Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

Inner Geek

August 4, 2011

We’re having #geekreads in honour of Science Week and we all relate geekiness with technology but I tend to think that most of us have areas of interest where our enthusiasm, possibly seen as over enthusiasm by others, renders us geeks. I’m probably a bit geeky in several areas but I think the main one would be classic British novels and the BBC versions made of them. I like nothing better than pointing out which actors, in what I am currently watching, were in which adaptations of Jane Austen or Brontë sisters’ books. Imagine my joy when I watched a version of Jane Eyre where Mr Rochester played Captain Wentworth in an early Persuasion and St John played Captain Wentworth in a later version! You’re not thrilled by that? No, it’s just me and my area of geekiness.

 Science and technology may not be areas where I spend a lot of down time but, luckily for this month’s theme, I do occasionally get excited about books which happen to be science fiction. My book club recently read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Knowing him to be the author of The Remains of the Day, I wasn’t expecting dystopian science fiction but was delighted to find it.

A rather more obviously science fiction read is CS Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy. I would read CS Lewis’ shopping list, such is my love for him, but only very recently came to read his science fiction and what a joy it was! Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength took me to Mars, Venus and Cambridge and the hero is a middle aged philiologist….. sigh.



#geekreads in August

August 1, 2011


National Science Week will be on 14 to 22 August. In honour of that August reading for #readit2011 is geekreads.

When you think of geekreads think science both fact and fiction, books, books, blogs, tweets and magazines. Great places to start with online reading for these areas are New Scientist, Scientific American and Boing boing.

A spiral galaxy about 25 million light years from Earth.

Technology is also a great topic for #geekreads.

Reading about games is included in #geekreads.  You might want to explore writing by people such as Tom Chatfield, Scott Nicholson and Wil Wheaton.  Don’t forget that playing some games involves lots of reading and so would be a fun way of exploring this topic (try Nordic LARP, role playing games, and massively multiple online games).

Include any reading which strikes you as a geeky read.

If you explore at the fiction end of the spectrum be inspired by, SF signal or Hugo Award nominees for this year (and past winners and nominees) and by the amazing ideas at the British Library, Out of this world exhibition (and blog). Don’t forget steampunk too. You may even want to explore the whole Trove of possibilities.

So come join us and tweet about what you are reading this August using the twitter hashtag #geekreads.  You can also use this tag on other social media sites such as flickr or when you post about your reading on your blog.

You might also want to add tags for each month’s reading to Trove, Library Thing, and your library catalogue (if that is possible) – so that other people can see what you are reading.

We hope you will join us in our geeky reading, and share your own reading during #geekreads.

There will be a twitter discussion 8.00pm (AEST) 30 August to discuss #geekreads. See you online then.

tempus fugit or tempus frangit

June 24, 2011
Tempus Fugit, by flickr user Forty Two

Tempus Fugit, by flickr user Forty Two

My ultimate #goreads are about travelling not so much geographically, as temporally. Time travel provides a reading paradox, because it breaks us from our normal understanding of time as a linear thing. This is not only refreshing, but also offers a particular imaginative insight into history.

While I like history, and read a lot of historical novels it is in time travel fiction that I often find the tiny minutiae of day to day life, the banal details of the daily and the ordinary – the kind of detail that you can’t always get from history books. Time travel novels are works of fiction, born of the imagination, but there’s something about that imaginative experience that draws me in. I read for the imaginative discovery of history. As the reader, I am also a time travel protagonist… a 21st century person taking in a whole new world.

I started my time travel obsession early, with Penelope Lively’s A Stitch in Time – a wonderful slightly paranormal children’s/YA novel about a girl who forms a curious, unexplainable bond with a girl who lived in her Victorian house 100 years earlier. This novel was inspired by Penelope Lively’s love of her childhood home… and she wrote a follow up non-fiction work a few years ago exploring the living history of houses over generations.

Penelope Lively has written other ‘timeslip’ novels, as have fellow UK writer Alison Uttley, and New Zealand YA author Sheryl Jordan. It seems a very popular way of exploring time travel and history for YA readers, possibly because the idea of a time slip… suddenly, accidentally finding yourself in another time… requires no explanation, allowing readers to get right to the heart of the narrative without too much exposition.

As an adult, though, I required more answers as my obsession with time travel grew. My time travel reading explored a vast array of different theories and temporal places – from chaos theory, to genetic temporal displacement disorder, from Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, to a secret society of time traveling cyborgs addicted to chocolate (!!!), to a medieval princess trapped in the 23rd century (a science fictional retelling of Sleeping Beauty).

It’s a great genre to dip into if you like the comical (like Jasper Fforde’s much loved Thursday Next novels), if you like historical detail, or if you just like a little bit of a mind bend, or the unexpected. And it’s a great way to experience history from both a great height (the privileged moment in which you can observe a great moment in history, as it happens – but with the luxury of hindsight) and from the often benighted, murky depths of those who must live through history as it happens. The contrast between these two experiences is, I think, the thing that I love best.

So whether you like your fictional universes explained in convoluted detail, or are just happy to suddenly have a fresh 20th or 21st century perspective on the past, I suggest giving time travel a try.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of my favourite titles and authors.