Science Fiction: It’s Not Just for Geeks Any More

Those of you who already like science fiction know that it is widely–and wildly–diverse, atmospheric, character-driven, multi-cultural and meaningful. Those of you who think you don’t like it, consider this list: Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Kazuo Ishiguro, Doris Lessing, Haruki Murakami, and National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead. All of these authors have written books that could qualify as science fiction or fantasy.

This month we added some classic SF titles to the collection, as well as the Hugo Award and Nebula Award winners (the Oscars of science fiction) and a zombie novel by the National Book Award winner!

2.2.17 Nan Books

Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison

Winner of the Hugo Award! This is the way the world ends–for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal–in the Stillness, a land where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. First line: “Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”

Kindred by Octavia Butler

In one of the great classics of modern SF, Dana, a young black woman, is repeatedly transported back in time to a slave plantation. Each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous…. Octavia Butler is the master, and this is the place to begin if you want to get to know feminist, African-American or modern speculative fiction!

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

Winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards in 1969, LeGuin’s novel is more relevant than ever. When the human ambassador arrives in Gethen, the planet known as Winter, he finds himself unprepared for more than just the cold climate. Gethen is an ancient world with a culture resembling medieval earth, but with one small difference: there is only one gender. Or rather, anyone can be either gender at any time. Fascinating!

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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon is unlike anything you have ever read, even though the bare bones of the story are totally familiar. It is the legend of Camelot and King Arthur– but this time told through the eyes of the women! If you’ve never read it, be aware: it will mesmerize you, blow your mind, and change your life. It is a more-than-worthy successor to T. H. White’s great classic The Once and Future King, which is now in the library in a new hardcover edition.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Winner of the Nebula Award! Agnieszka’s village borders the evil and powerful Wood. Her people rely on a wizard known as the Dragon to keep them safe, but he demands a terrible price: one young woman handed over to serve him every ten years. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid that he will take beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia. “The fantasy novel I feel I’ve been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you won’t want to put it down.” –NPR

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Yes, a zombie novel from the National Book Award winning author of Underground Railroad! After parts of New York have been reclaimed from the undead, Spitz works as a civilian sweeper, clearing lower Manhattan of its remaining feral zombies. Over the course of three days, Spitz copes with his mission, and with PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder). And then things start to go terribly wrong…. “[A] diabolically smart, covertly sensitive, ruminative, and witty zombie nightmare…pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire.” –Booklist