Picture this, you are fresh out of the academy, with the choice posting to the fleet’s flagship. You chat with other new crew mates about how your position opened up and it’s a frighteningly similar story, the person who held your job died in the line of duty. John Scalzi crafts a charming Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Space story about the lower deck officers who may not be the main characters. It starts off as a fun sci-fi romp, then gets a little existential, a little weird, and then heartwarming as well.

Graphic Novels

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Comptuer

By Sydney Padua

Graphic Novel, Biography, Sci-fi, history, computer science.

ISBN: 9780307908278

This is a great book. It’s a fictionalized biography of Ada King, the Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace)and her interactions with Charles Babbage and their quest to create the first computer. The first Chapter of the book, is a good overview of Ms. Lovelace’s life. Highlights include her parentage, the erratic George Gordon Byron, more commonly known as the poet Lord Byron, and Anne Isabella Milbanke, Baroness Wentworth. Their separation, his madness and death, and her resentment of Byron. From that resentment Anne drove Ada away from poetry and towards mathematics to prevent the “Byron Madness”. From her study of mathematics Ada eventually met Charles Babbage, and from there they collaborated on his Difference Engine and the larger, more complex Analytical Engine until her death at 36. The rest of the book is the “Mostly True” part. Padua extrapolates what could have happened and re-imagines a pocket universe where instead of dying early before Babbage completed his Analytical Engine (he spent all the resources that he raised for his engine lobbying for more funds to complete a bigger and better engine) they finished their engine and put it to use fighting crime (including their personal scourges, poetry and street musicians). Continue reading

Boy On Ice

8f8ee_9780393239393_custom-c149d3263bc332b1c4743b2151c46281146b4539-s99-c85Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

By John Branch

ISBN: 9780393239393

Biography, non-fiction, hockey, addiction, violence in sports.

Derek Boogaard, a.k.a. the Boogyman was the most feared man in the NHL. He was a giant on the ice, standing close to 7 feet tall on skates, and weighing in at close to 300 pounds. He had a devastating combination of size, strength, skill, and attitude that made him one of top enforcers in hockey. At one point a poll of active players voted Derek the number 2 most feared man in hockey. Georges Laraque retired after that season, and told people that it was partly because of Derek Boogaard and the damage that he could inflict. In one fight Derek shattered the cheekbone of another enforcer, Todd Fedoruk, ending his season and nearly ending Fedoruk’s career.

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All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
ISBN: 9781476746586
Fiction, Historical Fiction, blindness, Germany, France
, World War II, Pulitzer Prize.

This novel was fascinating. The quick jumps between characters, places, and times should be jarring, but the language of Anthony Doerr elevates it, and draws you in with vivid descriptions, gorgeous metaphors and an intertwining story that comes together beautifully.

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By Ernest Cline
ISBN: 9780804137256
Science Fiction, video games, aliens, coming of age.

So you’re in high school. Your father died years ago, you have anger issues and are something of an outcast. You dream that you are destined for something more then this suburban life. Your only outlet is video games. You are ranked #6 in the world for Armada, the sci-fi dog-fighting sim. Then the video game world spills into the real world when you see a flying saucer from Armada on your way to school.

The Circle

The Circle
by Dave Eggers
ISBN: 9780804191166
Science fiction, social media, technology, privacy

This book pissed me off. There is enough interesting ideas about the rise of our “sharing” culture that seems to be moving upon us with the subtly of a silver-back gorilla on meth that I wanted to like the book, but after making it through, it was mostly a let down. Continue reading

A Kim Jong-Il Production

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power
by Paul Fischer
ISBN: 9781250054265
North Korea, Film, history

Like a movie, A Kim Jong-Il Production is set in three acts. The first act Paul Fischer introduces the three primary characters; the leading lady Choi Eun-Hee, star of South Korean cinema, elegant and sophisticated member of high society, friends with international stars and President Park of South Korea. The male lead, Shin Sang-Ok, the driving force of Korean films, a prolific movie maker who loved the act of making movies more than anything. The antagonist, the young Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, third son of a dictator who loved movies and recognized the power that they had as a tool for propaganda. The second act of the book tells of how the two leads were kidnapped, and held against their will in North Korea for years. The reason? To make North Korean films better. The third act is how they have to live a life of lies in the militaristic dictatorship under the close watch of Kim Jong-Il to plot their escape back to the west.

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