Posts tagged: science.fiction

Popmatic Podcast for January 20, 2016: The Truth is Out There

By , January 20, 2016


Barlowe's Guide to ExtraterrestrialsX-Files is returning so we get extraterrestrial. Amanda and Bryan talk about things relatively popular. Bill and Mike go deep nerd. Listen to the very end for X-Files talk and the most important question of all: mythology or monster-of-the-week? Got a favorite alien? Tell us in the comments.

ALIENS

Redshirts by John Scalzi

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials by Ian Summers, Beth Meacham, & Wayne Barlowe

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spider from Mars by David Bowie

Man Who Fell to Earth

Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

Low by Hugo Wilcken

Bowie’s video for “Lazarus

TICKLING OUR FANCY

The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep by Lawrence Block, first in the Tanner series

The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward

A Chef’s Life Season 3

The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Trust No One: The X-Files Returns!

By , December 25, 2015

Scully and Mulder are returning to primetime and there’s only one month to catch up on all things X-Files! Don’t panic – the library can help.

Get the facts:

The Truth is Out There book cover

The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files Created by Chris Carter

The X-Files FAQ

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the sounds:

The Truth and the Light album coverThe Truth and the Light: Music from The X-Files 

X-Files – I Want to Believe / Ost

 

 

 

 

 

Interpret and create:

The Art of the X-Files book coverDeny All Knowledge: Reading the X-Files

The Art of the X-Files

 

 

 

 


The story as a comic:

The X-Files Season 10 book coverThe X-Files: Year Zero

The X-Files: Season 10 Volume 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Re)Watch it all most of it:

The X-Files I Want to Believe movie coverThe X-Files Season One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine 

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

 

 

 

 

 

The X-Files mini-series premieres on Fox on January 24 9:00pm CST. Until then, happy exploring!

Book List: My Dad’s Top Five

By , June 14, 2015

My father is where I get my love of science fiction and fantasy. I grew up around Robert Heinlein and Marion Zimmer Bradley (I was even named after one of her books!). Both of my parents encouraged me to read growing up, which has made me the bibliophile I am today!

Since the theme of Summer Challenge this year is Super Heroes, and Father’s Day is fast approaching, I thought I’d ask my Dad what his favorite books are. My Dad went above and beyond, and gave me a four book series and his favorite book!

Here is my Dad’s top five list:

 

Arabian Nights book cover

Arabian Nights, translated by Sir Richard Burton

First up on my Dad’s list is The Arabian Nights. You might recognize such tales as “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. I picked, specifically, the Richard Burton translation, because it seems to be the most comprehensive one. His translation spanned ten volumes, with a couple of supplementary books of tales. The book is written as a “stories within a story”, wherein a king of Persia kills off his virgin brides before they can betray him (after one night of marriage). After his vizier can no longer find him any more brides, the vizier’s daughter, Scheherazade, offers herself up. In order to keep the king’s interest, she starts telling him a story – but without a conclusion, so he is forced to postpone her execution. This leads to one thousand and one nights of tales! These tales have been translated in many different languages, and often are published as children’s novels, without the external framework story.  Sir Richard Burton’s translation represents a more accurate, less pleasant version of the stories – kind of like The Brothers Grimm version as opposed to the Disney version which has become more familiar!

 

Patternmaster book cover

Patternmaster, by Octavia E. Butler

Next up on the list is a series by Octavia E. Butler, alternatively called the Pattermaster series, the Patternist series, or Seed to Harvest. The book pictured is actually the LAST book chronologically in the series, but the first book to be published. This book talks about the far future – where people are bred specifically for their intelligence and psychic abilities. People are strictly divided into three groups – the Patternists (networked telepaths who are the dominant race),  their enemies (The Clayarks) and the enslaved “mutes”. The book tells the story of a young Patternist who is attempting to rise through society, and become the Patternmaster (who leads the Patternists). Butler’s stories explore the divisions between race, class, and gender, in a creatively epic manner. Not to mention, Butler is an African American female Science Fiction author with many Hugo and Nebula awards under her belt, and is one of the best known women in the field.

 

Split Infinity book cover

Split Infinity, by Piers Anthony

My Dad also listed the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony as one of his favorites. The book pictured is the first book in the seven book series. In this series, there are two worlds – Proton and Phaze. They are two worlds, occupying the exact same space, in two different dimensions. Pretty cool, right? Proton is a science-based world. It has been mostly mined for a certain ore. Inhabitants of this world play something called The Game, which pits two people together on a variety of skills and levels. The Game is kind of complicated to explain in short summary, but it basically rules Proton. People wager vast amounts of money on it, and the most skilled players are sent to a Tourney to compete. In the next dimension over is the planet Phaze – a very lush and beautiful world where unicorns, vampires, faeries, and magic are common. It almost seems to be the exact opposite of Proton! Magical Adepts of this world are named based on colors. Each person born has a duplicate on the other world – and they can pass between the worlds!

