GUEST BLOG: Ten Must Read Futurological Sci Fi Books (by author David M Henley)

Let’s talk about the future.

Sci fi is a seriously big genre. Futurological Sci Fi is a subgenre that has fun with projecting future societies.

It’s all about enjoying the exploration of ideas and projections of what our world isn’t. And those differences indicate the fears, hopes and humour of any given author. So here are my top ten FSF books.

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The Time Machine by HG Wells - One of the earliest books to explore the concept of time travel but also one that prompted people to think about the distant future.

The Time Machine by HG Wells

One of the earliest books to explore the concept of time travel but also one that prompted people to think about the distant future.

We by Yvgeny Zamyatin - The Russian version of 1984 (it came first), but different enough to make it worth reading. A world without privacy trying to become a world without dissent.

We by Yvgeny Zamyatin

The Russian version of 1984 (it came first), but different enough to make it worth reading. A world without privacy trying to become a world without dissent.

1984 by George Orwell - Using an ad absurdum future society to depict political trends of the time. Like Brave New World this exploration of a concept from micro to macro has contributed many powerful ideas to today's political discourse (and a terrible reality TV show).

1984 by George Orwell

Using an ad absurdum future society to depict political trends of the time. Like Brave New World this exploration of a concept from micro to macro has contributed many powerful ideas to today’s political discourse (and a terrible reality TV show).

Neuromancer by William Gibson - You just can't go past this one as a benchmark. Great micro and macro world-building and examinations of how the virtual world and real world can clash. Technology and humanity in a blender.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

You just can’t go past this one as a benchmark. Great micro and macro world-building and examinations of how the virtual world and real world can clash. Technology and humanity in a blender.

The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem - Follows a visiting dignitary, Ijon Tichy, to the eighth World Futurological Congress, drinks some water and begins hallucinating. Reality and illusion become very confused and gives Lem a vehicle to explore the ideas and limits of Utopia.

The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem

Follows a visiting dignitary, Ijon Tichy, to the eighth World Futurological Congress, drinks some water and begins hallucinating. Reality and illusion become very confused and gives Lem a vehicle to explore the ideas and limits of Utopia.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick - Forget the movie. Like many PKD books, this is a post apocalypse world and we are watching the survivors and what has survived of our society, for better and worse.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick

Forget the movie. Like many PKD books, this is a post apocalypse world and we are watching the survivors and what has survived of our society, for better and worse.

The Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman - Another mindbender like The Futurological Congress, this one unrolls mainly through holodeck-type sequences that go through a future history of Earth.

The Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman

Another mindbender like The Futurological Congress, this one unrolls mainly through holodeck-type sequences that go through a future history of Earth.

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester - Imagine a society with telepaths including counter-measures and corporate misuse. A great parallel for surveillance and data hacking.

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Imagine a society with telepaths including counter-measures and corporate misuse. A great parallel for surveillance and data hacking.

Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Matsumune - I know it's got pictures but it's big enough to be a book. This is a projection of nearly perfect human machine interfaces and a hyper complex society facing today's problems and tomorrow's  that have arisen from new technologies.

Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Matsumune

I know it’s got pictures but it’s big enough to be a book. This is a projection of nearly perfect human machine interfaces and a hyper complex society facing today’s problems and tomorrow’s that have arisen from new technologies.

Peter F Hamilton's Confederation series - Begins with the what if that wormhole technology is successfully developed premise and then jumps forward a few hundred years. Not a utopia or dystopia but an extended exploration of intergalactic society that has come from our own. This is a mammoth read, don't start unless you can dedicate yourself to it.

Peter F Hamilton’s Confederation series

Begins with the what if that wormhole technology is successfully developed premise and then jumps forward a few hundred years. Not a utopia or dystopia but an extended exploration of intergalactic society that has come from our own. This is a mammoth read, don’t start unless you can dedicate yourself to it.

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David M Henley is the author of the futuristic thrillers The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, Manifestations and Convergence.

His world takes inspiration from all the books listed above and many more places.

You can follow David on twitter at @DavidMHenley, and on Facebook here

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convergenceConvergence

Hunt for Pierre Jnr

by David M Henley

The epic conclusion to an explosive trilogy.

Benders. Tappers. Robots. Clones.

As the Weave breaks down and Pierre Jnr’s control over the population becomes complete, who – if anyone – will be able to stop him?

Star Trek meets Akira in this futurist thriller about connectivity, control and artificial intelligence.

