Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / Thursday, April 8, 2010 - < http://www.dailyfilmdose.com/2010/04/lord-of-rings-fellowship-of-ring.html >
Product description: Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is an epic adventure of good against evil, the power of friendship and individual courage. The saga centers around an unassuming Hobbit named Frodo Baggins who inherits a Ring that would give a dark and powerful lord the power to enslave the world. With a loyal fellowship of elves, dwarves, men and a wizard, Frodo embarks on a heroic quest to destroy the One Ring and pave the way for the emergence of mankind.
From rogerebert.com an excerpt of his review of Fellowship fo the Ring | December 19, 2001
Source of the image: Next year coutry news blog - < http://nextyearcountrynews.blogspot.com/2010/06/vision-of-future-dune.html >
Kirkus: This future space fantasy might start an underground craze. It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection... With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees. (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1965)
Source of review: NoveList Plus- http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=033651&site=novp-live
Product description: The spectacular epic that began in the Emmy Award-winning Frank Herbert’s Dune mini-series continues in this dazzling new journey into sweeping interstellar intrigue and visionary sci-fi adventure! On the desert planet of Dune, the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled: the rule of the legendary Muad’dib has triggered a miraculous transformation of the arid wastelands. But as always, the Great Houses of the Empire are alive with rumors of conspiracy, plotting and betrayal. And when Muad’dib no longer wields absolute power as the Emperor, his young son Leto Atreides and daughter Ghanima face the prospect of a disastrous civil war on Arrakis - and chaos on a galactic scale. Now, with the future of the vital Spice trade in the balance, the destiny of humanity itself will depend on the courage, strength and otherworldly wisdom of The Children of Dune!
Excerpt from Primer: The Chronicles of Amber, May 22, 2012 for Litreactor.com
I would be remiss in writing a regular column on fantasy if I didn’t cover my favorite fantasy series of all time, The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. In last year’s NPR poll on the top 100 science fiction and fantasy books, the series came in at number 40 . I would put it in the top 5. The first book, Nine Princes in Amber, appeared in 1970, and over the next 26 years Zelazny would add to the series, completing an original arc of five books, later following that with another five book series, and finally writing a few short stories to address dangling plot threads shortly before his death (though, sadly, without writing everything he’d planned).
Zelazny remarked that parts of Amber came to him, virtually fully formed, as he began to set it down. He was discovering the story as he wrote it, but he felt as if these people and their story already existed, the shape within the clay, so to speak. That it had this kind of life to him is evident in the vibrancy of the series.
Link to the full article and image source: http://litreactor.com/columns/primer-the-chronicles-of-amber
Roger Zelazny (also using pseudonym Harrison Denmark early in his career) combines hard Science Fiction with epic Fantasy. His works focus on believable characters who often tell their stories in the first person, emphasizing interior psychology versus outwardly mechanical, technological attributes. He often provides fascinating explorations of mythic trickster figures, played out in past and future worlds. Mood and tone range from thoughtful, to slapstick, to the sword-and-sorcery-action of his Amber series. Mythic allusions, generous humor, and ironic wit characterize all his writing. Renewal -- physical, emotional, and psychological -- is his most common theme. Start with: Lord of Light.
Source of the author description: NoveList Plus - http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=1004888&site=novp-live
Contains three books of the Hainish Cycle: Rocannon's world, Planet of exile and City of illusions.
Book 6 of the Hainish Cycle
Book description: While on a mission to the planet Gethen, earthling Genly Ai is sent by leaders of the nation of Orgoreyn to a concentration camp from which the exiled prime minister of the nation of Karhide tries to rescue him.
Image source:Bargain bin for you < http://bargainbin4u.wordpress.com/2008/07/14/ringworld-by-larry-niven/ >
Ringworld is the first book of a five book series
Book description: A two-headed creature and a large red-furred carnivore are among the members of a party which arrives to explore a mysterious world fabricated in the shape of a ring.
Kirkus: Ringworld (1970), the most celebrated work in Niven's "Known Space" sequence, posited a vast body of matter--enough for an entire solar system--spinning around a sun in the form of a single giant artifact of unknown origin: a continuous million-mile-wide ribbon provided with oceans, atmosphere, and vast flat projections (life-size "maps") of Earth and other inhabited planets. The present book takes up the puzzle some 20 years after Louis Wu's escape from the Ringworld. Kidnapped by the mate of Nessus, their two-headed alien companion of the previous voyage, Louis and his catlike ally Chmeee are transported to the Ringworld--now spinning dangerously off-center--in an attempt to discover the cause of the aberrant rotation before the world grazes its sun. Searching for clues to the design of the structure's long-vanished original engineers, they encounter various hominid and other races before finding the barely feasible, wholly appalling solution hidden beneath the "Map of Mars." Niven, a longstanding favorite with "hard" sf buffs, commands an impressive vein of invention, but his plotting here is limp and threadbare; the idea was more striking the first time around. (Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1980)
Source of the review NoveList Plus - http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=047279&site=novp-live
Kirkus: Third in Niven's famous Ringworld series (The Ringworld Engineers, not reviewed), set on a colossal space habitat that forms a complete ring, 600 million miles in circumference, around its sun, and comes complete with cleverly engineered days and nights, seasons, oceans, mountains, and what-all. Earth explorer Louis Wu has been trying to evade the surveillance of the Hindmost, a manipulative alien puppeteer who, despite his advanced technology, is trapped on the Ringworld. Nevertheless, the Hindmost observes everything that occurs, especially--in the first (intriguing but largely irrelevant) section--how a motley band of assorted humanoids somehow pool their talents to wipe out a bothersome nest of Vampires. In the second section, exciting but very hard to follow, the Hindmost notes with interest that a powerful Someone seems obsessed with protecting and maintaining the Ringworld. And soon both Louis and the Hindmost are being controlled by a protector, Brain, a Vampire transformed by a virus and a particular diet into a superbeing. Neither is Brain alone--and the problem is that protectors of different species instinctively fight to protect their own species' genes. Someone, however, must take control of the Ringworld to ensure its survival. . . . Notably schizophrenic and confusing but inventive enough that Ringworld admirers will surely wish to investigate. (Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1996)
Source of the review NoveList Plus -< http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=047280&site=novp-live >
Image information: Ben Kenobi( Alec Guinness) and Luke Skywalker(Mark Hamill), Star Wars, c1977, 20th Century-Fox Film. In the circulating collection of the Print and Picture Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia
Product description: A rebel ship is being boarded by the tyrannical Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker, with his new allies, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Ben Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2, attempt to rescue rebel leader, Princess Leia, from the clutches of the Empire. The conclusion is culminated as the Rebels, including Skywalker and flying ace Wedge Antilles make an attack on the Empires most powerful and ominous weapon, the Death Star.
Product description: Fleeing the evil Galactic Empire, the rebels abandon their new base on Hoth. Princess Leia, Han Solo, R2-D2 and C-3P0 escape in the damaged Millenium Falcon. Later, on Bespin, they are captured by Lord Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker, meanwhile, follows Ben Kenobi's posthumous command and receives Jedi training by Yoda on Dagobah.
Product description: Darth Vader and the Empire are building a new, indestructible Death Star. Meanwhile, Han Solo has been imprisoned, and Luke Skywalker has sent R2D2 and C3PO to try and free him. Princess Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter, and Chewbacca go along as well. The final battle takes place on the moon of Endor, with its natural inhabitants, the Ewoks, lending a hand to the rebels.
The Helliconia Trilogy…is 30 years old this year (2012). To celebrate here are some collated web clips and comments, starting with a word from The Grandmaster himself, on his quest for writing the definitive book, Helliconia – a definitive statement on humanity.
Source of text and image: The Brian Aldiss Website - http://brianaldiss.co.uk/writing/novels/novels-h-l/helliconia/
Book description: In Helliconia, a world orbiting binary suns far from Earth, a young man named Yuli builds the city of Oldorando, a city that now faces the threat of the phagors, a beast species rivaling humankind.
Book description: On the beleaguered planet of Helliconia, the king of Borlien determines to divorce his queen and marry a child princess of Oldorando, while his numerous enemies surround him and plot his destruction, in the second volume of the epic science fiction series.
Book description: The concluding volume of the author's Helliconia trilogy finds the planet Helliconia moving away from its sun, its climate growing harsher, its government becoming more severe, and, as a deadly plague, greed, and betrayal ravages the land, one man strives to return his planet to the light.
Image source: Diesel punk website - http://dieselpunk44.blogspot.com/2012/04/genre-punk-linguistic-family-tree.html
Book description: Case, a burned-out computer whiz, is asked to steal a security code that is locked in the most heavily guarded databank in the solar system.
Excerpt from "Want to get into Iain M. Banks' great Culture series?"
Here's a handy primer that will introduce you to the Culture, the pan-galactic civilization whose members and ex-members are the subjects of so many Banks novels, including Surface Detail.