 

Bolo!, by David Weber

Bolo!, by David Weber 

This next series isn’t just by one author – the Bolo series involves many authors and spans many anthologies. Keith Laumer wrote the original story in 1960, called “Combat Unit”, which introduced the artificially intelligent tanks. As the series grew, the tanks became more advanced – their AI patterns more human-like, their ability to function with minimal crew reduced to a single commander who could interact with the tank via interface, and extremely heavy fire power. These tanks are called “heavy tanks” because of their much bigger size. The book pictured is the 25th anniversary edition of the first anthology featuring these awesome tanks. Pictured is one of the many books in the series, written by another of my Dad’s favorite authors, David Weber. The book has four short novels about the sentient tanks.

 

The Man-Kzin Wars cover, created by Larry Niven

The Man-Kzin Wars, created by Larry Niven

The final series that my dad REALLY likes is the Man-Kzin War series. Again, this is a series that spans MANY authors writing in short story collections, but it takes place in Larry Niven’s Known Space universe.  The basis of this story is a series of conflicts between the human race and the Kzinti. The Kzinti are technologically superior and intelligent race of cat-like aliens who are VERY bloodthirsty. Larry Niven just referenced the wars – but many authors worked to fill in the details. This is a series of short stories that spans over thirty years – with a lot of talent going into envisioning Larry Niven’s worlds! Pictured is the 25th anniversary edition of the first book of stories that started it all.

Enjoy these random science fiction and fantasy selections this summer, available at the library!

- Sharra

 

Book Review: Two new reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy

By , May 10, 2015
Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, by Judd Trichter

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

 

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

By Judd Trichter

In the not-so-distant future, pollution is out of control. The streets are crowded. Drugs, prostitution, and other crime runs rampant. Why? Because Man and Android share the same streets. The tension is palpable. Androids have no real rights, other than the right to work. If one goes missing or is damaged, unless they are property of a person or company, there is no recourse from the authorities. That’s if the owner cares enough to report it, which they often don’t.

The androids are out to emancipate themselves, and humans are out to stop them, by any means possible.

What is the worst possible thing that could happen?

You could fall in love with an android.

This is what happens to Eliot Lazar. He is in love with Iris Matsuo, a C-900 android with a beautiful flaw in her eye, which remains an allegory for his relationship to her, and her relationship to the world in general. Eliot convinces Iris that they should buy or steal a boat, and head for the island of Inverness, where his mother lives. There, they can live together and be married without the social stigma.

But, when Eliot finally goes to get her, he finds her gone. Her apartment is in tatters, and the police are indifferent, at best. Except for one – an old hat named Flaubert who is getting close to the edge of retirement. His hands are tied about finding the android, but he is sympathetic to Eliot (in the same manner that people who know someone is mentally ill are sympathetic and helpful).

The kidnapping and dismemberment for parts of Iris sends Eliot into a frenzy – he WILL find her, and put her back together again. Finding each part comes with its own hazards, and he enlists his brother’s help. He makes some hard moral choices – and the book ends in a descent into madness, with the police on his tail, the world falling into chaos as android and man fight openly in the streets, and no idea whether his plot to put her back together brings back Iris, or someone else.

I’ve got to say – this book had me hooked from the beginning. The way the world is written – you can see the descent happening. Human beings are bound together by their hatred and use of androids, which are slowly destroying the world because the power they use creates waste toxic to humans and the environment.

I had a love/hate relationship with Eliot. He is a drug addict, a simpering fool, and he makes some justifications about his actions that make him seem like a hypocrite. But, he doesn’t stop. He does what he has to, what he feels is necessary to get Iris back together again. Even putting his life on the line, and confronting the leader of the android rebellion (who just so happens to have one of Iris’ parts.)

The book has kind of a bloody noir edge to it, but it doesn’t consume the entire book as it does with some stories. The world that Trichter creates as he goes is dark, dingy, and almost impossible to view without a little bit of disgust.

For an author’s first novel, this is pretty darn impressive. Add to this that Judd Trichter is the child actor who played Adam in “Big” and was in “Stanley’s Dragon”, a little tidbit I found out when I started reading his bio after the book.

Way to grow up, Mr. Trichter!

 

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic

 

A Darker Shade of Magic
By V.E. Schwab

What if you had the ability to walk between parallel universes? How would you use that ability? What kind of trouble (or not) would you get into?

In this book, it takes a certain kind of blood magic to be able to walk between worlds. Only two people are left in the worlds who have the ability. One of them – Kell – is raised alongside the prince, kept as a messenger between the worlds. He describes each London by color – he lives in Red London, where magic is vibrant and plentiful. There is also a White London – where people fight to control magic (which, inevitably, has a mind of its own and doesn’t like this prospect). There is a Grey London, ruled over by an old mad king, which doesn’t have any magic at all (beyond what Kell brings to it).

