Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Recommended Posts

I am looking for sci fi lit options for DS (8th grader).  

He's both mature in some ways (connects ideas between books, reads at a high level) and immature in others (goofy, likes things to be exciting).  He has read some sci fi in the past (Wrinkle in Time series, Robot Wars series, Enders Game series, Jekyll and Hyde, several Jules Verne, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds) but when he read them he was reading for entertainment.  I am looking to move gently into philosophical discussion with him using sci fi as a base, and new literature (I realize that several of those I listed are great fodder for discussion, but I am looking for new books to spark the discussion and he will then make the connections back to the books he read when he was younger).  And I am hoping to stay away from plain dystopian, alternate history sci fi, fantasy, and from more mature content (we are not looking to explore sex and sexuality in this discussion; extreme personal violence is out, general war and fighting is probably fine; no focus on theology/religion exploration).  I am hoping to explore other philosophical ideas (eg general metaphysics with virtual reality, or general epistemology with artificial intelligence. or ethics with alien life, etc).  So the other thing I am really hoping for with all of this is literary quality, books that stick with you that you reread to get more out of.  

I am only looking for a couple of books to study one quarter this year. Any suggestions would be very welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has he read any Anne Mc Cafferey?  Some of her stuff tends to lean towards fantasy, but other stuff is more sci fi. I think the first time I read Anne Mc McCafffery was 6th or 7th, so 8th is probably ok.  I recently gifted my 13yr old niece with some of her books.  I don't consider any of her stuff "plain dystopian" or alternate history (both of which I do not enjoy.)

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I nearly forgot.

 

A Canticle for Leibowitz.  

I don't recall a lot of very mature content.  It is somewhat dystopian, but not in the current popular dystopian way.  It's a dystopia that spans thousands of years through the rebuilding of society.  I found it VERY thought provoking, though I will be honest, I was in college when I read it.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Oh, I nearly forgot.

 

A Canticle for Leibowitz.  

I don't recall a lot of very mature content.  It is somewhat dystopian, but not in the current popular dystopian way.  It's a dystopia that spans thousands of years through the rebuilding of society.  I found it VERY thought provoking, though I will be honest, I was in college when I read it.  

Thanks, I had seen this a couple times in my searching but am totally unfamiliar with it. I will look closer. I will also look into Anne McCaffrey (I don't believe he has read any of her books).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, happysmileylady said:

Has he read any Anne Mc Cafferey?  Some of her stuff tends to lean towards fantasy, but other stuff is more sci fi. I think the first time I read Anne Mc McCafffery was 6th or 7th, so 8th is probably ok.  I recently gifted my 13yr old niece with some of her books.  I don't consider any of her stuff "plain dystopian" or alternate history (both of which I do not enjoy.)

There are some mature adult things in each of the Dragonriders of Pern (the original trilogy).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Ellie said:

There are some mature adult things in each of the Dragonriders of Pern (the original trilogy).

Thanks for the heads of.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My son liked this one.  It Has space pirates!  Lots of discussion about family and what that means.  To the best of my remembering there is nothing objectionable. 

https://www.amazon.com/Jupiter-Pirates-Hunt-Hydra-ebook/dp/B00DB3680Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1534566299&sr=8-2&keywords=Space+pirates+Jason

And I liked this one.  It has portals that allow almost instant transport between locations.  It deals with belonging and the family one chooses too.  

https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Girl-Book-ebook/dp/B00C4B2LN2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534566421&sr=8-1&keywords=earth+girl+janet+edwards

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not trying to be argumentative or suggest things that don't fit your specifications, but just so you know, your restrictions make it pretty tough to find works that fit all your needs. Most good, discussionable Sci-Fi works ARE about tough issues or involve topics or elements that don't work for you at this time.

For example, your DS has already read one pretty adult classic sci-fi work: Ender's Game is extremely violent -- child soldiers, child-on-child violence, and psychologically distressing elements. And while it's a fun read, Dragonriders of Pern is a fantasy-based world with only a time-jumping element as the closest thing to being sci-fi (and, adult elements, as pointed out by previous poster). And Canticle for Leibowitz is a great book, but involves an element you may not be interested in -- it follows the Catholic Church through 3 ages of a post-Apocalyptic world -- and, as the previous poster mentioned, it's a meaty book and would be a much better choice for late high school rather than a "first exposure" into discussion.

