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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

pikmin1

Pikmin
Created by Nintendo
Released: 2001 (GameCube: North America)
Rating: E for Everyone

Annotation:
Help Captain Olimar recover his starship parts before his life-support ends in thirty days.

Summary:
Captain Olimar has crashed landed on an oxygen-rich planet. As oxygen is an element that could kill him, Captain Olimar has thirty days before his life-support system fails. As Captain Olimar searches for his missing parts of his ship, he discovers little creatures who can help with his mission. The creatures, which Captain Olimar names Pikmin, come in three different colors.

Red Pikmin, which are more powerful than the other colors.
Yellow Pikmin, which can be thrown higher and carry bombs.
Blue Pikmin, which can swim and survive in water.

Natural enemies surround the missing parts and it’s up to Captain Olimar and his Pikmin to work together. Because if they fail to fix the ship, Captain Olimar faces certain doom.

pikmin_ssbb

Critical Evaluation:
Though the game is presented as an adventure, the story is more of a puzzle game. Players are given 30 “days” to find the pieces though it is revealed that not all the pieces are needed to leave the planet. More than one piece can be recovered in a day’s mission. Pikmin organization and growth become an important key in finding the pieces. The game doesn’t have just one solution, which allows for repeated play without becoming boring. The camera view for the game does take a while to understand but can be a valuable tool once mastered.

The game might seem childish because of the rating and content of the game, but it still is challenging and a great option for those players looking for something similar to the Super Mario Brothers franchise.

Information about the Developer:
Nintendo became a household name in 1985 with the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Games such Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda became popular culture icons. The system became the standard of video game in the 80s, after the introduction of the Atari Gaming System. Nintendo later introduced portable gaming in 1989 with the Game Boy. Today, Nintendo continues to be a leader in video gaming entertainment, providing fans with classics and new material with each new gaming system they design.

Genre:
Games, Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Game Design

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you were trapped on a foreign planet?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The game is rated E, which means it will appeal to players of all ages.

Challenging Issues:
n/a

Why did I include this game in the title selection?
When I first played the game, I thought it might have been too simple, but upon further play the game becomes a fun challenge for those who enjoy puzzles.

Reference:
Nintendo. (n.d.) Company History. Retrieved from http://www.nintendo.com/corp/history.jsp

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Lego_Star_Wars_The_Video_Game_(GC)_(NA)

Star Wars Lego: The Video Game
Created by Traveller’s Tale
Released: 2005
Rating: E for Everyone

Annotation:
Play within the adventures of the Star Wars Prequels, in Lego format.

Summary:
Based on the Star Wars film franchise, Star Wars Lego places fans into the world of Lucasfilm but in Lego form. Play within the story of the prequels or create your own team of characters and free play between story lines. Players are encouraged to find special items that build vehicle replicas. Collect all vehicle pieces and discover the hidden level.

Critical Evaluation:
Star Wars Lego was the second franchise to use Lego as a video gaming format, the first being Harry Potter for PC. The play is simple enough between levels, with each level a different part of the prequel storyline. Each level features key characters used in the film. Some levels feature vechile interaction, allowing players to focus on something other than character play.

The game ends too quickly for those more advanced players. The sequel to the game, which features the original trilogy, created longer game play. The original game is still fun and does provide a challenge for those interested in puzzles.

Information about the Developer:
From the company’s webpage, created in 2005 Traveller’s Tale Games has set out to be the leader in providing quality games for young players. The company was acquired by Warner Brothers Entertainment in 2007. Traveller’s Tale has now expanded into animation with a show currently broadcasted on Nick Jr.

The company has expanded their products with other Lego games such as Lego Batman, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, and, most recently, Lego Lord of the Rings.

Genre:
Games, Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Game Design

Booktalking Ideas:
Which Star Wars prequel was your favorite?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The game is rated E which means it will appeal to players of all ages.

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues would include slight violence with science fiction weapons.

Why did I include this game in the title selections?
While the GameCube format has been phased out of mainstream play, I still enjoy my GameCube Console. One of my favorite games to relax to is this particular game. It’s fun but isn’t taxing. While modern teens might finish the game quickly, it’s still a fun game to play and worth the time and effort.