There is also the mysterious Black London – sacrificed to protect all the other Londons. No one is certain whether it actually exists anymore – all artifacts from the place were destroyed.

Or were they?

Kell travels between the worlds for duty – but he also does a side business as a smuggler, bringing little trinkets through the doors and selling or trading them. He doesn’t have any real need to do this – his needs are completely taken care of by the King and Queen, and he wants for nothing.

I must admit, I REALLY want his jacket! (You’ll have to read to find out what I mean!)

When Kell finds himself in possession of a dangerous artifact and severely injured, he finds himself in the company of Delilah Bard – a thief who wants adventure, particularly to own her own ship and become a pirate.

When things get tricky, Kell takes Delilah through the worlds – and together they go on a dark adventure to stop a dangerous foe from taking over the three Londons.

When I picked up the book Vicious by the same author, I was delightfully surprised by her writing style and by the way she created a whole world with its own rules with just one book. V.E. Schwab has done the same thing here – the three Londons are fully realized, each with their own set of attributes (even when only glimpsed briefly, like Grey London). Not only is the world building wonderful, but the character development is done well. Kell and Delilah are both dynamic characters who are forced to change their perspectives on their respective worlds when they meet each other. Delilah is thrown into a whole new world – and she manages to adapt quickly (and maybe just a little bit gracefully). Kell is forced to face the consequences of his actions, and makes some choices that could be seen as selfless or selfish, depending on how you look at them.

I was very impressed with this book – it read quickly and easily, and the action was just the right pace, with a backdrop of interesting and well developed worlds.

If you haven’t read it yet, I also recommend her book Viscious as well as this one for a summer read!

Book Review: Dead Space: Martyr

By , April 26, 2015

Dead Space: Martyr
By Brian Evenson

The Earth is dying, the human race is circling down the drain, and something has been found in the Chicxulub crater, under the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. This incredible discovery has the ability to change the course of human existence, but are people really prepared for the consequences it could bring?

Dead Space: Martyr is a prequel to the popular horror video game, Dead Space. “Martyr” delves into the founding of a new religion called Unitology, and the Marker–a mysterious object that the practitioners worship. The novel mainly follows Michael Altman as he investigates the alien artifact found in the Chicxulub crater, the impact Altman has on the world after making his discovery, and how he feels about his role towards both.

The book is well written, and the author does a superb job pulling together numerous elements from the Dead Space video game to create a fluid story. There are several nods to the game that might go over some readers heads, though they never take away from intensity of the novel. I really appreciated the sense of dread and  paranoia that many of the characters experience. The feelings that I got from the book were not exactly the same as what I got from the video game, but it was close enough to send a chill down my spine.

-Sade

 

Book List: Dreaming of Dystopia

By , March 17, 2015

Ship Breaker  
by Paolo Bacigalupi

In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.

 


 Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life-a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free.

 

 

Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden. Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city.

 

 

Of Metal and Wishes
by Sarah Fine

Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor. Wen often hears the whisper of a ghost in the slaughterhouse, a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. And after one of the Noor humiliates Wen, the ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers-brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including the outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the ghost. As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen is torn between her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat-real or imagined.

 

The Dark City
by Catherine Fisher

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.

 

Maggot Moon
by Sally Gardner

Set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing. What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. 

 

 

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
by E. K. Johnston

There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds–armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. 

The Immortal Rules
by Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them -the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters. Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend-a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike.

 

The Young Elites
by Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelinas black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fevers survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars–they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

 

Cinder
by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. 

 

 

Railsea
by China Mieville

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. Spectacular as it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain thinks only of hunting the ivory-colored mole that took her arm years ago. But when they come across a wrecked train, Sham finds something–a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible–that leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for.

 

The Glass Casket
by McCormick Templeman

Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal. Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again. Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.

 

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

fter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the un lucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.

 

Diane

 

 

Popmatic Podcast for March 11th, 2015: A Robot By Any Other Name

By , March 11, 2015


Kraftwerk Computer WorldHollywood is banking on robots. So is this episode. Plus what is tickling our fancy this week.

ROBOTS

Cybermen in Doctor Who: 1-4 The Doctors Revisited

Forbidden Planet

Cult Movies: the Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird, and the Wonderful by Danny Peary

The Robot Hall of Fame

Outer Limits Season 1 Episode 19 “I, Robot

I am Not Spock by Leonard Nimoy

I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

My Incredible, Wonderful Miserably Life: An Anti-Memoir by Adam Nimoy

Robots

Moon

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Kraftwerk CD | Hoopla

R.U.R. by Karel Capek

TICKLING OUR FANCY

Lone Wolf McQuade part of Movies @ Main

Chris Offutt on Fresh Air

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Where Are Ü Now” (featuring Justin Bieber) by Jack Ü aka Skrillex and Diplo

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Popmatic Podcast February 25th, 2015: Salute Your Sci Fi Shorts

By , February 25, 2015


Star Trek the Newspaper ComicsFebruary is the shortest month so we were going to talk about short things, but, appropriately enough, we were short staffed due to #SnObama aka the 2015 President’s Day ice storm. With only Bryan, Jeremy and Mike in the studio, this episode slipped down the nerdiest of sci-fi wormholes. Be forewarned, there is discussion of Star Trek uniforms.

