Trends in Literature

Ms. Gokturk

 

End of the World Independent Reading Assignment

 

As part of the requirement for this course, you will complete an outside reading that addresses the theme of the end of the world.  Check our school library and peruse bookshelves in other libraries or bookstores. Check out  a list of apocalyptic books at http://members.aol.com/mclatter/apoc.html.  If you find something not noted on this list, please have your selection approved by Ms. G before commencing the project. Once she has seen the book and approved it, you may begin! All students should write a letter briefly explaining what it was about the book that appealed to you. In other words, what did you see when you judged this book by its cover? This acts as a contract that indicates what you intend to read. Then, READ! You will have several assignments linked to this reading. Please note the values associated with each element.

 

Requirements:

·         DUE ___________________ COMMITMENT LETTER (10 HW points). Brief letter that explains why you chose this book.  

 

·         DUE ___________________ BOOK COMPLETED. Completion of reading one novel approved by Ms. G -- Also on this date:

·         TEACHER CONFERENCE (25 project points)

·         READER RESPONSE LOG due on this date also (100 project points).  Please follow the guidelines: Summarize the chapter and then write a reaction to each (minimum of 1 handwritten page per chapter, though this is really a barebones minimum – aim for more analysis worthy of your age and education.)

                                                                                                                               

·         DUE __________________ SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION (50 discussion points). You will be grouped into thematic literary circles and be expected to conduct a discussion with the members of your group about the works read.

 

·         DUE __________________ LETTER TO AUTHOR OR SCHOLAR (50 project points) (using business letter format) with unanswered questions, thoughts, etc.  

 

·         DUE __________________ READ ALOUD EXCERPT (50 project points). This selection should be NO LONGER THAN 2 minutes long. You will prepare an introduction and conclusion to explain why you chose the section. Choose a passage that best represents an idea from the writing. Make sure you are well-prepared for questions.  Extra credit will be given to those who prepare a visual aid for their talk.

 

 

·         DUE ___________________ CRITICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY (200 project points ). Write an 800-1000 word essay that develops a controlling idea and examines what literary techniques the author has used to enhance his/her message. Consider the units and topics we have discussed during class. Meet with Ms. G to have your thesis idea approved. Link ideas introduced in class with your book. The more ambitious student may choose to read two or more works; of course, extra credit will be given!; (Papers receiving less than a 90% may revise within a week. Please note that fixing a couple of typos is not considered revising!)


WAR

Title

Author

stars

Comments

Alas, Bayblon

Pat Frank (1959)

 

A nuclear war leaves a section of FL untouched. Deals with the problems of a breakdown and reforming government. Good read.

Canticle for Liebowitz

Walter Miller (1960)

 

A Ms. G pick. Fascinating book about the reconstruction of civilization after a nuclear war. Written in three parts: all post holocaust covering the future equivalent of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, & Modern Times. A must read.

Childhood’s End

ISL

Arthur Clarke

 

We have these in  stock at school. Aliens come and take over the earth causing a utopian time on earth: will it last?

Dawn

Octavia Butler

 

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.

God’s Grace

Bernard Malamud (1983)

 

A Ms. G pick. The paleontologist Cohn is the sole human survivor of the nuclear holocaust. Together with a chimp, Buz, he lands upon an uninhabited island. The chimp has an implant that enables human communication. More monkeys appear. Cohn tries to establish a society. Having studied for the rabbinate Cohn teaches his Judaic world-view, but faces opposition from Buz whose previous human companion thought him the principles of Christianity. Cohn tries to recreate the monkeys in his own image, and goes as far as formulating his own set of seven commandments and creating his own addition to the scheme of evolution. But alas, paradise is lost again.

Hyperion

Dan Simmons

 

First in a series and a Ms. G favorite. On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law and the reach of twenty-eighth-century science, waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to the Time Tombs. They seek the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives, and they have resolved to die before discovering anything less than the secrets of the universe itself.