Reference:
Traveller’s Tale. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from http://www.ttgames.com/history/

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Hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 9780439023528
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date of Publication: 2008

Reader’s Annotation:
When Prim Everdeen is chosen to participate in the 74th Hunger Games, her older sister Katniss volunteers and takes her place.

Plot Summary:
Katniss Everdeen and her family live in District 12, one of the districts that make up Panem. The country is ruled by the great city of the Capitol. Because of an upraising over seventy-five years ago, the Capitol now demands that a boy and a girl from the twelve districts are to be selected for the Hunger Games, a battle in which contestants from ages twelve to eighteen fight to be the lone survivor on live television. The games were created so that all citizens would know that their lives were controlled by the Capitol and that no age is safe from punishment. When Prim, Katniss’s younger sister is selected, Katniss takes her place instead.

The boy selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son who once helped Katniss when her family was starving. As Katniss and Peeta arrive at the Capitol, they face fierce competition from the other districts, especially from District 1 and 2 who train their children to prepare for the games. Katniss is against incredible odds but Katniss was raised to survive, finding food for her family by becoming accomplished with a bow and arrow. When the games begin, Katniss uses all of her knowledge to live and must do everything in her power to see the dawn of the next day.

Critical Evaluation:
Suzanne Collins’s book on a destructive dystopian world was a compelling read. Katniss’s hatred for the Capitol and the situation that her family has been placed in, creates a different female protagonist that doesn’t rely on a romantic scenario. The elements are there for such a storyline but that’s mostly in the background. Humanity continues to be stripped away from Katniss before she even enters the game. It’s compounded by her participation. It’s not an easy concept for anyone to explore but Collins does it nicely, allowing the reader to be eased into the harsh situations.

Survival is the game, but what happens in the end? Is that struggle to survive at any cost worth what you lose; peace of mind? Collins’s examination of power and corruption lead to bigger questions of the state of our own government. What situation would we be in if our nation was threatened? What would we do just to survive in a no-win situation. There are never easy answers to these thoughts, though Collins does attempt to provide pieces for further examination.

This is the first book in a trilogy.

Information about the Author:
Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford Connecticut and is a graduate from Indiana University. Collins double majored in Drama and Telecommunication. Her writing career began with her work on children’s programming. She turned to prose and published the children’s series Underland Chronicles, starting in 2003.

Collins continues to write for television, branching into film starting with the film adaptions of The Hunger Games series. She lives with her husband and family in Connecticut.

Suzanne Collins on IMDB

Genre:
Science Fiction, Dystopia

Curriculum Ties:
Alternative History, Survival Situations

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you do for your family if it meant life or death?
What is dystopian fiction?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews lists this book for ages 11-18. Considering the nature of the material, I would recommend a higher age range of 14-18. It also depends on the maturity level of the reader.

Challenging Issues:


Suzanne Collins is listed as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st Century.
The book has been challenged and banned due to its use of violence.

The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it a few years ago. I thought of using a different dystopian young adult novel, but I haven’t been impressed with some of the recent genre publications. The Hunger Games holds up after repeated readings and remains engaging, especially in light of the recent film adaptation.

Reference:
IMDB. (n.d.). Suzanne Collins. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1056741/

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). The Hunger Games. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/suzanne-collins/the-hunger-games/

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Life as We Knew It
By Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 9781595141712
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of Publication: 2006

Reader’s Annotation:
After an asteroid destroys a portion of the moon, humanity must struggle to survive against the Earth’s changing catastrophic conditions.

Plot Summary:
Miranda Evans has a simple, normal life. She still has the complexities of having divorced parents, a new sibling on the way, and regularly scheduled homework. But maybe compared to some kids, Miranda’s life is a happy one.

One night an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of its orbit, leaving the moon only two-thirds whole. In that moment, the Eastern Seaboard has been flooded and there are worldwide reports of massive tsunamis destroying ocean communities, even countries. Slowly, Miranda’s life begins to change for the worse. There’s gas rationing, electricity is scarce, and food has become the most valuable commodity in the world.

As the days go by, the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better. Friends leave or die and family members are lost or missing. It’s now every man for themselves. For Miranda and her family, it’s a fight to survive another day.

