Author: Hunter

Madcap Moon Caper: ‘Artemis’ by Andy Weir

Picture an upbeat thriller about a scrappy dock worker who gets tangled in a web of murder, corporate espionage, and organized crime. Now picture a work of speculative fiction that imagines a future where humanity has industrialized the surface of the moon and turned it into a tourist trap for the very rich. Mix the two together and you’ve got Artemis, the latest from Andy Weir.

Weir burst onto the scene in 2011 when he self-published his debut novel, The Martiana fascinating first-person tale of sarcastic botanist Mark Watney, who is stranded on the surface of Mars, which was adapted into an Oscar-Nominated movie in 2015.mark watney space pirate


Artemis 
is a worthy successor, and is like its predecessor in many ways; utilizing a sarcastic narrator to soften the blow of the heavy, hard-sci-fi concepts that Weir once again throws at the reader.

artemisThat being said, Artemis is not just for fans of Science Fiction. In a literary landscape dominated by seriousness, Artemis offers something different; a fun adventure with a backdrop that still touches on many social issues, but doesn’t allow them to overtake the story. It is an escape into a future that may not be necessarily bright, but is certainly exciting and has the reader, consistently curious as to what would happen next.

The novel takes place on the eponymous moon colony, “Artemis”, which is essentially a series of metal bubbles stuck to the surface of the moon. Artemis is divided between luxurious sections that cater to the rich tourists and the even richer inhabitants of the colony, and some that house the impoverished factory workers and tradesmen that are necessary to keep Artemis alive.

Our protagonist, Jazz Bashara, is the daughter of a welder and an aspiring smuggler who uses her position in the loading bay to sneak contraband in and sell it to wealthy residents, but when one of her clients offers her a large sum of money for a less-than-legal job, she is pulled into the criminal underground that she never knew existed.

One of the strongest qualities of the book is its characters; they are uniquely driven, expertly described, and surprisingly colorful. Jazz is sardonic, biting, and cynical in the best ways, and makes for a relatable narrator whose perspectives and descriptions really make the book inimitable and kept me laughing throughout. So, even if you think science fiction isn’t your thing, Artemis may still be for you, so come by our sci-fi section this week and get a copy; you won’t regret it.

Signed first editions of Artemis are available on our website.

Hunter recommends 3 science fiction classics

Today, it would be difficult to find a movie or television show that does not incorporate some kind of science fiction element. Inspired by this, many people now seek to experience the genre at its source: books. However, with such an overwhelming number of classic science fiction books, where should someone start? This is a question that customers have asked me before, and here is my answer: Here are three books that you can find on our shelves that I think are perfect examples of classic science fiction.

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

childhoods endTo those who have heard his name, Arthur C. Clarke is most well-known as the co-creator of the book and subsequent film 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, his influence does not stop at cinema. Clarke’s theories in his books about satellites and orbits actually came to fruition in reality, so much so that a geosynchronous orbit used by telecommunications satellites is named after him (The Clarke Belt). My personal favorite work of his is Childhood’s End, a story of mankind’s first encounter with extraterrestrials and the effects that span hundreds of years. The story begins with a simple premise: massive alien ships suddenly appear on Earth, hovering over major cities, doing nothing. It’s an iconic enough image to spawn several copycat stories and films, which I will not list here. Where it goes from there is a bit strange, but I won’t spoil it.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

do androids dream of electric sheepThere has been a lot of debate as to which author is truly the quintessential sci-fiauthor, and nearly every one comes to the same conclusion. Philip K. Dick made massive contributions to the entire genre of Science-Fiction, molding it into what it is today. Many of PKD’s works have been adapted to film and television, though few know it. Total RecallThe Adjustment BureauMinority ReportThe Man in the High Castle, and Blade Runner are all based on his works. Because of this, many people are more familiar with his stories than they realize. My favorite work of his is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was the basis for the film Blade Runner. It is a detective story at it’s heart, the story of Rick Deckard, a “Blade Runner,” a detective who specializes in identifying and decommissioning rogue androids. It’s an interesting take on the classic mystery novel, and I love it.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

ult hitchhikers guide galaxyDouglas Adams was, for the most part, a humorist in the vein of Mark Twain, but his genre of choice was science fiction. His masterpiece, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels, now published together as The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, are the best example of his sharp wit and absurdist style of Adams’ work. The opening of the book features (spoiler alert, although it is the beginning of the book) the destruction of Earth, after which Adams writes “This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole, it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” The book is likely the one that I have reread the most, and in my mind, it is, not only one of the funniest novels, but one of the best ever written at all.

The Past is Never Dead: ‘American War’ by Omar El Akkad

A nation divided between North and South. A generation motivated by regional pride to fight in a civil war that decimates their country. A president assassinated and a fractured government. It’s a story that we’ve heard before. This time, however, it’s not the mid-19th century, but the late 21st.

american warThe story of Omar El Akkad’s American War takes place in the world of the 2070s through the 2090s, in which the states Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have once again seceded from the union, this time on the basis of federal laws demanding the use of renewable energy sources. It is a work of speculative fiction, one that takes many of the rifts that exist in today’s world and gives us the author’s vision of how these divisions could bring us to war again. Omar El Akkad  likely knows more about division than most, with a journalistic career that spans extremism and violence in the Middle East to the Black Lives Matter movement at Ferguson.

