by Madeleine L’Engle, 1978
narrated by Jennifer Ehle
Alas, the third book in the Time Quintet suffers a little bit from boredom. We’ve moved ahead in the Murry’s lives and find Meg married to Calvin and pregnant with their child. Twins Sandy and Dennys are in law and medical school and Charles Wallace is a teenager. The family has gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Calvin is off in England giving a conference, so they are joined by his mother, Mrs. Branwen Maddox O’Keefe. The dinner is interrupted when Mr. Murry receives a call from the president warning him of impending nuclear war set in motion by the South American dictator known as Mad Dog Branzillo. After Mrs. O’Keefe utters a mysterious rune, we’re off on another adventure in time and space.
by Joanna Russ, 1975
While my original plan for the “read a classic of genre fiction” task in the Read Harder Challenge was to count my forthcoming reread of Parable of the Sower, I decided to branch out instead and pick up a book I’d been meaning to read for years. The Female Man is a classic of feminist science-fiction. Though she may not be as well-known as the likes of Octavia Butler or Ursula K. Le Guin, Russ’s work has always appeared in discussions of this particular genre. The novel involves four women – really, four iterations of the same woman in various points in time and space. Jeannine lives during the 1930s, Joanna is a 1970s feminist, Janet is from another version of earth called Whileaway that is populated only by women, and Jael, with her metal claws and teeth, hails from a future torn by war between the two genders. This is the story of what happens when they come together.
by Octavia E. Butler, 1977
Mind of My Mind is second book in the Patternist series, in both chronological and publication order. It serves as a prequel to Patternmaster (as they all do), and here we get to find out how the Pattern began. We meet Mary, child of the powerful and undying Doro who is set upon building a society of “actives.” While Doro can only inhabit another’s thoughts by killing them, the actives can truly read others’ minds. The problem is that their powers are too strong for them to stand being around one another, so, for the race of actives to live on, Doro must continue to father them. It’s not until the even more powerful Mary arrives that Doro can start to imagine his plan coming to fruition. Yes, this means there’s a bit of incest going on here. Butler does not really address the moral ramifications of this, but since we’re talking about a man bent on building his own society of telepaths, I suppose we’ve already signed on for a bit of crazy, haven’t we?
by Madeleine L’Engle, 1973
narrated by Jennifer Ehle
This is the book that taught me the word “mitochondria”!
In this second installment of the Time Quintet, we find Meg Murry worried about her younger brother Charles Wallace. He’s being bullied at school over his intelligence and his penchant for speaking about complex subjects like an adult. At home, Charles Wallace is seeing dragons in their back yard, and he and Meg discover some unusual feathers. Meanwhile, Charles Wallace appears to be getting sicker and sicker, suffering from some sort of malady that affects his breathing. Their microbiologist mother believes it may be a disorder of his mitochondria and their farandolae. Later, Meg teams up with Calvin O’Keefe, and the two engage in a cosmic battle involving good and evil and a Fantastic Voyage-like journey inside Charles Wallace to save his life.
by Octavia E. Butler, 1976
Patternmaster is first on my Year of Octavia challenge! It is important to note that while these books are now published in chronological order according to the story’s timeline, I will be reading them according to publication date, which I believe is the way a series should always be read. It is also worth noting that there were originally five books in this series, but one – Survivor – appears to be indefinitely out of print. So, I will forge ahead with what I have available to me, and this brings me to start with the concluding book in this series’ chronology.
by Madeleine L’Engle, 1962
narrated by Hope Davis
It’s been quite some years since I read A Wrinkle in Time. I read the entire Time Quartet when I was young and I remember loving it. With the movie version of the first installment fast approaching, it seems a good time to back and see if the book was every bit as good as I originally thought it to be. The verdict? Different from what I remember, but still a wonderful read.
by Sylvain Neuvel, 2016
narrated by a full cast
Pacific Rim meets The Martian. That is not a compliment.