Critical Evaluation:
Susan Beth Pfeffer  initially drew inspiration for the story from a B-movie called Meteor, which starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. After watching the film, and dismissing it’s horrible premise, Pfeffer began to question what would happen if a teen was faced with an apocalyptic scenario. The resulting answer was Life as We Know It.

The book is a dark piece of fiction as with each day that is presented in Miranda’s diary any lingering hope of survival continues to diminish. Pfeffer is honest in the grim portrayal and presents a realistic idea of what the damage to the moon could cost the inhabitants of the Earth.

The characters of the story are portrayed as realistic in that there is a desire for the past to return as life would be easier. But handling a catastrophic transition isn’t easy for anyone and such changes don’t happen over night. Miranda’s mother is portrayed as practical, looking at the means of helping her children survive instead of just her own well-being. The young adult reactions are a mixture of selfish desire and with scared realization. Again, there is honesty in the characterizations which makes the novel hard to read at times since you know everything will not be rosy.

It is not a happy tale and those looking for a joyful ending would be better served looking else where for their entertainment. Pfeffer succeeds in this endeavor in that she writes well, which is reflected in Miranda’s observations.

Information about the author:
From Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Blog, Pfeffer is the writer of over 70 books. Her focus has been towards Young Adult and Children’s fiction starting with the publication of her book Rainbows and Fireworks in 1973. Pfeffer lives in New York with her cat and continues to write fiction, with titles outside of The Last Survivors series.

Susan Beth Pfeffer on Twitter

Genre:
Fantasy/Science Fiction, Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties:
Astronomy, Survival Skills

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you first do if the world was about to end?
What supplies would you need if you hope to survive a catastrophe?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 19-20. The book features a sixteen protagonist was written for a young adult audience. I would suggest an age range of 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be nightmares caused by anxiety of the characters’ conditions.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
When I first picked up this book, I couldn’t finish it. The story became too depressing and it felt too tangible. When I picked up the book a few months later, I found that the story was still engaging but I could handle the apocalyptic storyline better. There are a great number of dystopian books for Young Adults on the market today. Susan Beth Pfeffer’s tale of Earthly doom gives a realistic perspective of what would happen in this type of disaster. And for that reason alone, I think it’s a great book to give to teens. It’s a great alternative to mainstream dystopia.

Reference:
Amazon. (n.d.). Books by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Beth-Pfeffer/e/B001H6QEWY/ref=la_B001H6QEWY_pg_6?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB001H6QEWY&page=6&ie=UTF8&qid=1354854426
Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Life as we knew it. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/susan-beth-pfeffer/life-as-we-knew-it/

Pfeffer, S.B. (2010). The big idea: Susan Beth Pfeffer. Whatever.Scalzi.Com. Retrieved from http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/04/06/the-big-idea-susan-beth-pfeffer/

Bonus Features!

Mini Review!

The Last Survivors Series

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Kimmie66
By Aaron Alexovich
ISBN:9781401203733
Publisher: Minx, DC Comics
Date of Publication: 2007

Reader’s Annotation:
Telly Kade has just received a suicide note from her best friend, Kimmie66, to which Telly must discover if it’s fake or real.

Plot Summary:
Telly Kade, a Seattle resident, lives like any other teen in the 23rd century. She lives with her brother and her overworked father. When she’s not stuck with the dishes or the many chores of the house, Telly escapes into her Virtural Reality world where she spends time with her friends Kimmie66 and Nekokat.

One day Telly receives a letter from Kimmie66. The letter is a suicide note, though Telly hears no news about the act. Telly is confused and decides to find the truth behind Kimmie66’s note.

But there have been problems with the VR and Telly can’t help but wonder if Kimmie66 has become a ghost in the machine.

Critical Evaluation:
Alexovich’s tale of technology gone awry is actually a bright story where many fictional technology stories are more bleak. There still is sadness in Kimmie66’s tale and you can’t help but feel sympathy with Telly’s search and discovery. But overall, the future that Alexovich paints is far more hopeful than many other futuristic teens stories currently on the market.

