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{ Category Archives } Books I Read

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Station Eleven is a literary, level-headed look at life after the apocalypse.  It’s not a comet, nor a zombie plague, but a simple especially-lethal influenza.  Imagine 1918, but far, far worse.  St. John Mandel tells the story of several people, all united by their common acquaintance with one […]

Broken Time

Broken Time by Maggy Thomas When Siggy gets a job at an interplanetary supermax prison, she doesn’t know she’s going to become a conversational pal with a pair of serial killers.  Or that this relationship will hinge on the fact that she’s one of the few people who has encountered time pockets more than once.  […]

Comics roundup – Chimichanga, Kabuki, Locke & Key vol 2

Some comics I’ve read in the last month.  Chimichanga – The last few times I’ve been to cons (C2E2 2014, SDCC 2014, C2E2 2015), I saw Eric Powell, the smart and friendly writer of The Goon.  I usually buy a new comic from him and ask him to sign an old one.  This time around, […]

Directive 51

Directive 51 by John Barnes; narrated by Susan Eriksen What would happen if all the people who hate the “big system,” for the many, many different reasons that people do, decided that their differences of opinion about why they hate it were irrelevant, and all bonded together to do something about it?  Technological apocalypse, that’s […]

Koko Takes a Holiday

Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea Shea’s novel is a light romp through a dark future where most of the Earth has been ravaged by economic and environmental collapse.  Many people live in floating cities high above the Earth, and a few others vie for the limited slots among the global elite.  Just making […]

Silver Screen Fiend

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt Patton Oswalt is a really good memoirist.  He has the deft touch of a seasoned comedian, a keen eye for metaphor and the important detail, and a strong sense of storytelling.  Silver Screen Fiend imbues his early standup years with a […]

I always thought IKEA was kinda creepy, OR: Horrorstör – creepy by design

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix This remarkable, entertaining horror novel has a simple premise: a haunted IKEA.  It’s not actually the Swedish flat-pack behemoth, of course, but an also-ran called ORSK, a fictional store designed, the narrator asserts, to copy IKEA as closely as possible.  The tale follows Amy, her supervisor Basil, and a couple other […]

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson Months and months ago, I started In the Garden of Beasts and while it was good, the slow ramp up to the intense story didn’t quite grip me.  I stopped about sixty pages in, just, as it turns […]

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; narrated by Wil Wheaton If you don’t read XKCD or Munroe’s weekly “What If?” column over at xkcd.com, you’re really missing out.  This book collects some of the best What If columns, plus adds a bunch of new ones.  It’s a simple premise: […]

The Wanderer

The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber I’ve read my fair share of old science fiction.  (By old here, I generally mean things written before 1980.)  I acknowledge this line is relatively arbitrary, but so am I.  Some old sf gets dated pretty quickly, and feels foreign and a little weird.  The Cosmic Computer comes to mind.  […]

Sous Chef

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney, narrated by Fred Berman Sous Chef is part detailed explanation, part memoir, part battle narrative.  It recalls a day in the life of the assistant chef at a mid-level “star rated” restaurant in New York.  Gibney does a great job explaining both what the day […]

Maze Runner

Maze Runner by James Dashner Thomas wakes in a wide clearing, surrounded by boys who tell him that he’s now trapped in the center of a massive maze that changes every night and is patrolled by robotic-organic death beasts with blades and needles.  The boys know they’re being watched by the “Creators” and they get […]

Pigs Have Wings

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse Two gentlemen with big manors face off in a legendary fat pig growing contest, and right in the middle is the brother of one of the men, Gally Threepwood.  Of course, there’s some confusion with mis-matched lovers, a farce involving an uptight butler and stolen pigs, and an awful […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Empire State’s Worldbuilder

When my students and I talk about the digital age, one of the changes we trace is the relationship between author and audience.  In oral cultures, the relationship is direct — the one telling you the story is standing within earshot, so you can ask questions and work out details together.  Literacy changes that, separating […]

Empire State

Empire State by Adam Christopher; narrated by Phil Gigante The dark and shadowy world of Empire State is kind of like New York in the late 20s, but not quite.  This tale of adventure, mystery, weird technology, and haunting atmosphere will have you running in circles, marveling at the buildings, and peering into the fog.  […]