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Posts Tagged ‘Futurism’

Machine Wars by Michael Pryor

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Machine warsMachine Wars by Michael Pryor. Pub. Random House, 2014.

An excellent easy to read futuristic fantasy for intermediate and junior high school students from a writer that I have just caught up with.

Can you imagine what it would be like if Artificial Intelligence machines took over the Internet and controlled the World. Not in the manner of The Terminator but by using any householod machine that has a chip to help it operate. Yes your fridge, your kettle your photocopier anything could become your enemy.

Teenager Bram’s mum is a brilliant scientist working with AI. A rogue AI called Ahriman escapes into the Internet and causes a computer and robot rebellion. Ahriman and whoever or whatever controls him/she/it has death squads operating and has control of many City Authorities.

Bram’s mum foresaw that this might happen and Bram and his family practiced emergency procedures to counter a rogue AI. Bram goes home to find his house explode in front him and learns that the police and a host of Killbots are after him. He goes to an emergency cache to find money and a highly developed robo AI hidden in a familiar childhood cuddly duck. He becomes RoboDuck.

While on the run Bram meets a school friend 14 year old Stella and with RoboDuck they go on the run and try to fight the evilf Ahriman and his robot army. Nothing is safe and they have to avoid anything connected to the Internet like cell phones and CCTV cameras.  They are doing well until drones take over. Read it and find out what happens.

Humerous and technically believable. You will have fun with this novel.

Enders by Lissa Price

March 7, 2014 Comments off

EndersEnders by Lissa Price. Pub. Doubleday, 2014. 

If you have read the brilliant  Starters by the same author reviewed elsewhere on this blog then you must read Enders.

The world has had the Spore Wars and few working class people have survived because they couldn’t afford the vaccine to make them resistant. These people are the Starters of which Callie is one.

Enders could afford the vaccine, they are rich, powerful and now very old, most over 100 years.

In the first novel Starters, Callie volunteered for a mind/body swap for a heap of money with an Ender called Helena. Helena committed murder while using Callie’s body, died herself and left half of her considerable estate to Callie.

The organisation that supplied the mind/body swap is now destroyed and the Old Man who ran the organisation is out there still creating havoc.

All the Starters that allowed their bodies to be used in the mind/body swap had a chip inserted in the back of their necks and the Old Man still has access to them and is using it in a disturbing manner.

Callie and the Old Man’s son, Hyden, unite to destroy the Old Man’s power.

Interesting technological science fiction for high school students. Many twists and turns with Callie learning not even to trust her own judgement. Where will it all end?. Another class the Middles is revealed perhaps one more book. I will read it.

The Tribe book 1: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

July 11, 2012 Comments off

Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Pub. Walker Books 2012.

I found this novel for tenagers fascinating to read but difficult to hold in my head. I was never sure where I was in the story as nothing that happens is what it seems. It is like that old Patrick McGoohan TV series of the 1960’s called The Prisoner. I never knew what was happening in that either.

In a dystopian world where the Reckoning has occurred people are under strict control by a Government that does not tolerate difference. Chief Administrator and total monster Neville Rose would have that it is for the common good but all dictators say this.

Ashala leads a group of children mostly who are well different. They are The Tribe and they live in harmony with the animals in Firstwood.  Ember can change memories, Georgie can predict the future and Ashala can be menacing when she sleepwalks in dreamtime.

Ashala escapes the city with a boy called Jazz who flees into the grasslands which are ruled by mind talking Saurs. Ashala is betrayed by an old Tribe member Justin Connor and taken in for interrogation by Neville Rose.

From this point on nothing is as it seems. It is a little like Aboriginal Dreamtime and legend and the mind control of Orwell’s 1984.

Give it a try. Sophisticated readers of fiction will get a lot out of this novel.

Starters by Lissa Price

April 13, 2012 Comments off

Starters by Lissa Price. Pub. Random House, 2012.

Excellent science fiction for high school students set in the dystopian world of Los Angeles after the Spore wars have decimated the population except for the very rich and the very poor.

The very rich are also very old, most older than 120 years and they are known as Enders.

An organisation called Prime Destinations promises the Enders young bodies to fulfill their fantasies and be young again. We all know that youth is wasted on the young and here is an opportunity to help the old live again.