The Last Man

Alfred Noyes (1940)

 

A super-weapon kills everyone quickly except for three survivors: good guy, bad guy, girl.

Level 7

Mordecai Roshwald

 

A Ms. G pick. Level 7 is the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to stand guard at the "Push Buttons," a machine devised to activate the atomic destruction of the enemy, in the country's deepest bomb shelter. Four thousand feet underground, Level 7 has been built to withstand the most devastating attack and to be self-sufficient for five hundred years. Selected according to a psychological profile that assures their willingness to destroy all life on Earth, those who are sent down may never return.

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

ISL

K. Oe

 

Winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature. In the waning days of WWII, a group of Japanese reform-school boys are evacuated to a remote village in a densely wooded valley. The villagers treat the teenagers horribly, making them bury a mountain of animal corpses, locking them into a shed for the night and feeding them raw potatoes. The unnamed narrator discovers that a plague is ravaging the valley. When a couple of people are infected by the disease, the villagers panic.

Obernewtyn

ISL

Isobelle

 

After the nuclear holocaust of the Great White, the surviving humans condemn all Misfits (mutants) to either death by fire or exile to Obernewtyn, a remote mountain institution where mysterious experiments are performed on some exiles. Elspeth Gordie is a Misfit, struggling to hide her mutant mental abilities and earn a Normalcy Certificate. But when her secret is betrayed, she is sent to Obernewtyn, from which no one has ever escaped. At Obernewtyn she finds not only dreadful experiments, but ambitious overlords who seek to use the Misfits' paranormal powers to recover the devastating secrets of nuclear war. YA. This is a series.

On the Beach

ISL

Neville Shute (1957)

 

A Ms. G pick. Nuclear War takes place between superpowers creating a deadly radioactive cloud moving southward. No place to go…

The Postman

David Brin (1984)

 

A man, wandering the US after a nuclear war, gets robbed of everything and then finds a postman uniform. Pretends to be a postal worker and ends up being the position of leader.

Riddley Walker

Rusell Hoban

 

A Ms. G  pick. A brilliant, unique, and completely realized work of fiction, "Riddley Walker"--first published in 1980--is set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), where humanity has regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state, represented by a language created especially by Hoban for the book.

War in the Air

HG Wells

 

In the early 20th century, the invention of aerial vehicles precipitates the outbreak of a worldwide war that had brewed for hundreds of years. The aircrafts' ability to wreck unlimited destruction lays waste to civilization, reducing it to pre-Industrial revolution levels. That is the basis of this incredible piece of political and scientific prophesy. Wells unleashes his full understanding of human "progress" and the fraility of political systems, and with every page hits truths about war and technology even more applicable today than during World War I, the combat that Wells envisioned here.

Warday

W. Striber (1984)

 

Two authors set off on a road trip across America some years after a limited nuclear war. They interview survivors.

Z for Zachariah

ISL

YA

Robert O’Brien

 

A nuclear holocaust has destroyed civilization. Ann Burden believes she is the last person aliveAuntil she finds another survivor. She discovers there are worse things than being alone.

 

DISEASE

Title

Author

stars

Comments

The Girl Who Owned A City

 

 

A plague kills everyone over age 12.

I Am Legend

ISL

Richard Mathieson

 

A Ms. G   pick, though not a favorite. Vampire disease takes over the world except for one person.

Grass

Sheri Tepper

 

A Ms. G pick. Generations in the future, when humanity has spread to other planets and Earth is ruled by Sanctity, a dour, coercive religion that looks to resurrection of the body by storing cell samples of its communicants, a plague is threatening to wipe out mankind. The only planet that seems to be spared is Grass, so-called because that is virtually all that grows there. It was settled by families of European nobility who live on vast estancias and indulge in the ancient sport of fox hunting--although the horses, hounds and foxes aren't what they what they appear to be. Rigo and Marjorie Westriding Yrarier and family are sent to Grass as ambassadors and unofficial investigators because the ruling families--the bons--have refused to allow scientists to authenticate the planet's immunity from the plague. The egotistical Rigo sets out to prove himself to the bons while Marjorie remains wary about the relationship between the hunters and the hunted. She gains allies in her search, but invasion strikes from an unexpected quarter before the truth about an alien species comes to light. Tepper  delves into the nature of truth and religion, creating some strong characters in her compelling story.

