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Science Fiction

Puss & Boots In The 23rd Century by Jack McClure (Iron Thumb Press) Two strong women fought the enemy in a long, brutal and seemingly hopeless ground war for years, until the Chinese finally blinked and went back home. Now these two realize that they must fight an even more cynical and devious enemy in order to bring America back from thirty years of chaos. But this new enemy is their own government, and its omnipotent media syncopate, the Network. Puss and Boots are legends in the Army for their kill-skills and when they finally accept their new mission, they get help from their old comrades-in-arms, as well as a few new and different friends. The White House and the Network elite are not pleased with Puss & Boots' decision and disruptive actions, therefore they begin to take counter-measures...

is the first of a series of post-apocalyptic, WWIII scenarios, and tells the story of two very strong heroines and one very unlikely ally.

Boots, who is Bold, Big, and Brave, is an extremely competent warrior. Her strengths include the ability to see events strategically...though, never let it be said that her tactics lag behind.

Puss, (who is Boot's friend, compatriot, and lover), is equally important, both in her Amerindian trained ability to hunt, and in her ability to think tactically.

And, unexpectedly, and perfectly, Bila, the hunk from the Cro-Magnon age, is both their equal, and in some cases, their mentor.

America has fallen under military rule. The NET rules the world, and placates the mindless. This trio, despite multi-millennia social flagstones, manages to itinerate the defeat of Evil and the restoration of the Constitution. America, as originally conceptualized by their founders, founds a strong base of support within the story-line, and within its development. No longer can the "Net" pamper and distract the masses with increasingly pornographic and violent presentations. Some people think. And as they think, they _see_. And with their sight, the restoration of the Constitution of the United States is required, no less demanded than the initiation of the Declaration of Independence.

Remember "Boots as Boss" and Puss as "Pussy Footing". The initial chapters of this book require strict attention, as the author's viewpoint switches frequently from one character to another. As you advance in the story, however, both characters become unique, and special, and with the inclusion of a time-traveler, vastly more interesting.

I could not read Huck Finn by Mark Twain, because the dialect threw me off. In Puss and Boots, I had to persevere through the first two chapters, because the military lingo and the advance in time threw the dialect off enough that I had to slow down and think.

Let me tell you now.

This is a wonderful story. Once you get the hang of the dialect, it becomes one that you can't put down. I read Puss & Boots in the 23rd Century in one day. And I wanted the next snippets, immediately.

Enough, said. Buy this book.

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Gavin Bowd (Translatio Edition: Knopf) A worldwide phenomenon and the most famous French novelist since Camus, Michel Houellebecq now delivers his magnum opus—a tale of our present circumstances told from the future, when humanity as we know it has vanished.

Having made a fortune producing comedies that skewer mankind’s consumerism, religious fundamentalism, sexual profligacy, and other affronts, Daniel is forty before he falls prey to the human condition himself: his beloved’s body sags with age, their marriage dissolves, and true happiness seems a luxury reserved for their dog, Fox. After the colossal failure of his second great love affair, he joins a cult of health fanatics determined to produce a misery-free eternal life—manifested here in the voices of Daniel’s subsequent clones, who enjoy the umpteenth Fox’s companionship but shun the bands of fugitive “humans” on the horizon. Their commentary on Daniel’s fate, and on the race as a whole, illuminates the basic tenets of our existence—laughter, tears, love, remorse—and their nostalgia for such emotions, all of which have long since disappeared.

Laugh-out-loud funny, philosophically compelling, and flatly heartbreaking, The Possibility of an Island is at once an indictment, an elegy, and a celebration of everything we have and are at risk of losing.

Like the New Age camp of The Elementary Particles and the Thai sex tourist hotels of Platform, Houellebecq's latest novel has a self-enclosed setting: the shifting sites at which the Elohimites, a UFO/cloning cult, hold their seminars. Daniel, a shock jock famous for such slogans as "We prefer the Palestinian orgy sluts," narrates what turns out to be his life story.

