If You Liked The Handmaid’s Tale…

If You Liked the Handmaids Tale.. try reading...

If you enjoyed Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale, you may be interested in trying some of the following novels, tv series and films – many of which raise (still) relevant questions about personal agency, fertility and reproduction, and society (especially when it takes a dystopian turn).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Children of Men by P. D. James
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Humans created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
Orphan Black created by John Fawcett and Graham Manson
Top of the Lake created by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee
Never Let Me Go directed by Mark Romanek
Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Novels to try reading if you liked The Handmaids Tale

If You Liked Westworld…

If you liked Westworld, try reading...

If you liked Westworld, try reading or watching...

If you are loving Westworld for its setting that on the surface seems historical and nostalgic, but is full of high level surveillance and subtle tinkering…  If you are enjoying Westworld for its portrayal of the gamification of both history and human experience, for the days that repeat endlessly, and the recursive moments and events that shield or ultimately expose glitches in the system, ghosts in the machine…  or if you are drawn in to the series for its constant questioning of what it means to be human, and how we measure our own humanity… you might like to try some of the following television, films and novels which explore similar themes.

Deadwood created by David Milch
Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg
Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland
Humans created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
The Company Series by Kage Baker
Cabin in the Woods directed by Drew Goddard
The Truman Show directed by Peter Weir
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Edge of Tomorrow directed by Doug Liman
Firefly created by Joss Whedon

Book Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis

Crosstalk by Connie Willis
(Publisher Advance Copy)

A great new geeky romantic novel by Connie Willis, Crosstalk will appeal to lovers of Jennifer Crusie, Rainbow Rowell and Graeme Simsion

Readers of Jennifer Crusie, Rainbow Rowell and Graeme Simsion will likely enjoy Crosstalk, the latest romantic novel from the queen of humorous and entertaining Science Fiction, Connie Willis.

Briddie Flannigan works for a mobile phone company working on a big new release to rival Apple’s latest offering.  Simultaneously, her boyfriend Trent pops a very millennial question, asking her to join him in undertaking a neurological procedure that will bring them closer by allowing them to directly feel one another’s emotions.  When things go slightly awry with the procedure, Briddie must reevaluate many aspects of both her life and modern life in general, guided by an unlikely support team: scruffy and quirky anti hero C.B. Schwartz, a colleague of hers at the mobile phone company; and her precocious 9-year old niece Maeve.

One thing that has always simultaneously delighted and perplexed me about Connie Willis is her ability to have her finger on the  social pulse, while often discounting or neglecting crucial technological developments.  The absence of a portable phone system in Willis’s 2050 Oxford in Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog is infuriating at times, but I also recognise that the grim chaos and confusion of Doomsday Book, and the extreme farce of To Say Nothing of the Dog couldn’t have happened without the plot device that the lack of mobile telephony enables.  Willis makes up for this technological oversight in Crosstalk by embracing the mobile phone trope, and ramping up connectivity to an unbearable level.  I don’t want to provide too many spoilers, but it is very fair to say that this is definitely a novel about connection fatigue.

And in the modern world, what better connection is there than love?  I have always adored Willis’s romantic subplots, as she has intelligent, self-possessed heroines and a gorgeous line of attractive anti-heroes.  Her romantic heroes are never alpha males, are often slightly bumbling and scruffy or socially inept, but reveal themselves to be sensitive, intelligent and have the kind of hidden depths and social intelligence you only encounter upon getting to know someone a little better.  Crosstalk explores not only connection fatigue, but also romance fatigue in general. In many ways, this is a romance novel for readers who are sick of or suspicious of romance.

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Science Fiction

(FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK THEY LIKE SCIENCE FICTION)

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As a lover of literature and science fiction, I find it frustrating when helping a library customer who wants something literary and thought-provoking to read, but who turns their nose up at science fiction.

I am lucky to have a mother who shared all kinds of reading options with her daughters, but who has always especially loved science fiction. This meant that as children we read novels about life in space (like Enders Game, Calling B for Butterfly, Growing Up Weightless, and Orbital Resonance), and some wonderful young adult dystopias (like The Giver, Rocco, and Winter of Fire).  I remember dipping into adult science fiction in my teens when I started to raid my mother’s bookshelf, and my observant mother payed attention to my growing list of favourite books and started to supplement with gifts of books she thought I would enjoy (the summer I was fifteen and received Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin as a present will always remain a watershed moment).

The ability to imagine the world differently (or to see the world through new eyes) is something I cherish.  I think science fiction does nothing if it doesn’t offer us a lens through which we can examine ourselves, and so I continue to try to reduce the stigma science fiction carries for some readers by sneaking in a speculative read that I know will still have general (or niche) appeal.  Here are some of my favourites:

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Reading Round Up: Science Fiction

It’s been an exciting year for science fiction, with two of the genre’s largest names publishing very 21st century novels about intergenerational space journeys.

Scifi Round Up

Neal Stephenson’s new novel Seveneves is typically Stephenson-esque, with fast pacing, adventure, lots of geeky science detail, and a nice little ongoing dialogue about the philosophical and practical merits of science vs politics.

When an unexplained event breaks the moon into multiple pieces, Earth’s population must rapidly plan and execute an evacuation strategy to avoid the 10,000 year meteor shower that will soon render the surface of Earth uninhabitable. A rapid hack of the International Space Station, followed by a mad cap space race to secure the resources required for continued human existence in space takes up the first half of the book. The second half of the book speculates on what remaining human life may look like 5,000 years in the future.

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If You Liked… Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Passage by Justine Cronin
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien
After the Plague by T. C. Boyle
In the Heart of the Valley of Love by Cynthia Kadahota
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
The Chimes by Anna Smaill
California by Edan Lepucki
A Wrong Turn At the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson
Clade by James Bradley