It has been an interesting year as far as reading habits on World’s Strongest Librarian. I have never been much of a science fiction reader. Normally if I pick up a sci fi novel it is because someone I trust–or someone who knows me extremely well–recommends a book to me. Well, that has happened several times this year, and I’m thrilled to say so.
So in this post I’m going to talk about three science fiction novels I’ve read this year, and why I love them. One is considered a classic, the other two are lesser known.
This is part two in the dune series. I have to say that I did not like it as much as the original (my review of Dune), but I loved it overall. It continues the story of Paul Atreides on the desert planet of Arrakis. Messiah picks up after book one, with Paul in charge of, oh, the entire universe, and now he has billions of deaths to his credit.
But he is growing displeased with his empire, and is still unsettled by his visions of the future. Be careful what you wish for, right? It turns out that being able to see time all at once in a non-linear fashion is a real hassle. I thought this was a great followup to Dune, and had some unexpected twists that set up the third volume, Children of Dune, quite nicely.
House of Stairs by William Sleator
This young adult reminded me of a 200 page episode of The Twilight Zone more than anything. Four teenagers wake up in a weird white place without distinguishing features, other than the staircases that veer off in every direction. They find each other and compare notes. They do not know why they are there.
They eventually find a red machine that dispenses food at seemingly random intervals. Much of the book is spent with them trying to figure out exactly what the pattern is. As it turns out, the machine will only feed them when they are cruel to each other. Now each kid has to decide exactly how hungry they are.
A very strange, fascinating book.
Ilium by Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons has quickly become one of my favorite writers this year. After reading one of his books, I quickly read everything I could find, including Ilium, a novel that is as fun as it is insane.
If you’ve ever read The Iliad by Homer, you’ll love this book. Or maybe you’ll hate it. Either way, that book is at the center of the story, which is partially this:
An English professor from our day is resurrected by a bunch of Gods that live on Mars. What do they do up there? Why, they endlessly recreate the battle of Troy, of course. Now they want this professor to come and observe, noting inconsistencies between their reenactment and Homer’s epic poem.
There is much, much more to it. You can check out my slightly more fleshed-out review of Ilium in this post if you’re still interested.
More to come! And of course, I’m always open to recommendations from any sci fi nuts reading this blog, or stumbling across it.
If you’re looking for more great science fiction books, I’ve got you covered.