June 14, 2015
My father is where I get my love of science fiction and fantasy. I grew up around Robert Heinlein and Marion Zimmer Bradley (I was even named after one of her books!). Both my parents encouraged me to read growing up, which has made me the bibliophile I am today!
Since the theme of Summer Challenge this year is Super Heroes, and Father's Day is fast approaching, I thought I'd ask my Dad what his favorite books are. My Dad went above and beyond, and gave me a four book series and his favorite book!
Here is my Dad's top five list:
First up on my Dad's list is The Arabian Nights. You might recognize such tales as "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves". I picked, specifically, the Richard Burton translation, because it seems to be the most comprehensive one. His translation spanned ten volumes, with a couple supplementary books of tales. The book is written as "stories within a story," wherein a king of Persia kills off his virgin brides before they can betray him (after one night of marriage). After his vizier can no longer find him any more brides, the vizier's daughter, Scheherazade, offers herself up. In order to keep the king's interest, she starts telling him a story - but without a conclusion, so he is forced to postpone her execution. This leads to one thousand and one nights of tales! These tales have been translated in many different languages, and often are published as children's novels, without the external framework story. Sir Richard Burton's translation represents a more accurate, less pleasant version of the stories - kind of like The Brothers Grimm version as opposed to the Disney version which has become more familiar!
Next up on the list is a series by Octavia E. Butler, alternatively called the Pattermaster series, the Patternist series, or Seed to Harvest. The book pictured is actually the LAST book chronologically in the series, but the first book to be published. This book talks about the far future - where people are bred specifically for their intelligence and psychic abilities. People are strictly divided into three groups - The Patternists (networked telepaths who are the dominant race), their enemies (The Clayarks) and the enslaved "mutes." The book tells the story of a young Patternist who is attempting to rise through society, and become the Patternmaster (who leads the Patternists). Butler's stories explore the divisions between race, class, and gender, in a creatively epic manner. Not to mention, Butler is an African American female Science Fiction author with many Hugo and Nebula awards under her belt, and is one of the best known women in the field.
My Dad also listed the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony as one of his favorites. The book pictured is the first book in the seven book series. In this series, there are two worlds - Proton and Phaze. They are two worlds, occupying the exact same space, in two different dimensions. Pretty cool, right? Proton is a science-based world. It has been mostly mined for a certain ore. Inhabitants of this world play something called The Game, which pits two people together on a variety of skills and levels. The Game is kind of complicated to explain in short summary, but it basically rules Proton. People wager vast amounts of money on it, and the most skilled players are sent to a Tourney to compete. In the next dimension over is the planet Phaze - a very lush and beautiful world where unicorns, vampires, faeries, and magic are common. It almost seems to be the exact opposite of Proton! Magical Adepts of this world are named based on colors. Each person born has a duplicate on the other world - and they can pass between the worlds!
This next series isn't just by one author - the Bolo series involves many authors and spans many anthologies. Keith Laumer wrote the original story in 1960, called "Combat Unit," which introduced the artificially intelligent ranks. As the series grew, the tanks become more advanced - their AI patterns more human-like, their ability to function with minimal crew reduced to a single commander who could interact with the tank via interface, and extremely heavy fire power. These tanks are called "heavy tanks" because of their much bigger size. The book pictured is the 25th anniversary edition of the first anthology featuring these awesome tanks. Pictured is one of the many books in the series, written by another of my Dad's favorite authors, David Weber. The book has four short novels about the sentient tanks.
The final series that my dad REALLY likes is the Man-Kzin War series. Again, this is a series that spans MANY authors writing in short story collections, but it takes place in Larry Niven's Known Space universe. The basis of this story is a series of conflicts between the human race of cat-like aliens who are VERY bloodthirsty. Larry Niven just referenced the wars - but many authors worked to fill in the details. This is a series of short stories that spans over thirty years - with a lot of talent going into envisioning Larry Niven's worlds! Pictured is the 25th anniversary edition of the first book of stories that started it all.
Enjoy these random science fiction and fantasy selections this summer, available at the library!