The Journal of the Plague Year

ISL

Daniel Defoe

 

A Ms. G pick. Historical eye witness account of the bubonic plague spreading through England.

Journals of the Plague Years

Norman Spinrad (1980s)

 

A Ms. G pick. Sex means death when a virus, originating in Africa, is unleashed on the world for twenty terrible years, until a cure is finally found, in a new edition of this science fiction fable featuring commentary by the author.

The Last Man

Mary Shelley (1826)

 

A Ms. G pick A futuristic story of tragic love and of the gradual extermination of the human race by plague, The Last Man is Mary Shelley's most important novel after Frankenstein. With intriguing portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, the novel offers a vision of the future that expresses a reaction against Romanticism, and demonstrates the failure of the imagination and of art to redeem the doomed characters

The Plague

ISL

Albert Camus

 

A Ms. G pick. The Nobel prize-winning Albert Camus, who died in 1960, could not have known how grimly current his existentialist novel of epidemic and death would remain. Set in Algeria, in northern Africa, The Plague is a powerful study of human life and its meaning in the face of a deadly virus that sweeps dispassionately through the city, taking a vast percentage of the population with it.

The Stand

Stephen King (1979)

 

A Ms. G pick Best plague fiction. So much detail as to what it would be like if a plague swept through our world. Monster read (1000+ pages) but it’s worth it.

The White Plague

Frank Herbert

 

This book should be getting some extra attention in this day and age of extreme terrorism and the threat of biological weapons. While certainly just fiction, and of course, over the top in its premise, this book is a good solid science fiction novel.
The main character is plunged into a world of revenge when his family is killed by terrorists and he comes up with an extreme punishment for the world; a plague that kills women only. Men are unharmed carriers of the disease.

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

ISL

Geraldine Brooks

 

Discriminating readers who view the term historical novel with disdain will find that this debut by praised journalist Brooks is to conventional work in the genre as a diamond is to a rhinestone. With an intensely observant eye, a rigorous regard for period detail, and assured, elegant prose, Brooks re-creates a year in the life of a remote British village decimated by the bubonic plague. Inspired by the actual town commemorated as Plague Village

 

NATURAL DISASTERS/ENVIRONMENT KILLS/”ACTS OF GOD”

Title

Author

stars

Comments

A Blade of Grass

John Christopher (1986)

 

The basic idea of this young adult story is really interesting. A mutant virus has appeared, but it only affects certain plants, not humans or animals. "Well, that doesn't sound so bad," you say? Wrong! The virus destroys all grasses and grains. This not only means brown lawns in the suburbs, but also leads to a total lack of food for cattle and other livestock. Furthermore, it entails a similarly utter lack of wheat and grain, for humans. Within a year, terrible famine spreads throughout the world. Civilization collapses. The few scared, skinny survivors who remain huddle together in isolated valleys, growing rare virus-resistant potatoes for food, and fighting off bands of marauding scavengers.

Final Impact

Yvonne Navarro (1997)

 

A planet is on a crash course with earth. When impact finally occurs, earth is returning to ancient times. Odd book, worth reading once.

The Day After Tomorrow

Whitely Strieber (2004)

 

A Ms. G pick. Industrial gases bring down global temperature, ushering in the next ice age in a few months time. No literary thought.

In the Days of the Comet

H.G. Wells

 

A provocative novel by H.G. Wells. In the midst of a world war, the tail of a comet brushes the atmosphere of earth, causing everyone to lose consciousness for a few hours. When the world awakens, everyone has an expanded understanding of the meaning of things. The war is quickly ended; a new utopia is created; even crime is reduced to near zero.