Below are a few things I could come up with, although not all of them strictly adhere to your desired guidelines. Movies and TV are often a better fit for starting with Sci-Fi and discussion, so I am starting you off with some ideas of classic sci-fi films to watch and discuss. Also, short stories can be terrific for first starting out with discussion. Hope something here helps, and BEST of luck in finding what fits for your family. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Consider watching/discussing classic sci-fi movies and/or TV:
- classic episodes of the original Star Trek and The Next Generation series
- Metropolis (1927) -- silent B&W; social uprising; misuse of technology
- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- warning about misuse of technology
- Forbidden Planet (1956) -- choices about forbidden knowledge/great power

- The Time Machine (1960 and/or 2002 versions) -- time travel
- Planet of the Apes (1961) -- ethical treatment/rights of others
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- evolution, exploration, transcendence 
- Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (1982) -- consequences of choices
- Tron (1982) -- computer hacking/protection/ethics
- Wall-E (2008) -- environmental issues; what does it mean to be human

and two meaty films for discussing for high school or after you've discussed a number of movies:
- Gattaca (1997) -- genetics/medical ethics 
- The Truman Show (1999) -- ultimate reality TV show and the ethics of it

Speculative Fiction, rather than straight-up Sci-Fi meaty YA titles for beginning discussions:
Tuck Everlasting (Babbitt)
Below the Root (Snyder)

Sci-Fi short stories
The Fun They Had (Asimov)
All Summer in a Day (Bradbury)
There Will Come Soft Rains (Bradbury)
Sound of Thunder (Bradbury)
The Nine Billion Names of God (Clarke) 
The Last Dog (Paterson)
Flowers for Algernon (Keyes) -- speculative fiction rather than sci-fi; be sure to get the short story and NOT the longer version which has mature content
Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol 1 1930-1960s -- short story anthology; preview to see which will work for you

Discussionable YA Dystopias (not JUST about dystopia, which is why I suggest these):
Among the Hidden (Haddix)
The Giver (Lowry) 
City of Ember; People of Sparks, Diamond of Darkhold (Du Prau) -- late elementary reading level, but discussionable ideas
When the Tripods Came (Christopher) -- dystopia based on what if the H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds aliens conquered Earth

Discussionable Sci-Fi
Enchantress From the Stars (Engdahl) -- told from 3 different POV; 2 are sci-fi in feel, 1 is fantasy in feel
The Martian Chronicles (Bradbury) -- collection of loosely connected short stories; several would be very discussionable
I Robot (Asimov) -- collection of loosely connected short stories; several would be very discussionable
Looking Backward (Bellamy)
The Invisible Man (Wells) -- a bit more speculative fiction than straight-up sci-fi, but discussionable topics (science ethics and choices)

Enjoyable, "Clean" Sci-Fi -- not sure how discussionable
Star Soldiers (Norton)
The Martian (Weir) -- a LOT of 4-letter words, although here is a "cleaner" classroom edition; also, it's more of a shipwreck survival adventure with a lot of science ideas rather than a philosophical springboard

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Not trying to be argumentative or suggest things that don't fit your specifications, but just so you know, your restrictions make it pretty tough to find works that fit all your needs. Most good, discussionable Sci-Fi works ARE about tough issues or involve topics or elements that don't work for you at this time.

For example, your DS has already read one pretty adult classic sci-fi work: Ender's Game is extremely violent -- child soldiers, child-on-child violence, and psychologically distressing elements. And while it's a fun read, Dragonriders of Pern is a fantasy-based world with only a time-jumping element as the closest thing to being sci-fi (and, adult elements, as pointed out by previous poster). And Canticle for Leibowitz is a great book, but involves an element you may not be interested in -- it follows the Catholic Church through 3 ages of a post-Apocalyptic world -- and, as the previous poster mentioned, it's a meaty book and would be a much better choice for late high school rather than a "first exposure" into discussion.

