Our book for the month over at Flips Flipping Pages is Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves,” which is quite a doorstopper so I carved out time a couple of weeks ago to read it.

It begins quite ominously: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason,” which basically is a drawn-out disaster scenario, where fragments of the moon are set to rain down on Earth in around two years, rendering it inhabitable for 5,000 years. Evacuation into space is determined as the best hope for humanity, and the world’s powers and scientists quickly assemble the Cloud Ark. The International Space Station is transformed into a hub for smaller vehicles (arklets), to house two representatives from each nation, as well as a handful of specialists to ensure the survival of the human race.

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Flowers for Algernon

“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes has been in my to-be-read pile for some time now, and it came so highly recommended by my book club friends Peter and Orly, so I decided to bump it up last January.

Originally a Hugo award-winning short story written in 1958, “Flowers for Algernon” was expanded into a full length novel, which subsequently won the Nebula award in 1966. The story is told from the point of view of Charlie Gordon, a mentally-challenged man who becomes the subject of a study, causing his IQ to dramatically increase after he undergoes brain surgery.

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The Left Hand of Darkness (FFP June Book Discussion)

I don’t normally read science fiction, but I always take FFP’s monthly book discussions as a challenge when I’m not comfortable with the assigned genre or author. Because our book club grants the moderator the power over the monthly assignment, I’ve been challenged a fair deal in past discussions, as some of the book assignments are far from my comfort zone.

I think, though, that Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the book assignments I’ve dreaded the most — I’m just not into unpronounceable names and anything that needs a map! Le Guin’s introductory section, where she explains what science fiction is about (not merely “extrapolation,” but a “metaphor”), is actually helpful. I also like her statement (cautionary warning, perhaps?) on novels:

“In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it. Finally, when we’re done with it, we may find—if it’s a good novel—that we’re a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never crossed before. But it’s very hard to say just what we learned, how we were changed.”

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