The Day of the Triffids

John Wyndham (1951)

 

This classic sf novel traces the fate of the world after a comet shower blinds most of the world's population. The few with sight must struggle to reconstruct society while fighting mobile, flesh-eating plants called triffids. Samuel West's narration of this powerful and realistic story provides a flawless interpretation of the text. The listener is caught up in the catastrophic chain of events, imagined and told with such skill by narrator as well as author that one can easily visualize the cataclysmic events. All of West's vocal characterizations, including cockney accents, female voices, and children's voices, ring true.

Gravity’s Rainbow

Thomas Pynchon

 

The novel's title, Gravity's Rainbow, refers to the rocket's vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again. History has been a big trick: the plan is to switch from floods to obliterating fire from the sky. For the person who loves to read – not a standard plot.

Ice!

Arnold Federbush (1978)

 

Industrial gases bring down global temperature, ushering in the next ice age in a few months time. This apocalypse is technologically unfriendly.

Job: A Comedy of Justice

Robert Heinlein

 

On vacation in Polynesia, Alex Hergensheimer experiences a series of world-changes, all of which point to Armageddon and reveal him to be a pawn in the ancient feud between God and Lucifer.

Lucifer’s Hammer

Jerry Pournelle (1977)

 

Complex book about the impact of a comet on earth.

Portent

James Herbert

 

Fast on the trail of Twister is this drawn-out apocalyptic novel replete with meteorological mayhem. Shimmering lights precede a slew of natural disasters and plunge British climatologist James Rivers into a cliched battle between good and evil. A contrived twist of events brings Rivers to Hazelrod, a deteriorated Georgian estate nestled in the English countryside. There, Rivers meets adopted Romanian twin children who possess not only phenomenal healing powers but also answers to why the planet is destroying itself.

The Purple Cloud

MP Shiel (1901)

 

A slow start, difficult read, but insightful about what the last man would do. Volcanoes rise out the Pacific spurting a purple cloud killing everyone except the main character who is at the North Pole.

Tsunami

Crawford Kilian (1983)

 

Depletion of the ozone layer continues and large chunks of Antarctica split off creating huge tsunamis, one which hits San Francisco.

When and After Worlds Collide

P. Wylie (1934)

 

Two books that deal with two worlds colliding and swinging into our solar system and the characters realize that the world had a technologically advanced population.

 

ALIENS/THE OTHER/SCARY THINGS FROM THE SKY

Title

Author

stars

Comments

Anvil of Stars

ISL

Greg Bear

 

Eighty-two mortal exiles ride through space in the Ship of the Law, a ship constructed from the fragments of Earth's corpse, determined to punish those responsible for their planet's destruction.

Bangs and Whimpers: Stories About the End of the World

ISL

James Frenkel

 

Presents a collection of stories exploring the end of the world from authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Howard Fast, and Robert A. Heinlein.

Ender’s Game & series

ISL

 

Shadow Puppets

Wyrms

Scott Card

 

Ender Wiggin is a very bright young boy with a powerful skill. One of a group of children bred to be military geniuses and save Earth from an inevitable attack by aliens, known here as "buggers," Ender becomes unbeatable in war games and seems poised to lead Earth to triumph over the buggers. Meanwhile, his brother and sister plot to wrest power from Ender. Twists, surprises and interesting characters elevate this novel into status as a bona fide page turner.

Nightfall

ISL

Isaac Asimov

 

Yes, it’s the novel made from the short story you read…

The Tripod’s Trilogy

John Christopher (1967 ff)

 

Four books written for a juvenile audience. Alien race (Tripods) captures the human race thought the use of hypnotic television programs…

Wall Around Eden

Jane Slonczewski

 

Two decades after a nuclear war, small enclaves survive the destruction of the ozone layer, somewhat protected by walls of air established by the alien floating globes that the radiation-contaminated humans call angelbees. Isabel Garcia-Chase comes of age in Gwynwood in what was formerly Pennsylvania, rebelling against the angelbees, who communicate with humans only through a now-dying Contact and forbid the use of much technology, including radios. While Isabel and others believe the angelbees either caused the devastation or at least exacerbated it, the Quakers who mostly populate Gwynwood see them as saviors. Its slow but careful pace rewards the reader with such beautifully developed characters as Peace Hope Scattergood, born without hands and a talented painter, and a hopeful view of humanity and its future.