Below are a few things I could come up with, although not all of them strictly adhere to your desired guidelines. Movies and TV are often a better fit for starting with Sci-Fi and discussion, so I am starting you off with some ideas of classic sci-fi films to watch and discuss. Also, short stories can be terrific for first starting out with discussion. Hope something here helps, and BEST of luck in finding what fits for your family. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Consider watching/discussing classic sci-fi movies and/or TV:
- classic episodes of the original Star Trek and The Next Generation series
- Metropolis (1927) -- silent B&W; social uprising; misuse of technology
- The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- warning about misuse of technology
- Forbidden Planet (1956) -- choices about forbidden knowledge/great power

- The Time Machine (1960 and/or 2002 versions) -- time travel
- Planet of the Apes (1961) -- ethical treatment/rights of others
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- evolution, exploration, transcendence 
- Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (1982) -- consequences of choices
- Tron (1982) -- computer hacking/protection/ethics
- Wall-E (2008) -- environmental issues; what does it mean to be human

and two meaty films for discussing for high school or after you've discussed a number of movies:
- Gattaca (1997) -- genetics/medical ethics 
- The Truman Show (1999) -- ultimate reality TV show and the ethics of it

Speculative Fiction, rather than straight-up Sci-Fi meaty YA titles for beginning discussions:
Tuck Everlasting (Babbitt)
Below the Root (Snyder)

Sci-Fi short stories
The Fun They Had (Asimov)
All Summer in a Day (Bradbury)
There Will Come Soft Rains (Bradbury)
Sound of Thunder (Bradbury)
The Nine Billion Names of God (Clarke) 
The Last Dog (Paterson)
Flowers for Algernon (Keyes) -- speculative fiction rather than sci-fi; be sure to get the short story and NOT the longer version which has mature content
Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol 1 1930-1960s -- short story anthology; preview to see which will work for you

Discussionable YA Dystopias (not JUST about dystopia, which is why I suggest these):
Among the Hidden (Haddix)
The Giver (Lowry) 
City of Ember; People of Sparks, Diamond of Darkhold (Du Prau) -- late elementary reading level, but discussionable ideas
When the Tripods Came (Christopher) -- dystopia based on what if the H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds aliens conquered Earth

Discussionable Sci-Fi
Enchantress From the Stars (Engdahl) -- told from 3 different POV; 2 are sci-fi in feel, 1 is fantasy in feel
The Martian Chronicles (Bradbury) -- collection of loosely connected short stories; several would be very discussionable
I Robot (Asimov) -- collection of loosely connected short stories; several would be very discussionable
Looking Backward (Bellamy)
The Invisible Man (Wells) -- a bit more speculative fiction than straight-up sci-fi, but discussionable topics (science ethics and choices)

Enjoyable, "Clean" Sci-Fi -- not sure how discussionable
Star Soldiers (Norton)
The Martian (Weir) -- a LOT of 4-letter words, although here is a "cleaner" classroom edition; also, it's more of a shipwreck survival adventure with a lot of science ideas rather than a philosophical springboard

Thank you for the many suggestions.  I realize I’ve drawn some narrow margins. It’s hard to convey with complete clarity the parameters I am hoping for, so I erred on the side of caution (eg the personal violence in Enders Game is a part of the story but the majority of fighting is simulated group combat/war games, and that’s fine; but in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the idea of personal violence is closely examined - and frequently committed or recalled - and that isn’t an area I want to focus on with this kid right now). And yes, most Sci-Fi does tackle hard things - it’s actually the biggest reason I like Sci-fi - I’m just trying to craft my part of introducing him to the big thoughts and how to go about discussing and contemplating them.

