Friday, July 17, 2015
Wesley Chu has been on my radar for a couple of years. I had heard that The Lives of Tao was roller coaster ride of a read. Being in the book business, occasionally you let authors earlier works slip by, and in sci-fi it makes it hard to go back and pick them up as the one book becomes a series. When I learned of Wesley Chu coming for an event on July 21st, I decided this was my time to make up some ground. To find out that the book was the beginning of a new series made it so much easier to jump in feet first.
In Time Salvager, Wesley Chu has built a pretty bleak existence in the 26th Century. There was a golden age at some point between where we are and where Time Salvager goes, and something went horrible wrong. Humanity is running out of resources, energy, food--the Earth's oceans have a solid layer of dead brown muck on top of it and most cities are vast wastelands of abandoned and crumbling buildings. At times, this book reminded me of some of the best of the dreariest sci-fi ever, something akin to a Philip K. Dick or Paola Bacigalupi story. Having a lack of resources and with the world tumbling ever downward, the only hope humanity has is to look to the past.
Enter James Griffin-Mars, a chronman. His job is to pillage the past and bring back resources for the present. It is not an easy job. There are laws governing time travel and what can be taken from out of the past. ChronoCom controls all time jumps and sets up where and when a chronman will go and take his target. The target can be an energy source, a valuable item that was destroyed, or something else that is about to leave existence as to ensure that the time line does not become compromised. This reminded me a bit of the sci-fi b-movie Millennium, where the time travelers would replace airplane passengers with dead bodies just before a plane crash was to happen.
Long story short, James brings back a scientist from one of his missions, which is the biggest time law that he could break. If ChronoCom finds him, it will mean the execution of Elise Kim, the scientist, and it could mean his indentured servitude for the rest of his days. Of course, ChronoCom monitors all time travel activity and are wise to James law breaking. He and Elise go on the run and attempt to evade the corporations hunting them down.
There are a lot of neat story lines and concepts circling around in here. First, there is the concept of time travel, I really like the ethical dilemma that Chu puts the chronmen through. How would they react to always going back to humanities greatest tragedies of death and destruction, how would that mess with their psyche? Next is the idea that humanity has gone to the stars but only made it to our closest neighbors. James was born on a colony on Mars. What stalled them or prevented the technology from being invented to move further? Then, there is how corporations really rule the future and are willing to do anything to keep it that way. I never witnessed any government actions in this book, it was all corporate controlled interests moving humanity forward or standing still in perpetual stagnation. Finally, the history that Chu creates feels so well thought out. There is a definitive set of events that leads to the 26th Century and humanities bleak existence.
You can think of all that as you read, or you can just read it as a thrill ride that is and hold on. The action starts off quick and goes by in a flurry. I am positive that I will sign up for more adventures in this universe. There has been some great reviews out for his new book, one of them is from SF Signal which I attempt to read daily and find out all the great things happening in the SF world.
Do yourself a favor if you are a sci-fi fan and come to the event on July 21st. And, if you are like me, start reading his early books. The Lives of Tao (full disclosure, I had my sci-fi book club read this book for July so I could sneak in two Chu novels in one month) is a brilliant amount of kick-butt fun. My book club agrees that it is worth the time to read this martial arts body snatching book!
Sunday, July 5, 2015
With Shark Week starting July 5th, our shark-obsessed Boswellian Phoebe pushed for a Shark Week table to showcase all of the shark-related literature we have in the store. Due to her enthusiasm, Boswell has officially become part of one of the summer's biggest pop culture phenomena with the inaugural Shark Week table! As someone who is both terrified and fascinated by sharks, and who has been watching Shark Week for most of her 23 years, Phoebe is uniquely equipped to recommend books about sharks. Here are some of her favorites from the table with their corresponding shark species. Thoughts from Phoebe:
The Peter Benchley Collection is a must for any Shark Week table. We don't have a regular old copy of Jaws, but who would want that when this collection filled with multiple sea beasts is available? Plus, it's a bargain book, which means it's $5. I would be hard-pressed to find any shark and book lover who wouldn't pay that amount for this collection of books. The only drawback to this book is that the shark on the cover is not a Great White; it's an Oceanic White Tip. I am trying my best to get over it (and failing)--but it remains the Tiger Shark of the Shark Week table. Tiger Sharks are indiscriminate in their eating habits, and this book is indiscriminate in its audience because anyone of any age (maybe not those under 8 who don't want to fear the ocean forever) would enjoy it.
Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have a pop-up book called Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, it has sharks that pop out at you. Robert Sabuda is a master of paper pop-outs, and this book doesn't disappoint. (There are other creatures included as well, although sharks are clearly the best.) This book is the Sand Tiger Shark of the Shark Week table because just like you can't look away from the ragged teeth of that shark in the tank, you can't help but look at the wonderful pop-ups in this book.
Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy is indisputably the best book ever. And no, I do not mean the best book about sharks, I mean best overall book in the history of creation. Beautiful watercolors of the Great Whites hunting off the coast of the Farallon Islands in California grace the cover and the first few pages of this incredible book. Even better, the book includes tons of facts about sharks, their eating habits, and their oceanic ecosystem. Any bookseller in the store can tell you how obsessed I am with this book. It's beautiful and informative, and it includes conservation efforts. Neighborhood Sharks also earned a Robert F. Sibert honor for being one of the best illustrated nonfiction books of 2014. I am 23 years old, and I would be ecstatic if someone bought me this book because it is awesome. This book is the Great White Shark--the apex predator--of the Shark Week table because, just like the Great White stealth-attacks its prey, this book stealth-attacks your attention with its cover and you never see it coming.
So there you have it! Phoebe's top picks off the Shark Week table. Come check out Boswell's first ever Shark Week table for more books to sink your teeth into--and let us know what your favorite books about sharks are.
Posted by Jen at 9:00 AM