His novel portrays  this second civil war in a way that shows his career in journalism well, highlighting the realities of war by telling the story from two perspectives. The first is from a future figure looking back on the events as history, and the second as a contemporary account from a  young girl named Sarat, whose rural Louisiana family is caught between the two sides and must survive in the dystopia that the war creates. There are no good guys or bad guys in this book, only people who are shaped by their environment and their prejudices, and who make difficult decisions that they fully believe are right, though to our sensibilities they may seem unthinkable. This is a hypothetical war written the way that war really is; there aren’t any villains here.

The book’s narrator is a southern-born historian living in a now no-longer cold Alaska, telling the story of the girl and her family from  further into the future than the book’s setting, allowing for the author to intercut chapters with “historical documents,” e.g., a newspaper article from 2074. One of the first faux documents actually chronicles all of the events of the novel, though not through the eyes of the main characters, allowing readers to anticipate many of the major events that Sarat and her family have to actually face. Because of this, the book almost feels like future-historical fiction and is nearly a genre of its own, giving readers previous insight and prejudices about fictional, future events that the protagonist has yet to encounter.

Because of the future setting, there are science fiction elements in the novel. The skies are filled with unmanned drones that have lost their connection to the military and now fly rogue, like animals. A biological weapon becomes a plague as those who try to harness it lose control. The effects  of pollution are here, too, as much of Louisiana is now underwater. The book also has its own share of southern culture as well. Omar El Akkad writes about the South in such a way that I was surprised to learn that he wasn’t a native.

Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad

To be frank, I loved American War. I picked up the book one evening and became so enthralled by the world that I didn’t put it down again until I was finished. It is a war book, a history book, a science fiction novel, a coming-of-age story, and a look at today’s divisive culture.  El Akkad has captured literary lightning in a bottle with his debut, and I personally hope to see  many more works from him in years to come.

Graphic Novel Guidance, Vol. 2: Tom King & Wolverine

Graphic novels. We’ve still got them. All kinds, I promise. Here’s a few more recommendations that you’ll find on our shelves, this time from big publishers Marvel and DC:

DC Comics

omega menWhat happens when you give one of the top comic book writers around a super-obscure team of charactersfrom DC Comics’ vault? You get one of the best series to come out of DC in the last few years: The Omega Men. The book was originally marketed as a Green Lantern spin-off, but the appeal is much broader than a simple superhero story. King takes a story about a group of space outlaws and produces a surprisingly deep story that explores elements like faith, war, and justice. Barnaby Bagenda’s art in the book has a painting-like quality that further accentuates the cinematic style that the book uses. The series was nearly cancelled until fan outcry brought it back, and it was well worth it. Omega Men is a modern classic, in my opinion.

Marvel Comics

vision 1That’s right, two by Tom King. In this title for Marvel comics, King takes Vision, the lesser-known robotic member of the Avengers, and sends him to suburbia. Vision takes a job with the US government and builds himself a robotic wife and two kids, modeled after himself. What starts out as a quirky fish-out-of-water sorry about a super-powered family of robots getting along with the neighbors quickly becomes dark when things take a deadly turn. Accompanied by Gabriel Walta’s art, this unexpected hit delivers a captivating story.

Marvel Comics

This is an older book, from way back in 2010, but because of the blockbuster film Logan, which is inspired by it, I’m including it here.

old man loganAn elderly Logan, formerly the X-Man Wolverine, is living in a dystopian U.S., controlled by a group of villains that have divided the country up between themselves. Unlike the film, the book can pull from any Marvel properties it wishes, meaning that this book features characters and concepts from throughout the Marvel universe, including, but not limited to, a band of hillbilly Hulks, a Venom dinosaur, and an elderly Hawkeye. The book differs from the film vastly in plot, but shares its tone and themes: legacy and mortality. It’s a favorite of X-Men fans, and if you enjoyed the film, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Thor’s-day Thursday: Neil Gaiman’s ‘Norse Mythology’

norse mythologyNeil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a welcome addition to the list of works contributing to popular culture’s growing fascination with Norse myth. Gaiman’s work, however, goes a lot farther than any super hero franchise. It’s a topic that many have difficulty reading about outside of the realms of academia, but the author’s own love of the source material shines through as Gaiman gives us a wonderful medium through which to learn about Viking deities. The book starts out very analytical, with a few textbook-esque chapters that introduce the reader to the world and the characters that Gaiman will describe in coming chapters, but this section is short and necessary, as immediately after, he jumps right into a series of mythic stories of action, drama, and a bit of comedy. The humor that Gaiman adds to the tales is not out-of-place, but instead is a bit of modern wit that feels strangely at home in this world; with moments like Thor explaining “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” Funny moments like this are the hidden virtue of the book, in my opinion.

