Archive

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #3 – The Farseer Trilogy

April 28, 2011 4 comments

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (1995 – 1997)



Assassin's Apprentice: Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy

Robin Hobb’s writing style has a lot of similarities with George RR Martin. She makes her audience identify with the main character, and then she makes that character suffer.

She also creates villains so evil that I get physically angry when I read her books. I get invested in the character’s struggle and I cannot put the book down.

The Farseer Trilogy follows the story of FitzChivalry Farseer; the bastard child of a murdered prince who has to grow up in the castle where, were he conceived legitimately, he would have one day ruled.

Instead, he works as a stable-hand until the King decides he could be trained in a more  useful purpose: an assassin.

While it is set in a fantasy world, there is only a limited amount of magic. The two types are called ‘the skill’, which is the ability to speak to others minds and influence their thoughts. The second is called ‘the wit’, a magic which allows those with the talent for it to speak to animals. This magic is considered ‘unclean’ and its use is forbidden.

Of course, poor Fitz has both the skill and the wit. Craziness.

Fitz manages to befriend the King’s court jester, known only as ‘the Fool’. The Fool however, is more than what he seems.

The second and third books expand the story into an all-out struggle for Fitz and the Fool the save not only the Kingdom, but the entire world.

Although the story is considered ‘epic’, it is the characters that truly drive this story. It is also interesting to read a story written by a woman, but told in the first-person perspective of a male character.

This is definitely a trilogy to check out if you have any interest at all in fantasy novels.

“The fight isn’t over until you win it, Fitz. That’s all you have to remember. No matter what the other man says.”

– Robin Hobb, The Farseer Trilogy

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

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #5 – Doomsday Book

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

#5 – Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)



Another novel by Connie Willis which follows time travelling historians. This time, a history student is sent back to the 14th century, further back in time than any history student before her.

She wishes to go back to the 1320, but she ‘accidentally’ arrives in the year 1348; the time of the Black Death epidemic in England.

The story then switches back and forth between the 14 century and the 21st century, where a history professor desperately tries to bring his lost student home. However, another wrench is thrown in the machinery when a flu epidemic breaks out in the 21st century as well.

Is it possible the Black Death came forward in time?

Despite the dark overtones of being in the worst flu epidemic in history, Willis manages to make this more of a dark-comedy than a straight up thriller.

The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards and is considered one of the greatest works of science fiction in recent history.

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

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1997)


Connie Willis has become one of my favourite authors. Most of her books take place in the same universe, in which University history professors have access to time-travel technology to help them study the past.

‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ is a comic science fiction story following the (mis)adventures of Ned Henry and Verity Kindle, two folks from the year 2057 who have been sent back to pre-World War II England.

Their objective is to find the ‘Bishop’s Bird Stump’, a piece of Victorian…something, that is necessary for a wealthy American woman to complete the restoration of the Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed by German bombings during the war.

While the main story sounds a tad dry, Willis’ hilarious writing style,  lovable characters and possible time paradoxes make this a real page turner; something difficult to do for a comedy novel.

“Cats, as you know, are quite impervious to threats”

– Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog

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

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #7 – The Stars My Destination

April 24, 2011 1 comment

#7 – The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)



First serialised edition cover - Image via Wikipedia

Often described as ‘The Count of Monte Cristo‘ in space, this is a hum-dinger of a novel.

It follows the adventures of Gully Foyle, the lone survivor aboard a destroyed merchant spaceship called the Nomad. He waits in darkness for 6 months for a rescue.

When he spots another spaceship passing by, the Vorga, he fires some rescue flares and thinks he will finally be rescued.

The Vorga leaves him behind.

From that moment on, his only mission is revenge on the Captain of the Vorga. His quest takes him through a prison escape, facial reconstruction, and a slew of other craziness that I won’t spoil for you.

All this takes place in a world in which people can instantly transport themselves, or ‘jaunte’, from one place to another.

Seriously, how can this book not be good? I’ve read it many times and it is thrilling every single time.

Yes, no matter how we defend ourselves against the outside we’re always licked by something from the inside. There’s no defense against betrayal, and we all betray ourselves.

– Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination

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

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

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books: #10 – Watership Down

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

So yes, I am away on vacation.

You can hear about how things are going by checking my Twitter feed. I’ve never driven across British Columbia before so I’m sure I’ll have lots to tweet about.

But in the meantime, you are getting a special treat. My second Top 10 list! This time it’s my top 10 sci-fi/fantasy novels. (The first was my Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies)

A quick caveat. These are my favourite novels. Not necessarily the most well written, well crafted, though provoking, social commentating sci-fi books of all time. They are simply the books I can read over and over and over again and never get tired of them.

If you disagree, let me know! I’d love to hear about your favourites, and I really enjoy getting book recommendations too, so don’t be shy.

Ok, let’s get started with…

#10 – Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)


Watership Down

Image via Wikipedia

You might think that a group of rabbits trying to find a new home sounds like a Disney movie. But Richard Adams turns this mundane idea into an enthralling heroic fantasy story.

Engaging characters and a surprising amount of creepiness (the strange rabbits in Cowslip’s warren gave me the heebie-jeebies) set this novel apart from other, more childish stories.

A good deal of violence and religious overtones make this book a grown-up fantasy that anybody would find entertaining. There was also an animated version that follows the novel quite closely, though I would not recommend it for young children. (Apparently there is a Facebook support group for those who were traumatized by the movie as a child)

So this book is a great start to my Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. And there is a lot more yet to come!

All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.

– Richard Adams, Watership Down

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

Sooo….What’s Your Sign? *wink*

April 13, 2011 1 comment

Of course, I mean on the Geek Zodiac.

Geek Zodiak

Click to Enlarge (Via Geek Tyrant)

Based on the Chinese Zodiac, the Geek Zodiac goes by year of birth.

Turns out I am a Robot:

ROBOT (Optimus Prime, RoboCop, Terminator, Voltron)

+ Law abiding, dedicated, logical

– Stubborn, intractable, cold

(Why 1984? The year both the Terminator and Transformers debut)

I was hoping I would be a Wizard, but I guess you can’t argue with the stars.