December 2011

The Many Faces of the Power Rangers

I was in high school when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first came on the scene. I couldn't stand watching this campy show about the rangers and their battle against evil. The original show had 177 episodes, but to me it was a forgettable series.

Lets fast forward about 15 years, and I sit at the television watching Power Rangers Samurai with my children. This series seems a little darker and aimed for a more sophisticated tween, so it's palatable for me. I am a big fan of Netflix and my children discovered that it has every series of Power Rangers ever created. There were a lot.

Apparently, while I partied it up in college and then joined the work force, Power Rangers was coming out with brand new series every few years. There was Power Rangers Galactic Force, Power Rangers Mystic Force, Power Rangers Jungle Force and on and on and on.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Trying Something Different

The December book for the sci-fi/fantasy book club I belong to was Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon.  I am not normally a Stephen King fan -- the only book of his I've read and really liked was On Writing, which of course was not a novel at all -- but I decided to do my best to approach this one with an open mind.

It helped, perhaps, that I'd heard from many Stephen King fans that they didn't like The Eyes of the Dragon -- that it was different than his other work, that he should have stuck more to horror and sci-fi rather than trying to write fairy tale-style fantasy.  I figured, hey, if his fans don't like it and I'm not usually a fan, maybe this book will be more of the style I like.

Public Domain: Science Fiction Books For Free

If you are a science fiction fan, then most likely you are a technophile as well. They kind of go hand in hand. The world of the Internet has now made it possible to get some of your favorite science fiction classics for free with the right app.

Science fiction like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have passed their copyright dates and are now public domain. Sure, you can go to a store or online and buy the books, but there are many services that offer scanned copies of the books for free.

It all started when universities and other organizations began scanning books page-by-page as a way to save them for prosperity. This happened before the revolution of electronic books and Kindle. There are many apps that allow you to read these scans for free. Sure, they're not the best quality like a professionally created electronic book, but they get the job done and you can't beat the price.

Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books of 2011

The Best of the Genre According to NPR

A few days ago, I came across a great story on NPR, listing the top science fiction and fantasy books of 2011.

Considering how many wonderful books in these combined genres came out in the past eleven and a half months, the list was surprisingly short: just 5 books.  Not so surprising was the book that headed up the list: George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in probably the most popular fantasy series on the shelves right now.

Here's the five listed as the top sci-fi/fantasy books of the year, in NPR's opinion:

Science Fiction: Jurassic Park

Sometimes it amazes me how a book can seem like science fiction, but only a few years later you can see the beginnings of reality. I didn't read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton until after the movie came out, but genetics was still far from where it is today.

If anyone has seen the movie and read the book, you will notice there are a lot of differences, but the overall plot is basically the same. A millionaire entrepreneur finds a way to clone dinosaurs using blood taken from mosquitoes covered in amber. He created a theme park using the dinosaurs, and lets just say things didn't go well.

Don't Forget about YA

Recently I was talking to a friend from the sci-fi and fantasy book club I attend about how many good sci-fi books there are in the YA genre.  He didn't know many of them -- basically just the ones that were around when we were kids -- so I was encouraging him to try out a few recent YA titles.  I think most people would be amazed at the quality of YA lit.

Great Documentaries: Trek Nation

If you are a Star Trek lover and want to know the real truth about the man behind the Enterprise, then you must find and watch “Trek Nation.”

I am one of those Star Trek fans that put Gene Roddenberry on a pedestal and saw him as visionary and master of my world. He made me love science and was the reason why I studied physics in college. I room was filled with memorabilia from books and models to phasers and tricorders.

When he died, I even send a letter of condolence to his wife and received a thank you back, which is a treasured keepsake. It's easy to forget that Roddenberry for all the he has done was still just a man. His son Rod Roddenberry created a documentary titled “Trek Nation” explored the real Gene Roddenberry, a man even his son didn't know.

Review: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

"While I don’t think that it quite measures up to a genre-setter like Neuromancer, the book definitely has its good points."

First let me prologue by saying that I am religiously devoted to William Gibson and his works.  With that said, I decided to look a little further into what some call the “cyberpunk” genre by picking up a book that has been recommended to me on several occasions – Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

Science Fiction For Kids

I have always been a fan of H.G. Well's “The Time Machine” for a great classic.

As adults, many times we forget that we all got started reading science fiction at an early age. Perusing the shelves of book stores...if anyone still does that... or searching through the webpages of amazon, its hard to find science fiction books for kids.

Maybe people think that space travel and aliens are concepts too difficult for smaller children or that maybe the subject matter is to dark, but there just isn't a great selection that I can find. That doesn't mean there isn't books out there.

I have always been a fan of H.G. Well's “The Time Machine” for a great classic. If you watch any of the children's shows on television such as Power Rangers, there are books based on those characters as well. Science fiction is a great way to get kids interested in science. Most science fiction has some basis in science fact. It doesn't matter if its space travel, biology, physics, etc.

Science Fiction For Kids

As adults, many times we forget that we all got started reading science fiction at an early age. Perusing the shelves of book stores...if anyone still does that... or searching through the webpages of amazon, its hard to find science fiction books for kids.

Maybe people think that space travel and aliens are concepts too difficult for smaller children or that maybe the subject matter is to dark, but there just isn't a great selection that I can find. That doesn't mean there isn't books out there.

I have always been a fan of H.G. Well's “The Time Machine” for a great classic. If you watch any of the children's shows on television such as Power Rangers, there are books based on those characters as well. Science fiction is a great way to get kids interested in science. Most science fiction has some basis in science fact. It doesn't matter if its space travel, biology, physics, etc.

Do You Speak Geek?

I belong to a few groups that meet regularly where we are all, unashamedly, geeks.  At a recent meeting, one young woman randomly said, "You remind me of the babe."

Immediately, as though the entire thing were planned, another woman said, "What babe?" and another piped up, "The babe with the power."

If you know what I'm talking about -- or if you can recite the entire exchange without having to look it up -- you might be a geek.