Geeks, your time is now. The movie theaters are filled with an influx of science fiction films like Prometheus and films that rely on super tech gadgets like Men In Black III and The Avengers (did you see our Avengers Reading List?). It seems we’ve all gotten used to our tablets, smart phones, and electric cars and it’s time for the next big thing. So until hovercraft parking becomes a reality, here are some new science fiction novels filled with optimistic innovation meant to morph our modern time into truly stellar circumstances.
Years ago, I read Abhorsen by Garth Nix (a 2004 Selected Audiobook for Young Adults) and I was hooked on the blend of fantasy and hard science. His newest book, A Confusion of Princes, came out on May 15, and I made sure to be first on the hold list. Reading about Prince Khemri and fantastic amount of pure science that makes up his world, I was saddened by my realization that Nix is so smart. I think that were I ever to have dinner with him, I would be stuck with only polite replies because the odds of me truly understanding how he created the bitek, psitek and mektek that rule Empire would be small. The best part of the entire novel, aside from the hilarious names of the sixteen priesthoods, is the seamless integration of two genres that fit together in in cyborg-like harmony, each complementing and supporting the other.
Nix strives for equality among his genres, the same way he gives male and female Princes the same title, ensuring all Princes are rivals. This balance mirrors the optimism regarding the future that the whole nation felt when we entered the space race in the 1950s. Rather than fearing a robot rebellion (How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion by Daniel Wilson — a 2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers), Nix and other authors are embracing a fiction that glorifies a modern symbiosis of hi-tech and humanity. I am always looking for a good readalike to follow Across the Universe and A Million Suns, two beautiful novels that fellow bloggers on The Hub have mentioned before in our Matched Readalikes. Somehow the tragedy of all the political maneuvering on board the Godspeed only enhances the longing I felt for the crew to finally reach their new home.
I recently had surgery and now I have a titanium pin in my foot. This would probably freak out a lot of people, but I figure if my dog can have a microchip with identification on it, why can’t I have a processor too? Or at least a barcode? A pin seems like a good step toward a cyborg me.
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is due out on July 10th. Teen troublemaker Tom leaves his deadbeat father to join soldiers who fight enemy combatants via a complex online gaming program. Souped up with technology to make him stronger and smarter, Tom practices military strategy online while dealing with subterfuge from his own government while in the barracks. This exciting mix of computer software and hardware blends video gaming with adventurous spy tactics set in various historical fronts. It feels a lot like Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (who won the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award), which should be in the movie theaters in November 2013. Another sci-fi movie to look forward too in June 2013 is World War Z, based on the book by Max Brooks, who is also known for writing The Zombie Survival Guide.
Fellow bloggers sense this shift in tone and genre, with fiction preferences leaning toward more traditional optimistic utopian science fiction instead of dystopian ennui. Check out our farseeing post “Upcoming trends we see in YA lit,” in which numerous writers share favorite sci-fi titles like Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun by David Macinnis Gill and Partials by Dan Wells. Some books have already paved the way for this trend like movie John Carter (released March 2012), based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
More sci-fi to try
- Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn (2005 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
- Shade’s Children by Garth Nix (2004 Popular Paperbacks Simply Science Fiction Booklist)
- Skinned by Robin Wasserman
- Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
For more science fiction to stay up reading by solar lamp or the latest sustainable fixtures, check out Taking Teens to Brand-New Worlds with YA Science Fiction by Jessica Miller. And check out YALSA’s Science and Technology booklist, which features a bevy of non-fiction options on a wide variety of topics to supplement your reading.
— Laura C. Perenic is finally reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (a 2008 Popular Paperback for Young Adults)
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