Category: Science Fiction

Top Picks: Fantastical Sci-Fi and/or Sciencey Fantasy

Each week, Bookstr gives you a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list.

Today we’ll be recommending 5 books that are either fantastical Sci-Fi and/or Sciencey Fantasy. Hey ho, let’s go!

 

 

5-The Vine Witch by Luanne G Smith

 

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Image Via Amazon

Luanne G. Smith gives us her debut novel, The Vine Witch, and it’s, shall we say, fantastical.

 

The Vine Witch by [Smith, Luanne G.]

Image Via Amazon

 

For centuries, the witches of Château Renard have helped the townsfolk create their world-renowned wine, but when sorcière Elena Boureanu is blindsided by a curse, the well runs dry.

After breaking the spell, Elena struggles to return to her former life, but that proves next to impossible as the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a stranger.

This name is Jean-Paul Martel, a man who favors science over superstition. He doesn’t believe in no witches and won’t accept help from any either. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and to help the vines recover she’ll have to hide her identity to destroy the evil powers that threaten to wipe out her, Jean-Paul, and the legacy of the Chanceaux Valley.

Taking advantage of the paradoxical nature of France, this fantastical tale weaves betrayal and vengeance with beauty and self-discovery to create something to marvel. Plus, the discussion of science and magic makes this October 1st release a sciencey-fantasy, a term I totally didn’t just make up.

 

 

4-Star Wars: The Ultimate Pop-Up Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart and illustrated by Kevin Wilson

 

Star Wars Saga

Image Via Amazon

 

How could we not put this on the list? With The Rise of Skywalker just around the corner, we’re here to tell you about the perfect holiday gift for all you Star-Wars-fanatics out there.

 

Star Wars: The Ultimate Pop-Up Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart and illustrated by Kevin Wilson
Image Via Amazon

 

Brought to us by famed New York Times best-selling paper engineer Matthew Reinhart and illustrator Kevin Wilson, this pop-up books explodes in front of your eyes, showcasing the very best scene from the entire Star Wars saga. All eleven movies are here in three-dimensional glory, including a sneak peek at The Rise of Skywalker.

A fitting tribute, this October 22nd release will make the perfect early gift. Get on your friend’s/significant other’s/family member’s good side while you can!

 

 

3-Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton

 

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Author of The Evolutionary Void, Fallen Dragon, and the acclaimed epic Night’s Dawn trilogy, Peter F. Hamilton is going back into the pages of space.

 

Salvation Lost (The Salvation Sequence Book 2) by [Hamilton, Peter F.]
Image Via Amazon

A sequel to Salvation, the second book in Hamilton’s sprawling Salvation Sequence brings us to the 23rd Century. Food is 3D printed, money backed by generated kilowatt hours, and aliens are sharing biotech with us. But these aliens, the Olyxix, are religious fanatics who want to bring humanity’s souls to their god—literally.

Humanity isn’t going without a fight.

With weird technology, an ensemble cast, and intricate politics, this is a sequel for the ages. Want to go to space? Good thing this book came out October 29th, you can up this little rocket ship at your local bookstore.

 

 

 

2-Sisters of the Vast Black by Linda Rather

 

Her stories have appeared in a ShimmerFlash Fiction Online, and Lightspeed, and now I’m proud to say that Linda Rather is bringing us something wonderful, something amazing, something godly…

 

Sisters of the Vast Black by [Rather, Lina]
Image Via Amazon

NUNS IN SPACE!

 

The sisters of the Order of Saint Rita travel on their ship, Our Lady of Impossible Constellations, offering spiritual guidance and assistance to all they come across. The Universe needs it, seeing as the Earth Central Governance (ECG) ceased contact with the human colonies in space following the Great War.

Led by Sister Faustina, who took her vows despite a lack of faith and who is still haunted by her experiences during the Great War, the ship responds to a distress signal, and what they find is truly distressing, for all humanity in fact.

Fantastical sci-fi at its finest. The book came out October 29th, so what are you waiting for? NUNS IN SPACE!

 

 

1-The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker

 

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Image Via Lawrence L Schoen

 

Martin L. Shoemaker’s novella Murder on the Aldrin Express was reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection and in The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4, and he’s received the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award for his Clarkesworld story “Today I Am Paul,” which continues in Today I Am Carey, published in March 2019.

So he knows his stuff when it comes to sci-fi.

