Saturday, 26 November 2016

2017 Reading Challenges - Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror

I've spent my Saturday morning relaxing in bed, reading (I finished In a Dark, Dark Wood and started Before I Go to Sleep) and watching footie. The dogs have had a couple of walks; no rain for the moment and it's nice and cool, and now I'm ready for the next instalment of my 2017 Reading Group Challenge list.

Today I'll highlight books from the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. I know I've already got one specific Science Fiction challenge but that was to remove some of the earliest written books from my shelf. In my Individual Challenge, I hope to read 5 of each of the above genres. I do have some difficulty at times ascertaining if a specific book might fit in better as Fantasy or Science Fiction so you may have to bear with me. Anyway, starting with Science Fiction, here are three possibles as my first reads.

1. Science Fiction

I hope to read at least five more and will start with the following three.

1. Metro 2033 by Dmitri Glukhovsky (2007) - I just bought this book in 2016 but I've wanted to try it almost immediately. It does sound interesting. This is one of those books that might fit into the Fantasy and, maybe even Horror. I guess I'll know when I've read it.

"The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. A few thousand live on, not knowing if they are the only survivors on the planet. They live in the Moscow Metro - the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity's last refuge. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct - the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price.
VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the future of the Metro - and maybe the whole of humanity."

2. The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin (1980) - Two of my favourite Science Fiction stories, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, were written by Le Guin. I've wanted to try more of her stories for quite a long time.

"Two young people meet in a strange and wonderful place across the creek and over the threshold of the real world. To them it does not matter how or why they got to Tembreabrezi, because the town on the mountain offers them what they so desperately need: escape from their dreary daily lives. But when their place of peace becomes a realm of horror, they suddenly face a terrible and chilling choice that could cost them everything, including their lives."

3. The Martian by Andy Weir (2011) - I've had the book for a couple of years now and still haven't seen the movie. What's wrong with me!! I'll at least lay to rest the book in 2017.

"Six days ago astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars's surface, with no way to signal Earth that he's alive. and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old 'human error' are much more likely to kill him first.
Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills - and a gallows sense of humour that proves to be his greatest source of strength - Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

2. Fantasy

I plan to start out with an oldie, finish a series, and start a new YA Fantasy series as my first three.

1. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912) - The first book in the acclaimed Tarzan series. I've read other series by Burroughs, namely the John Carter of Mars books, and he can spin a great story.

"Deep in the savage African jungle, the baby Tarzan was raised by a fierce she-ape of the tribe of Kerchak. There he had to learn the secrets of the wild to survive - how to talk with animals, swing through the trees, and fight against the great predators. He grew to the strength and courage of his fellow apes. And in time, his human intelligence promised him the kingship of the tribe. He became truly Lord of the Jungle.
Then men entered his jungle, bringing with them the wanton savagery of civilised greed and lust - and bringing also the first white woman Tarzan had ever seen. Now suddenly, Tarzan had to choose between two worlds."

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010) - My wife bought me this for Xmas a few years back and I've finished the first two books of this enjoyable series. I almost regret finishing the series but I do want to see how this will all turn out.

"Katniss Everdeen, Girl on Fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 really does exist, and now it has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay - no matter what the personal cost."

3. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson #1, 2005) - This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and it sounds like a fun, entertaining read. We'll see.

"Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school ... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. and worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves."

3. Horror

My first three selections in this category include one by Ira Levin, a classic that has been movies and musicals and a good new-fashioned zombie thriller.

1. Sliver by Ira Levin (1991) - I read Levin's Rosemary's Baby this past year and enjoyed very much. He has had great success producing stories that have translated well the big screen. Sliver was no exception.

"Thirteen hundred Madison Avenue, an elegant 'sliver' building, soars high and narrow over Manhattan's smart Upper East Side. Kay Norris, a successful, single woman, moves on to the twentieth floor of the building, high on hopes of a fresh start and the glorious Indian summer outside.
But she doesn't know that someone is listening to her. Someone is watching her."

2. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1911) - I've seen the musical based on the book. I don't think I've ever seen the whole movie. I found this book at a local store and decided it was time to read it.

"The Opera Ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak-room attendants, or the concierge. No, he existed in flesh and blood, thought he assumed all the outward characteristics of a real phantom, that is to say, a shade."

3. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (2009) - I have read one book by Jonathan Maberry and enjoyed very much. He can turn out a scary book. This is the first book in his Joe Ledger series.

"'When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there is nothing wrong with my skills.'
Joe Ledger, Baltimore Police Department detective, ex-army, martial arts expert, a man who has killed often, is scared. He's just had to kill the same man for the second time.
And the top secret government agency who have just co-opted him onto their strength are scared too.
The Department of Military Sciences are desperately trying to counter a new terrorist plot. Anti-terrorist operations have been thrown into confusion by the appearance of re-animated corpses.
Corpses that are almost impossible to stop, corpses with an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
The race is onto destroy the cell, to crack the science behind the outbreak, find out who is responsible and stop the apocalypse. But somehow the terrorists are always one step ahead and hell beckons..."

There you go, my next group of challenges. Next Blog will focus on Fiction.

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