This is done by paying the young very handsomely to loan their bodies to the Enders while their minds are shut down. The Enders can use the young body as though it was their own.

Sixteen year old Callie is a Starter and this is too much to turn down as she is sick of scrounging on the streets and her 7 year old brother is sickly. She signs on for three donors and the first two are of short duration and she comes out fine.

On her third donor Callie wakes up in the middle of it all with a gun in her hand. Is she to commit murder?Are there political implications in all of this? Is it safe?

Read this amazing novel to find out. It is thrilling ,brilliantly conceived and a cut above recent science fiction for young adults.

The ending is superb and the sequel called Enders is due in December 2012. I will be reading it.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

February 29, 2012 Comments off

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler. Pub. Simon & Schuster UK. 2012.

A romantic comedy with great appeal for high school students. Every library needs a novel like this, it is light, easily read, topical and fun.

It is 1996 and childhood friends Emma and Josh have not spoken or been together for more than 6 months after Josh noticed how Emma was filling out her jeans and tried to kiss her. Josh feels hurt and Emma embarrassed.

Then Emma’s father buys her a computer with Windows 95 and when she logs on to America Online there is a jump 15 years into the future and she clicks into Facebook. She finds herself aged 31 and checks out whether she is still in contact with her current friends especially Josh.

What she finds rocks her to the core. She involves Josh who is quite happy with what Facebook reveal is going to happen to him as he is going to marry the hottest and richest girl in school who currently doesn’t know him from a bar of soap.

Both Emma and Josh try to alter, prevent or ensure  what Facebook reveals to them does or does not occur. Should you tamper with the future? or just let things happen as they would naturally in the course of time?

A believable plot by twin authors writing consecutive short chapters with Jat Asher being Josh and Carolyn Mackler being Emma. The marriage works and they produce an entertaining novel on teenage relationships in 1996 with the future sticking it’s nose in.

The Lunar Chronicles Part 1 Cinder by Marissa Meyer

February 10, 2012 Comments off

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Pub. Puffin, 2012.

This is great reading that will have heaps of appeal to futuristic fantasy readers in their teenage years. It is part 1 of a projected four book series by a critically acclaimed author and deserves close attention.

The World is divided into five and this book is set in New Beijing capital of the Eastern Commonwealth. The major threat to humans is twofold, plague or Letumosis, which is fatal and has no known cure, and Lunars led by the evil Queen Levana who are based on the planet Luna.

It is a world in which humans mix with Androids and cyborgs and all the old oil based industries are gone.

Cinder is 16 years old and remembers nothing before her 11th birthday. She is a cyborg with 36.28% of her body made from machines and circuits. She can tell if you are telling lies and is very attractive although she is unaware of this. She is bonded to a step mother who is undoubtedly wicked and has two step sisters.

If it sounds like a Cinderella story then it is. Cinder in the course of her job as a modern mechanic, meets the Emperors son Kai, and he asks her to the ball to keep all the groupies away from him. yer Right!

The Earth is in crisis. Queen Levana threatens war unless Kai marries her and when the Royal Ball comes round all hell breaks loose.

I was intrigued by the story which struck me as being a cut above some of the drivel I have passed my eyes over of late.

Categories: Fantasy, Senior Fiction Tags: ,

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Pub. Atom Books, 2011.

Very appropriate book to review as we have a ship grounded on a reef off our shores at the moment and this novel is equally dramatic.

Set in the future when oil has gone but still extremely valuable if you can find it even in small amounts. The great oil tankers of yesteryear have been beached and crews of scavengers live off the rotting hulks stripping them of everything that can be turned into money.

Nailer is a skinny but tough boy who scavenges the ships for a boss who is ruthless. Everybody is ruthless and seems to live by the maxim that “it’s human nature to tear one another apart”.

Society consists of two groups, the ultra wealthy who are known as Swanks, and the rest who have different degrees of poverty not unlike Dickensian times. Everybody is waiting for that big break that will make them rich.

Nailer strikes lucky. After a storm he finds a new clipper type ship wrecked on the shore and he is first there for scavengers rights. But he has to have muscle to hold it and he doesn’t. He finds a Swank girl alive on board and she becomes his ticket to a wealthy life.

Will he make it? Nailer has been treated cruelly by his father and people around him but he has a humanity that saves this book from being a doom and gloom look at the future.

