Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

The Institute, by Stephen King

February 20, 2020

[Lesley] I’m a Stephen King fan from way back. Lost sleep over ‘Salems Lot and have never forgotten the car and the music in Christine. The Dark Tower series remains one of the best dystopian epics I’ve ever read. Still, there have been lots of books in between that I just didn’t really like. Either they felt re-heated or gratuitously gory or just too weird even for me. The Institute brought me right back into the King fold.

The Stephen King books that I have liked most have at the heart of their creepiness a true darkness that is more frightening than any monster or supernatural phenomenon. I won’t say that it is human darkness (but it is human darkness).

The Institute is speculative/science fiction that could be happening right now, somewhere in this country. Kids being used for their “special” abilities, kids being experimented on to enhance those abilities, secret agencies operating beneath the radar of everyday life. Stranger Things (the series) starts with this idea as do many other stories.

We begin with the kidnapping of Luke Ellis and the murder of his parents. He wakes up at “The Institute,” a mysterious and sinister place where kids have access to 24/7 meals, and cigarettes but they need “tokens” to buy junk food or alcohol. The other kids tell Luke about how to get tokens (don’t put up a fight), what experiments to expect, and which of the staff are the most dangerous. If only these things were kids exaggerating to frighten the new one but, of course, it is even worse than he could have believed.

Why is this happening? Where do the kids go when they disappear from the Front Half? The kids can’t give much thought to these questions in between extreme and violent tests, drugs, and emotional abuse. No one has ever escaped from The Institute but Luke isn’t just anyone. Mrs. Sigsby and the staff are only looking for powers they can use; they don’t see Luke’s exceptional intelligence or his strength. There is much hidden behind The Institute’s mission and their reach is wide.

Suspense! Evil! Danger! And reality ever worse than whatever we could imagine. Gotta love Stephen King.

The Institute - ebook

The Institute can be found on Libby/Overdrive.

Click here for books by Stephen King in the library’s collections.

The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders

August 16, 2019


Charlie Jane Anders is good at strange. This world — discreet hemispheres of day and night — is apocolyptic but it’s not that simple. And, of course, safety and danger, good and evil, friend and betrayer, are also not simple. There is a deeply disturbing undercurrent of finding out that what you have been told, what you have trusted, is actually not at all reality. To think that you have made choices and shaped your life and actions in one way or another based on lies is a betrayal beyond that of friends (though that is bad enough and there is a ton of it in this book!). Ender’s Game (on the list of top sci-fi novels of all time) by Orson Scott Card is a genius example of this.

Anders maintains great tension between the two halves of this planet, the two cities, the two characters Sophie and Mouth, and the two species. I especially like how the liminal space between day and night is an ongoing metaphor for other in-between states.

Strange, suspenseful, and really good storytelling.

Hazards of Time Travel, by Joyce Carol Oates

March 20, 2019

[Lesley] So strange! So good! I have read more time travel novels than I can count but never one like this. We can’t be sure (any more than the main character) if time travel is even happening, or if any part of any world is real. The characters are real (meaning they are real people – but not necessarily who they seem to be) – all the rest seems to be real (the character’s past, the society she is from, the reason and method she finds herself in “zone 9”) but the reality gets very fuzzy for us at the same pace that it is for her. I admire Joyce Carol Oates as a writer and have liked every book of hers that I have read. She is different from most prolific authors in that she manages to write in diverse voices and create wildly different stories (see The Falls compared with this book) in more than one genre. Never a dull moment – or story – from Joyce Carol Oates.

Hazards of Time Travel available as an audiobook on Hoopla.

click here to check our catalog for other books by Joyce Carol Oates


Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King

October 26, 2017

528084[Sara] The audiobook of Wolves of the Calla was wonderful– I’m a little late in reading the Dark Tower series but am catching up bit by bit. This, the fifth book in the series, brings in more examples of self-awareness in the Stephen King universe and the connections and redundancies between different versions of reality. I highly recommend this series for those of his fans who haven’t yet read it. It looks daunting size-wise, but moves along at a perfect pace. Plus, I get the rare feeling of excitement at the end of each book knowing both that the story continues and that the next audiobook in the series is already published!

The narrator of this book, George Guidall, does a fantastic performance, but it took a few chapters to become accustomed to him after listening to the late Frank Muller narrate the first four books. Looking forward to listening to Guidall narrate book 6!

