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My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #9 – The Harry Potter Series

April 22, 2011 1 comment

#9 – The Harry Potter Series



Jacket art of the Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher

Most people love it, some people haaaate it. And frankly, when my little sister started gobbling up these books back in elementary school, I was pretty skeptical.

They looked like kiddie nonsense and I wanted nothing to do with them. But then,  my sister was sick  in the hospital so it fell to me to wait in line at the bookstore with all the folks dressed as wizards in order to get her pre-ordered copy of  ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ as soon as it was released. So I had a bad association with the books until I got to college.

Waiting for the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in a Californian bookshop (Borders, Sunnyvale), 5 minutes before the books official publication. Photo by Zack Sheppard

Then, friends started reading them. The movies were making millions (billions, even). They were even teaching the books in some of the University’s English classes! I decided I should at least give them a shot.

When I did, I was dragged kicking and screaming into a world of boys living under cupboards and giant groundskeepers and fortune-telling wizard teachers.

But once I was in, I did not want to leave.

The books just get better as they go along. The story becomes more intricate; the complex web of characters get more evolved and grown up. By the time Harry and his pals get to be 17, they are in the middle of a life and death struggle that is as far from a Roald Dahl children’s fantasy book as you could get.

So if you love them, great! Me too!

If you hate them, well that’s your opinion.

And if you haven’t read them, give them a try. These books will appeal to all ages and you won’t be able to put them down.

‘Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground.’

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

Some Nerd News For You Today

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Three pieces of sci-fi news in my Google Reader grabbed my attention this morning.

The first is that John Williams is turning 79 today. Don’t know who John Williams is? Well you’ve heard his music, even if you don’t realize it. He has worked on the soundtracks for Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and even Harry Potter!

The second is that Jeri Ryan has confirmed that she will reprise her roll as Sonya Blade in the upcoming Mortal Kombat webseries and movie.

And finally, as you have probably seen from the Google homepage, today is Jules Verne’s birthday.

Google Doodle February 8th, 2011. Depicting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

He is perhaps the most famous science fiction author of all time and deserves all the attention he is getting.

Scientists Make ‘Invisibility Cloak’ Out of Glass

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

One of Harry Potters most useful tools was the invisibility cloak, left to him by his dear deceased parents.

While a simple cloth that can make people invisible may be a quite a ways off yet, scientists are developing invisibility technology at Penn State University.

Basically, they use a special type of glass arranged in a cylindrical pattern. The orientation of the glass produces a magnetic resonance which bends electromagnetic waves around an object. This makes the object completely invisible at certain electromagnetic wavelengths.

Right now, they can only cloak objects a couple microns across at infra-red wavelengths, and some things a couple inches across at microwave wavelengths.

So the obvious extension of this work is to cloak stuff from visible light. The principle has been demonstrated, just have to put in the work now.

I think this is worthwhile research. Once we start travelling the stars, we already know the Romulans and Klingons have cloaking devices; we damn well better have our own!