I suppose I’ve drawn the lines tight because I’m hoping to go about this intentionally - not because I don’t want him to be “exposed” to things but because I want our discussion to begin gently, not with personal/internal things but with external things. Also, he’s gobbled up some things that had great beginning discussion points already that we missed out on while it was fresh (there are even more from your list he’s also already read).  So your suggestion of I, Robot, for example, would be a good one to start talking about what is ethical use of AI, what is sentience, what delineates human and artificial intelligence, how to exercise caution with the use of science and technology - all general, external. And yes we can throw in some TNG episodes focusing on Data or watch Wall-E along the same talking points, and maybe that’s a good plan. But I’m hoping to start in a book, because a book is something you consume on portions, you pause to chew or set it down to digest for a while, whereas movies and TV you tend to only reflect upon completion.

I know, I overthink things. I really do appreciate the input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Timothy Zahn might be a good author to start with - his novels are pretty clean, while also giving a lot to think about.  His novels tend to explore the practical and moral implications of unique sci-fi tech or situations, and some of them hit on philosophical/metaphysical implications as well.  For example, "Soulminder" is about someone inventing a device that can "catch" a soul at the moment of death, as it's leaving the body, and keep it safe while the body is being repaired, and then returns the soul to the whole body.  Zahn explores the various uses and misuses of such a tech, which are naturally tied tightly to questions of how the body and soul are connected, and the nature of the soul.  "Angelmass" is about particles emitted by a black hole that, when worn by humans, render them calm, reasonable, and incapable of lying.  One government uses them with all government officials, to promote good, fair, just governing, while another government views them as an alien plot to subvert humanity.  It explores questions of human nature and good and evil:  is the ability and predilection to do evil an intrinsic part of being human or not?  Does "artificially" suppressing the desire to do evil make people better humans or does it take away their humanity?  He also has several books of short stories where each story tends to take an idea and run with it in interesting directions - for example, there's a story exploring "what if voodoo reliably worked", where the President is using a voodoo doll for healing, and then it gets stolen - how do you protect him from such a threat?  (That one is in the book "Time Bomb".)

Thinking of other authors, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series explores the social sciences holy grail: what if someone really did discover law-like generalizations about humanity that had genuine predictive power?  What if you could predict the future of a group of people in the same way that you can predict how gravity behaves?  What can you know and do, and what are the limitations?

Also, if you are open to fantasy, there are some good authors that explore religious/metaphysical questions - instead of positing a material-based what-if (which often assumes a materialist metaphysics in the process), they posit a magical/supernatural-based what-if, and explore the metaphysical implications of such a world.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Ellie said:

There are some mature adult things in each of the Dragonriders of Pern (the original trilogy).

Yes there is some, but I never really considered it a major part, or anything that was really explicit or anything like that.   To me, it's marginal enough that it mostly falls under "personal preference."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The sex in the Dragonriders series is really rapey. No matter how marginal it is, I wouldn't want to hand it off to a kid as preferred reading.

Why don't you like alternate history?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

The sex in the Dragonriders series is really rapey. No matter how marginal it is, I wouldn't want to hand it off to a kid as preferred reading.

Why don't you like alternate history?

Thanks for that insight. Rape, though a terrible reality, is not an issue I’m hoping to start with.

I don’t dislike alternative history (or  dystopian for that matter). I’m trying to avoid alternative history here for a similar reason I’m going for external discussion points - they’re much more hypothetical, sterile, or ex situ if you will, where he can begin to examine issues on their merits, objectively, without having to look inward or to things that have personally affected him/his reality.  I know, it’s very limited and controlled.  We will continue to move outward to the harder/bigger issues (and inward, to the personal, moral issues), but this is where I want to start. I sound like a control freak - that may be partly true, but it’s also about knowing my kid and my near and far goals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you must include at least one LeGuin - I myself am a fan of The Dispossessed, but other books of hers are also classics. Many people love Left Hand of Darkness.

The Imperial Radch trilogy has gotten a lot of positive - and well-deserved! - press lately, though I do prefer the spin-off, Provenance.

If we're rec'ing recent works, then I also have nothing but good things to say about  the Wayfarer's sequence by Becky Chambers. You don't need to read one to read the others, and I most like the most recent one, Record of a Spaceborn Few. I've already read it three times, and it only just came out. (For comparison, I've read the most recent Murderbot only twice, and it's a novella.)

