Currently viewing the category: "Science Fiction"

The Time Museum
Author: Matthew Loux
Published February 21st, 2017 by First Second

Summary: The internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

Review: Delia’s life changes drastically when she learns the truth about her uncle and his career running the Time Museum. Unlike any museum that she’s ever been too, the Time Museum curates directly from historical periods by traveling through time. Because of her love of science and high intelligence, Delia is chosen not to only spend some time at the Time Museum but also to compete with five others for a coveted internship! This competition includes challenges that take them to different points in time and a task they have to compete. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Loux’s adventure-packed though humorous sci-fi novel will find a wide range of readers because it hits on so many different genres and is so well done. This is definitely a book to pick up for your graphic novel, sci-fi, and adventure fans! (Oh, and as a teacher, I mus say I love the theme!)

Discussion Questions: If you found the Time Museum, what time period would you want to visit?; Which of the characters have traits that are most similar to you?; What are the dangers of time travel? Do you think it’s worth it?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, HiLo by Judd Winick

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ellie ultra #1

Ellie Ultra: An Extra-Ordinary Girl
Author: Gina Bellisario
Illustrator: Jessika von Innerebner
Published September 1st, 2016 by Stone Arch Books

Summary: Ellie is super excited for first day at Winkopolis Elementary School. After spending her whole life being homeschooled by super-genius inventor parents, she can’t wait to hang out with normal kids and learn normal things. But Ellie soon learns that her super powers make her stand out in a not-so-super way. Can she save the world and fit in with her new friends? Or is blending in the one thing this superhero can’t do?

Review: What a fun new early chapter book! I am so happy to see that group of books expanding to include so many diverse types of stories, diverse genres, and diverse characters. Ellie Ultra is just one of a few early readers with POC as protagonists that I’ve read recently (Juana & Medina and Bea Garcia are the others). And, especially right now, it is so important to have a diverse selection of characters for readers to relate to! Ellie is also different because it is sci-fi! It is a wonderful intro to the world of superheroes mixed with the widely understood topic of starting new things. This, and its sequels!, are going to be a book that many young readers are going to enjoy!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ellie Ultra is going to be a wonderful addition to any early ed classroom library and as a read aloud. The after back matter of Ellie Ultra has a glossary, discussion questions, and writing activities for the classroom (more below).

Teacher and library section on Gina Bellisario’s website: http://www.ginabellisario.com/for-teachers-and-librarians.html

Discussion Questions: When was a time you had to do something new that you were worried about? What did you do to overcome your worry?; When was a time that something didn’t go as well as you’d hope? How did it turn out?

Two examples from the back matter:

-Ellie’s superhero cape is super special to her–she had to wait months to get it. Talk about an object that is special to you, What makes it so important?

-Ellie is worried that she wont fit in at her new school because her superpowers make her different, but our differences are what make us unique! Write a paragraph about what makes you special and unique.

Flagged Passages: “She [Ellie] had been counting the minutes until she could attend Winkopolis Elementary School for as long as she could remember. But first, she’d had some important things to learn at home, with her parents as her teachers.

In kindergarten, they’d taught her death-ray safety. In first grade, she’d learn how to stump an evil mastermind. And in second grade? That year they’d quizzed her on every super-villain in Winkopolis. Naming their weaknesses counted for extra credit.

It hadn’t been ordinary school, but Ellie’s parents weren’t exactly ordinary. They were super-genius scientists who worked for a special group called B.R.A.I.N. Ellie wasn’t sure what B.R.A.I.N. stood for–only the actual members knew that–but she knew the group squashed super-villains, just like she did. After all, Ellie was a superhero!” (p. 10-11)

Read This If You Love: Superheroes, Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale, Lola series by Christine Pakkala

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**Thank you to Gina for providing a copy for review!**

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170106-LastDayMars-blog

Last Day on Mars

Chronicle of the Dark Star: Last Day on Mars
Author: Kevin Emerson
Publishes February 14th, 2017 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we prepare for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.

Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the very last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.

Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space, and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a desperate struggle for survival.

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About the Author: Kevin Emerson is the author of The Fellowship for Alien Detection as well as the Exile series, the Atlanteans series, the Oliver Nocturne series, and Carlos is Gonna Get It. He is also an acclaimed musician who has recorded songs for both children and adults. A former K-8 science teacher, Kevin lives with his family in Seattle. Visit him online at www.kevinemerson.net

Social Media:
Kevin Emerson on Twitter: @kcemerson
Walden Pond Press Twitter: @waldenpondpress
Walden Pond Press Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaldenPondPress/
Walden Media Tumblr: http://walden-media.tumblr.com/
LAST DAY ON MARS website on Walden Media: https://www.walden.com/book/last-day-on-mars/

Advance Praise: 

“Enigmatic enemies, sabotage, space travel, and short, bone-wracking bits of time travel make for a banging adventure.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“Last Day on Mars is thrillingly ambitious and imaginative. Like a lovechild of Gravity and The Martian, it’s a rousing space opera for any age, meticulously researched and relentlessly paced, that balances action, science, humor, and most importantly, two compelling main characters in Liam and Phoebe. A fantastic start to an epic new series.” —Soman Chainani, New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series

“Emerson’s writing explodes off the page in this irresistible space adventure, filled with startling plot twists, diabolical aliens, and (my favorite!) courageous young heroes faced with an impossible task.” —Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Unwanteds series

Review: The suspense that builds throughout this book is palpable! I really enjoyed how Kevin Emerson used a prologue to set the stage for Liam’s world so that once Liam’s story begins, we jump right into the chaos of the the last day on Mars for all humans. What I assumed this story was going to be ended up just being the tip of the iceberg. I knew the story was going to be about humans escaping a doomed Mars, but there is an underlying heart-stopping craziness that really adds suspense to the novel. 

AND you will be so mad when it ends because even though the current conflict is mostly resolved, there is definitely a cliffhanger, and you will be on your seat waiting for book 2 with me!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: My 8th grade teachers have their students take part in dystopian lit circles to discuss different components of utopian vs. dystopian societies, and I think Life on Mars would be a great basis to start a sci-fi lit circle set that would include books about the future of humans that don’t fit the exact dystopian/utopian definition. It would be a really interesting way to discuss authors’ representation of humans’ future. Or if you did this as a an inclusion to a text set, there are many articles, picture books, and movies out there that also touch on this subject.

Publisher Teaching Guide: 

Discussion Questions: What foreshadowing did the prologue give us for what happened to Liam?; What foreshadowing for book two did the end of book one give us about Phoebe?; What character traits does Liam embrace? What evidence supports your analysis?; What event do you think was what propelled the plot to what it became in the end?; Which character do you feel was the hero of the story?

Flagged Passages: “Earth Year: 2179. As you all know, for the past four years we have been documenting unusual activity in the sun. Increased radiation and solar flares have wreaked havoc on daily life. The best minds in the world have studied this data around the clock, and tonight I can report that while we still do not know the cause, the conclusion is unanimous: the sun is expanding and we are all in grave danger.” (p. 14)

Read This If You Loved: Feed by MT Anderson, Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis GillLife on Mars by Jon Agee

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Blog Tour Stops: 

Jan. 27th  Unleashing Readers

Jan. 30th  SciFi Chick

Feb. 1st  This Kid Reviews Books

Feb. 3rd  Walden Media Tumblr

Feb. 6th  Word Spelunking

Feb. 7th  Novel Novice

Feb.  8th  Charlotte’s Library

Feb. 9th  Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Feb. 10th  Librarian’s Quest

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for having us be part of the blog tour!**

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten ALL TIME Favorite Sci-Fi Books

Ricki

I am not a crazy avid sci fi reader. I read maybe 15 science fiction books per year because there are other genres I simply enjoy more. That said, these books are among my favorites of all time (of any genre!).