SCI FI SHORTS

Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck

William L. Crawford Award

The Best of Cordwainer Smith by Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award

Star Trek the Newspaper Comics: The Complete Dailies and Sundays 1979-1981 by Thomas Warkentin

Star Trek the Motion Picture uniforms

James Tiptree Jr. Award

works of James Tiptree, Jr.

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double-Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Philips

IDW Publishing

Star Trek the Next Generation: Hive by Brannon Braga

Disney revises Star Wars “canon”

The Compleat Al

TICKLING OUR FANCY

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

Eliot writing about Huckleberry Finn

works of Isaac Asimov

What We Talk About When We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver

What It Says About You If You Enjoy Horror Movies” by Alice Robb

On SF by Thomas M. Disch

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Popmatic Podcast January 14, 2015: HACKERS

By , January 14, 2015


We are AnonymousCyber warfare is now mainstream news, but some of the Popmatic crew had a very bibliophile interpretation of word “hack.” In short, they hacked the hackers episode.

HACKERS

the works of William Gibson

Cracking the Agrippa Code

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany E. Daley

Coding Freedom: the Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by Gabriella E. Coleman

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella E. Coleman

TICKLING OUR FANCY

War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy by Bill Carter

Secret of Crickley Hall

’48 by James Herbert

The Classic Album Collection by Electric Light Orchestra

The Rosie Effect by Graeme C. Simsion

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: Southern Reach Trilogy

By , December 24, 2014

Area X (The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VandermeerArea X (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff Vandermeer

Earlier this year everyone was talking about HBO’s True Detective. The thing that really caught me about the show was that it seemed to take a gritty, hard-boiled noir landscape and mix in a Weird horror-fantasy element. In the end that was all just atmosphere and the whole thing ended like an episode of CSI Miami – so disappointing. I wanted the Yellow King that was promised to me.

I’m not trying to denigrate True Detective. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to draw a comparison to my favorite book of 2014 because it comes from a similar place and gave me more of what I wanted. I’m talking about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, a series published in it’s entirety in 2014. Its three volumes Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance where recently released in one hardbound edition titled Area X. The library has the omnibus and all the individual volumes too. I should say that I haven’t finished the last book of the series, so you should probably question my advice after I bashed the ending of True Detective, but the Annihilation and Authority are so good that the third book would have to be pretty awful to diminish my enjoyment of the other books.

So why my comparison to True Detective? These aren’t crime novels, but similarly they take the form of other genres that have Lovecraftian, Weird science horror imposed upon them. The great thing is that both of these novels are coming from different places. The first book, Annihilation is written as the journal of a biologist, and it has the feel, almost, of a quaint meditation on nature and conservation, but it is quickly superimposed with environmental terror. Authority is like John Le Carré except the normal paranoia of spycraft is tainted by the horror of literal monsters. These books are as much about atmosphere and mood as plot, which was also the highpoint of True Detective, but here the uncanny atmosphere actually delivers with glimpse at the uncanny. I mean, how much cooler would it have been if Matthew McConaughey found an interdimensional portal to the yellow king rather than a dumb, inbred serial killer?

Vandermeer wrote an article in the LA Times about how sci-fi and fantasy writers use real environments to craft their worlds as much as writers of realistic fiction. It struck a chord because it’s definitely something I’ve noticed — some of the best descriptions of Charleston, SC’s marshes and rivers are in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the world is based on the wilderness areas outside of Tallahassee, FL, a place I once called home, and I see North Florida all over this series.

I’ve managed to say a lot without talking much about the actual book. The Southern Reach is a government agency managing the secrets of Area X, spun to the public as an environmental disaster, though it’s more likely a localized invasion of extraterrestrial origin. The first book is about an investigative expedition into Area X, the second about the inner workings (and failings) of the agency managing the area, and the third, at least as much of it as I’ve read so far, is pulling together loose ends and revealing more about the secrets of Area X.

One last thing I’ll say about True Detective, which may or may not apply to this series as well — I don’t care about endings. Sometimes great books or films have bad endings. A lot of my favorite books fizzle out at the end. Endings are hard. If you enjoy 95% of something and the end is lacking, who cares? Let’s stop caring about endings.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer           Authority by Jeff Vandermeer           Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer

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