The central character is a representative man of our times, a comedian named Daniel, who has attained some renown as a social critic: "All in all," he reflects, "I was a good professional; I was just a bit overrated. . . . I don't mean that my`sketches were unfunny; they were funny. I was, indeed, a cutting observer of contemporary reality; it was just that . . . we had simplified and pruned so much, broken so many barriers, taboos, misplaced hopes, and false aspirations; truly, there was`so little left."

For Daniel, the targets are all too easy. A few random cracks against globalism win him a reputation as a "lefty" and "defender of human rights," while his vaguely Arabic looks add to his popularity. (As he deftly puts it, "the only residual ideological content of the left, in those days, was antiracism, or more precisely, anti-white racism.") Although he is well enmeshed in the promiscuity and self-centeredness of the world in which he lives, it's not for nothing that he bears the name of a biblical prophet because he clearly perceives the moral vacuity of his life and times.

A rich celebrity, he's even managed to find a congenial woman named Isabelle. Generous and intelligent, Isabelle nonetheless works for Lolita, a magazine dedicated to defining the ideal female image as a nubile preteen. As Isabelle and Daniel move into their forties, the fact that her body is beginning to sag a bit becomes -- for both of them -- reason enough to end the relationship.

Daniel finds himself a younger woman, Esther, who embodies the hedonism of the era and its lack of larger values. As he nears the big 50, though, he is tormented by the fact that he is growing older and jealous of Esther's sex life with people her own age. Around this time, he is invited to join a religious-scientific cult: the Elohimites. They promise their followers eternal life through cloning after death and "downloading" old identities, via artificial neurological circuits, into newly reconstituted bodies.

In many respects, the Elohimites are the logical outgrowth of the materialistic and selfish values of the times: more, more and more of me, me, me. On the other hand, they also represent a somewhat salutary reaction against the selfish values of the age. The scientists at work on designing these reconstituted beings (known as "neohumans") are planning a version that will be free from what Houellebecq sees as humanity's overwhelming sex drive and propensity for violence. Indeed, perhaps taking a cue from Sartre's famous saw "Hell is other people," neohumans are designed to be nonsocial beings free from the need to associate with others.

What are neohumans like? The answer is soon evident, not least because of the way this novel is organized. Chapters of the first Daniel alternate with commentary written by latter-day neohuman Daniels two millennia later. The typical neohuman lives alone, his or her diminished need for company fulfilled by a dog. Neohumans get by on very little food (they've been endowed with a capacity for photosynthesis), they rarely venture outdoors (the natural world has been devastated), and they spend their spare time exchanging e-mails with one another. It's a peaceful life, free from strife and suffering but also joy.

Everything ends frighteningly (unless you like clones) and satisfactorily (if you take a cynical enough view). Houellebecq has never written better, yet this novel seems stuck in the groove—clunky mini-essays, gonzo porn digressions—first etched by his earlier novels.


Excerpt: Daniel 1, 1

Now, what does a rat do when it's awake? It sniffs about.—Jean-Didier, biologist

How vividly I remember the first moments of my vocation as a clown! I was seventeen at the time, and spending a rather dreary month in an all-inclusive resort in Turkey—it was, incidentally, the last time I was to go on holiday with my parents. My silly bitch of a sister—she was thirteen at the time—was just beginning to turn the guys on. It was at breakfast; as usual in the morning, a line had formed in front of the scrambled eggs, something the vacationers seemed incredibly fond of. Next to me, an old Englishwoman (desiccated, nasty, the kind who would cut up foxes to decorate her living room), who had already helped herself copiously to eggs, didn't hesitate to snaffle up the last three sausages on the hot plate. It was five to eleven, the breakfast service had come to an end, it was inconceivable that the waiter would bring out any more sausages. The German who was in the line behind her became rigid; his fork, already reaching for a sausage, stopped in midair, and his face turned red with indignation. He was an enormous German, a colossus, more than two meters tall and weighing at least one hundred and fifty kilos. I thought for a moment that he was going to plant his fork in the octogenarian's eyes, or grab her by the neck and smash her head onto the hot plates. She, with that senile, unconscious selfishness of old people, came trotting back to her table as if nothing had happened. The German was angry, I could sense that he was incredibly angry, but little by little his face grew calm, and he went off sadly, sausageless, in the direction of his compatriots.

