Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Escapist Speculative Reading to Take You Out of Our World

Okay, so it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but it will be the most unusual one in our lifetimes (hopefully). With the shop closed down to browsing, we would still like to share some of the great books we've read. If any of the books look interesting below or on future Boswell posts or if you have your own reading needs, please call us  (414-332-1181) or email us (info@boswellbooks.com) or visit our website (boswellbooks.com), which never closes, our store hours for getting a hold of us is 10-5 daily. 

I do recommend that you check our website for our delivery options, which includes curbside and shipping (some of it by us and some by mail).

My first pile of books are ones that I would use to escape our reality, these all have speculative elements whether one is a historical revision, time travel, or virtual online personas. There’s one outright science fiction title, but it’s so good I had to include it.

The Calculating Stars ($18.99 our price $15.19) by Mary Robinette Kowal has been one of my major book-loves of this year. Yes, it came out in 2018 but I just made our local sci-fi book club read it because it was cleaning up all the awards this year. Quick synopsis: It’s 1952 and a meteor has hit the eastern seaboard of the US wiping out everything. The beginning has a very cinematic quality that is quite thrilling to read. Elma York, a wiz mathematician and WASP pilot, quickly learns that Earth will become uninhabitable. Thus, the world needs to ramp up the space program and get humanity out into the stars.

There is so much to talk about in this book! There’s racism, sexism, panic, anxiety, mourning and resiliency. Kowal does an amazing job of highlighting sexism/racism in the workplace, even after a catastrophe. It’s a bit like 9/11 and how everyone came together after that event, but given time, all the old prejudices rise back up. Elma York is such a powerful main character, whip smart and strong. The amazing way the world rebounds by building up the space program together is quite astonishing. This book is so much more than just sci-fi, I would love everyone to read this book! There’s a second book that continues Elma York’s journey in The Fated Sky.

Recursion ($17.00 our price is $13.60) by Blake Crouch messed with mind, and I loved every moment of it. Quick synopsis: People think that a disease is spreading that makes people have false memories (FMS: False Memory Syndrome) that drives them crazy. False lives never lived terrorize the effected. However, it’s not a disease, it’s something far worse and could tear our world apart.

Detective Barry Sutton starts gathering clues that something is not right, when he responds to a jumper at building. She tells him everything that she remembers of a life she has never lived. She remembers who her husband was, and who her child was that doesn’t even exist anymore. She remembers it so clearly and the loss is so painful she would rather jump and end everything. It’s nuggets of this conversation that drives Barry Sutton into figuring out what is going on. Where he goes from there is brilliant and astonishing.

88 Names ($27.99 our price is $22.39) by Matt Ruff was not the book I expecting from him. I’ve loved so many of his books over the years, from Fool on the Hill to Lovecraft County. So, you can’t pigeon hole him as a certain type of writer, which makes opening a new book of his is a real treasure. Quick Synopsis: John Chu is a sherpa (a paid guide to take people into the virtual world of online gaming), who does all the boring things so that his clients can just pay to play the best parts with the best weapons. When he gets a big paying client, Mr. Jones, all things go south quickly.

First off, you don’t need to be familiar with online gaming to read this book. Ruff does a great tutorial job explaining the different aspects and acronyms of the gaming world. Chu starts to suspect that People’s Republic of China might be spying on him with his new client, who could possible be a certain dictator from North Korea. Or not. Someone is not telling the truth or maybe they all are. The thing about virtual gaming, anyone can dress themselves as anybody or anything. The clock is ticking on his safety, and Ruff has once again delivered an unputdownable read.

Embers of War ($14.95 our price is $11.96) by Gareth L. Powell is full on Space Opera! The story follows the sentient warship, Trouble Dog that has lost its taste for war, Sal Konstanz who captains the de-weaponized Trouble Dog as a ship of humanitarian aid, and Ashton Childe who is looking for a poet (who might not be who they claim to be) that was on a missing ship in a weird region of space. When the Trouble Dog goes in search of the missing ship, things get thrown into upheaval as different races and governments also want to find the ship for their own questionable reasons. Lots of good talking points here: 1) how do you rationalize bombing a civilization away to save the lives of your own, 2) what if you were created to do that and not really part of the people that committed the genocide, 3) what is sentience? I absolutely devoured this book and the two sequels.

Keep an eye out for Providence ($27.00 our price is $21.60) by Max Barry, which publishes on 3/31/2020. It’s an intense look at first contact that does not go right, in fact, it goes violently wrong from the first second. Now humanity is in open warfare with an alien race we can’t even understand, but we do know how to adapt and kill. We send out ships into space to do just that and this story follows one such crew and all its encounters with the aliens and each other.

There’s just a few of the books that I loved—there are so many more to talk about in the coming weeks!

No comments:

Post a Comment