If you're a fan of James Tiptree, Jr you may try Brightness Falls from the Air - though I'm most a fan of her short story, The Women Men Don't See. (A bit introspective for your rules right now, I think.)

Another save-for-later would have to be any one of Octavia Butler's books - I usually recommend the Parable books, but I'm gonna break with my tradition here and recommend Patternmaster or Clay's Ark.

Andre Norton is another must-read, and another one whose opus is too large for me to properly recommend just one.

Everybody and their dog tells me I must tell everybody to read Downbelow Station, so that's another entry.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Targhee said:

... I realize I’ve drawn some narrow margins...
... I suppose I’ve drawn the lines tight ... because I want our discussion to begin gently, not with personal/internal things but with external things...
... 
I know, I overthink things. I really do appreciate the input.


Hey, everyone gets to decide what they want as the focus of their DIY Lit. studies. (:P

Still not really understanding your distinction between "personal" and "external". JMO, but when we reflect on any type of "big idea" in Literature, film, etc, it becomes internal -- what would we do, what do we think, why, etc. -- the big idea (external) becomes a part of our moral/ethical make-up, choices, thinking, etc (internal). Perhaps you're just wanting to focus on specific technology topics right now??
 

7 hours ago, Targhee said:

... he’s gobbled up some things that had great beginning discussion points already that we missed out on while it was fresh (there are even more from your list he’s also already read)...


Re-reading a work is also a great way of digging deep. Sure, start out with your first few works with things that are "new" to him, but perhaps consider finishing your unit with one of the works he has already read, and have fun digging into it. Now that he already knows the plot and characters, and since you will have already done some analysis/discussion, he'll probably have a lot of fun going back and see what was in that earlier-read work that he didn't see before. Just a thought!
 

7 hours ago, Targhee said:

 

7 hours ago, Targhee said:

...  I am hoping to explore other philosophical ideas (eg general metaphysics with virtual reality, or general epistemology with artificial intelligence. or ethics with alien life, etc)...
... what is ethical use of AI, what is sentience, what delineates human and artificial intelligence, how to exercise caution with the use of science and technology...


Since you are specifically wanting to focus on those topics, these 2 books from my original list might work for you:

Enchantress From the Stars (Engdahl) -- ethical choices/dilemmas when a more advanced race encounters a less advanced race
I, Robot (Asimov) -- robots/AI
"Science News for Students: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong" is an interesting article to go with I, Robot, as the article references 2 of the stories in that book, and since Asimov's ideas about the "3 Laws of Robotics" are SOOO fundamental to our philosophical thinking about robots.

Bobiverse trilogy (We Are Legion (We Are Bob); For We Are Many; All These Worlds) is a set of 3 books you might be interested in. It is just adequate in the writing quality (very straightforward, no depth as all the ideas on right on the surface), but it is "clean" (i.e. not much language, no graphic sex or violence or mature topics), and it deals with the idea of a cryogenically preserved person having their intelligence uploaded into a computer as an artificial intelligence, plus ideas of colonization, and dealing with a "Borg-like" colony of aliens. It's a lot like reading a Star Trek episode (in fact Star Trek is alluded to a lot in the book, LOL). And it stays "external" in the way I'm guessing you mean.

Here are some Barnes & Noble lists of teen sci-fi books that deal with virtual reality and robots/artificial intelligence. And a short article: 10 YA Novels That Take You Inside of Video Games. (Alas, I've not heard of any of the books listed, so I can't help as far as knowing about quality of writing, maturity level, or even if they actually touch on the topic in a way that would fit with your study.)
 

7 hours ago, Targhee said:

... I’m hoping to start in a book, because a book is something you consume on portions, you pause to chew or set it down to digest for a while, whereas movies and TV you tend to only reflect upon completion.


Hmmm, not trying to be argumentative, but... while I get your point of the "passivity and immediacy of the image" vs. the "reflectivity of the written word" ... I DO see a lot of people NOT do Lit in the reflective way you describe (of pausing at points to digest and discuss) -- but instead, they  "do Lit" by reading the entire book, reflecting upon the book upon completion for a short discussion, and then check off the book as "done".

And, in contrast, it is entirely possible to view film and TV in a reflective rather than passive way. I have a film degree, and have written a few film analysis essays. I used films and TV episodes in homeschooling my own boys. I have also twice taught a high school beginning film analysis course, so "only reflecting upon completion" and moving on, while that is true at times, has not been my unilateral experience. ; )

I'd like to encourage you that it is very it is very possible to go deep with TV episode or a film. It's done in a way similar to the slower digesting/discussing book method. You watch the film first as an overview. Then re-watch another time or two to start making connections and thinking deeper. Every time you watch, you jot things down as you watch (active viewing, rather than passive), and synthesize your notes and thoughts afterwards. Then watch an excerpt and analyze/discuss the excerpt... But not everyone is interested in doing that -- just like with annotating and going deep with a work of Literature, some people feel this "ruins" the film or the novel. So I totally understand if this doesn't work for you. : )

BEST of luck as you plan your unit! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about C.S. Lewis's space trilogy -- it's been years since I read it, so I don't recall whether or not it fits all of your parameters, but I remember enjoying it.

I was also going to recommend LeGuin's Dispossessed -- it might be a bit dry for a kid, though. She also has some excellent short stories, though some of them are more adult than others. It is total fantasy, but my son *loved* her Earthsea trilogy. It's so good -- though the later two books (written long after the original trilogy) are not for kids. They are not  exactly Sci-Fi, but her Gifts-Voices-Powers trilogy is also generally kid-appropriate and my DS enjoyed all three.

There's Pullman's Golden Compass and others, but the series definitely veers toward religious themes (inspired in part by Milton) and is kind of dark, so it might not be right either.

Enchantress from the stars is worth reading, but I didn't love the ending.

I agree with LoriD regarding the use of movies/shows. Even as a college English professor, I used visual/audio elements (film, paintings, shows, etc.)  -- especially when put into conversation with texts, they added interesting points of contrast that gave rise to new insights and observations about the texts themselves. Most recently, we watched Inception and have had some great discussions.

Edited by Florimell
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LOVE the books that Tanaqui and Florimell suggest! : )

Just quickly going to note for you Targhee, that they may not fit into your parameters, and some are rather adult for an 8th grader.

I love Ursula LeGuin, and while the Earthsea trilogy is perfect for gr. 8+, it is fantasy-based. The Left Hand of Darkness, although not graphic, has a major theme of gender identity. And The Dispossessed is written from the perspective of a man entering midlife with many midlife questions/concerns, and has a major theme of Socialism/Capitalism, plus a heavy anthropology exploration (specifically in outlining the contrasts between the many short-term intimate relationships part of one culture, and the rigid patriarchal structure that disallows females in positions of power/intellect as part of the other major culture).

CS Lewis is a Christian, and esp. book 2 and 3 of his space trilogy heavily explore that. Book 1 (Out of the Silent Planet) might be a possibility, as the major theme is encountering alien life forms. Books 2 and 3 become increasingly abstract/theological/philosophically "heavy", so that both would require a LOT of support and background info for a student throughout. But a lot of great ethical/moral questions are raised.

Pullman's trilogy is fantasy-based. And he has stated he dislikes CS Lewis and that God is in Lewis' Narnia series, so that Pullman wanted to write "Narnia without God" in his Golden Compass books, so a type of religious (anti-religious??) theme going on there.

The Imperial Radch trilogy is very creative (although book 3 is pretty weak, compared to 1 and 2, IMO), and does deal with some of the concepts you are looking at. The great thing is that she "shows not tells" in her writing -- but that also can make it a complex and somewhat confusing read. I would recommend series for later -- for someone who has read a LOT of sci-fi and digested/thought about sci-fi for a number of years previously in order to enjoy this trilogy fully. JMO!

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good point about the Radch, Lori.

On Pullman: As a lifelong atheist, and one who feels a great deal of sympathy towards the idea that the deity found in the OT and NT is evil, I find Pullman's anti-Narnia even more annoying than Narnia itself, and that is saying an awful lot. But I don't like sneak-attack messages.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Lori D. and @Tanaqui @Florimell

Thank you each for the comments, and your efforts to help me find something I’m having a hard time putting a finger on myself. 