1. 1984 by George Orwell

1984

I absolutely loved teaching this book. I requested that my department order it because I knew it would be fantastic for discussions. To this day (four years after I finished teaching high school), students still email me about it!

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

the hunger games

I know. It’s a predictable book on the list, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include it. This series has led to a lot of critical discourse and conversations, and I am grateful that it exists.

3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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I read this book in eighth grade, and I still think about it often. The writing is accessible to people of all levels, and it really makes me think about life and humanity.

4. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
unwind

This is yet another book that makes readers truly contemplate humanity. I think it is a particularly great book to examine the way some people in society perceive certain populations to be inferior.

5. Ashfall by Mike Mullin

ashfall

This isn’t my favorite cover, but the book is phenomenal. I loved how it taught me about supervolcanoes–something I knew nothing about! I highly recommend this book if you missed it.

Kellee

I love sci-fi! It may be my favorite genre. Mostly because there are so many different types of sci-fi, so it is such a variety. There is dystopian, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, near future sci fi, James Bond-esque sci fi, etc.

1. The Giver (and its sequels) by Lois Lowry

giver quartet

My favorite BOOK of all time, much less of the sci-fi genre. I recently wrote my reading autobiography to share with my students as they wrote theirs, and this is what I wrote about The Giver:  “It was during middle school that I also was exposed to the book that is still my favorite book. The Giver by Lois Lowry takes the reader into a future that was furthest from what I ever wanted to experience: no colors, no books, no music, no choice, no love, no feelings, nothing. This book was an ah-ha moment for me. It made me realize that the life that I had the honor of living was far superior to other options that are out there. It made me appreciate art and music and books and love even more than I had before.”

2. Life As We Knew It (and its sequels) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

life-as-we-knew-it

This is the first apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic book that scared me when I read it. The premise is something that seems so realistic and could happen, and the follow up is just terrifying!

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent trilogy

Ricki shared The Hunger Games, and I just had to share Divergent. When I read The Hunger Games I was blown away by the violent dystopian society, but the Divergent series really took it to the next level for me. I think it might have been the realism of it taking place in Chicago? Or that I understand Tris more than Katniss? But whatever it was, I really connected to The Divergent series.

4. Heir Apparent by Vivan Vande Velde

heir apparent

I included this on the list vs. some other favorites because it is a book that I don’t often hear about, and I think it is such a cool premise and all of my students that read it are just enthralled in it.

5. The Knife of Never Letting Go (and its sequels) by Patrick Ness

chaos walking series

The Chaos Walking series is just brilliant. Serious. Brilliant. Read it if you haven’t.

Which science fiction books are your favorite?

RickiSig and Signature

 

“Science Fiction and Science Fact: World-building in The Riven Chronicles”

According to the laws of physics, time travel and inter-dimensional travel are both possible. Having been a science fiction fan for most of my life (Star Wars, Dune, Aliens, and The Fifth Element all grace my top 10 movie list), when I wrote The Riven Chronicles, I knew the world-building and the concept of jumping between universes, had to be complex but relatable, especially for a young adult market. As a fiction writer, any world has to have rules, and those rules have to be consistent or the world falls apart. So step one was definitely research.

I really disliked physics in high school. Disliked is probably an underestimation—I loathed it. During class, I took excessively long bathroom breaks. At home, I agonized over pages of homework I could barely understand. And yet, when I was researching worm holes and parallel universes for The Almost Girl, the first book in my series, I found myself completely fascinated by the laws of physics—a nightmare realm that had instigated far more than its fair share of cold sweats during my teen years. I became sucked into a deliciously dark underworld of sub-quantum mechanics, astrophysics, advanced robotics, nanotechnology, and claytronics.