 

The Last Dance (The Near-Earth Mysteries Book 1) by [Shoemaker, Martin L.]
Image Via Amazon

And now we have Inspector General Park Yerim taking on a case that seems cut and dry, but the mystery proves more complex as it goes on.

Let’s start the beginning: Captain Nicolau Aames, Commander of the Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin, is accused by the vast System of disobeying orders. He disobeyed them and is now accused of mutiny, a capital offense.

But his crew swears on their lives that he’s in the right.

Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness. As she goes on, and her findings prove to have astronomical implications, Park faces danger from the dark.

This November 1st, will you be able to find the truth shining out in the dark?

 

 

 

 

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Three Books About Aliens and #ThingsWeAreNeverMeantToKnow

Alright, so I don’t really think there’s stuff we’re not meant to know – vive la science! – but a lot of people were talking about aliens (and Monty Python – Twitter, never change), so here are some books about aliens to start knowing some things. Maybe. The truth is out there!

Cinder – Marissa Meyer

This is a great start for anyone who likes their sci-fi light and lush, with enough cyborgs, psychics, and space travel to satisfy more die-hard fans. Set in futuristic Beijing, this well wrought fairy tale retelling features plague, sisterhood, and a robot who’ll be your favorite character. What more could you want? Crime? Formal wear? A lost foot? All that and more, plus, your book hangover will be delayed for quite a while, because there are several excellent sequels and a delightful graphic novel companion series. And did I mention Cinder is a mechanic? She’s a mechanic. Heart eyes.

 

These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Quick question – are you ready to suffer? This is a good book, maybe even a great one, but it’s going to break your entire heart and not even be sorry. Two strangers, the only survivors of a massive spaceliner crash, try to find their way across an alien landscape to the ship’s wreckage and hope of rescue. An unlikely pair, an heiress and a former soldier must work together not only to survive harsh conditions on dwindling hope, but to discover the secrets of this planet, long hidden, and more lovely and terrible than they could have imagined. Like I said, this one’ll hurt, but read it anyway. It’s earned.

 

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

Confession; this one’s from my TBR. But it’s at the top of the list! Brutal, large scale war against terrifying aliens, an intergalactic university, and the terrible pull of leaving the Earth behind. Clocking in at under a hundred pages, this is definitely a quick read, but don’t worry about being abandoned – it’s the first of three novellas. Plus, we always, always stan a heroine who’s good at math. Isn’t that the dream? Be good at math, and risk death to go to space school? Don’t boo me, I’m right.

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Featured image via DevantArt 

5 YA Genres That Are Totally Dead

Young adult fiction is undeniably one of the most popular genres of all time. It was first categorized around the 1930s with Lauren Ingalls Wilder’s series Little House on the Prairie. Teachers and librarians were slow to accept books intended for younger readers, but young adult books today focus on issues in society with such a passion that even older adults love to read them.

YA subgenres have ebbed and flowed over the years, and the two ever-reigning subgenres seem to be fantasy and contemporary fiction. You can always find a unique new release of a fantasy novel or a self-aware contemporary love story. But what genres are so dead that publishers in 2019 will rarely publish them and why did young adults stop reading them?

 

 

1. Dystopian

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image via crosswalk.com

 

Ah, yes. Dystopian. Nostalgia for 2012, anyone? Maybe it was because everyone was talking about the Mayan calendar and the end of the world, but people were in a craze over dystopian society books like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Books about post-apocalyptic societies like The Maze Runner weren’t too far behind in the craze, either. Most dystopian subgenres are based on sci-fi and these particular subgenres started to oversaturate the sci-fi genre. Because of the immense popularity of books like The Hunger Games, every author wanted to replicate that fame and success. Understandably, readers got bored.

We became sick of tropes like “the chosen 16-year old who has a special ability that allows him or her to rebel and change dystopian society.” Readers began to pay attention to different genres and new authors, and the dystopian genre and its tropes slowly died out as YA readers found more relevant books. With the upcoming release of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakesit’ll be interesting to see how this dystopian writer tackles this so-called “dead” genre.

 

2. PARANORMAL / URBAN fantasy

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image via empireonline.com

 

When you think of paranormal YA, think vampires, werewolves, and zombies. So basically Twilight minus the zombies. For a while, the Twilight series was the reigning series for the paranormal subgenre. Teens were obsessed and buying t-shirts to show off their pride in Team Edward or Team Jacob. So what happened? Well, other authors tried to replicate the success of Twilight, and teens kept reading vampire and werewolf books until they wanted a taste of something different. Once the movies were released, Twilight stirred up even more controversy as readers began to release that Bella and Edward were an unhealthy relationship portrayal for young teens.