Out of this incident I composed a little sketch about a bloody revolt in a holiday resort, sparked by the tiny details that contradicted the all-inclusive formula: a shortage of sausages at breakfast, followed by a supplemental charge for the mini-golf. That evening, I performed this sketch at the "You Have Talent!" soirée (one evening every week the show was made up of turns done by the vacationers, instead of by professionals); I played all the characters, thus taking my first steps down the road of the one-man show, a road I scarcely left throughout my career. Nearly everyone came to the after-dinner show, as there was fuck-all to do until the discotheque opened; that meant an audience of eight hundred people. My sketch was a resounding success, people cried with laughter, and there was noisy applause. That very evening, at the discotheque, a pretty brunette called Sylvie told me I had made her laugh a lot, and that she liked boys with a sense of humor. Dear Sylvie. And so, in this way, my virginity was lost and my vocation decided.

After my baccalaureate, I signed up for acting lessons; there followed some inglorious years, during which I grew nastier and nastier and, as a consequence, more and more caustic; thanks to this, success finally arrived—on a scale that surprised me. I had begun with small sketches on reunited immigrant families, journalists for Le Monde, and the mediocrity of the middle classes in general—I successfully captured the incestuous temptations of midcareer intellectuals aroused by their daughters or daughters-in-law, with their bare belly buttons and thongs showing above their pants. In short, I was a cutting observer of contemporary reality; I was often compared to Pierre Desproges. While continuing to devote myself to the one-man show, I occasionally accepted invitations to appear on television programs, which I chose for their big audiences and general mediocrity. I never forgot to emphasize this mediocrity, albeit subtly: the presenter had to feel a little endangered, but not too much. All in all, I was a good professional; I was just a bit overrated. I was not the only one.

I don't mean that my sketches were unfunny; they were funny. I was, indeed, a cutting observer of contemporary reality; it was just that everything now seemed so elementary to me, it seemed that so few things remained that could be observed in contemporary reality: we had simplified and pruned so much, broken so many barriers, taboos, misplaced hopes, and false aspirations; truly, there was so little left. On the social level, there were the rich and the poor, with a few fragile links between them—the social ladder, a subject on which it was the done thing to joke; and the more serious possibility of being ruined. On the sexual level there were those who aroused desire, and those who did not: a tiny mechanism, with a few complications of modality (homosexuality, etc.) that could nevertheless be easily summarized as vanity and narcissistic competition, which had already been well described by the French moralists three centuries before. There were also, of course, the honest folk, those who work, who ensure the effective production of wealth, also those who make sacrifices for their children—in a manner that is rather comic or, if you like, pathetic (but I was, above all, a comedian); those who have neither beauty in their youth, nor ambition later, nor riches ever; but who hold on wholeheartedly, and more sincerely than anyone, to the values of beauty, youth, wealth, ambition, and sex; those who, in some kind of way, make the sauce bind. Those people, I am afraid to say, could not constitute a subject. I did, however, include a few of them in my sketches to give diversity, and the reality effect; but I began all the same to get seriously tired. What's worse is that I was considered to be a humanist; a pretty abrasive humanist, but a humanist all the same. To give some context, here is one of the jokes that peppered my shows:

"Do you know what they call the fat stuff around the vagina?"


"The woman."

Strangely, I managed to throw in that kind of thing, while still getting good reviews in Elle and Télérama; it's true that the arrival of the Arab immigrant comedians had validated macho excesses once more, and that I was genuinely excessive, albeit with grace: going close to the bone, repeatedly, but always staying in control. Finally, the benefit of the humorist's trade, or more generally of a humorous attitude in life, is to be able to behave like a complete bastard with impunity, and even to profit hugely from your depravity, in terms of sexual conquests and money, all with general approval.

