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Old 10-21-2011, 09:40 AM   #1
WT Sharpe
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Location: Chesapeake, VA, USA
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November 2011 Mobile Read Book Club Vote

Help us choose a book as the November 2011 eBook for the Mobile Read Book Club. The poll will be open for 5 days. We will start the discussion thread for this book on November 20th. Select from the following books.

Official choices with three nominations each:

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin [issybird, kennyc, Hamlet53]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
By the author of Rosemary"s Baby, a horrifying journey into a future only Ira Levin could imagine Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess"s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley"s A Brave New World -Ira Levin"s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication. The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called "The Family." The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp"s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night. With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin"s most haunting novels.

And from another review which is otherwise too spoilery:
Spoiler:
This Perfect Day belongs to the genre of "dystopian" or anti-utopian novels, like Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984. Yet it is more satisfying than either. Not only is its futuristic technology more plausible (computers, of course), but the extrapolation of the dominant ideology of the end of the twentieth century is entirely convincing. And from the children's rhyme at the beginning: Christ, Marx, Wood, and Wei, Led us to this perfect day.... to the thrilling denouement some 300 pages later, the novel is practically the ideal-type of a good read.


Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi [kogi, pdurrant, shaf]
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Spoiler:
Interesting modernization of Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn't care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp's headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation's headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that's not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there's another wrinkle to ZaraCorp's relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped--trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute--shows up at Jack's outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp's claim to a planet's worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed...and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the "fuzzys" before their existence becomes more widely known.


Heaven by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart [pdurrant, kennyc, sun surfer]
Inkmesh search
Spoiler:
Amazon Product Description:All Second-Best Sailor wants is to sail his boat and trade with the wandering Neanderthals. But when the reefwives discover that a Cosmic Unity mission fleet is heading for his homeworld, his comfortable lifestyle vanishes in an instant. All Servant-of-Unity XIV Samuel wants is to help spread Cosmic Unity's message of harmony to a grateful galaxy. But the ecclesiarchs decide that Samuel is destined for greater things. Flung together by fate, the two men find themselves on opposite sides of a battle for the hearts and minds of every sentient creature in the galaxy. Together, they uncover Cosmic Unity's deepest secret, and come up with a kamikaze plan to fight off the invaders. But along the way, they will need help from the unlikeliest of allies.
From Publishers Weekly:
Intellectual playfulness and lively writing propel British authors Stewart and Cohen's second SF novel (after 2000's Wheelers), with its exuberant picture of a galaxy full of wildly different intelligent beings. Space is also littered with the potentially dangerous relics of the Precursors, an extinct race whose science was so advanced that it resembled magic. To keep these tools or weapons out of the wrong hands, the church of Cosmic Unity tries to join all races in peaceful cooperation. That's how Servant-of-Unity XIV Samuel sees the situation, even though nomadic Neanderthal star traders and aquatic natives of the planet No Moon distrust Cosmic Unity's methods. By the time Sam realizes that Cosmic Unity's version of heaven resembles a hell designed by Hieronymus Bosch, a lot of suffering has occurred and more is on the way. Since this is basically a novel of ideas, readers will forgive some underdeveloped characters and actions, as the authors focus on big, juicy chunks of extrapolation. Apparently the reverse of the old saying is true: for evil to triumph, it's only necessary for good men to try to do everything. Since that's an unfortunately timely message, the book is not just a satisfying brainteaser but actually might make readers think.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Hyperion by Dan Simmons [John F, JSWolf, Nyssa]
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Spoiler:
Quote:
From Amazon.com (from the paperback edition):From the Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley [HomeInMyShoes, Hamlet53, GA Russell]
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Spoiler:
Description: In the end, it was Aldous Huxley, not George Orwell (whom Huxley taught at Eton), whose vision of the future had the touch of prophecy. The modern world did not collapse into the cold, damp totalitarian hell Orwell described in his 1948 novel 1984 . What has happened is closer to Huxley´s vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World - a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class. As scathingly satirical as it is disturbing, Brave New World is set some 600 years in the future, in "this year of stability, A.F. 632" - the A.F. stands for After Ford, meaning the godlike Henry Ford - when mankind exists in an institutional form of happiness, managed by the World State. "Community, Identity, Stability" is its motto. Reproduction is totally controlled through genetic engineering. People are literally bred into a rigid class system and designed for specific purposes. As they mature, they are conditioned to be happy with the roles for which society created them, working without complaint or incident. The rest of their lives are devoted to the pursuit of pleasure through meaningless sex, elaborate recreational sports, the getting and having of material possessions and the taking of a pleasure drug called soma. Concepts such as family, freedom, love and culture are considered grotesque. Against this backdrop, a young man known as John the Savage is brought to London from the remote desert of New Mexico. What he sees in the new civilization he naively calls a "brave new world", quoting the Shakespeare ( The Tempest ) on which he was raised in the wild. But John soon challenges the very premise of this modern society, an act that threatens and fascinates its citizens, leading to a shocking but inevitable conclusion. Huxley throws the idea of utopia into reverse in Brave New World , and the result is what became known as a "dystopian" novel. In 1931, when Brave New World was written, neither Hitler nor Stalin had risen to power. Huxley saw the enduring threat to civilization coming from the dark side of scientific and social progress and mankind´s increasingly insatiable appetite for simple amusement. While it seemed, after the publication of Orwell´s 1984 and the onset of the Cold War, that Huxley´s vision was dated and even a bit naive, time has proved the opposite. Brave New World retains its power as it continues to indict the idea of progress for the sake of progress - breathtaking in its precise and gripping imagination, its cauterizing irony and its bold exploration of ideas. (from eBooks.com)


