Category: Science Fiction

It’s Space Day! Check Out These 5 Stellar YA Sci-Fi Reads

Whether or not you believe we’ve actually set foot on the moon (honestly, my preferred conspiracy theories are of the death-faking variety), it’s easy to see that our desire to reach for the stars is so fundamentally human. This insatiable curiosity for the universe is perhaps the same need that drives us to create art, to tell stories. The least explored frontiers aren’t always further and further away—they can exist within the remotest places in our own bodies and hearts, things we’ve thought and felt but have never been able to express. There’s nothing quite like reading that one searing line in your favorite new novel just to realize that someone finally understands—and that now, so do you.

Today, we celebrate Space Day. An annual holiday celebrated the first Friday of May, it exists to honor the achievements of space exploration and encourage young people to enter careers in science and engineering. (We’re guessing ‘Get Paid a Liveable Salary Day’ didn’t have quite the same ring to it.) But jokes aside, these five YA novels share the same purpose: to capture our collective wonder, which, when put to task, is a pretty powerful thing.

Grab one of these books, lie back, space out, & enjoy.

 

1. The Disasters by M. K. England

'The Disasters' by MK England

Queer characters?? And a queer author?? Everyone needs to give The Disasters some serious love. M.K. England offers readers a fun, fast-paced romp around the galaxy with an extremely entertaining (and diverse) cast of characters. England’s interplanetary colonies were extremely well-realized; clearly, England went beyond futuristic moon bases that look like the inside of an Apple store and neon Star Wars lasers. All of the colonies seem rich and grounded with culture, and when have you last read a YA where the basis for the fictional world was African / Middle Eastern culture? (That is, besides Children of Blood and Bone) An extremely endearing tale of a misfit cast of characters. Also, who doesn’t love a disaster bisexual protagonist?

 

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

2. We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

You’d think that once you introduce the aliens, the book can’t get any weirder. Wrong. This book is unlike anything you’ve ever read, the aliens more a vehicle through which to explore complex family bonds, relationship abuse, struggles with sexuality, and the general existential bullshit of the universe. It’s rare that a book about someone who really isn’t all that interesting in living will make you want to live, but we did say this book was weird—that’s weird as a synonym for uniquely moving.

 

From the author of The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes a brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving.

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.

 


3. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

'The Last 8' by Laura Pohl

When was the last time you read a novel with an aromantic, bisexual protagonist? Given that WordPress is telling me to correct the spelling of ‘aromantic’ (probably to aromatic or, more ironically, a romantic), I’m gonna guess NEVER. This #OwnVoices novel is a wild ride of plot twists and nonstop danger, and, as a bonus, it includes a responsible and nuanced handling of mental health issues. It’s a unique tale of friendship and sacrifice… one not weighed down by a forced romance that seems to mistakenly believe it’s more important than the world getting saved.

 

A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave 

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

 

4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness

 

Let’s dive into this powerful classic YA with one of its most iconic quotes: “we are the choices we make.” Maybe you should make the choice to head down to your local bookstore and grab this for yourself. Winner of the Guardian Award, the novel has left a lasting impact: pop-culture superstars Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland set to star in a film adaptation scheduled to hit theaters in March 2020. With its raw, unfiltered voice, it’s sure to stay on your mind for a long time to come… and on your bookshelf for even longer.

 

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

 

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

book cover

 

You may never have wanted to read a novel about a cyborg Cinderella living in a futuristic city while getting into sci-fi shenanigans all vaguely reminiscent of childhood staple Sailor Moon… but that’s probably only because you didn’t know that novel was available. This breakout hit launched Meyer’s career, and she’s since published eleven others books that are just as unique as they are uniquely compelling. You’d think novels based loosely on fairy tales would have to be at least somewhat derivative; that’s only because you haven’t read this one.

 

A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

 

 

 

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via SteemIt.

This Graphic Novelist Compares Writing to the Big Bang

Cecil Castellucci is incredibly talented— known for writing comics, novels, lyrics, and plays. Currently on a comic book writing roll, she will soon release her memoir as a graphic novel.

 

LARBlog: Castellucci’s Class Notes

Image via LA Review of Books

 

While many of us dream of being novelists, graphic novelists, playwrights, or lyricists, Castellucci has done all four!

 

For a long time I thought that I had to choose one. I even had people in my life say to me, you have to choose a direction. But after a while, I realized that they were all the same thing. They were all different modes of telling a story. I always felt a little jealous that visual artists could choose the tool, pencil, pastel, water color, oils, ink, etc, to draw their picture. But it struck me at some point in my thirties that a song, a comic, a play, a movie, a novel, a libretto are also tools. And whichever one you use to tell your story colors the way that it’s told.

