Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Like everyone else ever, I had never heard of Kurt Vonnegut until college. I took a contemporary American literature course my freshman year and a student chose to write on the book for his term paper. He linked the Tralfamadorians to Italians, arguing that the circus/zoo exhibit that the Tralfamadorians place Billy Pilgrim in is analogous to Vonnegut's captivity in Dresden. Since Italians were part of the Axis powers, the Tralfamadorians read as hostile. Pilgrim's detention is not purely for the sake of providing an interesting exhibit, it is a way to demonstrate the Tralfamadorians' superiority over an alien species--and thus it resonates with Mussolini's and Hitler's ethno-nationalistic argument for a manifesto of race and master race, respectively.

Best Science Fiction Books 101-200

Cover of Iain Banks Use of Weapons

One thing to note is that while I didn't put short story compilations in
the top 100, I've placed them in this list of the next hundred best sci-fi
titles!

Ernest Cline - Ready Player Two Review

Ready Player Two is fan-fic of '80s and '90s culture along with fan-fic of Ready Player One. The navel gazing aspect of Ready Player Two's fan-fictioning of its own universe hurts the book immeasurably. A too-big chunk of the book is spent recounting the quickly fading glory of Ready Player One. I suppose if Player Three ever gets a turn at the controls, the narrative will be so bogged down by nostalgia that nothing new will happen at all.

Back to the Future and Unreliable Technology



Back to the Future has an interesting commentary on technology, namely that technology is not reliable. Tech breaks and, by breaking, negatively impacts those that use it. 

Let's consider all the ways that technology is unreliable in the narrative and how it affects its users.

Cormac McCarthy - The Road

A man and boy are on the road

“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”

The post-apocalyptic landscape is bleak in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Food is scarce, so many of the ashen faced survivors of a meteor strike that has devastated the world's ecosystems have turned to cannibalism.

The Road is about survival, identity, and care for others. The central relationship is between a father and his son. McCarthy didn't name his characters, so Man and Boy will have to suffice. 

Father and Son

McCarthy's inspiration for the book was thinking about his role as father to his son. The role of raising a child, teaching them what they need to know to not only survive but to live well, carrying traditions forward, letting go of control so that the son can mature and take on responsibility. But, McCarthy placed the time-honored tradition of raising a son in a disturbed world where survival is a battle. Living is often dependent on killing.