My supposed humanism was, in reality, built on very thin foundations: a vague outburst against tobacconists, an allusion to the corpses of negro clandestines cast up on the Spanish coasts, had been enough to give me a reputation as a lefty and a defender of human rights. Me, a lefty? I had occasionally been able to introduce a few, vaguely young, antiglobalization campaigners into my sketches, without giving them an immediately antipathetic role; I had occasionally indulged in a certain demagogy: I was, I repeat, a good professional. Besides, I looked like an Arab, which helps; the only residual ideological content of the left, in those days, was antiracism, or more precisely antiwhite racism. I did not in fact know the origins of these Arab features, which became more pronounced as the years went by: my mother was of Spanish origin and my father, as far as I know, was Breton. For example, my sister, that little bitch, was certainly the Mediterranean type, but she wasn't half as dark as me, and her hair was straight. One had to wonder: had my mother always been scrupulously faithful? Or had I been engendered by some Mustapha? Or even—another hypothesis—by a Jew? Fuck that: Arabs came to my shows in droves—Jews also, by the way, although in smaller numbers; and all these people paid for their tickets, at the full price. We all worry about the circumstances of our death; the circumstances of our birth, however, are less worrisome to us.

As for human rights, quite obviously I couldn't give a toss; I could hardly manage to be interested in the rights of my cock.

In that particular respect, the rest of my career had more or less confirmed my first success at the holiday club. Women in general lack a sense of humor, which is why they consider humor to be one of the virile qualities; throughout my career, opportunities for placing my organ in one of the appropriate orifices were never lacking. To tell the truth, such intercourse was never up to much: women who are interested in comedians are getting old, nearly forty, and are beginning to suspect that things are going to turn bad. Some of them had fat asses, others breasts like flannels, sometimes both. In other words, there was nothing arousing about them; and, anyway, when it's more and more difficult to get a hard-on, the interest goes. They weren't all that old, either; I knew that as they approached fifty they would once again long for something reassuring, easy, and false—and of course they wouldn't find it. In the meantime, I could only confirm to them—completely unintentionally, believe me, it's never a pleasure—the decline of their erotic value; I could only confirm their first suspicions, and instill in them, despite myself, a despairing view of life: no, it was not maturity that awaited them, but simply old age; there was not a new blossoming at the end of the road, but a bundle of frustrations and sufferings, at first insignificant, then very quickly unbearable; it wasn't very healthy, all that, not very healthy at all. Life begins at fifty, that's true; inasmuch as it ends at forty.

Daniel 24, 1

Look at the little creatures moving in the distance; look. They are humans.

The Maquisarde by Louise Marley (Ace) In the final few years of the 21st century, life in Paris is quiet for Ebriel Serique and her family. They live protected by the glass walls of their skyscraper apartment, safe from the poverty-stricken countries just over the Line of Partition. Until one day, her husband and daughter go sailing, and are murdered by terrorists who claim their yacht had crossed the Line.
Driven by grief and justice, Ebriel ventures beyond the confines of her charmed life to confront the truth about the way the world is run. And while she never would have suspected it, Ebriel discovers that she has the courage for anything-even violence.
A provocative tale of individual courage set a century in the future. Good evocations of music and places transformed. Getting to the heart of the story is suspenseful enough and grim. The main character is admirable and strong. The theme is thought provoking and includes romance, mystery and intrigue. A page turner.

Coyote: A Novel of Interstellar Exploration by Allen M. Steele (Ace) marks a dramatic new turn in the career of Allen Steele, Hugo Award-winning author of Chronospace. Epic in scope, passionate in its conviction, and set against a backdrop of plausible events, it tells the brilliant story of Earth's first interstellar colonists-and the mysterious planet that becomes their home. With the advent of one-party rule comes certain destruction. But with the fall of that party comes something even worse. And sometimes, what you intend to change for the better sometimes changes into something much, much worse.
In 2070,
America is three nations -- The United Republic, , and Pacifica . The Liberty Party runs the Republic, but some citizens are unhappy. And there just happens to be a huge starship awaiting hijacking.
The best parts of this book are the glimpses into the government (in the first part), the building of the world (in the next part), and what happened on Earth afterward (the third part). The only thing I'm not happy about is that Steele never printed the charter from the new planet.
You've got intrigue. You've got sci-fi action. You've got conspiracies. You've got one-hundred-odd humans on a planet 230 years away from earth. You've got a whole new calendar system. You've got teenagers rebelling. You've got really interesting aliens.

Empty Cities of the Full Moon by Howard V. Hendrix (Ace) Setting a course for a post-apocalyptic world far removed from the universe of his previous novels-Lightpaths, Standing Wave, and Better Angels-Howard V. Hendrix tackles one of life's most enduring questions: What does it mean to be human?

Magick, visions, dreamstates and shapeshifting -- they are old powers, suppressed and buried within the deepest recesses of the human unconscious by the social conventions of modern society. What would happen if those powers were unleashed en masse in a society where technological advances have all but obliterated conscious individuality?

In Hendrix's best book to date, Empty Cities of the Full Moon presents just such a scenario. By accident -- or maybe on purpose? -- a medical miracle escapes from controlled trials and infects nearly all of humanity, bringing forth the ancient powers once ruled by the Moon, and now thought of as merely lunatic. Wiping out most of humanity in its initial phase, the Plague leaves in its wake the Oldfolk desperately clinging to their technology, the Merefolk created by the technology of the Oldfolk as their servants, and the Werfolk who have learned to harness the old ways of the shaman.

While nominally science fiction, the ideas in Empty Cities of the Full Moon fall in the fractal zone in which physics meets metaphysics. Here strange science, old shamanic beliefs, and the tension between individual and culture intermingle in the apocalyptic downfall of urbanized culture. Empty Cities of the Full Moon explores the weird dimension in which science and religion become a unified discipline, and reminds us that no matter how bizarre either may be, there is nothing in knowledge that was not in the imagination first. This is therefore a book that will not only appeal to the more esoteric sci-fi fans, but also those interested in the philosophy of consciousness and the Old Ways as well. While there is some continuity with Hendrix's Tetragrammaton Trilogy, including a brief appearance by my favorite arch-villain, Dr. Ka Vang, all of this material is explained fully in the text, making Empty Cities of the Full Moon an experience unto itself.

Of course the most important question raised by Empty Cities of the Full Moon is the one whose answer is left to the reader: did the Plague destroy humanity, as many of its survivors think, or did it really save humanity from the end that has befallen every civilization in its history? If you think modern technological, industrial and urbanized society will last forever, then you are thinking in the same way as the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, and even Hitler's "thousand year Reich" -- tragically, for all of them were wrong. What is to come when the present becomes the past; what, if anything, of the present will survive into the future, other than the ruins of what we now think is indestructible? As Santayana once said, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and those who do not think about their future become the victims of that future. Perhaps the key to our survival is to be found in the distant past, in what the character Mark Fornash suggests are the origins of consciousness itself.

These are the kinds of issues raised by Empty Cities of the Full Moon. If you are looking for the literary equivalent of a video game or the intellectual equivalent of a talk show, this might not be the right book for you. If you are sufficiently closed-minded that the term "consensus reality" has coherent meaning, Empty Cities of the Full Moon might, like Fornash's psi-generators, give you nothing but a lightshow and a headache. If your idea of "ecstasy" is limited to that which flow out of a beer bottle, well, seek and find elsewhere. I once had a math teacher who said there are three levels of intelligence: the lowest level thinks about people, the next level thinks about things, and the highest level thinks about ideas. This is a book about ideas, and if that is what you are looking for, then you will find Empty Cities of the Full Moon a virtual Dagda's cauldron of imaginative and challenging thought.

