the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Mary Doria Russell’ Category

scifi month header

Thanks to the amazing organization skills of Rinn over at Rinn Reads, we’re right in the heart of  Science Fiction Month. And I’ve noticed something. Something wonderful: lots of folks who are participating in SciFi Month are completely new to science fiction.

This is fantastic!  That so many people who have never picked up a science  fiction book are interested in giving some weird stuff a try, it warms my heart.  Getting into science fiction isn’t always easy.   Strange names, alien planets, technobabble, far future technologies. . .  it can be a bit much.  Luckily, there are plenty (countless, actually) of “gate way” books, books that take place right now, or maybe a few years in the future, or even a few years in past. Books that don’t leave the solar system, maybe don’t even leave the Earth. You don’t need to be fluent in technobabble or have a degree in astronomy to enjoy these. You just need to turn the first page. . .

to help you on your journey into scifi, I’ve linked the titles to my reviews.  If you have any suggestions for other gateway books, let everyone know in the comments!

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett – After her parent’s death, Mona inherits her Mom’s old house in a sleepy town in the southwest. It’s one of those old fashioned towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the oldsters remember all the family secrets. there are family secrets, and then there are Family Secrets. How will Mona react when she learns her own?

In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. I love Kage Baker, it’s as simple as that. This novel is the first of her Company Series. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you won’t feel sucked into reading another long series. Mendoza is an operative with a company that collects historical artifacts, and they’ve turned her into an immortal cyborg, of sorts. She spies on people, but can’t tell anyone who or what she is. Really sucks, when she falls in love with someone on her first mission. This book is as heartbreaking as it is funny. By the way, I’ve got a review of some Kage Baker Company short stories that’ll be posting in a few days.

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In an interview at the end of the book (my copy has a super awesome “Book Club discussion” section), Doria Russell said she wanted The Sparrow to explore the benefits and risks of religion. The first time I picked up this book, I was apprehensive. Main characters are Jesuit priests? These are the guys who are obsessed with education (yay!) but also responsible for the Inquisition (not so yay!). A first contact story involving a religious mission to an alien planet sponsored by the Vatican? What the hell kind of book is this?

Nothing I say can do this book justice. It is beautiful, it is heartbreaking, it transcends “science fiction”, and takes first contact and mistranslation to a whole new level. It transcends everything.  There is much discussion of religion in The Sparrow, but this is not a religious book. In fact, just skip this review and go buy the book. That’s what the hell kind of book it is.

My habit is to write a review that talks about the characters and the plot, and blah blah blah. I’ll try to edit that stuff down because here’s the meat and potatoes: The Sparrow is hands down the most beautiful book I have ever read.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.