I was thinking about some of my favorite books recently. I wouldn’t necessarily call them all time favorites - they’re just the ones that have stuck with me and have been the most memorable.
Prey by Michael Crichton
I’ve read this three times and it never gets old. I can’t thank Olga (who is just the awesomest person ever) enough for making me read this book all those years ago in Alabama! Every time I pick this book up I can’t seem to put it down until I’ve finished it all.
Main topics: nanotechnology, artificial (collective) intelligence
The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson
I checked this book out from the Burns Middle School library in Alabama, from memory in 8th grade and it gripped me from the very beginning. The main character is stranded on an alien planet and must learn to adapt to the lifestyle and culture of its main inhabitants - the Tendu. She must go through physiological changes to be able to survive on the planet, as well as learn their language (they communicate with signs and symbols on their skin). It turned out that the book wasn’t exactly appropriate for 8th graders in the last couple of chapters (depicting various acts that wouldn’t really be deemed appropriate for a middle school library). I showed the offending pages (with a lot of pointing and giggling) to a couple of friends and as we were whispering about it in art class the art teacher noticed the book! We watched as she read the specific pages, looked flustered, and told me that I should report this to the librarian. Me being the boring good girl that I was, I of course did so and the book was pulled from the shelves. Much to the dismay of one of my friends!
Luckily I had already finished the book by then and it remains one of my favorite books to this day. The world Thomson paints in The Color of Distance is among the most creative, vivid, and rich that I have ever imagined (along the lines of the Avatar world. In fact, when watching Avatar I saw more than a few similarities to the book - even getting an inkling of a suspicion that perhaps Avatar had “borrowed” some ideas from The Color of Distance - such as the Tendu’s “allu’a” - connecting to each other and to other living things through joining of wrist spurs). When we moved to Australia I looked for this book all over the place, but nobody had it in stock. I finally ordered it online and it is now proudly displayed at the top of my bookshelf.
Main topics: first contact, alient culture, adaptation, exploration, nature
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Rae “Sunshine” Seddon is kidnapped by vampires and chained in a room as bait for Constantine, a vampire who is also captured and stuck in the same room. Together Sunhine and Constantine escape certain death at the hands of their kidnappers and are forced into an uneasy alliance to stay alive and overthrow their enemies. What I loved most about this book and what caught me off guard (in a good way) is that unlike the handsome, super sexy vampires you see in today’s popular culture, Constantine is described as smelly, disgusting, dead looking, and just wrong. Despite this, I as the reader felt a strong attraction to him as a character - a much stronger attraction than I have for any conventionally sexy vampire hunk gracing the movies I’ve seen or books I have read. What drew me into this novel was the relationship and interaction between Sunshine and Con more so than the actual action or events of the plot.
Main topics: vampires, “good” vs “evil” (or the lack thereof), human behavior/interaction
The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto
The Stories of Ibis contains a series of tales loosely tied together with a general plot inbetween each tale. The stories explore the topic of artificial intelligence and each takes it on from a different point of view (and in fact from an entirely different plot line). This book really made me think about the ethics behind creating a sentient machine, as well as about the laws of robotics and the criteria for calling a machine “intelligent”.
**Main Topics: **Artificial intelligence
Favorite in progress…
I recently went on a dystopian fiction book haul and purchased three new tasty morsels:
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
World War Z by Max Brooks
I’m starting with Oryx and Crake and so far it’s proving to be an excellent book, although admittedly I’m not that far in yet. I have a feeling at least one of these books is going to end up on this list in the near future, but am trying not to get my hopes up.
On a different note - who’s going to GenghisCon this year? I can’t wait! I’m going for two nights. It’ll be nice and relaxing to have a few days “off” from everything except LARPing, board games, workshops, and other fun stuffs. Having said that I’ll be bringing my laptop and probably posting lots of photos and blogging from the event. Definitely live-tweeting, that’s for sure.