In a dramatically altered near-future, the world's newest technology resurrects a plague of apparent global madness that not only destroys ten thousand years of urban civilization, but also creates a world under the sway of the full moon-and a human race transformed in astonishing ways...

The Complete War of The Worlds  by H. G, Wells, edited by Brian Holmsten, Alex Lubertozzi (Sourcebooks)  For the first time, one book captures the story behind Orson Welles' radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic tale of Martian invasion and the immediacy of the 1938 Halloween eve panic broadcast itself. The Complete War of the Worlds, in words and on two audio CDs, tells how Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre drove 1.2 million people into a panic over something that never happened.

History buffs, science-fiction fans, theater enthusiasts and devotees of Orson Welles and old-time radio will want to relive the night when Martians "landed" in Grovers Mill, New Jersey. The panic created by the "news reports" of Martians destroying the Earth wakened the nation to both the incredible potential and inherent danger of broadcast media.

Drawing on the radio play itself, news reports about the panic, facts about Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre and an interview with H.G. Wells and Orson Welles, The Complete War of the Worlds explains why Wells' story took hold so strongly in the minds of listeners, and why invasion from another world has continued to fascinate and frighten people to this day. It also explores other attempts to recreate the famous Martian invasion on the radio, film, stage and television.

Included in the book is the complete text of H.G. Wells' original novel, The War of the Worlds, with orginal illustrations and also the complete radio performance by The Mercury Theatre On the Air.

An audio CDs feature the following items and more: --The original broadcast of October 30, 1938, by the Mercury Theatre --The Orson Welles press conference of October 31, 1938 --A 1940 interview with H.G. Wells and Orson Welles --Various interviews with Orson Welles and John Houseman (cofounder and producer of The Mercury Theatre On the Air) --Clips from the 1978 disco stage musical War of the Worlds, with Richard Burton


Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin (The Feminist Press at the City University of New York) (Hardcover)

First published in 1984, Native Tongue earned wide critical praise and cult status, not only among science fiction fans but among followers of women's literature and feminist theory and language buffs of all persuasions. Often compared to the futurist fiction of Margaret Atwood and James Tiptree, Jr., Suzette Haden Elgin's gripping dystopian vision is enlivened and enriched by her wry wit, her fierce intellect, and her faith in the subversive power of language and of women's collective action.

Set in the twenty-second century after the repeal of the Nineteenth Amendment, the novel reveals a world where women are once again property, denied civil rights and banned from public life. In this world, Earth's wealth relies on interplanetary commerce, for which the population depends on linguists, a small, clannish group of families whose women breed and become perfect translators of all the galaxies' languages. The linguists wield power, but live in isolated compounds, hated by the population and in fear of class warfare.

But a group of women is destined to challenge the power of men and linguists. Nazareth, the most talented linguist of her family, is exhausted by her constant work translating for the government, supervising the children's language education in the Alien-in-Residence interface chambers, running the compound, and caring for the elderly men. She longs to retire to the Barren House, where women past childbearing age knit, chat, and wait to die. What Nazareth does not yet know is that a clandestine revolution is going on in the Barren Houses: there, word by word, women are creating a language of their own to free them of men's domination. Their secret must, above all, be kept until the language is ready for use. The women's language, Láadan, is only one of the brilliant creations found in this stunningly original novel, which combines a page-turning plot with challenging meditations on the tensions between freedom and control, individuals and communities, thought and action. A complete work in itself, it is also the first volume in Elgin's acclaimed Native Tongue trilogy.

Suzette Haden Elgin is author of twelve science fiction novels, which include the Native Tongue trilogy. She is widely know, for her best-selling The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, GenderSpeak: Men, Women and the Gentle Art of verbal Self Defense and for The Grandmother Principles. She is director of the Ozark Center for Language Studies and is professor emerita of linguistics at San Diego State University.

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