-Cecil Castellucci, Publisher’s Weekly, 2019

 

 

For Castellucci, writing is “the spark that can billow out into any other art form. It’s the big bang.” Castellucci’s writing career began back in the 90s, when she was the singer and songwriter for the indie pop/rock band Nerdy Girl. As indicated by the name, the band created music for nerds with a particular love for Star Wars. Their full biography can be read here.

Here one of the band’s first songs written by Castellucci, expressing her obsession with the galactic adventure saga.

 

 

After her band, Cecil Castellucci moved on to writing young adult novels, a number of them earning her awards on top of being on New York Times bestselling list. Two of her most famous novels are Tin Star and its sequel Stone In The Sky.

 

 

Tin Star hires.jpg  Stone in the Sky hires.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Images via Square Space

 

 

As reflected in her music, her passion for the Star Wars films was what sparked her desire to write. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Castellucci shares the story of how she realized her dream career.

 

Seeing Star Wars was an inciting moment for me. When I (SPOILER!) saw that Darth Vader had spun away from the Death Star and hadn’t died, I knew that the story could continue. I wanted it to continue and I understood that someone would be tasked with the writing of that story. I wanted to be that person.

 

As a child she dreamed, now as an adult she achieved her dream, and then some! After striking a deal with Disney, Castellucci was given the amazing opportunity to truly live her dream and to add to the universe of Star Wars. This opportunity was the illustrated novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure

 

Image via Amazon

 

 

Castellucci has also done work with the publisher DC comics and has entered the world of the Opera playwright as well. Some of her work includes DC’s Shade: The Changing Woman and the comic book opera, Les Aventures De Madame Merveille. With Cecil Castellucci’s philosophy of writing being the “big bang” for everything art related, it’s a thrill to wonder what is the next storytelling art form she will conquer next.

 

Also, for anyone interested in reading her graphic novel biography, its titled Girl On Film, and it will be released November this year.

 

 

Featured Image via ComicsVerse.

Hilariously Honest Book Titles: Stephen King Edition

Widely acclaimed maestro of horror Stephen King has as many jokes up his sleeve as the next guy, but we at Bookstr still think he takes the titles of his books too seriously. Why should The Stand be called The Stand if you have to sit down while you’re reading it? Who reads 500+ page novels standing up?

Find the answers to this question, and more, in this week’s edition of hilariously honest book covers, where we edit the classic cover art of famous books to better describe what readers will find inside them. Got ideas for hilariously honest book covers of your own? Send them our way, and we’ll give you a shoutout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our take on some of the ‘Game of Thrones’ titles, click here.

Adjusted Covers Via Masako Fukuchi.

Owen King to Adapt ‘Sleeping Beauties’ for TV

A father-son King project is now in development for television! The Stephen King renaissance continues with the adaptation of Sleeping Beauties.

 

Image result for stephen and owen king

Image via Entertainment Weekly

 

The original novel, a collaboration between Stephen King and his son, Owen King, asks ‘What would happen if women disappeared from the world?’

 

Image via Amazon

 

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent. And while they sleep they go to another place, a better place, where harmony prevails and conflict is rare.

One woman, the mysterious “Eve Black,” is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Eve a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Abandoned, left to their increasingly primal urges, the men divide into warring factions, some wanting to kill Eve, some to save her. Others exploit the chaos to wreak their own vengeance on new enemies. All turn to violence in a suddenly all-male world.

Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously dramatic father-son collaboration that feels particularly urgent and relevant today.

 

 

This suspense filled, horror, mystery, is now in development to being adapted into a pilot episode for its own television series. AMC is the TV network behind the newly anticipated pilot episode.

The writer for the script will be none other than Owen King himself, bringing his and his father’s work to life, and this is not his first time adapting his father’s work for television.

Recently, Owen was a producer, and according to Entertainment Weekly a writer, for CBS’ newest addition to their exclusive “All Access” content, The Stand.

Thankfully, unlike CBS and their “All Access” content that’s watchable only if you pay monthly, AMC comes with your cable, so long as you have the channel that is. Hopefully Owen and the rest of the AMC crew won’t rest until Sleeping Beauties is finished for our haunting entertainment.

 

 

Featured Image via TV Movie Fix

7 Cli-Fi Books to Celebrate Earth Day and Every Day

April 22nd is Earth Day, and while you’re all busy reducing, reusing, and recycling, we’ve made a list of cli-fi books for you to read and share. Cli-Fi has become a new genre of fiction, focusing on the most drastic effects of climate change that we face by taking no actions to stop it. They’re eerie, they’re surprisingly accurate, and they’re a lot of fun.

 

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

Ready Player One Book Cover
IMAGE VIA THE CROWN PUBLISHING GROUP

The many 80’s references and killer virtual reality video game detract from the fact that Ready Player One paints a disturbing picture of the future. The plot develops due to the fact that the environment has literally deteriorated. The book takes place in the year 2045, which is really not too far into the future. We’ve even recently been warned that we can start to see similar effects by the time we do get to the 2040’s. The earth is destitute, and people are living in stacks of trailers. Because there is little to no agriculture due to climate change, there is little to no income. Kids are using computers to attend school in a virtual reality setting, and virtual currencies are worth significantly more than national currencies. The book highlights just how much of a threat is posed if we allow the environment to crumble like we currently are. The economy will crumble right behind it, leaving us to rely on a billionaire to develop a game like Oasis where we can win his entire estate. This is what gamers have been preparing for their whole lives, but it would just be easier if we planted some trees.

2. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

 

The Lorax Serves the Trees
IMAGE VIA EARLY MOMENTS

I bet you had no idea that long before saving the bees and trees became a global concern, Dr. Seuss was warning the world about the threat dangerous progress posed to the earth’s natural beauty through The Lorax. We’ve destroyed whole forests to build cities, and allowed gas guzzling cars to take over as a main source of transportation because it was most convenient. We never even tried to understand what these things would do until it was too late. While the book is aimed towards children, adults still have a lot to learn from Dr. Seuss.

 

3. The MaddAddam Series by Margaret Atwood

 

maddaddam trilogy
IMAGE VIA VARIETY

Margaret Atwood has been eerily accurate in her dystopian novels, and this is no exception. Atwood holds up a mirror to show us what we are facing by doing nothing about the pending dooms of climate change in these three books: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam. After a man-made plague wipes out a good percentage of the world’s population, a bio-engineered species is created to replace humans. You were worried about robots taking your jobs, well this is even scarier. The books track several characters as they face rising sea levels and quite literally the end of the world as we know it. Should we be scared? Definitely, as it seems life does seem to be headed the way Atwood predicts in her other dystopias, and even after being warned we need to take action we remain unsurprisingly inactive.

4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy book cover
IMAGE VIA BOOK DEPOSITORY

The Road takes a look at a father and son duo, who find themselves trekking across a burned up United States in search of the shore. Snow has turned grey, and the only movement is that of the ashes. A dried up and burned up earth may not seem so close to reality, but California has already experienced drought and wildfires that may make you think twice about that. Armed with only a pistol, the duo make their way across the country, with only love for the other to save themselves. Hope has gone out the window, there is a lingering fear of others who they may come across. The only food they have is what they brought with them. There is no livestock, no crops, not even a bush of berries to sustain them. In a world that has been destroyed by climate changes, it is clear there is nothing left but fear and hopelessness.

 

5. New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

 

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson book cover
IMAGE VIA HACHETTE BOOK GROUP

Taking place just over a century in the future, it is clear through New York 2140 that climate change is seriously in effect. The water has risen, submerging all of New York City. Every street has become a waterway, and every skyscraper an island. Though the story is told with a humorous tone, it is clear these are not funny circumstances. Subway gone, historic monuments gone, the New York Public Library gone. Robinson tells the story through the eyes of several characters all observing the new New York from a single building. Through Robinson’s craft, it is easy to see the undesirable changes New York undergoes and, therefore, we undergo.

 

6. The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

 

The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter book cover
IMAGE VIA GOODREADS

After a drought strikes Australia, citizens in The Rain Never Came are escorted away towards more livable environments. Some decide to remain behind, hiding in places no one would dare look. Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are just two such people. The book clearly plays on very real fears that we face in conjunction with climate change. Like I said earlier, California is currently facing this issue. This is no longer some dystopian idea, it is real life for too many people. There is definitely a post-apocalyptic feel to this book, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this could soon be reality.

 

7. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

 

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins book cover
IMAGE VIA NPR

Gold Fame Citrus takes the story of Luz and Ray, survivors of a drought-struck California. People have been ushered to government camps on the east coast, while others have been stopped from crossing the California border. Those left are surviving on rations of water and anything else they can scavenge for. Destitute land turning citizens into thieves and vigilantes is nothing new in Cli-Fi, but what makes this original is the fact that this isn’t some far-fetched idea. Again, droughts in California are happening. While we haven’t yet started rationing anything or shipping people off to encampments, what is to say we won’t if things do get worse?

featured image via alabama political reporter