 

 

Still, it seems a bit disappointing that the whole vampire subgenre should die out because of one bad portrayal— especially when there’s so many amazing vampire stories, like Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. But never fear for those readers who were into paranormal or urban fantasy books other than Twilight, or even those who were into Twilight (no shame here)— these subgenres are making a slow return, starting with Renee Ahdieh’s new vampire novel The Beautiful.

 

 

3. STEAMPUNK

image via the portalist

 

Steampunk is one of a few YA genres that has never taken hold of a readership. Any successful steampunk books are technically classified under other YA subgenres and only have small steampunk elements. Those books that did attempt to focus solely on steampunk, an attempt that surged around the early 2000s, were usually adult books and were just too similar to each other to claim a place as a real subgenre.

 

4. Superhero

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image via CBR.com

 

Superheroes certainly have a presence in comic books and movies, but this genre just isn’t present in YA. There’s no clear reason why superheroes are more popular in movies than books— maybe viewers would rather see sexy superhero actors and actresses blow stuff up rather than reading about them. Or maybe, like steampunk, superhero YA books have just been too similar with dead YA tropes like “the chosen one.”

 

5. TIME TRAVEL

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image via the next web

 

Time travel in YA sci-fi hasn’t been as successful as you might think, although time travel in YA fantasy has more of a presence. Maybe it’s because sci-fi books like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine were written way back in 1895 and readers’ fascination with time travel has died out since then. Yet time travel is still popular in movies and TV, so it’s also up to speculation as to why this genre hasn’t taken off in YA.

If you’re interested in more about the book market or dead genres in publishing, check out this video by Alexa Donne, author of Brightly Burning. She explains all of these dead genres and tropes in-depth and also has some fascinating insights about the publishing world as well as advice for new writers.

 

 

 

Featured image via The Pilot Press

A Look Inside The Forgotten Film Trilogy Of ‘Atlas Shrugged’

Today is the 62 year anniversary publication of Ayn Rand’s seminal work, Atlas Shrugged. An epic tale spanning over 1,000 pages, it tells the story of railroad executive Dagny Taggart and steel magnate Hank Rearden as they search for the mysterious John Galt, a man persuading the most powerful businessmen in the world to “strike” against the dystopian government that is imposing burdensome regulations on their private businesses in the hopes of creating a true capitalist society.

 

Image Via Wikipedia

 

Atlas Shrugged serves as Rand’s most explicit advertisement of her philosophy of Objectivism, a movement she founded based around the concepts of objective reality and individualism. Though the novel wasn’t very well-received during its publication in 1957, the book has sold well over the years and has become very popular with libertarian and conservative politicians who have endorsed Rand’s philosophy.

 

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Naturally, an adaptation was bound to happen, with talks of a mini-series as early as the 1970s. After several years of failed attempts, a film adaptation began production in 2010. Featuring Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black) as lead Dagny, Atlas Shrugged: Part I  was promoted heavily by libertarian politicians and Fox News personalities up until its release in April 2011.

 

Taylor Schilling in Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)
Image Via IMDb

 

Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics for its low production value, badly written dialogue, and failure to translate Rand’s ideas properly on-screen—though audience reception was a little more positive. The film was also a financial failure, grossing only $5 million against a $20 million budget. This was attributed to the fact that the film wasn’t advertised outside of its mainly conservative audience, leading to its failure to break out from its already limited release.

 

Despite this setback, a sequel was still made. Neither Schilling nor any of the original cast members, as well as the director, returned and production had its budget slashed to $10 million. Atlas Shrugged: Part II was filmed, edited, and released in October 2012 so it can coincide with the 2012 election, even going as far as to feature Fox News personalities playing themselves. The sequel didn’t fare well either, getting even worse reviews and grossing only $3 million and losing more money.

 

Image Via Amazon

 

Which brings us to the final film, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt, released in 2014. Much like the first two, this film features an entirely new cast playing the same characters, as well as a new director, and featured Fox News anchors and conservative politicians playing themselves. And just like the first two films, reviews were universally negative and the film was a box office failure, only making $800,000 dollars with a $5 million budget. Part III joined a small list of films that have a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

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Image Via Wikipedia

 

It’s pretty crazy that a book as influential and controversial as Atlas Shrugged could produce a film series so bad and easily forgotten as this one. You can watch the trailers for all three films here and see for yourself:

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Medium

 

7 Books For International Lesbian Day – Because Love Is Love

To celebrate the holiday of love and awareness, we’re sharing a versatile of books featuring Lesbian characters and the adventures they must have.

