Monday, September 24, 2007

So there I was, on the internets... when I came across this story. Sort of reminded me of Dave's Singularity blurb that he shared a while back, and since I know the readers of this blog (all 10 of us) like neat, geeky ideas...

Time Travel May Be Possible...!

Check it out, as they say.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Top Ten Vampire Books

In no particular order, these are my favorite vampire books. I have a real love of the vampire story but I prefer the ones that break out of the mold. What are your faves?

  1. Sunshine by Robin McKinley *Recipe for tasty vamp yarn*Place in plot one young Minnesota girl working hard for the money, fold in turf war, vampire kidnappers, charming vampire lord and romantic involvement. Allow to slowly rise. Sprinkle with sardonic wit and a post voodoo war US and bake at 416 pages. This is a clever vamp romance with cinnamon buns what could be tastier.
  2. Agyar by Steven Brust - Steven Brust has always written lovely rich characters. He has a penchant for biting humor, noir dialog and twisting traditional genres. Who better than to write The Spy Who Came in from the Cold for the neck biting set. Agyar is an old vampire with old enemies. He is tired after generations of cruelty and horror. He just wants to settle down somewhere and live a quiet life. Saddly, for him but not the reader, this is not to be.
  3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - Using vampire as the definition of monster, Mr. Matheson crafts a post apocalypse story unlike any other. Blending equal parts horror, thriller and survival tale with a strong dose of science fiction, he creates not only a ripping tale but a calculated examination of what it means to be a monster.
  4. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice - Lestat, a bi-sexual eighteenth century French rogue with the morals of a rutting cat, tells what is like to be a vampire from his own charming ego centric point of view. This is a vamp tale with none of the Bram Stoker posturing just a happy serial killer trying to find love in the world. This book and the next virtually started the Romantic Goth movement and paved the way for Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  5. Interview with the Vampire: Anniversary edition (The vampire chronicles) by Anne Rice - This is the Lestat tale from the other side. Though it was written and published before Lestat it feels like its sequel. It is darker, moodier and yes, a good deal more frightening. If Bram Stoker had ever written a sequel to Dracula, after getting drunk on Faulkner and Dashiel Hammet, with a vampiric John Harker as the protagonist, it might sound a lot like this.
  6. The Blood Books, Vol. 1 (Blood Price / Blood Trail) by Tanya Huff - It is practically its own genre now, the street savvy detective yarn with the occult oriented protagonist and this is one of the best of the breed. Take one tough street smart lady cop with a fouled up love life add a true prick of a sixteenth century English lord vampire (with a penchant for little boys no less) and you have the makings of one of the best buddy cop teams ever. It is a classic clash of cultures between these two, funny, clever and with just enough pathos. Oh, and the mysteries are good too!
  7. Sunglasses After Dark (Borealis) by Nancy A. Collins and Thom Ang - If your a vampire and you want to push the envelope don't hunt humans hunt the other vamps. This is a no holds barred dark vampire thriller, in fact a series of them, that places the vampire mythos where it belongs far from mansions, money and the elite and down in the grime and grit, graft, lowlifes and murder. This eighties look at the world is nicely vicious and cool.
  8. The Holmes-Dracula File by Fred Saberhagen - The classic meeting between the Great Detective and the original Prince of Darkenes. Move over Moriarity this is the real test of Holmes' intellect.
  9. Twilight (Twilight, Book 1) by Stephenie Meyer - It's a natural. There is nothing more teen angst than a vampire romance. Don't think I am knocking it, far from it, if you have to talk about teenage love, use a metaphor, and there is no better one than a romantic encounter with the undead. Twilight just might be the best of its breed here. A somewhat naive, though smart and well read, high school girl, must move in with her dad who lives in the middle of nowhere. There she deals with being an outsider, cut off and unhappy. Unhappy, that is, until she meets Edward. He is one of the most beautiful boys in school but because of a dark secret he is also alone. They immediately bond, beginning a wonderful and tragic love story. Really good read here, I highly recommend it.
  10. 30 Days of Night Hardcover (30 Days of Night) by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith - It had to happen some day. Those poor vamps condemned to only hunt and kill at night, a measly few hours of darkness, hardly enough time to wet your appetite, let alone, slake an undead thirst. Finally, somebody somewhere, points out the Arctic Circle. A place where it is night for a month or more at a time. And what's more, it is dotted with these little, lonely, out-of-the-way towns just begging to be rampaged by a horde of fierce, ravening killers. This is a true piece of horror fiction, graphic, wicked and savagely vile and best of all it is a graphic novel lavishly illustrated by a master. One of the best.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Top Ten Teen SciFi for the HS Set

SciFi is a difficult subject for a lot of teachers and librarians I find. It is rarely their favorite genre. So here are ten great reads that no student should leave high school without reading, in no particular order.

  1. Ringworld by Larry Niven - Eons ago, a race, long gone, utilized the entire material of their solar system to create a habitable ring surrounding its star. The ring is populated with uncounted races and cultures and is many, many times the size of Earth. Louis Woo and his companions have discovered it and intend to exploit it and make their fortune. These would be Conquistadors have definitely bitten off more than they can chew.
  2. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld - Did you ever wonder about vampires? Legends of blood suckers that walk the night abound in almost every culture of the world. How could they exist? Why would they exist? And if they did exist, why does everyone think they don't? Scott Westerfeld uses Science Fiction to tell a phenomenal adventure story that rings so true you may go to sleep clutching garlic after you've read it.
  3. Neuromancer by William Gibson - This is the absolutely frigid cool story of a terrifying future. A future when humanity is clicked into a cyber-spacial world where business is transacted by multi-national countries who pull the strings while nations dance. A future filled with people all but living online. This absolutely killer thriller tells a tale of a time not so far from our own and is a must read.
  4. Sagramanda by Alan Dean Forester - India is one of the most populous countries on the globe. It's civilization is eons old. Now it is rapidly becoming the source of high tech labor for the West. What happens when fabulous new wealth, an ancient culture, unimaginable overcrowding and high technology meet? A police detective, a shop owner, a technology embezzler, a hired assassin, a father, a serial killer and a tiger are about to all find out in a town called Sagramanda.
  5. World War Z an Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks - This is one of the finest pieces of Science Fiction written in the last few years. What would happen if the world were overrun by zombies? How would civilization cope? Could it cope? In a brilliant novel written as a series of interviews with supposed survivors of the war, Max Brooks ask a question that should be on every American's mind. Can we prepare for real disaster?
  6. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven - A true classic of interstellar empire fiction, The Mote in God's Eye takes an all powerful stellar empire and runs it straight into a truly alien race. This is a war story of the finest sort and at times a mind bending examination of what we are willing to do to protect the status quo.
  7. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - This is arguably the best post apocalypse story ever written. The story pits a single man against a society of night dwelling horrors that live on a diet of blood. It is a story of vampires, survival and horror. It is also a terrific examination of what constitutes a true monster.
  8. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov - What is the nature of slavery? What constitutes intelligence? How do we decide if something is a living sentient being? The three laws of robotics are probably the greatest creation of that most prolific of writers Isaac Asimov. I, Robot allows Asimov to once more to twist those three laws and apply them in a classic defense of what constitutes sentience.
  9. The Time Machine by Herbert George Wells - Now more than one hundred years old, H. G. Wells masterpiece defines time travel stories and its trappings have suffused our zeitgeist. We fear a future filled with beautiful morons hunted by dark technologists who live underground. This beautiful Victorian tale of a scientist who travels both to the extreme future and the extreme past is haunting in its simplicity and far too familiar today.
  10. Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - The story that became the movie Blade Runner is a noir thriller of the best variety. A bounty hunter attempts to hunt down and "retire" a group of dangerous androids. This simple story holds a magnifying glass over what makes people become enemies of the state.