119 Dark Matter

darkmatterby Blake Crouch, 2016

Sliding Doors, meet quantum mechanics! 

If there’s one trope I find tiresome, it’s science-fiction that serves as a masquerade for the heteronormative love story. I’m looking at you Interstellar and Arrival and, now, Dark Matter. Now, I’m not entirely dead inside. I like a good love story on occasion – Jane Eyre is one of my most favorite books – but when I come to sci-fi, I expect it to be more than just a ruse for a man and a woman to find their happily ever after. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like reading this book or that I didn’t find the story creative or engrossing, because I did, but if I had wanted to watch Sliding Doors, I would have watched Sliding Doors. I don’t drink my whiskey with water and I don’t need my sci-fi made palatable with romance, thank you very much.

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80 Ready Player One

readyplayeroneby Ernest Cline, 2011

It’s 2044 and the only respite from the bleakness of daily life is logging into the virtual utopia that is the OASIS. When the OASIS’s creator James Halliday dies, a video is released offering riches and wealth to the player who finds the Easter egg Halliday has hidden inside his game. Wade Watts – your everyday geeky, gamer teenager – takes up the quest to be the first to find the egg. This is his story. (Minor spoilers below.)

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78 Station Eleven

stationelevenby Emily St. John Mandel, 2014

I have to admit it – I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic/dystopian story. It’s unfortunate that those have become buzzwords for young adult literature. Don’t get me wrong, I love YA, but the popularity of this theme seems to have opened up a platform for mediocre writers to have their stories pushed on us simply because publishers have decided that apocalypses and dystopias sell. It’s also somewhat disheartening to see some readers refer to this as a “trend.” Writers have been imagining bleak futures for ages – crack open Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, Y the Last Man, or Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents to see what I mean. This did not start yesterday with The Hunger Games and Divergent. But that is neither here nor there, except to say that Station Eleven is a fantastic post-apocalyptic tale and should fear of trendy buzzwords keep you away, you will miss out greatly in passing this one by.

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76 Saga, Vol. 6

saga-6by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, 2016

I know I’ve been fairly harsh on the Saga series. I haven’t been nearly as impressed by it as everyone else seems to be and, truly, I don’t understand what others see in it. I’ve started to wonder why I’m continuing to read it, but having finished Volume 6, I’m reminded that even if the story seems a bit directionless and unnecessarily hypersexual, it does contain some moments of profound truth and it’s those moments that keep me reading.

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61 Saga, Vol. 5

saga-5by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2015

Volume 5 of Saga finds Marko on board a spaceship with Prince Robot IV, separated from his family. Baby Hazel has been taken by Dengo, the robot commoner set on avenging his son’s death, Alana and Klara are trying to devise their plan to get Hazel back, the “Last Revolution” arrives, and The Brand, Gwendolyn, and Sophie are in search for dragon sperm (yes, you read that right) to cure the wounded bounty hunter The Will who, as we’ll recall, is Gwendolyn’s true love, or something like that. We continue on in about five different directions and it feels like it.

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59 Saga, Vol. 4

saga-4by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2014

Volume 4 of the Saga series finds us with baby Hazel as a toddler, the robot princess just having given birth, Alana fulfilling others’ fantasies as a character in a TV show, and a robot commoner out for revenge. In this part we’re privy to some of the more everyday troubles of inspecies married life. Sure, Alana and Marko still have to be worried about being hunted down and made to pay for their insolence, but they also are faced with more common problems: Alana is something of a workaholic and Marko, a stay-at-home dad, gets to be perhaps a bit too friendly with Hazel’s dance teacher.

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53 Saga, Vol. 3

saga 3by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples, 2014

When we last left our intrepid heroes we found them hiding in the library of author D. Oswald Heist. He is under interrogation by Prince Robot IV and things are not looking good. Volume 3 of Saga brings us back to the crew’s arrival at Heist’s lighthouse home. The old drunkard welcomes them when he realizes that they understood the meaning behind A Nighttime Smoke, the novel that most dismiss as pulp romance.

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