These books range from the fantastically adventurous, to romantically dramatic!

 

 

#1 Perfect Rhythm by Jae

 

Perfect Rhythm (Fair Oaks Book 1) by [Jae]

 

When pop star Leontyne Blake loses the love in her love songs, a sudden family emergency brings her back to her tiny hometown of Missouri. Tending to her father, sick in the hospital, Leontyne is finally able to escape the pressure of the music industry, as well as the pressure of finding someone who loves her for her, and not her fame.

Everything changes when she meets her father’s nurse, Holly Drummond, who is not only unimpressed with Leontyne’s success, but is more interested in Leontyne as a person. Holly is a woman different from any that Leontyne has ever met, uninterested in relationships in general, and also Asexual. As the relationship between these women develops, they need to find the perfect rhythm to find something more, a love that both had given up on a long time ago.

A great read for any hopeless romantic!

 

#2 The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

 

The Stars Are Legion by [Hurley, Kameron]

 

This sci-fi epic and Hugo Award winner will take you by storm, throwing you into an all-out war, blood-battles and all, but more than the intense drama of war, this story is about our heroine’s search for truth. Zan wakes with no memory of who she is, and where she has come from. Encaptured by strangers, all women, who claim they are her family and that she is their salvation, Zan must fight her way to the truth to save a dying world.

If action is what you’re looking for, look no further than this book! With twists and turns at every corner, this book perfectly blends the sci-fi genre with action and drama that will blow you out of this world, and there’s a little romance between the protagonist and another of the fierce women of the story.

 

#3 The Price of Salt (Carol) by Patricia Highsmith

 

The Price of Salt by [Highsmith, Patricia]

 

A beloved classic romance for the modern-day, this tale follows two women, lost in the daily monotony, living untrue to themselves and their potential. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a stay at home mother in the midst of a bitter divorce, find each other, and therefore find joy and freedom that they never believed was possible before. Abandoning their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, they together build a love that they have always wanted. However, this is not a fairy tale romance where all it takes is two people falling in love to reach the happy ending, because of Carol’s obligations as a mother, she is forced to choose between her love for Therese and her beloved child.

True love never comes easy in the real world, and this emotional roller-coaster of a novel shows that tenfold.

 

 

#4 The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie  

 

The Abyss Surrounds Us by [Skrutskie, Emily]

 

If that last book was a little too real for you, here’s some fantasy to escape the soul-crushing that is reality.

Combining monsters and pirates together this book follows Cassandra Leung, a trainee in a family of Recokners, trainers of genetically engineered sea monsters to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. When the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. With plans to make the Sea her own, the Pirate queen orders Cas to train a monster pup to push her plans into action. Torn by her desire to uphold her family’s noble cause and her survival as a captive, Cassandra must choose wisely to live the Pirate life.

 

#5 My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kabi Nagata 

 

My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by [Nagata, Kabi]

 

Intensely personal, this graphic novel is Kabi Nagata’s revealing story, her struggles with depression and sexuality as a young woman. With charming and provocative illustrations, Nagata leaves nothing censored. The true and difficult reality of struggling with mental health and coming to terms with your sexuality is perfectly illustrated, both literally and figuratively, in this book. For any reader of this book, how real and relatable the story is written is moving.

 

#6 Nevada by Imogen Binnie

 

 

Maria Griffiths, a young trans woman, takes a life-changing journey away from her life in New York City after she discovers that her girlfriend has been lying to her. With her life as she has known it forever changed, Maria sets off to escape the painful lies that have been revealed, but with the struggles that trans people face looming over her head, her ventures are much harder than she wishes. Joined by another trans woman on her life journey, they must find their way in the world.

 

 

#7 We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

We Are Okay by [LaCour, Nina]

 

Having run from her old life, Marin has kept many secrets about her final moments before she left her family and old friends behind. With tragedy and grief from her past still tormenting her for years since she left, the past finally comes back to haunt her when her best friend Mabel pays a visit to Marin’s lonely apartment. The truth must finally come out, and Marin must face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

 

Images via Amazon

 

 

 

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