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Take 5: True Confessions of a Sci Fi Reader with Maria Selke

I’ve always been a science fiction reader.

Well, “always” if you count the fact that there wasn’t much science fiction available for younger readers when I was a kid. I got my start in fantasy with Narnia. I ventured into science fiction with A Wrinkle in Time, and never looked back. I continued to read fantasy and historical fiction, of course, but I also gobbled down science fiction like cyborgs were about to take over the earth. 

Recently, though, I realized that my passion for science fiction felt very past tense. Almost everything I read and reread was published before the dawn of the 21st century. The more I talked about my love for the genre, the more people came to me for reading suggestions. While Bradbury, Clark, and Herbert are fabulous, it was time to hit the books and update my repertoire.  I gave myself a SciFi Summer challenge.

I started by trying to express why I think science fiction is such an important genre. It really boils down to this – science fiction is the genre that helps us envision and create a better future. We may read about environmental catastrophes and plot a way out of the path of destruction. We may shiver in fear as humans turn on each other, and turn instead to compassion.  We may read about marvelous science that sparks our desire to cure or explore or explain. I’ve gone into more detail about “Why Sci Fi” on my blog, if you’d care for a more in depth discussion. http://www.mariaselke.com/2012/04/why-sci-fi-power-of-what-if.html

Since the start of June, I have read thirty-seven books that I classified as science fiction. While I’m trying to find newer titles, I did succumb to the lure of a Fahrenheit 451reread after the passing of Ray Bradbury. Let me tell you, that book is just as relevant today as it was when it was published. If you haven’t read it, or you haven’t read it lately, be sure to get a copy! It’s available as a graphic novel adaptation as well, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

Science fiction is for everyone. It can be filled with adventure. It can include flirtation or outright romance. The protagonists can be male, female, both, or neither. There can be mysteries to solve. No matter what other elements it includes; the best science fiction lets us peer into the future. Science fiction can appeal to anyone, of any age, with any interest.

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner


Stormy weather got you down? Are you in the mood for a near future climate science adventure? Eye of the Storm will hit the spot. Kate Messner’s tale of a world of terrifying storms seems even more likely after the past few months.

 Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Hankering for a trip to Mars after watching all the Curiosity Rover news? Black Hole Sun is quite a rip-roaring adventure tale, with just a hint of romance. I liked this book on a lot of levels. I enjoyed the Mars setting, and the hints at the history of the terraforming that has occurred. I enjoyed the repartee between the characters, especially between the main character and A.I. that lives in his head. It had the science fiction as well as a western feel to the tale. Since I am a huge fan of Firefly, this worked beautifully for me. 

Wishing you’d gotten another glimpse into The Matrix? Here are few great choices that keep the focus on computer technology.

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster


Kyle’s story is presented as almost an archaeological find, with his tale narrated on a series of analogue audio tapes. The futuristic society that discovered it jumps in with commentary and explanations as Kyle’s story progresses. I don’t want to give away any plot points, but this one had me wondering if I had taken the blue or the red pill. Great for middle grade on up. Even better news? There is a new book out this month!  (Karen’s notes: 1) I told her to read this book so bonus points for me.  2) The sequel is The Future We Left Behind and it was released last Tuesday.)

 Insignia by S.J. Kincaid


Imagine a world without war. Or at least, without war on Earth itself. Instead, combatants have been implanted with neural processors to allow them to control ships in distant space. How much technology can we inject into our brain structures and still remain human? The teenagers tasked with championing each side of World War III that is waging will soon find out.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Longing to get away from it all? I mean reallyfar away? How about sleeping for three hundred years while you travel to a distant world to begin a new human colony? The first few pages honestly almost made me ill. Not a terrible thing – the description of being prepped for cryo sleep were just exceptionally detailed and traumatic. There’s also mystery and romance; the perfect trifecta to appeal to many teenage readers.  

I can never get enough science fiction, and I plan to keep reading and reviewing for as long as my eyes hold out. I try to mix it up by hitting a variety of interest levels and spicing it up with some science nonfiction. Join me (most) Fridays at Maria’s Mélange for my Sci Friday feature or hit me up on Twitter -@mselke01.