Building off of Albert Einstein’s space and time theories, physicists throughout history have been hell-bent on reverse engineering the universe and explaining it at its most basic level—discovering the so-called Theory of Everything. Who knew that Hugh Everett’s “Many-Worlds Theory” was an interpretation of quantum mechanics where every possible outcome could happen causing multiple universes (though we wouldn’t be aware of them)? Or that Michio Kaku would come up with String Field Theory demonstrating that gravity could interact between two parallel universes? Or that Stephen Hawking would contend that wormholes exist in a phenomenon called quantum foam? Mind blown. Literally.

Using quantum theory and the microscopic gaps in the universe to allow two distinct points in time and space to connect, I could jump off of Kaku’s string theory, and bolster it with Kip Thorne’s theories of anti-gravitational quantum vacuums to engineer my wormholes, and then tie it into zero-point energy as my “launch” spots to jump between universes (for which I invented the term eversion). Ultimately, I had to take whatever theory I decided to use and make it work for my intended reader. I was looking for complex simplicity—something rooted in the laws of physics, but also accessible to my readers of any strata … meaning making it credible for savvy, erudite sci-fi readers and making it relatable for high-concept teen ones. It was a delicate balance.

Here’s an excerpt from The Almost Girl where I explain this element in my mythology.

A picture forms on the flat-screens in the center of the room. It looks like an hourglass broken up into small squares. “That is a two-dimensional drawing of a traversable wormhole. It’s basically a bridge in space with two different end points. Think of the universe as made up of an infinite number of universes. Some of these universes are coupled by a gravitational field, which means that we can communicate between them.” […] “How it works is a whole other story. We’re talking string theory and sub-quantum mechanics, basically the relationship between space-time, gravity, energy, and matter.”

~ The Almost Girl

As I indicated earlier, I also came up with the concept of “eversion” or “to evert,” which in my mythology means to jump between universes. It’s based on the words trans-inversion (reversal of position) and trans-eversion (turning inside out). I knew I wanted something unique that would work within my framework and wouldn’t be something too generic. I wanted the word to convey an inimitable sense of what it intended—not just something as ordinary as jumping. The word itself had to be a process, one of flipping inside out, and one that conjured thoughts of its own journey.

All in all, writing The Riven Chronicles was an incredible learning experience, especially as it related to science fact and science fiction. I learned that the world of physics is a fascinating one, and that there is so much more to who we are and the universe in which we exist.  I learned that something you experience in middle school or high-school could evolve into something extraordinary when approached in a different way—even something as painful as physics (gasp). I learned that science fiction is an awesome space to be in as a writer—it’s a world of infinite possibility with so many opportunities to create. I’m pretty sure that we aren’t the only intelligent life out there, whether that’s in alternate or parallel universes, or in other galaxies. And until that’s proven, for now, I’ll continue to exist in the universes of my own making.

Howard, Amalie - Alpha Goddess

About the Author: Amalie Howard is the award-winning Indie Next author of Alpha Goddess, the Aquarathi series, and the Cruentus Curse series. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Summer Read. Visit her website at www.amaliehoward.com and follow her on Twitter at @AmalieHoward.

Almost Girl 9781510701717 FallenPrince_cover

About The Almost Girl: Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

About The Fallen PrinceWhen a new enemy threatens her home, Riven’s only hope may be the man who made her a monster.

Riven has fought for a hard-won peace in her world, and has come to shaky terms with who and what she is—a human with cyborg DNA. Now that the rightful ruler of Neospes has been reinstated, Riven is on the hunt for her father in the Otherworld to bring him to justice for his crimes against her people.

But when she receives an unwelcome visit from two former allies, she knows that trouble is brewing once again in Neospes. The army has been decimated and there are precious few left to fight this mysterious new threat.

To muster a first line of defense, her people need help from the one person Riven loathes most: her father. But what he wants in return is her complete surrender. And now Riven must choose: save Neospes or save herself.

This exciting sequel to The Almost Girl combines science, action, and romance in a compelling, hard-to-put-down package.

Thank you to Amalie for the guest post! 