I’m an Earthsea fan myself though (I was actually listening to my copy of Tehanu as I washed dishes today!) but I have not read her Sci-Fi yet, so something to look forward to. I love CS Lewis, but Out if the Silent Planet somehow I disliked but maybe I should revisit it? I will look at the others mentioned, thank you.

I had no intention of diminishing film as one of the humanities - nor well done TV. Those things can definitely be done with film, and you are right that many people consume books whole before thinking about them, and it is possible to revisit either media. I just know my boy, and know what he needs and some things he really doesn’t need, for the time being. And learning to stop and reflect is a big thing (not just for literature studies). Maybe I Robot really is good in this regard too because the vignettes are easy stopping points of discussion. Anyway, some things to think on.

Again, thank you!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

On Pullman: As a lifelong atheist, and one who feels a great deal of sympathy towards the idea that the deity found in the OT and NT is evil, I find Pullman's anti-Narnia even more annoying than Narnia itself, and that is saying an awful lot. But I don't like sneak-attack messages.


Oh my! (:0

ETA -- Gosh Tanaqui, in reflecting, that was a very ambiguous response on my part -- so sorry! Really, I just wanted to express empathy for, and acknowledge, your feeling of being sucker-punched by a book. I hate when that happens. : ( Sorry you experienced that sneak attack!

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Targhee said:

... I had no intention of diminishing film as one of the humanities - nor well done TV.... I just know my boy, and know what he needs and some things he really doesn’t need, for the time being...


Totally didn't take it that way -- I figured it was the tween-age/young teen age boy thing. (:D

...Maybe I Robot really is good in this regard too because the vignettes are easy stopping points of discussion...


Yes, absolutely!

Which is also why I think middle school is a fantastic time to start introducing short stories -- "bite size" thought puzzles, for those who are just at the starting point of learning to actually stop and chew (i.e., think about). (:D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a couple of books to share that have not yet been recommended. They are a little different partly because of the time they were written in, and partly because some of them are not by American authors. 

I really like Stanislaw Lem's writing. To start, I would recommend short story collections - Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot. Fun, engaging, but with good plots and things to think about.

Next, I would go with Clifford Simak's Goblin Reservation. This is sci-fi, not fantasy. In this world, time travel was discovered, and scientists have moved around time and space (interplanetary travel exists) and discovered that most of the fantasy/fairy tale creatures like goblins, etc. are real, and have included them in their normal life (hence the reservation). But this book is really about the worth of a personal identity (what makes a person "them"), perception (a neanderthal who enjoys stumping "academics" with his deep erudition, etc.) and the sum worth of a civilization (how much would you pay and how far would you go for the entirety of the knowledge of a dying ancient civilization?) as well as legacy - personal and otherwise. It's a fun read, too, and who wouldn't want to have a cyber-mechanical sabertooth tiger for a pet, anyway? The only "gotcha" I remember is the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but YMMV.

A bit more "out there," ... well, ok, a lot more "out there" are some of the books by Strugatsky brothers. Monday Starts on Saturday is more of a fun book and a good introduction to the authors, while the others are much deeper.

The first book is very funny. It's called Monday starts on Saturday. It's a mix of fantasy and sci-fi, as in, it turns out that magical creatures are real, and there are scientists who are studying them, but it can get really messy quickly. The book uses a good deal of Russian fairy tale creature/villain set, so if you are interested in learning about other cultures in a non-obvious sort of way, it's a good one to read, too.

The second one is  Roadside Picnic. In a nutshell - an alien spaceship visited the Earth, had a picnic, so to speak, tossed their crumbs and garbage, and left. They did not notice the human civilization; to them humans were more on the ant scale of development. So that is in the past. In the present, the area the aliens visited is called The Zone, with many very strange and unusual things happening. Some people ("stalkers") manage to go in and (usually) get out, and bring objects back. In the true ant style, nobody really knows what the objects are supposed to do. This is not an action book. It is more of a philosophy/thriller kind of book. It was under censorship and first was published with heavy changes before the original was allowed to be published many years later. If you are interested in that yourself, it is definitely an interesting read. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it (plot, movie, etc.)

