Circle is doing is endless and SO COOL AND INSANELY AWESOME.
Sometimes it takes an alien to tell us humans how to live.
The Vonnadorians are advanced beings who come to our messy, wet planet and think we, The Humans, are inferior. They believe we are not ready for more technological progress so they eliminate Professor Andrew Martin, who has made a breakthrough in mathematics which would change the course of humanity’s future. Naturally, they replace him with an alien look-alike who is ill-prepared for his mission to erase any knowledge of the Cambridge professor’s work--and to destroy anyone who knows about it.
There was a considerable gap between the releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the early 1980s. During that time, the expanding Star Wars fan base began to wonder what was happening to the characters in the meantime. What worlds did Luke, Leia, and Han visit? What schemes did Darth Vader plot to destroy the rebellion? Did Chewie ever get a decent flea bath? Two of these three questions are answered in Archie Goodwin’s The Rebel Storm (Classic Star Wars Volume Two), an anthology of comics originally published between 1981 and 1984. Although sometimes marred by a sense of discontinuity with Lucas’ universe, the best stories in this anthology deserve a place in Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.
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Anthem by Ayn Rand: Anthem examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word--"I." (Book description)
We are all about lifelong learning at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, and we hope that you are, too. Whether it is through our collection or our classes and events, we offer ways to educate for so many different types of learners. I learn best by listening, so one of my favorite methods of acquiring new information is though our Modern Scholar audio courses.