Gaiman reintroduces readers to Odin, the “All-Father;” Thor, the hammer-wielding God of Thunder; and Loki, the God of chaos–among many others. The second story in the book (not counting the few introductory chapters) called “The Treasures of the Gods”, is probably my favorite. Loki shaves Thor’s wife’s head while they sleep, and Thor forces Loki to attempt to restore it. The result is one of the more humorous stories in the book that culminates (SPOILERS) in Thor getting his signature hammer, something that Gaiman describes as also “Loki’s fault”. The stories cover the entire range of the mythology, thorbeginning with basic origin stories and culminating in the final chapter with the story of Ragnarok, the Norse doomsday prophecy. Gaiman takes these classic tales and puts his own twist in them, writing them as if they were brand-new inventions of his mind. Norse Mythology is fantastic and, at the very least, an extremely fun read that anyone who loves fantasy of mythology (or even someone who doesn’t) should pick up and give a shot.

Graphic Novel Guidance: ‘Huck,’ ‘Paper Girls,’ and ‘Sex Criminals’

Graphic novels. Lemuria has them. Don’t believe me? Come by the store and find out. Don’t know what to read? Here are some recommendations for a couple of really great graphic novels from that last few years.

Huck Book 1: All-American

HuckMark Millar, a Marvel Comics veteran, has since said that his inspiration when writing Huck was the film Man of Steel, which he felt portrayed a very depressing, serious version of the superhero-archetype. The eponymous character of Huck is his response; a simple small-town handyman with Superman-esque powers, an optimistic attitude, and a desire to help people. The result is a heartwarming adventure drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Rafael Albuquerque that is most certainly one of my absolute favorites of the last few years.

Paper Girls 1

Paper Girls 1For those of you who don’t know, the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, or “the Eisners”, are awards given every year for achievements in comic books. The 2016 Eisner for “Best New Series” went to Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan (also the writer ofSaga, another great series.) and it doesn’t take an expert to see why. Paper Girls is a fast-paced adventure story with the backdrop of ‘80s suburbia, and a plot filled with elements of science-fiction, mystery, and nostalgia that pairs well with the art of co-creator Cliff Chiang. The story calls to mind movies and TV like E.T. or the recent Stranger Things, but there’s a slight twist in there that gives the story a bit of depth and relevance to today. I highly recommend picking up Paper Girls 1 and giving it a read, it’s a lot of fun.

Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick

Sex CriminalsOkay, so this one is certainly a GRAPHIC novel; it is most definitely not for the modest reader, but if you can put aside your shame, you can enjoy what is one of the most inventive and clever stories I have ever seen in this form. Despite the negative fuss it caused in its original release (getting itself temporarily banned from Apple platforms, for one), this series also received high acclaim, winning itself an Eisner in 2014, with some lauding it as a work of comedic genius. I am one of those people. The premise of Sex Criminals is simple: two individuals discover that they have the ability to stop time, but they can only do so when they…become intimate…with themselves or each other. Hilarity ensues (sorry for the cliché, but it really does) when they decide to use these powers in a big way. The best comedy here isn’t the physical, but the subtle everyday things that writer Matt Fraction has his characters (drawn by the unflinching artistic hand of Chip Zdarsky) say and do on top of his absurd premise. It is gross, funny, brilliant, and I think that its first volume is worth reading.

Get to Know Hunter

How long have you worked at Lemuria?
I have been working here for almost a month.

What do you do at Lemuria
I mostly work the register now, but I really like helping people find new books to read.

hunter

Talk to us what you’re reading right now.
I actually just started reading A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin. I also have been reading a short story collection by Richard Matheson off-and-on for the last few months. I am also always reading comic books and graphic novels.

What’s currently on your bedside table (book purgatory)?
Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I’ve had it for about a year, and it’s a really heavy read. Also several of the old Star Wars books.

How many books do you usually read at a time?
I try to just stick to one at a time, but I usually end up at 2-3.

I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books.
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Favorite authors?
H.P. Lovecraft, Douglas Adams, Richard Matheson, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke. A lot of authors actually.

Any particular genre that you’re especially in love with?
I love science fiction and horror. Also high fantasy, if it’s really good.

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria?
I’ve been focusing on school for a few years, but before that, I worked at a comic book store here in Jackson.

If you could share lasagna with any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you ask them?
One of the older authors who predicted things that came true, like Jules Verne or Aldous Huxley. I’d want to ask them how they knew what they knew.

Why do you like working at Lemuria?
It sounds like a cliché, but I love books. I like working around things that I love, and getting to share them with customers.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come?
Someone really famous and fun with a lot of buzz around them. Like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, or George R.R. Martin.

If Lemuria could have ANY pet (mythical or real), what do you think it should be?
That monster book from Harry Potter. The one with the teeth and eyes that tries to bite everyone.monster-book-of-monsters

If you had the ability to teleport, where would you go first?
Mars.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén