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Science Fiction is for Everyone

Sometimes labelling a book "science fiction" causes people to shy away from it, but science fiction is for everyone!  Here are some great reads that should not be overlooked.

Robert Sawyer is an award-winning Canadian science fiction author who sets his books in Canada with lots of Canadian cultural references.  This hasn't stopped him from winning the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell science fiction awards.  Check out his latest book Rollback.  book cover image In this book, 87-year-old astronomer Sarah Halifax is asked to decode the reply to a message she sent to an alien planet several years before.  To continue the research, she and her husband both undergo an experimental process called a rollback; this process can make a person young again.  The process succeeds with her husband - he returns to age 25 - but Sarah remains 87.  The issues of aging and youth, not to mention alien communication, make this book a fascinating read.   Other intriguing reads by Sawyer include Calculating God and Hominids (part one of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy).

Another outstanding, award-winning Canadian science fiction writer is Robert Charles Wilson.  In his book Blind Lakebook cover imageresearchers are using quantum technology to study a far-off planet of lobster-like creatures.  Suddenly, the isolated research faciity of Blind Lake is locked down, sealed off by the military for unknown reasons.   Tensions build between those trapped in the facility (a bullying chief-of-staff, an estranged couple with stalking in the mix, a little girl with an invisible friend are just some of the characters) - and one of the researchers becomes convinced that the alien being closely observed has become aware that someone is watching.  This is an intense, substantial work of fiction.  Wilson has also written Chronoliths, Spin and his latest book Axis (sequel to Spin).

The novels of Connie Willis could be described as science fiction, or fantasy, or a little of both.  They can also be delightfully funny, as in the case of To Say Nothing of the Dog.  book cover imageIt's set in 2057, and by then, time travel is an everyday occurrence.  Historians at Oxford are using time travel to journey back to Victorian England and study things they way they really were.  They have also been dragooned into helping Lady Schrapnell, an wealthy dowager intent on restoring Coventry Cathedral to its past glory  in every detail.  Very English characters, cats, croquet, and possible slippage in the space-time continuum that just might result in the Nazis winning the war combine in an often hilarious book.  Check out Willis's somewhat more serious offerings: Doomsday Book, set at the time of the Black Death, and Passage, which involves the Titanic. 

Another entertaining English author who could be considered science fiction is Jasper Fforde.  His first book The Eyre Affair book cover imagewas a breath of fresh air for those who had loved the wacky, completely out-there works of the late Douglas Adams (such as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).  The Eyre Affair is set in an alternate universe where great works of literature are completely mainstream (street-corner machines dispense quotations from Shakespeare) and literary Special Operative Thursday Next must go undercover in Charlotte Bronte's great work by means of the Prose Portal.  Thursday's renegade Chronoguard father travels time, fighting historical revisions.  Inventive, whimisical, crazy and fun ... you just may get hooked and want to read the rest of Thurday's adventures (the followup to The Eyre Affair is aptly titled Lost in a Good Book).  Or perhaps dive in at the deep end and enjoy Fforde's Nursery Crime series - start with The Big Over Easy, featuring (who else?) Humpty Dumpty.

Read on!!