I really enjoyed it. There is action, drama and much to ponder about some of the ethical and environmental issues that are affecting this planet. A US National Book Award Finalist for 2010 and deservedly so.

High school and young adult in appeal but some good Intermediate readers could handle it.

Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby. Pub. HarperCollins, 2011.

“Story is our way of understanding ourselves and explaining the bewildering world around us”. Jack Lasenby wrote this quote and it is the gist of this novel. He previously wrote the excellent Because we were the Travellers quartet and this novel sees him back to the darker style of his writing.

Selene is driven unjustly out of her town of Hornish and escapes by sea hoping her boy friend and younger brothers and sisters will follower her. The Hornish community she leaves behind self destructs by internal squabbles and becomes cannon fodder for a stronger town from the south.

Selene returns for her younger brothers and collects five other survivors from her ransacked village. They decide to return to their place of origin to the North which they had heard of from stories told by their elders in better times.

Sailing North in two boats they establish a community in what they suspect is their old homeland and collect a number of other survivors around them. Selene is a brilliant leader and those that follow her, all young, work together for the common good. It is a handbook on how to survive and Jack Lasenby’s knowledge of living off the land and sea is extraordinary.

But will it last?  Then Jack Lasenby then introduces a timeslip scenario in which an old man sees the progress of the young community but they cannot see him. Is he in the past or the future? are the children in the past or the future? Is indeed the future found in the past? Deep stuff. Violence, jealousy and treachery are never far away. Compelling reading.

Brilliantly written in that easy flow style Jack lasenby is famous for. Definitely High school student in appeal and an excellent read.

Categories: Senior Fiction Tags: , ,

Juno series Part 3: Heart of Danger by Fleur Beale

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Heart of Danger by Fleur Beale. Pub. Random House, 2011.

This was not the story I was expecting to read, but as it ended I realised why Fleur Beale had written this way –  it is not the end of the story of Taris and Juno.

In part 1 the covered island community of 500 souls is described and analysed as Juno and the younger generation start to question the way things are done on Taris. Juno starts the questioning and her friend Vima finds the evidence that tips the community over. Part 2 describes the escape from Taris to the xenophobic Aotearoa and the Tarian’s fight to establish themselves in their new homeland.

This part exposes those resonsible for the pandemic that threatened the Tarians stay in Aotearoa. The spotlight is on Juno’s young sister Hera who has the power of prediction, and Juno who is able to communicate using thought control. Where did they get these skills?

Like all immigrants anywhere, the  Tarian’s need to change and adapt to the new country while retaining their own identity. For Juno there are lessons in love and relationships  as she falls in love with a local lad, Ivor, who has a different set of values to Juno.

Fleur Beale also keeps you interested by revealing more  the history of Taris and those responsible for it’s creation, but she doesn’t give you it all.

A new character, Nash, is introduced and the novel ends with a prediction as Fleur Beale sets up a fourth part to this great series.

Intermediate and secondary students will love this but it pays to read the whole series.

The Chemical Garden Trilogy Bk 1: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Pub. HarperVoyager, 2011.

The background to this first in a series is a post- holocaust world in which the U.S.A  survives but it is a changed world.

Seventy years earlier scientists created a perfect generation free from diseases and allergies. This generation still exist and are healthy and robust. Unfortunately their children and their children’s children suffer from an incurable virus that limits a males life span to 25 years and a female life span to 20 years.

The rich employ “Gatherers” to hunt young girls for breeding purposes to secure survival of the species and of their own property.

Rhine is 16 years old and is captured and purchased by Linden along with two other girls Cecily and Jenna. Linden marries all three and keeps them imprisoned in an amazing property with the intention of breeding with all of them.

Rhine resists Linden by adopting the stance “you can trap more things with honey than you can with vinegar”. Rhine wants to escape back to her twin brother Rowan but will she be able to?

Into the plot comes a male servant of Linden’s called Gabriel and this provides the love story in a clever plot. To top it off there is a superb villain in Housemaster Vaughn, you will hate him.

I just loved this story. It has an original plot is well written and there are good moral and ethical issues to ponder. Will you do anything to survive? How can you live a fulfilling life if such a short time span? Can the virus be cured? What goes on in the outside world?

High school students will love this novel with the knowledge that there are two more to come. I  will be reading them for one.