(Note: Voting is closed, and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is the selection. Join us on June 1 to discuss this book about time travel. — MsWas)
After a slightly bumpy start this spring, we are at it again with another Cannonball Book Club vote. Our summer Cannonball Book Club Reads selection will be Science Fiction.
Since part of the raison d’etre for this book club is to highlight various genres and hopefully get ‘ballers to read new things, we’ll tackle Science Fiction separately from Fantasy. In dividing Science Fiction from Fantasy I’ve decided to stick with the aphorism attributed to Isaac Asimov- when asked to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy, Asimov is reported to have replied that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; while fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not. So, for this Book Club Reads, I’m sticking more to the Science Fiction side of things (whether it be Speculative Fiction, CyberPunk, Hard SF, Space Opera, etc.) and waiting to attack Fantasy until next year.
And most importantly, we’ll have a forum to talk about what we’ve read.
In a similar vein to last time I have culled a list of possible selections from things that are popular around the Cannonball Read water cooler, things that are well reviewed, books that came up on Suggested Reading Lists, and then had it vetted by a handful of Cannonballers willing to have me pick their brains.
Voting will be open for one week, and the announcement of our choice will be made on Monday, April 18. We will meet back here and over on the Cannonball Read Book Chat Facebook Group to talk about the book on June 1st.
Here is your selection of options, with a brief synopsis (usually from Goodreads).
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
- For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin–barely of age herself–finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours.
Fear the Sky by Stephen Moss
- In eleven years’ time, a million members of an alien race will arrive at Earth. Years before they enter orbit, their approach will be announced by the flare of a thousand flames in the sky, their ships’ huge engines burning hard to slow them from the vast speeds needed to cross interstellar space.Their technology is vastly superior to ours, and they know they cannot possibly lose the coming conflict. But they, like us, have found no answer to the destructive force of the atom, and they have no intention of facing the onslaught of our primitive nuclear arsenal, or the devastation it would wreak on the planet they crave. So they have flung out an advanced party in front of them, hidden within one of the countless asteroids randomly roaming the void. They do not want us; they want our planet. Their Agents are arriving.
Lagoon by Nnedi Okarafor
- After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
- At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits — just behind a Raman airlock door.
The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
- The Three-Body Problemis the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.
vN by Madeleine Ashby
- Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
P.P.S To the best of my knowledge the image above comes from artist Jodi Harvey-Brown