You don't need to read the every Culture novel to appreciate the glory of a single title - the books are only loosely connected. But this guide will help give you a sense of the space opera background for the series.
Not only do we have a rundown of every single Culture novel, but we've also got some important excerpts from an obscure essay Banks wrote in 1994 about the ideas behind the Culture universe. Get ready to enter a world where ships are sentient, humans live for half a millennium, and living on a planet is probably the most backward thing you can do.
The Culture Novels:
Set during the war between The Culture and the Idirans, this is one of Banks' most widely-praised science fiction novels. Its events also shape the Culture for hundreds of years afterward. The Idirans are a lizard-like, hierarchical people who want to colonize as many worlds as possible in order to convert as many creatures as possible to their religion. The Culture, on the other hand, wants to spread its more democratic-anarchic beliefs to as many worlds as possible. Essentially, the two empires are fighting to control the ideologies of colony worlds. Our protagonist, Horza, has grown disgusted with the Culture way of life and has become a spy for the Idirans. As the war reaches a howling crescendo, we follow Horza from a dying ring world full of cannibalistic cultists, to a ship full of criminals, and at last to final showdown deep within the catacombs of a dead world. This is action-packed world-building at its most alluring: full of cool fights and interesting philosophical debates. Plus, Banks pulls a typical counter-intuitive move by introducing us to The Culture through the eyes of an outsider who has grown disgusted with it.
Image from the cover of Excession by Mark Salwowski.
Text and image source: http://io9.com/5663293/welcome-to-the-culture-the-galactic-civilization-that-iain-m-banks-built
Book description: (First book in the Culture universe series) Horza, a Changer, finds himself at the center of an epic galactic confrontation between the fanatical Idirans and the communistic Culture, made up of humans ruled by the Mind machines that they have created.
Reviewed by Kirkus:From the author of The Wasp Factory and Walking on Glass: a voluminous, sometimes exciting space-opera where character motivations are the most troubling of several knotty problems. Two far-future galactic empires are at war: the Earth-derived Culture, tolerant, unwarlike, vaguely communistic, is ruled by Minds, artificial intelligences of imponderable power and scope; the Idirans, bulky, three-legged alien conquerors who have made warfare into a religion, are implacably opposed to the Minds. Horza, a genetically engineered human with shape-shifting abilities, sides with the Idirans because he prefers biologicals to machines. His mission--numerous adventures intervene--is to capture a disabled Mind that has taken refuge in some ancient tunnels on a Planet of the Dead. In pursuing the Mind, Horza finds himself fighting the same Idirans who are supposed to be his allies. The mechanics of all this haven't been thought through--Horza's adventures, for instance (actually short stories tacked on), eclipse his supposedly supremely important mission. Neither does his decision to fight for the brutal, fanatical Idirans against the vastly more civilized and appealing Culture add up. And we never learn what the Minds do, or what the Idiran religion consists of. Overextended and jarring, then, but imaginative and gripping in places. (Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1988)
Source of description and review: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=014127&site=novp-live
Link to the source of the image:Greatfreakinrobot.com http://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/scifi/11-scifi-properties-movie.html
Book description: (First book in series) A pilgrimage to the realm of the Shrike, a part-god/part-killing machine, provides the travellers the forum to tell their incredible stories.
Review from the Library Journal: While the worlds of the Hegemony fight a deperate war in space against the Ouster rebels who threaten galactic unity, a group of seven pilgrims on the planet Hyperion wage their own war within the Tombs of Time, a mysterious artifact which conceals a hideous creature whose freedom means death for humanity. In this sequel to Hyperion , Simmons weaves together many strands of a complex plot with lucidity and poetic imagination. Recommended.
