Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Six of the more terrifying fictional digital viruses

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged six terrifying fictional digital viruses and plagues, including:
Snow Crash (Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson)

An insidious visual/digital plague that takes the form of a designer drug, the eponymous virus from Neal Stephenson’s post-cyberpunk classic first causes users’ digital interface rigs to crash with a static effect similar to “snow” on an old television screen. Its progression from there is dramatic, as the subliminal messages inside the viral program cause the user first to go comatose, then begin babbling in tongues thanks to a combination of audio signals, linguistic hacking, and ancient Sumerian memetic viruses that can alter DNA. Worse still, the virus makes its way into the hands of a Christian televangelist and his floating pirate nation, who want to use it to control both the physical world and the Metaverse, Snow Crash’s version of the internet. Scary stuff.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 21, 2018

Six books that illuminate the workings of singular minds

Helen DeWitt is the author of the novels The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods, and the new story collection Some Trick. One of her six favorite books that illuminate the workings of singular minds, as shared at The Week magazine:
Against the Gods by Peter L. Bernstein

I once thought insurance was boring, too. Bernstein, in his history of probability and forecasting, argues that the foundations of insurance are revolutionary, defining the boundary between modern times and the past. The mastery of risk means that the future can be understood as something more than a whim of the gods.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ben Okri's six best books

Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. He is the author of The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991.

One of Okri's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
DON QUIXOTE
by Cervantes

One of the greatest stories about the power of storytelling and the price paid for following the uniqueness of one’s thoughts. Its humour is very invigorating and it has two of the greatest characters in world literature: Quixote and Sancho Panza who between them define a broad range of humanity.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Don Quixote was the second most popular book among prisoners at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay. It is on Bruce Wagner's six favorite books list, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of fictional best friends we'd like to have as nonfictional best friends, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best literary women dressed as men and ten of the best books written in prison.

Paul Auster always returns to Don Quixote; Claire Messud hasn't read it.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Eleven recent novels that powerfully tackle gun violence

At Entertainment Weekly Mary Kate Carr  tagged eleven recent novels that powerfully tackle gun violence. One title on the list:
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

After being welcomed to a new semester by the principal of Opportunity High School, the students and teachers find themselves trapped in the auditorium as a ruthless shooter begins to open fire. Told through four different perspectives over the course of 54 minutes, the students do what they can to survive one classmate’s deadly revenge.
Read about the other entries on the list.

This is Where it Ends is among Jenny Kawecki's six top YA novels that take place in a single day, Tara Sonin's fifty YA novels adults will love, too, and Eric Smith's six top diverse YA thrillers.

The Page 69 Test:This Is Where It Ends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

YA novels that get teen anxiety right

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler rounded up some expert opinion on YA novels that get teen anxiety right. One title to make the list, recommended by Sierra Elmore:
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now begins with the titular character’s fear experienced during her first airplane ride, fear that you feel through a careful mix of dialogue, inner turmoil, and soothing words from stranger. From the start, Dana L. Davis’s debut YA contemporary weaves together a complicated story of grief and loss with the complications that come from generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. Davis states in the Author’s Note that Tiffany’s experiences are based on her own, leading this #OwnVoices book to ring true in a way I don’t see often in YA. Add to this the devastation of entering a new, strict household (with four siblings!), and you get a novel that entertains as it introduces the reader to life with an anxious mind.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Top ten books to understand happiness

Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, media pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need. Although employed as a tutor and lecturer by the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education in his day job, Burnett is best known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, and his internationally acclaimed debut book The Idiot Brain. His latest book is Happy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From, and Why.

One of Burnett's ten top books to understand happiness, as shared at the Guardian:
Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl

Humans are an incredibly social species, so our brains are often affected by, or geared towards, interpersonal interaction. Consequently, much of what we feel and experience is heavily influenced by other people. This has consequences for our happiness and how we go about achieving it.

In her first book, New York magazine’s Melissa Dahl focuses largely on the nature of embarrassment, in exquisite but accessible detail, providing a brilliantly insightful look at what the perceptions of others do to us on a fundamental level. Having it on your shelves would be nothing to be embarrassed about.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Five books to understand transhumanism

Mark O’Connell is a Dublin based writer. He is a books columnist for Slate. His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Observer, and The New Yorker.

