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Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

neuromancerWilliam Gibson’s critically acclaimed Neuromancer tells the story of Henry Dorsett Case, a master computer hacker forced into a life of petty street crime after crossing an employer who wrecked his nervous system as payback. As Case spirals down a self-destructive path on the streets of near-future Chiba, Japan, a mysterious benefactor offers to repair his nervous system – allowing Case to once again explore the myriad gleaming pathways of Cyberspace – in exchange for a highly dangerous, confidential job. Case accepts, and is plunged into a tangled web of conspiracies with dire implications.

Neuromancer is fascinatingly paced: the first half or so reads like a series of connected short stories, while the latter half begs to be read in one sitting. The plot is a gripping tale of intrigue, and the characters are compellingly written, but where the novel really shines is in its prediction. Gibson’s deeply atmospheric prose envisages a world dramatically changed by incredible advances in computer science and biotechnology combined with growing corporate influence on political and legal matters.

Neuromancer’s frankly portrayed adult subject matter and occasionally unsettling themes definitely aren't for everyone. But for everyone else, it comes highly recommended to those looking for an engaging sci-fi thriller.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)

giverlowryThe book is a quick read and well done. In The Giver, an organized community controls its citizens every move and position within the community. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy, Jonas, and how he learns the truth about the community and the world outside.

Did you see the movie? How does it compare with Lois Lowry’s novel? If you haven't seen it yet, check out the trailer below.

Transhuman by Ben Bova (2014)

index.aspxLuke Abramson, a research biologist, takes his ten-year-old granddaughter Angela out of the hospital without her parent’s knowledge after specialists agree there is nothing more to be done for her brain tumor. Angela’s doctor agrees to go along to protect her patient. Luke begins an experimental therapy that he believes will kill Angela’s tumor as the three go on a cross country adventure dodging the FBI and a greedy entrepreneur determined to control the new technology. Luke also finds ways to reverse his own fatigue and aging process with the new medical techniques. Surprisingly, Luke awakens to a romantic interest in his much younger medical companion.

This story is highly recommended for septuagenarian grandfathers who love their granddaughters and can fantasize about increased vitality when blessed with the company of younger women. Ben Bova’s Transhuman touches on intellectual property policy and corruption of the powerful, but mostly is an exciting adventure for those not annoyed by some unlikely events.

 

Saga. Volumes 1-3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (2012-2014)

index.aspxIt is completely different than anything I have ever read. Every volume of Saga surprises me in new ways. I definitely recommend Brian K. Vaughan’s latest series for anyone who likes graphic novels and/or science fiction (and doesn’t mind mature content).

If you need any other motivation, check out io9’s list of 10 reasons you should be reading this series or this other review.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)

Set in 2044 in a sad shell of America, Ready Player Onefollows the quest of Wade Watts. Reality is so horrible that the majority of the population spends the bulk of their waking hours in the OASIS, a virtual reality. When James Halliday, owner and founder of OASIS, dies without an heir, the contest begins: whoever can complete the three tasks first wins a fortune.

In a world filled with 80s trivia and nostalgia where the lines between what’s real and what’s not blur, Wade embarks on an epic adventure that will keep you turning the pages of Ernest Cline’s debut until you reach the satisfying conclusion.

 
 
 

The Goon: Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker by Eric Powell (2007)

Fans of The Goon will go into Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker not knowing what to expect. But the first page says it all: "this ain't funny."

The Goon is an Eisner Award-winning comic series about a zombie-killing gangster and his stab-happy partner in a 1930s/1940s pastiche of a town overrun by monsters, and known for its black (and at times, quite slapstick) humor. But Chinatown is a marked departure, instead focusing on the titular character Goon's mysterious past and the reasons for his scarred face and heart. Writer and artist Eric Powell pulls it off beautifully, the almost purely black-and-white art evoking the clear noir influences that have always been present in the darker stories in The Goon.
After the publication of Chinatown, the regular series took a more dramatic shift, while still maintaining its black comedy elements. For this reason, it's both essential for fans of the series and a good jumping off point for new readers.

 

Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (2012)

An excellent read for fans of classic Lovecraftian horror. Whereas Mignola and Golden's last team-up, 2007's Baltimore, or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was an homage to Gothic horror in the vein of Frankenstein, Joe Golem and the Drowning City hearkens back to the horror writers of the early 20th century such as Lovecraft and Poe.

Filled with old gods and occultist pseudoscience, fans of Mignola's Hellboy series will also be charmed by the similarly gruff but deeply caring character of Joe. Though it's got plenty of monsters and creepy stuff, at its core the story is about friendship and family – and how to move on for the sake of others when faced with an inevitable loss. Mignola's skillfully haunting black and white artwork compliments Golden's descriptive (but never longwinded!) prose.

Firebird by Jack McDevitt (2011)

Firebird is not just fantasy, but an adventure-mystery story about what may have happened to an imaginative scientist when he disappeared 40+ years ago from the time of the story. There are business problems in selling artifacts from his estate and frustrating government inaction in giving help to the investigators. Also the reader gets a glimpse of what it might be like to get caught in a time warp. An enjoyable read; I like McDevitt’s books.

 

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis (2010)
These two volumes follow the adventures of Michael, Polly, and Eileen, thee time traveling historians who have gone back to 1940 to observe how the average Londoner withstood the Blitz. Armed with knowledge of the exact time and place of bombings, the three should be safe observers.

In a time of crisis, though, how can anyone remain an interested but dispassionate observer? The feel for WWII era England is wonderful and, though very long and detailed, this is the sort of book you can lose yourself in.

For even more novels set in World War II check out our bibliography.

Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove

Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove (1992)
In this alternate history, General Robert E. Lee finds that he is able to win the Civil War, as a mysterious group of men with questionable motives provide the Confederacy with a weapon the world of the 1860s has not yet seen: the AK-47.

Though the founding premise of the book is far-fetched, you'll need to suspend your disbelief no further. The book is incredibly-well researched, and captures the gritty feel of the era and the personalities of its characters in rich detail, from the attitudes of a defeated Abraham Lincoln to the opinions of the more progressively-minded sergeant-turned-schoolteacher Nathan Caudell. I think it'd thoroughly please a reader of traditional historical fiction as well as any harder military, political or sci-fi fan.

Orbit by John J. Nance

Orbit by John J. Nance (2006)
A private space company sends lottery winners into orbit around the earth. Through a freak accident, Kip is stranded alone, stuck orbiting the earth. He starts journaling his life on the computer, but little does he know everyone on Earth is able to read his journal.

Preview this book before you visit the library and check out the author's website.

Something from the Nightside by Simon Green

Something from the Nightside by Simon Green (2003)
ATTENTION MYSTERY LOVERS -- don’t let the “science fiction” sticker on the spine scare you away! This book is just as much a mystery as a work of fantasy. A private detective, with a few special powers, works in London’s other-world, the Nightside. Take the adventure. You won’t regret it!

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb (1997)
A great mystery for science fiction fans! The entire story takes place at a science fiction convention. I found the setting and the characters believable. It is just as enjoyable as McCrumb’s Ballad series.

Plus, how can you resist a title like Bimbos of the Death Sun?