Find the Dark Tower series at Wiggin:
Audiobook in Catalog
Books in Catalog (Print Version)
Digital Copies on Overdrive

Space Battle Lunchtime : lights, camera, snacktion! by Natalie Riess

May 9, 2017

[Sam] Have you ever watched Iron Chef and thought, this is great but I really wish the contestants were aliens? If you are currently shouting at your screen “YES, YES, I THINK THAT ALL THE TIME!!!” this graphic novel is so for you. Don’t read any further, just take my word for it and put it on hold,  Find it Here.

Now for the rest of you, who maybe don’t spend as much energy wishing extraterrestrials would invade your favorite reality show, don’t worry this book is also for you. In fact you may have a lot in come with the main character of this book. Peony was honestly very happy being an awesome baker in an adorable earth based coffee shop. But after unwittingly accepting an offer from a strange customer she finds herself the newest contestant on Space Battle Lunchtime, a super popular alien cooking competition broadcast all over the universe.

This graphic novel is just fun. The art is bright, the story is simple, but entertaining. A fun read for kids or adults! Check it out now and you’ll be all caught up when vol. 2 arrives this summer.

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell

August 10, 2015

[Lesley] I have intended to read David Mitchell’s most famous novel, Cloud Atlas, for ages. I always get intimidated before starting and end up putting it back to wait for another day. Having heard nothing really about his new book The Bone Clocks, I dove in without hesitation. Wow. This is sci fi in one of my favorite guises — as if it isn’t sci fi at all. Our main character Holly Sykes, is pulled into a strange and hidden war after a fight with her mother over a boyfriend. This war is so hidden that it is hidden from Holly herself throughout her life, despite the presence of consequences. The horologists (people who don’t ever really die, but are reincarnated in new bodies) have fought the Anchorites (people who live forever by stealing and sacrificing the souls of Bone Clocks – that’s us, by the way) for millennia and sometimes psychic-sensitive bone clocks like Holly get caught in the middle.


This book isn’t completely successful. Some of the first-person sections were too long (I’m looking at you Crispin Hershey and Marinus) and the actual battle between the Horologists and the Anchorites was almost silly in some ways. The ending however more than makes up for any weaknesses in the middle. “Haunting” was how one person described it to me and I agree. Mitchell’s stories and writing are so smart that they will definitely stay with me.

Available on Libby/Overdrive.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

March 30, 2015


This book was so much fun to read. If you like 1980s pop culture want a good science fiction story, this is the book for you.

Available on Libby/Overdrive

Title details for Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Wait list

Burn, by Julianna Baggott (The Pure Trilogy)

April 26, 2014

[Lesley] Burn is the 3rd book in the Pure trilogy and it was equally as good as books 1 & 2.  When I came to the end I couldn’t believe it… I would definitely read another book about this world and these characters. It is hard for trilogies to maintain such a high level of quality all the way through but I was never disappointed with these. Somehow Baggott has put a new spin on post-apocalyptic fiction and creates a story that delves deeply into what makes us human.

Books 1 and 2 are available on Libby/Overdrive

Lexicon, by Max Barry

December 26, 2013

[Lesley]  I first read Max Barry with his book Jennifer Government and I loved the directness of his writing/storytelling and his clever mind and characters. This book was equally as good in exactly those ways. Lexicon takes on weaponized language & words being used by a secretive agency in ways we never entirely understand. Like most successful secret agencies, the agents are mostly isolated, never knowing more than what they “need-to-know” which limits their power even as they are given very powerful tools to use as they are instructed. Sharp, funny, techno (ish), sci-fi.

Available on audio on Hoopla and Libby/Overdrive


Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson

March 1, 2013

[Lesley] When I first heard about this book I was reminded of Charles de Lint’s Spirits in the Wires. Turns out the books are very different, but they do share an interesting tension between modern (and even futuristic) technology and old or even ancient stories and magic. The setting in “a city” in the Middle East (never really identified) was described in detail and it helped to bring the whole story and characters to life for me. The ending was a bit overly-tidy for my tastes but it didn’t undermine my enjoyment of the book. I’m so glad this was recommended to me by a friend since I don’t think I would have discovered it on my own.

Available on Hoopla