For a comparison with Star Trek's Prime Directive (Thou Shall Not Interfere in the affairs of other civilizations), but a good deal darker is Hard to Be a God. Here you have humans, equipped with interplanetary travel technologies, orbiting and studying a planet that is at a Medieval or so level of technology and development. Naturally, one person can't help it but get involved in the politics and daily lives of the people he comes to care about. Very good discussion opportunities - but you probably want to pre-read. I read this myself as an older teen, but my own teen is not ready for it. Don't watch the movie. It's far too violent for violence sake. It lost the spirit of the book. Here is the Wikipedia article with plot, etc.

As you read these, you can discuss the times and socio-economic/political climates of where and when these books were written, too. 

ETA (note to self, too)

I just found this anthology of Russian science fiction. It has a good sampling of prominent sci-fi authors.

 

Edited by RosemaryAndThyme
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the earliest sci-fy writers was Andre Norton, the pen name for Mary Norton, author of the Borrowers. They are all safe, although the Witch World series (and of course, the characters aren't real "witches") does get a little creepy further into the series.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might look for a good anthology of classic sci fi short stories. Then you could read through them to find things that fit your parametrs. Some will obviously not, but some should, and the short story format makes them easy to re-read and study more deeply.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/19/2018 at 8:45 AM, Ellie said:

One of the earliest sci-fy writers was Andre Norton, the pen name for Mary Norton, author of the Borrowers. They are all safe, although the Witch World series (and of course, the characters aren't real "witches") does get a little creepy further into the series.

 

...I had no idea that Andre Norton and Mary Norton were the same person!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/17/2018 at 11:34 PM, Ellie said:

There are some mature adult things in each of the Dragonriders of Pern (the original trilogy).

 

The Harper Hall Trilogy, though, set in the same world, is YA and clean (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums).  I read those first and was a bit surprised by the more mature content in some of the other books!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/19/2018 at 6:45 AM, Ellie said:

One of the earliest sci-fy writers was Andre Norton, the pen name for Mary Norton, author of the Borrowers...

 

1 hour ago, vonfirmath said:

...I had no idea that Andre Norton and Mary Norton were the same person!


I was all excited about the idea of them being the same author too! Alas, it looks like they are 2 different people, but share a middle name (Mary) and last name (Norton).

Kathleen Mary Norton (1903-1992) was the British author of The Borrowers series and the 2 books that were combined into Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Andre Alice Norton (born Alice Mary Norton) (1912-2005) was the American author of many sci-fi, fantasy, and a few historical fiction novels. Here is a nice chronological list of all of her works.

ETA: My word Andre Norton was prolific! Over 300 titles in 70 years of writing, which encompasses 27 different SERIES (worlds), each with multiple books in the series, PLUS over 50 individual titles (stand-alone works not part of any series).

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

 


I was all excited about the idea of them being the same author too! Alas, it looks like they are 2 different people, but share a middle name (Mary) and last name (Norton).

Kathleen Mary Norton (1903-1922) was the British author of The Borrowers series and the 2 books that were combined into Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Andre Alice Norton (born Alice Mary Norton) (1912-2005) was the American author of many sci-fi, fantasy, and a few historical fiction novels. Here is a nice chronological list of all of her works.

ETA: My word Andre Norton was prolific! Over 300 titles in 70 years of writing, which encompasses 27 different SERIES (worlds), each with multiple books in the series, PLUS over 50 individual titles (stand-alone works not part of any series).

 

Okay I feel better about liking the Borrowers and not carying for the Andre Norton stuff I've read then :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

Okay I feel better about liking the Borrowers and not carying for the Andre Norton stuff I've read then 🙂


😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER & RECEIVE A COUPON FOR
10% OFF
We respect your privacy.You’ll hear about new products, special discounts & sales, and homeschooling tips. *Coupon only valid for first-time registrants. Coupon cannot be combined with any other offer. Entering your email address makes you eligible to receive future promotional emails.
0 Shares
Share
Tweet
Pin
×