Source of the review: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=055887&site=novp-live
Part of the Queng Ho or Zones of thought novels
Reviewed by BookList: Vinge follows in the footsteps of Carver, Benford, Brin, and Bear in combining hard science and the science fiction epic in this, his most ambitious novel. In a far future interstellar society, intelligence is limited by a mind's location in the universe. A scientific experiment gone awry disrupts this situation, causing widespread destruction and chaos. Refugees who may have the secret to saving civilization fall into the hands of a medieval race of aliens, and the quest is on for an oddly assorted band of rescuers to save the refugees and their knowledge. Its epic aspects are stronger than the science, but overall, the book is as successful as it is ambitious and should have wide appeal. ((Reviewed Mar. 1, 1992)) -- Roland Green
Link to the source: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=060621&site=novp-live
Prequel to A Fire upon the Deep (1992)
Reviewed by Kirkus: /* Starred Review */ A distant prequel to Vinge's 1992 masterpiece, A Fire Upon the Deep, with a single character in common. Some 8,000 years hence, the Qeng Ho interstellar trading fleet investigates the enigmatic OnOff--a star that shines for 35 years, then extinguishes for 250; once understood, its weird physics may yield an improved star drive. Meantime, its single planet harbors intelligent aliens, the Spiders, divided into warring factions, but thought to be descendants of an advanced starfaring civilization. During the Dark, they survive frozen solid in pools of ice. Also arriving at OnOff are the acquisitive, ambitious Emergents. Cooperating at first, the Emergents later mount a treacherous sneak attack, defeating the traders and enslaving the survivors. The Emergents' overwhelming advantage is Focus, the result of a brain-infecting virus that can be induced to secrete mind-controlling chemicals. Those Focused are instilled with unswerving loyalty. The Emergents are led by a smiling deceiver, Tomas Nau, his sadistic assistant, Ritser Brughel, and personnel genius Anne Reynolt, once Nan's greatest adversary, now enslaved and Focused. The Qeng Ho resistance is thin, consisting of legendary genius and onetime leader Pham Nuwen, whose failed dream of a Qeng Ho galactic empire forced him into exile; young trader Ezh Vinh; and, secretly, Ezh's love, linguist Trixia Bonsol, now Focused and translating the Spiders' language. Both the Emergent and Qeng Ho fleets lost interstellar capability during the battle, so the humans must wait until the Spiders develop technology advanced enough to help them. As the OnOff star reignites, the Spiders emerge from their "deepnesses" and, galvanized by genius Sherkaner Underhill, burst into a frenzy of technological development. Nau plans to trick the Spiders into destroying themselves in a nuclear war. Pham, meanwhile, schemes to defeat Nau but sees in Focus the key to realizing his old dreams of empire. Huge, intricate, and ingenious, with superbly realized aliens: a chilling, spellbinding dramatization of the horrors of slavery and mind control. (Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1999)
Source of the review: NoveList Plus - http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=neh&tg=UI&an=060620&site=novp-live
"Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them--and among the humans--who seek power...and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed. On a world of fascinating wonders and terrifying dangers, Vernor Vinge has created a powerful novel of adventure and discovery that will entrance the many readers of A Fire Upon the Deep. Filled with the inventiveness, excitement, and human drama that have become hallmarks of his work, this new novel is sure to become another great milestone in Vinge's already stellar career. "-- Provided by publisher.
Excerpt from the guardian.com, Your next box set: Firefly: Joss Whedon's shortlived sci-fi series is a rich blend of western and Star Wars – what a shame it was cut down in its prime by Daniel Bettridge,Thursday 22 March 2012
A genre-fusing concoction of western and science fiction, Firefly had a great cast, top-notch writing and plenty of the trademark quick-witted dialogue that had been so popular on Whedon's previous smash hit series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. What it didn't have, however, was an audience, as the mainstream failed to cotton on to the concept that cult fans were lapping up.
In all, just 11 episodes of the pithy space soap were shown (though 14 were made) and some of those were aired out of sequence at the bequest of the same broadcasting brains trust who were also responsible for the untimely demise of Arrested Development. The show failed not because of the quality of the concept, but because the Fox studio simply didn't know what to do with a series that didn't fit into any established programming pigeonhole.
Set 500 years in the future, Firefly takes place in a not-too-distant solar system where people are living on a smattering of planets that have been terraformed to house the growing human population. The result is a sort of futuristic frontier town, a unique mashup of cultures, conventions and characters that straddle a line between John Wayne western and Star Wars. In any other hands it would be little more than an interesting McGuffin, but thanks to Whedon's eye for detail, Firefly is a richly textured, charming conceit.
Link to the full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/mar/27/firefly-your-next-box-set
Product description: River Tam and her brother Simon are hiding out from the totalitarian government that experimented with River's brain aboard a space-freighter. Captained by a down on his luck soldier, the crew of Serenity must take jobs, whether they are legal or not, while trying to avoid the Alliance, and keeping the Tams safe. Then things get out of control and the true extent of River's powers becomes known. At the same time, the Alliance sends a new Operative to make sure that what River knows doesn't get out.
Book description: In a universe filled with hearts and minds as cold and dark as the reaches of space, one small Firefly-class starship named Serenity takes its ragtag crew of mercenaries, outlaws, and fugitives in search of a job, any job, that'll earn them enough cash to afford that most elusive commodity--peace.