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The Weir Chronicles is based on my love of earth and space sciences. I do extensive research and use what I can relate to modern science for the basis of the Weirs powers. If I take any liberties, it’s minimal, and extends from my belief of what might be, yet remains unproven or unexplained.

  1. What area of science do you believe shyfting — disappearing from one location and reappearing in another — might be explained? Does this phenomenon have scientific basis, or is it merely the author’s belief?
  2. The Weir’s ability to heal themselves comes from what’s found in nature. Calcium to repair broken bones, proteins for torn ligaments, etc. Name examples of homeopathic practices found today. What countries embrace those practices more than others? Choose one type of homeopathic method and research it. How old is it? What is used? Is it regionally based, and if so, why?
  3. Lightning plays a major role in SLEIGHT OF HAND. What elements and reactions are needed to create lightning? How hot does it get? Can the human body withstand a direct strike? What happens to the body when lightning is absorbed? What part of the body can actually melt? What are common ailments reported by those who have been struck and lived?
  4. The Weir believe that unless the energies found within the planet are in harmony with the energy housed across the surface, the planet will be out of balance and slowly self-destruct. Give an example of this occurring in present day earth. Can it be controlled, and if so, how?
  5. As the series unfolds, the plot encompasses Earth’s twin in an alternate dimension. There are countless books, television shows and movies based on similar beliefs to mine. What scientific basis is there to suggest there are parallel dimensions? Discuss your personal theories or beliefs about this. Would they be exact, or mirror images of each other? How many would there be? Would there be significant differences between them? Why or why not?

Whether or not you’ve read The Weir Chronicles, I hope the class discussions gave you a sneak peek into the extensive world building research that I did for the novels. Look out for the final two books in The Weir Chronicles series, Stack the Deck, coming in late 2016 and Dim the Lights, appearing in 2017.

Sleight of Hand

 

The Weir Chronicles series follows a young man, Ian Black, as he finds purpose in the world and discovers his inner strength. He is the last born to the Weir, a magical race of beings who have kept the energies of earth in harmony. The Weir are dying out, and Ian is their final hope to prevent the planet from self-destructing. But Ian isn’t born with the Prophesized powers and in desperation, the Weir elders torture him, trying to bring his powers to the surface.

In book one, Fade to Black, Ian has abandoned his people and hides among humans as an illusionist. A nosey reporter uncovers his secrets and unwittingly exposes him to those who would kill for his connection to the earth. Ian fights to keep them both safe, and uncovers a Weir traitor bent on bringing about Earth’s destruction. In the second installment, Masks and Mirrors, Ian stumbles upon a band of rebels, fighting alongside the Weir to keep Earth safe, but the rebel leader gives Ian cause to question their motives for safeguarding the planet and he risks everything to discover their true agenda. The third book, Sleight of Hand continues the battle to protect Earth. The rebels poison Ian, and it’s up to his friends to find a cure before Ian succumbs and the planet is left in the hands of those intent on taking control of the resources that Earth has to offer.

Author Sue Duff

Sue Duff has dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could even read, so it’s only natural that she now combines both fantasy and science fiction as her favorite genre. Having written since high school, Duff never took it seriously until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest and in 2015, Duff’s writing earned her the PEN AwardShe is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’ single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen. By day, Duff is a dedicated speech-language therapist at an inner city school district, a career she pursued much in part to her aunt who got her hooked on stories of the profession when Duff was younger. She is passionate about the work she does and regularly works to help those students that need it the most.

Sue is a member of the R ocky Mountain Fiction Writers and T he Pikes Peak WritersShe calls Colorado home and when not saving the world one page at a time, she can be found walking her great dane, getting her hands dirty in her garden, or creating something delicious in her kitchen.

Catch up with her through her website. www.sueduff.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sueduffwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sueduff55

Instagram: sueduffauthor

Email: sueduffauthor@googlemail.com

 

Thank you for this post, Sue, and thank you to Sami for connecting us with Sue!

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