O'Connell is the author of To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death.

One of the author's five books to understand transhumanism, as shared at the Guardian:
Don DeLillo’s novel Zero K is a haunting story about an aging billionaire who arranges for himself and his dying wife to be cryogenically preserved, in the hope of being reanimated once the technology’s been developed to allow them to live eternally. There are obvious echoes of the transhumanist movement, and the Silicon Valley cult of eternal youth and transformative technology that it feeds off, as DeLillo brilliantly captures the broader perversity of our culture’s fraught relationship with technology, and the strange apocalyptic tenor of our current moment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Six top stories of sand and sea

Melissa Broder's new novel is The Pisces.

One of her six favorite stories of sand and sea, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

I had suspected that my professed reasons for not wanting to have children — too selfish, not sane enough, will regret it — could be easily overcome if I actually wanted children. But Ferrante's 2006 novel about a mother on a seaside holiday affirms that those reasons can't be discounted.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 14, 2018

Stefanie Powers's 6 best books

Stefanie Powers may be best known as co-star of the long running Hart to Hart, playing opposite Robert Wagner. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
GODS, GRAVES AND SCHOLARS
by CW Ceram

I was given this history of archaeology when I was 12. It was a weighty book but if we went to the beach I always liked digging and I had an insatiable curiosity.

My interest has never waned. I've been on a lot of digs, most recently at a cluster of Mayan cities.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Eleven epic fictional bands in sci-fi & fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged eleven top fictional bands in sci-fi & fantasy, including:
Windhollow Faire (Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand)

Moving from space satire to haunting horror, we have Elizabeth Hand’s spooky Wylding Hall. Windhollow Faire is a folk band dogged by tragedy: their lead singer has died under mysterious circumstances, and the band decamps to a remote manor house to regroup, and figure out what to do next. Death hangs over them, and they can’t shake the feeling something is horribly, hideously wrong. The book is haunting and tense, told as an oral history of the band as they recollect their time in the house. Each member is an unreliable narrator, having been drunk or high at the time, and unable to tell reality from hallucination. The story meanders as they try to make sense of what’s going on. It’s a hair-raising experience, and, in that sense, probably not unlike heading out on tour with Led Zeppelin.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ten books that explore the fears & ambivalences of motherhood

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of over a dozen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Goodman's latest novel is The Other Mother.

One of ten books she tagged at CrimeReads "exploring the dark undertow of maternal angst and ambivalence, and society’s collective anxiety about what it means to be a mother:"
Can a mother love her child too much? Can she be too self-sacrificing? That’s the question James M. Cain poses in his 1941 noir masterpiece Mildred Pierce. Mildred is the perfect self-sacrificing mother, waitressing and baking pies to support her two daughters through the Depression after she’s left their unemployed dad. But all her hard work and sacrifice spawns an ungrateful monster of a daughter, Veda, whose name, which means “knowledge” in Sanskrit, also conjures up the Hindi goddess of destruction, Shiva. It’s as if that wild primeval force of mother-love has been embodied in the destructive offspring.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Mildred Pierce is among Patricia Abbott's five favorite novels about mothers and daughters and Ester Bloom's ten favorite fictional feminists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 11, 2018

Six top giant robots from sci-fi books

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged six giant robots from sci-fi books, including:
King Steam (The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt)

Stephen Hunt’s first novel is a sprawling, overstuffed affair. Its pulpy pages run rampant with superheroes, genetically modified adventurers, air pirates, spies, a horrifying cult, and an entire race of theocratic sapient robots led by a golden android named King Steam who reincarnates like the Dalai Lama. But Hunt holds all the best cards until the climax, when an eldritch abomination erupts from its slumber in the depths and is opposed in two consecutive giant robot fights. While the second fight might be the battle between a gigantic divine-relic mecha (the “Hex Machina”) and the villains that the book has been building towards, it’s the first that’s far more impressive. Clad in a gigantic battle version of his own chassis, the mostly pacifistic King Steam takes the field against a massive, tentacled scourge, attempting to stall the abomination’s approach. While the Hex Machina gets more of a buildup, King Steam’s towering, golden war-form, and the uncertain stakes he faces, make his fight the more memorable one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue