Tag Archives: Star Trek

Shaping the Universe: Sundiver and Victories Greater than Death

14 Jul

I remember one of the things that always stood out to me while watching the Star Trek series was the idea of the prime directive, the idea that the spacefaring societies tried to avoid interactions with the groups still developing so that those species would be able to create their own societal values and beliefs without being influenced by more advanced groups.  But what if one were to imagine a very different situation where more advanced civilizations purposely manipulated other intelligent groups.  Two novels that examine this possibility are Sundiver by David Brin and Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders.

Sundiver by David Brin
Sundiver was Brin’s first book in his Uplift trilogy.  In the universe of the novel, humans are an anomaly, in that there is no record of them being “uplifted” by another intelligent group.  Most alien species have been assisted through genetic manipulation and other techniques to advance by other species.  Humans have “uplifted” dolphins and apes on earth.  Although humans treat those that they have uplifted as equal, in most of the universe the uplifted groups are treated as being indentured and owing the more advanced group that helped shape them.  The alien species in the novel are vividly described and although they are all able to communicate due to technology, they are vastly different in shape, for example one looks like a giant tree and another looks like a teddy bear with tentacles.  There is a mystery in the novel that slowly unfolds about a sabotaged mission to our sun, where it is believed aliens might have secretly been living for centuries.  We read Sundiver for our June HPL Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group and the members thought the book still felt fresh and enjoyable even though it was published in 1980.  You can join us in July for a discussion of Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson in Church Square Park. You can borrow Darwinia and Sundiver in print from the Hoboken Public Library or as an ebook from elibraryNJ (log in with your HPL library card for access).

Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders
Victories Greater than Death is Charlie Jane Anders first in her new Unstoppable YA series.  It starts with a teen on earth who has been waiting for years for her true destiny.  Despite looking like a normal American teen, Tina, is secretly an alien clone of a fierce warrior who is the only hope of stopping an evil space force.  Along with her best friend, she also recruits a diverse group of teens from around earth to help on the mission.  Issues of gender, class, and identity are all examined.  One reoccurring theme is that early on in the Universe a group described as the shapers chose to help intelligent symmetrical bipedal groups, but held back groups that did not meet these standards.  The assumption at first is that this may have been due to prejudice by the shapers, but as the book continues a darker motivation is possibly uncovered.  The sequel, Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak is scheduled to come out at the beginning of April 2022.  You can check out our previous review of Anders’s adult novel All the Birds in the Sky (another of our book club picks) here.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Science Fiction Parody and Humor TV Shows

23 Jan

Ghosted and the Orville both debuted last year and the Hoboken Public Library recently got their first seasons on DVD.  They parody popular classic Science Fiction TV shows, but even while they skewer conventions and plot lines, they still manage to send lots of love to the shows they are poking fun at.  I’ve also listed a few of my older comedy science fiction favorites that are worth checking out.

I was a fan of the The X-Files as a teen, so I was interested to check out GhostedGhosted stars Craig Robinson and Adam Scott in a half hour comedy about a skeptical former security guard and a brilliant true believer who must solve paranormal incidents involving aliens, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures for a secret Government Agency.  Having been cancelled after its first season, it didn’t find the audience of the long running X-Files which it parodied, but it is still a fun way to spend some time binging on a snowy winter day.

The Orville
The Orville, according to my husband, feels like every episode is one of the funny episodes you would get each season of a Star Trek series and considering the hilarious “The Trouble with Tribbles” often gets ranked as one Trek fan’s favorite episodes of all times, this could mean it is definitely worth checking out if you are a Trekie.  I thought it captured more of the feel of the old TV shows than the new streaming series which has more in common with the recent Star Trek movie reboots.  The great banter between Captain Ed Mercer and his first officer and ex-wife are just one of the reasons to tune in.  I recommend this highly, even if like me you are not usually a fan of star and creator Seth MacFarlane’s work.

Red Dwarf
red dwarf
My father, who is a Science Fiction fan, encouraged me to check out the BBC show Red Dwarf , which centers around a motley starship crew including the last living human who wakes from stasis in the far future, a hologram of his former bunkmate, a humanoid creature who evolved from his pet cat, and the ship’s computer AI.  The series first aired in 1988 and has evolved over the years.  Lister and Rimmer are the Odd Couple in Space.  Check it out and see why the show has developed a cult following.


Lexx is a Canadian series focusing on the powerful starship Lexx, which can destroy worlds, and its crew.  The story takes them to a number of unusual planets and even an alternative version of our own.  Lexx moves between a more serious tone and at times has broader farce towards the end of its run, but on the whole the humor is much darker than the others on this list.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is based on the idea that some movies are so bad they are good.  This cult classic stars a man trapped in space with only his robot companions to keep to keep him company while they watch horrible movies as part of mad scientists’ nefarious experiments.  The funny dialogue between the actors adds laughs to some truly bad films.  Definitely worth revisiting older episodes or checking out the new reboot.  Hoopla lets you decide who you think is funniest Joel, Mike, or the newest star Jonah.  You can also borrow episodes from BCCLS libraries including HPL.

If you are a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, you can join me for screenings of Science Fiction and Fantasy movies we show one Monday each month at 4 PM; in February our screening will be on February 25.  At 6:15 PM on Feb 25, there will also be a discussion of  the magical novel, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab; it was suggested by one of our group members and though I’m only a third of the way through I already want to read the other two in the series.  You can stop by the reference desk for a print copy. Borrow an ebook copy from eLibraryNJ or digital audiobook copy from Hoopla, who also has the comic series.  Don’t have an ereader of your own; HPL residents can check out ereaders with all of our book discussion books and more downloaded on them.  Email hplwriters @ gmal.com for more information about the group.  You can sign up for the library’s enewsletter to stay up to date on all the library’s fun and informative programs.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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