Dune by Frank Herbert [sun surfer, sherkanner, Spacechik]
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Spoiler:
Subjects: Science Fiction, Science Fiction And Fantasy, Fiction
Description: This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when … more »stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium. Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow. --Brooks Peck Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. Though fans believed they had bid a sad farewell to the sand planet of Arrakis upon Herbert's death in 1986, his son Brian has assumed writing the Nebula and Hugo award-winning series with the help of Kevin J. Anderson. But the original is always the most popular, and Ace here offers a good-quality hardcover complete with maps, a glossary, and appendixes. The book's huge fan base should expand even more thanks to a six-hour miniseries premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel later this year that is said to be more faithful to the book than David Lynch's truly awful 1984 feature film. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. (from Amazon.com)


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick [HomeInMyShoes, John F, Nyssa]
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Spoiler:
"The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world." --John Brunner THE INSPIRATION FOR BLADERUNNER . . . Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time. By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results. "[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from." --Paul Williams, Rolling Stone From the Trade Paperback edition. "The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world." --John Brunner THE INSPIRATION FOR BLADERUNNER. . . Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time. By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Emigrees to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results. "[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from." --Paul Williams Rolling Stone (from Amazon.com)


Enders Game by Orson Scott Card [sherkanner, GA Russell, Nyssa]
Inkmesh searach
Spoiler:
Subjects: Science Fiction, Childrens Fiction General & Other, Childrens Fiction
Description: In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training … more »program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. Back on Earth, Peter and Valentine forge an intellectual alliance and attempt to change the course of history. This futuristic tale involves aliens, political discourse on the Internet, sophisticated computer games, and an orbiting battle station. Yet the reason it rings true for so many is that it is first and foremost a tale of humanity; a tale of a boy struggling to grow up into someone he can respect while living in an environment stripped of choices. Ender's Game is a must-read book for science fiction lovers, and a key conversion read for their friends who "don't read science fiction." Ender's Game won both the Hugo and the Nebula the year it came out. Writer Orson Scott Card followed up this honor with the first-time feat of winning both awards again the next year for the sequel, Speaker for the Dead . --Bonnie Bouman For the 20th anniversary of Card's Hugo and Nebula Award–winning novel, Audio Renaissance brings to life the story of child genius Ender Wiggin, who must save the world from malevolent alien "buggers." In his afterword, Card declares, "The ideal presentation of any book of mine is to have excellent actors perform it in audio-only format," and he gets his wish. Much of the story is internal dialogue, and each narrator reads the sections told from the point of view of a particular character, rather than taking on a part as if it were a play. Card's phenomenal emotional depth comes through in the quiet, carefully paced speech of each performer. No narrator tries overmuch to create separate character voices, though each is clearly discernible, and the understated delivery will draw in listeners. In particular, Rudnicki, with his lulling, sonorous voice, does a fine job articulating Ender's inner struggle between the kind, peaceful boy he wants to be and the savage, violent actions he is frequently forced to take. This is a wonderful way to experience Card's best-known and most celebrated work, both for longtime fans and for newcomers. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (from Amazon.com)


A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller [sun surfer, issybird, lila55]
ebookmall PDF / ebookmall Mobipocket
Spoiler:
Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-century engineer is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance. As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history. Divided into three sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the fascinating, seemingly capricious process of how and why a person is canonized. --Paul Hughes

“Extraordinary ... chillingly effective.”— Time

“Angry, eloquent ... a terrific story.”— The New York Times

“An extraordinary novel ... Prodigiously imaginative, richly comic, terrifyingly grim, profound both intellectually and morally, and, above all ... simply such a memorable story as to stay with the reader for years.”— Chicago Tribune

“An exciting and imaginative story ... Unconditionally recommended.”— Library Journal


Halting State by Charles Stross [kogi, shaf, HomeInMyShoes]
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Spoiler:
Near Future thriller with spy and rpg elements

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This brilliantly conceived techno-crime thriller spreads a black humor frosting over the grim prospect of the year 2012, when China, India and the European System are struggling for world economic domination in an infowar, and the U.S. faces bankruptcy over its failing infrastructure. Sgt. Sue Smith of Edinburgh's finest, London insurance accountant Elaine Barnaby and hapless secret-ridden programmer Jack Reed peel back layer after layer of a scheme to siphon vast assets from Hayek Associates, a firm whose tentacles spread into international economies. The theft is routed through Avalon Four, a virtual reality world complete with supposedly robbery-proof banks. As an electronic intelligence agency trains innocent gamers to do its dirty work, Elaine sets Jack to catch the poacher. Hugo-winner Stross (Glasshouse) creates a deeply immersive story, writing all three perspectives in the authoritative second-person style of video game instructions and gleefully spiking the intrigue with virtual Orcs, dragons and swordplay. The effortless transformation of today's technological frustrations into tomorrow's nightmare realities is all too real for comfort.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 10-25-2011 at 07:30 PM. Reason: Insert working eBookMall Mobi link for A Canticle For Leibowitz.
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