Click here for more details about Convergence

Happy Birthday Issac Asimov – 10 Quotes from the Visionary Author

Isaac_AsimovOne of the world’s greatest science fiction writers, Isaac Asimov, was born on this day in 1920 (or 1919, even his year of birth is intriguing).

Asimov wrote and edited over 500 books, including the short stories that the films I, Robot and Bicentennial Man were based on.

His 1941 novel Nightfall is widely regarded as the greatest science fiction story of all time.

Asimov’s writing has resulted in an asteroid, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and one of the world’s highest literary awards being named in his honor. He was also a longtime president of the American Humanist Association.

Above all, Asimov loved a quote. Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy 10 of the finest quotes from one of the finest minds of the last century, Isaac Asimov.

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.

It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.

From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.

i-robotI, Robot

by Isaac Asimov

In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age.

When Earth is ruled by master-machines, when robots often seem more human than mankind, the Three Laws ensure that humans remain superior and the robots are kept in their rightful place.

But an insane telepathic robot results from a production error; a robot assembled in space logically deduces its superiority to non-rational humanity; and when machines serve mankind rather than individual humans, the machine′s idea of what is good for society may itself contravene the sacred Three Laws…

Amazing and timeless robot stories from the greatest science fiction writer of all time.

Grab a copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Five Standout Dicks – A Tribute to Philip K. Dick (by David Henley)

Henley_David-300x300If you ever tried the Dick challenge and attempted to read all of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction works, after a while you may have felt, as I did, that all those strange worlds and characters seemed to blend together and it is hard to remember what happens in each book.
 
For me, as a Dick lover, I don’t mind this and think it was maybe intentional on the part of the author. He was interested in exploring ideas, not world building. Dick loved having an Everyman protagonist and wasn’t afraid to shift to new protagonists if the story made it necessary. Dick is it’s own oeuvre which explores the questions of what it is to be human, what is reality and surveillance society.
 
If you suffer from Dick-blindness, either from too much Dick or you’re looking for your first and they all look the same, I’ve chosen 5 Dicks that stand-out from the rest.

the-man-in-the-high-castleMan in the High Castle

You’ve got to read The Man in the High Castle. This one is really well known and won some famous award. It’s main schtick is the premise that in WW2, Germany and Japan won the war and co-occupy the USA. What more do I need to say?

counter-clock-worldCounter-clock World

The premise for this one is that cause and effect has started moving in reverse, ie as people get older their bodies get younger and going to the toilet is eating, and eating is regurgitation. Gross! But, it also means that the dead are coming back to life and the story follows this group of grave-robbers, who are actually rescuing reanimated corpses. When they come upon a reborn prophet, the fun begins.

do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Yeah, you know the film, the dystopian, over-populated mega city, always raining, hunting down human like androids called replicants. The book is different. It still has the replicants but the main story is about Deckard, his wife and the post apocalyptic environmental crisis that has nearly wiped out all animal life on the planet. It’s a totally different story from them film with a completely different focus, and I find reading the book makes me like the film more and vice-versa.

a-scanner-darklyScanner Darkly

This is a paranoid acid trip of a book. Apparently inspired by some of Dick’s friends who had walked too far down the path of intoxication, combined with Dick’s usual fears of the surveillance state. The main character is an undercover narcotics agent who begins video surveilling the very group he has infiltrated, and is so whacked out he can barely remember which of the suspects is him.

valisValis Trilogy, (Valis The Devine Invasion. Transmigration of Timothy Archer)

This is where shit gets weird. Dick had a real life experience/hallucination where he saw some pink light that revealed the true nature of reality to him. In this trilogy people are trying to break through the false world that we all experience, either helped or hindered by a mysterious and hypothetical Vast Active Living Intelligence System, thus the name Valis.

Every year I like to celebrate Dick Day, on December 16th. Take the day off and read a Dick.

David Henley worked in Australian trade publishing for many years; for the last 10 years he has been growing Xou Creative, a successful design and publishing studio. He has written and illustrated two novellas and one gift book, and is the art director of SEIZURE, a magazine for new writing. David lives on a diet of science fiction – particularly Stanislaw Lem, Masamune Shirow, Philip K Dick, Orson Scott Card – and fantasy, including comics, manga, anime.

manifestationsManifestations

by David M. Henley

The Weave is left reeling after an explosion devastates the city of Busan. Who is behind it? What does it mean for the psis?

Pete Lazarus has been taken captive and Colonel Pinter is discovering the joys of rejuvenation, while the most powerful telepath ever born marches steadily towards world domination, collecting subservient Citizens in his wake.

In this second installment in the trilogy, following on from The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, David Henley immerses us into a world of ambiguity where the end does not always justify the means.

Grab a copy of Manifestations here

Gary Gibson, author of Extinction Game, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Gary Gibson

author of Extinction Game, Final Days series and many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions
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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in Glasgow, Scotland. Raised in Glasgow, Scotland. Schooled in Glasgow, Scotland. Well, mostly, apart from a few years living in Ayrshire. Or, as I like to think of it, north of the Ice Wall amongst the WIldlings.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I pretty much wanted to be Arthur C. Clarke. Actually, I also wanted to shave my head and wear white robes like the Talosian in the original Star Trek. That’s when I started thinking about writing since I was already sucking up science fiction books like a Roomba in a universe of dust-bunnies. By eighteen, I’d decided I wanted to be Jimmy Page (guitarist in Led Zeppelin) because I’d just moved back to Glasgow from darkest Ayrshire and discovered rock music. The writing took a back seat for a while. But in my mid-twenties, I’d had a kind of Damascene moment and started writing again. By the time I was thirty I’d had a couple of short stories published in pro sf and fantasy magazines.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Gary Gibson

That logic and reason will always win any argument. It took a lot of bumps to work out logic and reason are the last things a lot of people ever want to hear.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

There’s no three things. It’s everything, all at once, poured into a single Gary Gibson-shaped mould. But if you kidnapped my dog – that is, if I had a dog – and showed me a live stream of it held over a bucket of piranhas and demanded I answer, I’d pick: Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge, Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, and the Gaia trilogy by John Varley. If I’ve got any influences, it’s those three. Probably.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

It’s a falsity to say there are ‘innumerable’ artistic avenues open to anyone. Well, there are, but whether you’re actually any good at them is another matter. I “chose” to write a novel because it turns out that’s what I’m good at it, it’s fun, and there’s pretty much nothing else I can think of I might possibly want to do with my life.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest is Extinction Game. I couldn’t just sit down and write a straight post-apocalyptic book, because it’s been done so many times. I needed something extra. A classic post-apocalyptic trope is the Last Man on Earth story, so since I’d been reading up on theories regarding the idea we live in a multiverse of infinite parallel realities, it made sense that there must also be an infinite number of universes in which different people are the last man or woman on Earth.

From there it didn’t take much more than a hop or skip to figure out an interesting story lay in bringing those people together through some technology that allows travel from one alternate reality to another. Why write a book about one world-destroying apocalypse, when you can write a book that by definition includes every single possible apocalypse?

Grab a copy of Gary’s latest novel Extinction here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

An immediate desire to send me the entire contents of their bank accounts and the deeds to their homes. I’m not saying I planted any post-hypnotic suggestions in my books or anything, but…

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Anyone who writes what they choose to write, regardless of what others think.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To produce a book a year; to always improve; to maintain a healthy level of self-criticism that allows me to grow as a writer; to be ambitious, in the sense of never resting on my laurels; to surprise, entertain and delight; to be raised to Godhood and worshipped by milli…ok, maybe not that last one.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

To understand that what appears to be failure is instead an opportunity to define and build on your true strengths.

Gary, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Extinction Game here


Extinction Game

by Gary Gibson

Jerry Beche should be dead. Instead, he’s rescued from a desolate Earth where he was the last man alive. He’s then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists. Every one of them is a survivor, as each withstood the violent ending of their own alternate Earth. And their new specialism? To retrieve weapons and data in missions to other apocalyptic worlds.

But what is ‘the Authority’, the shadowy organization that rescued Beche and his fellow survivors? How does it access other timelines? And why does it need these instruments of death? As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he begins to distrust his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects the Authority is feeding them lies, and team members are spying on him. As a dangerous situation spirals into catastrophe, is there anybody he can trust?

 Grab a copy of Extinction Game here

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Final Round of Voting

There is only one more week of voting left to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

This is the longlist as voted by you, congratulations to all the novelists for making it onto this extraordinary list.

But the job isn’t finished. We need your final vote to decide the order of the top 50.

Vote for all your favourite authors, and spread the word, tell your friends and family to get voting! The poll closes 5pm Saturday.

Next week we’ll announce the Top 50 as voted by you and decide who, in 2014, is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

 

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 5

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

This is it folks. Your last chance to push your favourite authors into next week’s final round of voting. Last year’s winner Kate Morton is also in this heat!

Next week we’ll have the top 100 authors from all the heats for you to vote for!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 4

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Heat 4 is full of some huge names and exciting newcomers. Who will you vote for?

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, the response has been incredible! And thanks to all the wonderful authors and publishers for spreading the word!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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