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Tag: Sci Fi

What Would a Jedi Read? Reader’s Advisory for Star Wars Characters

Our favorite Star Wars characters need good book recommendations too! Yet, could you figure out a book picks for popular Star Wars characters off the top of your head? The latest and (apparently) final entry into the Skywalker saga within the Star Wars universe is just around the corner. It is always important to reflect on popular culture in the library. Such a large percentage of our collections embrace the idea of pop culture. Also, aspects of the fandoms can be great touchstones for reader’s advisory. If the teen you are trying to help doesn’t know how to explain their needs or desires in a book, asking for the name of their favorite Star Wars character could be the “in” that you need.

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Booklist: So You Want to Read a Scott Westerfeld Book

Scott Westerfeld is one of the most inventive sci-fi writers writing for teens right now. His book Uglies helped lay the groundwork for the dystopian trend that would take hold in a few years with The Hunger Games. With a new co-authored series in the works, a movie adaptation of Uglies in development, and a new multi-platform middle grade series launch later this year, Scott Westerfeld is definitely an author you should know.

Not sure where to start with so many series, standalones, and sub-genres to choose from? Don’t sweat it, this post has you covered!

If You want a Space Opera:

cover art for The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds by Scott Westerfeld

  • The Risen Empire: Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial Frigate Lynx is tasked with rescuing the immortal Child Empress when she is kidnapped by machine-augmented humans threatening the empire. This story, originally packaged as one book called Succession, begins in The Risen Empire and concludes The Killing of Worlds.

If You Want to Read a Standalone (Mostly Contemporary) Novel:

cover art for Afterworlds and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

  • Afterworlds (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Chapters alternate between Darcy Patel’s journey as a debut author of what promises to be the next Big YA Novel and excerpts from Darcy’s novel about a girl named Lizzie who slips into the “Afterworld”–a place between life and death–during a terrorist attack.


  • So Yesterday: Hunter Braque moves through New York searching for Innovators–people who create the latest trends before they’re cool. Then he sells the ideas to clients who disseminate the ideas (via trendsetters) until each new fashion innovation becomes mainstream. When Hunter teams up with an Innovator to get to the bottom of his best client’s disappearance, he finds himself at the center of a far-reaching mystery involving trends, innovations, and the coolest sneakers he’s ever seen.
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Librarians Love: Fantasy & Sci-Fi Without Romance

by Stephen Poff
by Stephen Poff

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
I’m looking for fantasy and science fiction books that have little to no romance. I know this was discussed recently, but I’m having trouble searching the archive.

Suggested titles


Where is the Love?: A Sci-Fi Valentine’s Day Special

Photo by Flickr user puuikibeach

Science fiction doesn’t normally conjure images of passionate embraces or longing looks.  It’s more often associated with deep space adventures or hypothetical quandaries.  Of course, there’s the famous sci-fi couples of TV and moviedom–Han Solo and Leia, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, Adama and Roslin, Captain Kirk and half the universe–but epic love stories in sci-fi novels are fewer and farther between.  Perhaps this is because we can project how societies, relationships, families, and sexuality might evolve, but it’s hard to imagine a different way to love.  As a hardcore sci-fi nerd with a secret penchant for rom-coms, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best and most recent sci-fi books that explore the enduring power of love.  More specifically, books where romance is at the beating heart of the story and not a sidelined note on the periphery.

I’ll start with one of my personal favorites from last year, Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty (RUSA’s Best Science Fiction Pick of 2013).  Set in the 22nd century, the book explores in vivid and believable detail, the vagaries of fate, the long dark days of heartbreak, and the compromises and conditions of love. Love Minus Eighty follows multiple relationships but the heart of the novel is the improbable yet utterly delightful love affair between an impoverished musician, Rob, and the woman he accidentally killed.  Her death is not final as she’s placed into a cryogenic dating facility and becomes a “bridesicle” waiting for a wealthy man to rescue her. Rob’s decision to stop at nothing to be with her provides not only a multitude of entertaining plot twists but also a passionate love affair to rival any romance book.


Too Many Trilogies

by flickr user erin_everlasting
by flickr user erin_everlasting
I like a good YA book. Obviously. And I love and hate the attention YA gets lately from the general public — love it when people acknowledge that a lot of the most creative and experimental writing and a lot of the most progressive things (more and more LGBT teens who do more than just come out, for example) are in YA; hate it when people think that YA stands for “any book published for a person who can’t vote that isn’t a picturebook” or when they think that all YA is Twilight (and that fiction for adults doesn’t have equivalent books of varying literary quality).

But because of the greater attention given to YA, I feel extra bad about a trend that I think tends to lower the literary quality of so many potentially wonderful books. There are just too many trilogies (or duologies, or quartets) in YA.


Taking Teens to Brand-New Worlds with YA Science Fiction

As a child of the Eighties, and a blossoming prolific reader, sadly I went through what many a science fiction lover had to face: the dreaded direct leap from children’s to adult books. I was a teen before the dramatic growth of young adult literature in general, and before the arrival of a distinct science fiction genre in the young adult age bracket. Not only was my library’s young adult collection a very short span of shelves that were closely guarded by vigilant adult librarians, but what little there was did not include very much in the way of science fiction. While I found–and obsessed over–Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, I never uncovered those other children’s sci-fi classics like William Sleator’s books or Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key (though I did see the movie, later!).

My first distinct memory of reading a chapter book was exploring Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong, Dragondrums, and Dragonsinger with my mom. Shortly after, I devoured the few Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones books I could find. My mom actually went out of her way to buy me more of these books when I couldn’t get them at the library. Those books were my gateway into a fantastical new world. I soon discovered, though, that even as I was ready for more, for a longer, more challenging read, the only direction I could go in led me to books like Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series, and Asimov’s novels.


Remembering Anne McCaffrey… by Nicole Dolat & Mia Cabana

Portrait by Linda Eicher as seen on

One of the things I love best about reading is how it always feels like an act of discovery. And when I find the perfect book that I never expected, I get so much more than just something fun to pass the time with; the characters and the worlds and the events can actually have a tangible presence in my own world–in the way I think or dream. Authors that give me that gift will always have a solid place in my heart … and Anne McCaffrey is one of those authors.

I remember when I first fell in love with the fantasy and science fiction genres. I was in the 5th grade and had stumbled upon Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. But it took years of exploring the fantasy/sci-fi universes of other authors before I finally understood what it could feel like to once again completely lose myself in another world–to dream that I was a part of that world, to imagine the lives of characters and events that even the author hadn’t expressed. And the author who gave me that gift was Anne McCaffrey.

In a field dominated by male authors, it was the works of two women that called to me again and again: Anne McCaffrey and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Their works combine the rich world development and inventiveness that so many male authors master, but they couple it with characters that are so empathetic and emotionally vibrant that they seem to crawl right off the pages. According to the obituary published by the Los Angeles Times, McCaffrey was “the first woman to win the top two prizes for science fiction writing, the Hugo and the Nebula, in 1968 and 1969 respectively, after publication of her first two novellas set on the fictional planet of Pern.” And those are just the “big” awards; she has won many others over the course of her career. Bradley, whose Mists of Avalon truly rocked my world, died in 1999. But I’ll save my passionate eulogy about her for another day. This post is about Anne McCaffrey, the “queen of dragons,” and one of my favorite series of all time: The Dragonriders of Pern.

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