Tag Archives: science fiction and fantasy

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Summer Reads: Leviathan Wakes, The Gunslinger, and The Hobbit

6 Sep

The Hoboken Public Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club read some great books over the summer that I wanted to share with our blog readers. (Click here to find out what else they’ve read.)  The group meets one Monday each month to discuss a Science Fiction or Fantasy book picked by group members.  New members are always welcome.  Before the book discussion we also watch either a film adaptation or a movie in a similar genre to the work being read which allows those who are SciFi or Fantasy fans but might be busy to read this month’s selection to still participate in the group.  I hope you will check out some of these books and films and consider joining us in September when we will discuss The Stepford Wives by Ira Levine on September 25 at 6 PM with a movie screening at 4 PM.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Several members of the group were fans of TV series The Expanse and wanted to read Leviathan Wakes, which the series the show is based on for our June Pick.  Corey is actually the pseudonym of two authors and the book series started out as first a story line for a video game and then a table top game created by Ty Franck before the collaboration between Daniel Abraham and Franck led to the books.  Interestingly Ty Franck worked for a while as an assistant to George R.R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones, a previous book club pickLeviathan Wakes is set in a future where space travel is common, but faster than light travel has not yet been reached leading people to inhabit Earth, Mars, and an Asteroid Belt, but not yet to have moved beyond our Solar System.  The book has elements of science fiction, horror, and mystery.  It received a very positive response from the group members, several of who braved a severe thunderstorm to get to the discussion.  It was so popular that we may read another of the books in the series in the future.  We complimented the book with a screening of Wall-E, an animated favorite of one of our group members, which has an important environmental message.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

In July, the group wanted to read The Gunslinger the first in the Dark Tower series before the movie adaptation came out in theaters at the beginning of August.  I’m not always a huge fan of King’s, but I was intrigued by some of the other group members’ enthusiasm and the fact that the idea of the Dark Tower was partially inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.” I appreciate taking part in the group since it pushes me to read outside of my comfort zone sometimes.  The book is a mix of fantasy, horror, western, and mystery and is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Roland, the last gunslinger, is attempting to stop the mysterious and powerful sorcerer, the Man in Black.  The group watched a preview the movie studio had put online and discussed the casting (general consensus was we like the choice of casting Idris Elba for the role of Roland, but were less sure about Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black).  I will be interested to hear what the group members think of it once they see the whole film.

Before the book discussion we watched the 1973 movie Westworld, Michael Crichton’s directorial debut.  Before this I had only seen one episode of the recent TV series which was based on the movie.  The movie immediately felt a lot lighter than the TV series and everyone praised the excellent performance by Yul Brynner.  You can also borrow the sequel to the film Futureworld and the TV Series Beyond Future World from the Hoboken Public Library.

The Hobbit by ‎J. R. R. Tolkien

You may remember back in January I wrote a blog celebrating that this year was 125th Anniversary of Tolkien’s birth.  We decided to read The Hobbit for our August book.  It was probably about 30 years since I had last read the book as a child and I feel like the book not only held up for me, but I also enjoyed the story even more than when I had first read it.  The other group members seemed to have similar positive experiences upon their rereads.  One of the group was even inspired to reread the books in the Lord of the Ring Trilogy.  The group watched the first in the Peter Jackson trilogy based on the book which many members felt was the best of the three recent adaptations; many of the group members would have preferred that less had been added to the original text to pad out the movies.

If you are interested in other genres, the library has two additional book discussion groups you can join.  Our Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books will meet Wednesday September 20 at 7 PM to discuss Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.  The Mile Square City Readers Book Club takes a page from Oprah’s Book Club this month, and will discuss Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers on Tuesday September 19 at 6:30 PM.  In the fall we are also planning to start a Creative Writer’s group.  The Hoboken Public Library is your source for great books and conversation!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Selections from the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Part 5: Rosemary’s Baby, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

6 Jan

This was the second year of the library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club and we’ve read a great and diverse collection of books.  We already have a few books planned for next year.  In January we will ring in the New Year with the dystopian classic 1984 by George Orwell.  Then in February we will read one of my favorites, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (I’ll even be bringing my replica alethiometer to show off).  I hope you will join us and help plan the books we will be reading for the rest of the year.  Email hplwriters AT gmail  DOT com to be added to our mailing list for the group.  You can see previous book club posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby

Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was our October read in honor of Halloween.  This classic horror novel builds suspense as Rosemary wonders if the nice old neighbors next door might not have diabolical plans for her unborn baby.  Beforehand we watched the Roman Polanski 1968 movie adaptation that was very faithful to the novel and even used some of the original dialogue.  The group was impressed by Sharon Tate’s performance as Rosemary and Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer’s portrayal of the Castevets.  The group felt that the novel depicted some of the limitations and frustration women felt in the traditional role of mother and housekeeper they have often been allotted.  The novel and movie are perfect for those that prefer their horror to be more psychological than gory.


Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
In November we read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.  I had first read the novel when I was in college and remember being a fan of Vonnegut’s work at the time.  I was interested to reread his most famous novel and see if it still captured my imagination.  The group on the whole enjoyed the book and the movie.  They felt that the movie was visually stunning though sometimes lost some of the dialogue in translation.  The book is told in a very nonlinear fashion since the main character has become “unstuck” from time, but the movie was able to do a good job of handling the transitions.  The book even years later still resonates with its themes dealing with war and whether life is a predetermined path or something we can choose to change.

C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

In December, both the family book discussion group and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion group for adults, discussed C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  The book is a charming tale for children, but it is notable that although written for a younger audience, we still found a lot of topics to discuss within the book including its use of religious symbolism and depiction of childhood during times of war.  The group enjoyed the movie.  The special effects are holding up well and the group was impressed by Tilda Swinton’s malevolent portrayal of the White Witch.

I hope you’ll check out these great science fiction and fantasy works, which are all are available in print from the Hoboken Public Library or as an eBook on one our eReaders for loan at the reference desk.  The movies are all available from BCCLS libraries on DVD.  You can borrow The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an eBook from Hoopla, eLibraryNJ, and eBCCLS.  eLibaryNJ and eBCCLS also have it available as a digital audiobook.  Slaughterhouse-Five is available as an eBook from 3M Cloud Library, a digital audiobook from eLibraryNJ and the movie version can be borrowed from Hoopla.

Hope to see you for our discussion of 1984 on Monday January 25 at 6 PM!  There will be a special movie screening beforehand starting at 4 PM (email hplwriters AT gmail DOT com for more details).  The Family Book Discussion will be meeting on Thursday January 7, 6:00 PM to discuss The Bad Beginning (the first from A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler).  The Mile Square City Readers Book Club, will meet on Thursday January 28 at 7:30 PM to discuss the classic Walden by Henry David.  You can get a copy of Walden or 1984 from the Reference Desk or stop by the Children’s Desk for a copy of The Bad Beginning.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

%d bloggers like this: