Super Science Fiction and Fantasy Reads: The Third Quarter of 2018 with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group

17 Oct

The summer of 2018 continued to be filled with a lot of enjoyable books for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Group.  We hope you can join us for future discussions.  On Monday, October 22nd we will be discussing the short stories of HP Lovecraft for our Halloween Read at 6 PM.  At 3 PM and 4:30 PM we will be showing two Classic Spooky Comedies.  Then in November we will be discussing Red Shirts by John Scalzi; stop by the reference desk to get a print or ebook copy.  We always welcome suggestions for what books the group reads!  Email hplwriters @ gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Spellsinger
by Alan Dean Foster
Spellsinger
In July we discussed Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster in honor of the summer reading theme of “Reading Rocks.”  I had enjoyed the book as a teenager and was interested to see how it held up after so many years and what the group thought of it.  You may remember I referenced the series along with others in the funny fantasy genre in my post looking back on my favorite novels over the year.  It was a fun light read for summer focusing on an average guy who becomes a hero when he is accidentally sent to an alternate dimension where he can do magic by playing cover songs from earth. The book ends on a cliffhanger leading in to the second book in the series, but many of the group agreed that it felt like the novel came full circle on an emotional development with the main character expanding his definition on what it means to truly be a person.  The group watched the R rated animated sci-fi cult classic Heavy Metal before the discussion.  Besides being available in print, you can also borrow Spellsinger along with other books in the series, as ebooks from Hoopla.

The Three-Body Problem
by Cixin Liu
translated by Ken Liu
3BodyProblem
We had previously read another book in translation, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne which was originally written in French, but The Three-Body Problem was our first translation of a more modern science fiction novel.  Besides print you can borrow it as a digital audiobook from Hoopla.  The group on the whole found the beginning of the work with its exploration of China’s Cultural Revolution a bit slow, but felt it picked up as the main story of first alien contact was introduced.  Several members of the group planned to read the other two works in the trilogy The Dark Forest and Death’s End.  I thought Liu’s use of VR game technology in the novel was especially interesting in comparison to Ready Player One, which we had discussed previously and you can now see a movie adaptation on Blu-ray or DVD.  Unfortunately a planned movie adaptation of the novel, The Three-Body Problem, was shelved a few years ago so instead we watched the classic Forbidden Planet, which is available on Blu-ray and DVD.  The movie, though from the 50’s, holds up well in both look and plot and its retro vibe only adds to its charm.

Lady of the Forest
by Jennifer Roberson

LadyoftheForest

book cover from eLibraryNJ

We read Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson for our August book.  The book hooked readers with its suspenseful opening.  The group enjoyed that the book had many different characters’ perspectives and how it told the story of not just how Robin evolved into the character of myth and legends but how his merry men also met and joined him. The book especially focuses on Marian who goes from being an intelligent but more conservative, traditional lady of the day to finding her inner warrior.  It is an interesting twist on Robin, who is depicted as having PTSD from fighting in the crusades.  I think my favorite character was Eleanor, the sheriff’s daughter, who despite making several very bad decisions still intrigued me as a depiction of how a more independent oriented women would be treated in that era.  Besides print, Hoboken residents, can borrow the book from eLibraryNJ as an ebook.  Roberson also wrote a sequel Lady of Sherwood.  We watched the movie Robin and Marian which looked at the couple towards the end of their lives rather than the beginning of their adulthood in the book; it provided an interesting look at how their relationship would have evolved.  My heart still belongs to the animated Disney version, but I also enjoyed this more serious interpretation and thought Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn gave stellar performances in the title roles.  You can learn more about the history of the Robin Hood legend from Robin Hood–The Outlaw Hero, Episode 9 of Heroes and Legends, part of The Great Courses series of lectures available for streaming from Kanopy.

I hope you will join us for upcoming discussions.  And if you like mysteries check out the Hoboken Public Library’s New Mystery Book Club!  You can email rosary.vaningen @ hoboken.bccls.org for more info about the Mystery book club!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Why Paterson?: Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava

10 Oct

TheLostEmpress
Why Paterson? That’s what I asked Sergio de la Pava, author of Lost Empress, after the reading from his new novel he gave at Watchung Bookstore last May. I was thrilled to be able to see one of my literary idols and have him autograph my copy of the book.

He explained (and I am paraphrasing) that he admired Paterson for being a sort of hard luck manufacturing town that fell on hard times, but was gritting it out. He mentioned the long list of famous writers associated with Paterson (Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and many others), and of course, he said, the Falls. The Paterson Falls figures prominently in the plot of Lost Empress.

The plot is an over-the-top, laugh out loud hilarious concoction that centers on Nina Gill, the daughter of the Dallas Cowboys owner, who is disinherited from managing the team, and decides to take on the challenge of running an AAA football team, the Patterson Pork. The justice system also figures prominently, with Nuno DeAngeles, a brilliant criminal, stuck for the moment in Rikers.

And de la Pava knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. His day job is working as a public defender in the New York City Corrections department.

There is also a heady and wide ranging dose of popular culture involved (Joni Mitchell, emergency medicine, physics, and much much more), and an opening scene set in a bar in our fair city, Hoboken.

For another look at Paterson, you can watch the movie Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a bus driver named Paterson who works in Paterson. Paterson is a poet, and this quiet movie is a remembrance of all that Paterson (the city) is famous for.

You can also checkout Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, a historical mystery set in Paterson in 1914.  Paterson Great Falls: From Local Landmark to National Historical Park by Marcia Dente looks at the history of town through its famous falls.  You can view historic photographs in Paterson compiled by Philip M. Read.

Paterson Falls

Paterson Falls Photograph by Victoria Turk

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

 

 

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