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A Lonely Trip Through the Southern Reach

My very first impression, from the first page of Annihilation, book one of The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer, was not far from my last thoughts on the series. What insanity have I just stumbled into? Every reveal seems to bring along numerous other mind-bending doubts or questions about the world Vandermeer has created. The story opens with a group of nameless female explorers beginning their expedition into “Area X”, a mysterious portion of the ordinary world that has somehow, inexplicably become subject to laws all its own. Its…

MacGyver on Mars

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is an entertaining page-turner with an inherently interesting premise and a well-executed plot. Aside from entertainment, the novel’s chief value lies in its celebration of cheerful resourcefulness, and its appreciation of the worth of a single human life. Good in several important ways, the book also lacked some of the depth that its premise might have supported. In a near-future mission to Mars, an accident forces the astronaut crew of the Hermes to leave behind an apparently dead colleague, Mark Watney. As it happens, Mark…

Escaping the Enderverse

All in all, this book has an energy and passionate intensity that endears itself to a wide audience, despite the violence, vulgarity and racial slurs.

Close Encounters of the Medieval Kind

“Eifelheim” is a very fine science fiction novel, and should be on the reading list of everyone interested in the interaction of medieval and modern philosophy, science, and even politics.

Ready Player One

The pros, in my opinion, far outweigh the cons. The book affirms the value of online social interaction as a step in the right direction if you’re living in a dystopia, but that reality is still best.

Not Just About Zombies

What makes this book different is that it gets to the heart of who we are more thoughtfully than the movies and television programs that have paved this over-tread path.

A Modern Morality Tale

For younger readers, the experience of wonder and contemplation that the book provokes is enough to award it a place on any recommended reading list.

A Literary Sci-fi Classic

“My people have a law never to speak much of sizes or numbers to you others, not even to sorns. You do not understand, and it makes you do reverence to nothings and pass by what is really great. Rather tell me what Maleldil has done in Thulcandra.” -Oyarsa of Malacandra, Out of the Silent Planet “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet, of a humdrum star, lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies…

“If it isn’t official, then it can’t be real, now can it?”

When I first saw Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society on a shelf in Barnes & Noble, my first thought was, “Great, another New York Times Best seller children’s series.” In general, great art—the possession for all time—seems to me to gain more approval as the generations pass, whereas the accolades for the piece that is designed for a favorable hearing start loud and dwindle with the attention spans that it has helped to erode. So I usually avoid bestsellers until they are a few decades old. It is summer, though, and the…