The art has a fun balance with whimsical and gothic tones. The black and white shadowing adds to the stories mystery. Alexovich’s uses of blocking gives the story a more added mysterious flare that supports Telly’s journey.
kimmie 66 art

Information about the Author:

From Aaron Alexovich’s Facebook page: Graduated from the California Institute of Arts with a focus on Character Animation. Alexovich has worked on comic books through DC Comics and SLG Publishing as well as animation on the Invader Zim cartoon.

Aaron Alexovich on Twitter

Aaron Alexovich’s Web Page and Comic
Genre:
Science Fiction, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Virtual Reality

Booktalking Ideas:
How are online friendships different than real life friendships?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Ages 15 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would include violent situations and horrific elements.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Having feel in love with Aaron Alexovich’s art in Confessions of a Blabbermouth, I was excited when he published his own work. The story is fun and unique and would appeal to young science fiction fans.

References:
Alexovich, A. (n.d). About. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/aalexovich/infoAlexovich

 

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Doctor Who
Created by
Produced by BBC
Date of Release: First episode release – 1963;  Reboot release – 2005

Annotation:
The Doctor is a Time Lord and travels through space with his human companion in his ship the TARDIS.

Plot Summary:
Coming from the planet of Gallifrey, The Doctor travels through time and space with his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space). The Doctor is a Time Lord, an ancient alien race that has the power to regenerate into a new being when he is being threatened by death. It is for this reason the Doctor is over a thousand years old, possibly more.

As the Doctor travels through the universe, usually with a companion from his favorite planet Earth, he fights for intellect, romance, and justice against brute force and evil. He’s a curious soul who constantly finds himself in trouble but has a stout heart to find a solution. He’s very, very clever and very, very fun. Beware his angry though. The wrath of the last Time Lord has altered history and destroyed civilizations, for not all journeys and adventures are happy ones.

Critical Evaluation:
Since it’s first broadcast in 1963, Doctor Who has captured the imagination of children and adults for almost fifty years. The current Doctor Who series has continued to gain momentum and has discovered a larger audience in America instead of just the historical audience in the United Kingdom.

Beyond anything presented in the series, the character of the Doctor represents hope. A simple hope that there will be happiness and satisfaction to be found in little things. A hope that even the smallest thing can bring joy and that our sense of adventure we had as children hasn’t been destroyed but been ignored. The Doctor has seen great heartache as well and knows that his adventures won’t always be easy, especially for his wide-eyed companions. Traveling with the Doctor is a guarantee that your life can change but it’s not always easy and sometimes you don’t come back unchanged or come back at all.

The series, beyond its science fiction background, does also have some horrific elements. The Doctor’s enemies are not typical arch-nemesis but vile creatures that could destroy planets and universes. Some episodes, specifically those written by Stephen Moffat in Series 1-4, bring old-fashioned chills to those unexpected viewers. Those particular episodes are nail-bitting, hide behind your pillow tales that was the standard with the original series.

Overall, the series has stood the pass of time and has come out stronger than ever. Past Doctor adventures from the 70s and 80s are becoming more accessible to new viewers, with new editions being released every new quarter. The older episodes showcase shorter stories in larger episode arcs. They are slower paced compared to the newer series but are just as fun as the new adventures.

Genre:
Science Fiction/Fantasy

Curriculum Ties:
As Doctor Who does travel through time and space, past episodes can be used to showcase different historical settings. Series 5 used Winston Churchill’s bunker while Series 4 used Agatha Christie for a character and storyline. The discussion of alternative histories would be another suggestion.

Booktalking Ideas:
Where would you go if you had a chance to go anywhere? Including a different time period or a different planet?
What adventure would you like to have on Earth?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The series began as a family show and continues that standard with the reboot. The series is recommended for all ages.

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues include romantic situations and violence.

Why did I include this series in the title selections?
Doctor Who has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. The series is accessible to new viewers and remains a delight almost fifty years since its creation. The series, though considered more science fiction due to the alien nature of the Doctor, actually merges different genres in its presentation. It allows for all viewers with different tastes and styles an opportunity to find something for themselves.

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Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
ISBN: 9780307887443
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
In the year 2044, orphaned Wade Watts has found a clue that could change everything in the OASIS gaming system.

Plot Summary:
Wade Watts is an orphan who lives in the stacks. He spends the majority of his day plugged into the OASIS, an extensive online simulation. The OASIS is were Wade can access games and his classroom. The only friends Wade has exist within the OASIS, where identity is created by the user.

The year is 2044 and the world is in ruin. The poor economy has taken a toll on the world and the majority of its citizens suffer in vain. Food and other resources are scarce, which is why more people plug into the OASIS as a means to escape.

At the time of his death, OASIS co-creator James Halliday was a lonely man who left no heirs to his empire. Instead, he left instructions that his legacy would be inherited by the winner of a game by Halliday’s design. Unfortunately, the rush to find the pieces of the game, or the Easter Eggs, produced nothing. Egg Hunters, or Gunters, now devote their time learning everything about Halliday’s past times in order to find clues towards Halliday’s fortune.

Years go by without any progress. Until one day, when Wade Watts stumbles onto an unexpected clue, and changes everything. And as Wade unlocks that first clue, he discovers that there are others out there that will do anything to win the contest.

Anything.

adventure

Critical Evaluation:
A love letter to the 1980s and nerd culture, Ernest Cline’s first novel is a pop culture fanatic’s dream. Cline has created a fun world, despite the various economic hardships endured by the characters. Such examples of financial ruin are more likely inspired by the poor economic conditions of the past five or more years. Cline’s insight into entertainment and economics almost seems prophetic as more humans plug into the Internet for their news and social interaction.

But towards the middle of the book, the story seems to falter. It’s as if Cline was confused as to how he could bridge the story’s enticing beginning with the exciting ending. Even with audio narration by Wil Weation, the story moves at a slower pace with too much explanation and not enough action. Pop culture fans will still push through, enjoying the heavy references. At times the various cultural references seem too much for those unfamiliar with the different historical materials. Cline’s strength as a reader is that he endeavors to explain such history with patience and ease.

The novel’s many video game references are a great selling point to reluctant readers who prefer video gaming. Interested readers might go beyond the book to seek the materials in the book. The book’s Wikipedia page provides a great list of all the different cultural references mentioned.

Audio Evaluation:
Wil Wheaton, Weasley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, provides the audio narration for Ready Player One. A profiic member of modern geek and nerd culture, it seems fitting that Wheaton should be the one narrating Wade’s tale. The audiobook is a delight as it seems that Wheaton genuinely enjoys the material. Unfortunately, the problems with the second act of the book is not diminished withe Wheaton’s narration. He still gives the story his full attention and the audience might be inclined to forgive Cline’s offensive with Wheaton’s devotion to the material.

Information about the Author:
Ernest Cline’s webpage is more of a fun, nerdy slideshow. What visitor’s to the page can discover is that Cline’s background has been soaked in science fiction and video games. His love of Science Fiction/Fantasy films led him to become a screenwriter. Cline’s obsession with Star Wars led him to write the screenplay that would eventually become the film Fanboys.

Ready Player One is Cline’s first novel and continues to be amazed by the novel’s success. Cline has continued to cultivate his love of the 80s pop culture. His most recent book tour involved traveling from each location in a Delorean automobile, similar to the one used in the film trilogy Back to the Future.

Cline and Wheaton
(Ernest Cline and Wil Weaton with a Delorean)

Genre:
Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Popular Culture History, Future of Technology, History of Video Games

Booktalking Ideas:
What is your favorite video game and why?
What is the role of social networking and internet use in your life? Personal and professional?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
This is a crossover title in that it was written for an adult audience but does have mass appeal for younger readers. The novel would be recommended for a 16 and up audience. The book was a 2012 Alex Award winner. The Alex Award is given to adult written books that have young adult appeal.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include violent situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Ernest Cline’s book is a treat for anyone who has any awareness of popular culture history, specifically history from the 1980s. As a child of the 80s, much of the material presented were relevant to my upbringing. The story is not condescending to those readers who lack previous popular culture knowledge and does explain situations and history in a manner that will excite readers to explore more about nerd culture after they finish the book. This is a great book to use for those reluctant readers who prefer video gaming to recreational reading.

Reference:
YALSA. (2012). Alex Awards. Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards

Cline, E. (2012). About Ernie. Ernest Cline. Retrieved from http://www.ernestcline.com/blog/about/

Ready Player One Poster

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