 

GOVERNMENT/HUMAN FOLLY

Title

Author

stars

Comments

Apocalypse

Nancy Springer

 

After years of taunts and torment about her congenitally disfigured face, a young woman asks the Devil to initiate the end of the world in her home town, the coal mining site of Hoadley, Pa. Transformed into an angelic figure, Joanie Musser returns to watch her revenge played out as the locals try to fathom the apocalypse in signs varying from a satyr in the woods to baby-faced insects crying in the night. This time the four horsemen are a quarter of local women: anorectic Cally Wilmore as Famine, cancer-ridden Gigi Wildasin as Death, AIDS-infected Shirley Danyo as Pestilence and sword-wielding, pseudonymous Elspeth as War. This offbeat fantasy may end somewhat flatly but its mixture of liberating eccentricity and small-town prejudice make for some lively passages.

Cat’s Cradle

ISL

Kurt Vonnegut (1963)

 

A Ms. G favorite. Cat's Cradle, one of Vonnegut's most entertaining novels, is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world's most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; it's still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you're young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.

Galapagos

ISL

Kurt Vonnegut

 

Leon Trout, the ghost of a decapitated shipbuilder, narrates the humorous, ironic and sometimes carping decline of the human race, as seen through the eyes and minds of the survivors of a doomed cruise to the Galapagos Islands.

Golden Trillium

ISL

Part

Andre Norton

 

The land of Ruwenda is once again endangered by the legacy of the ancient Vanished Ones, and only Kadiya, Seeker-Warrior, one of three daughters of the Black Trillium, is in a position to act. In the Place of Learning, Kadiya learns from the seers of Ruwenda's aboriginal Oddlings that a fearsome blight will fall across the land. With several Oddling friends she tracks an ancient disease carrier to a place where she can move between worlds; she finds the Vanished Ones, who removed themselves after fratricidal warfare eons ago and who may hold the secret of Ruwenda's salvation.

The Iron Dream

Norman Spinrad

 

That the actual "book" is horribly written and plotted is the point; the author of this book is suppose to be a pulp writer, and this is what and how a pulp writer writes. But don't be fooled, that it is poorly written makes one laugh and in laughing we find it non-threatening, but it is dangerous to think that something stupid is harmless. Most people think that what happened in Nazi Germany was an aberration, something that a supposedly "civilized" or "humane" society would never do. It was the Teutonic strain in German makeup that turned them into Nazis, not something that resides in each and every one of us. Spinrad knows better, he knows that there are emotional buttons that can be pushed that will get you to accept the most hideous delusions, that it is the stupid things that fly in under our intellectual radar. It's not often that a book can get you to think, not about what was written, but how it was written; this book is a rare example.

A Plague of Angels

Sheri Tepper

 

Tepper cleverly adopts elements of both fantasy and science fiction in this portrait of a world on the verge of chaos. Looking to space for a better world, most of Artemesia's inhabitants have deserted their land for the stars, leaving behind crumbling gang-infested cities, fortified suburbs protected by dwindling technology and a half-wild, half-rural land where renascent mythical beasts and fairy tale "archetypes" now live. There Abasio, a farm boy who is being pursued by vengeful gang members, meets Orphan, who is herself being pursued by the minions of Witch. Witch is convinced that in accordance with a Delphic prophecy, Orphan can provide the "guidance system" for her space shuttle and thus allow her to settle the moon. Abasio, Orphan and their few allies are called to fulfill their destiny and defend the battered Earth from Witch's mad scheme for world domination. If the fantasy and SF elements don't always merge seamlessly, the setting is well-realized and Witch's psychosis is lurid and frightening. Tepper's prose is colorful and contains astute observations about human nature.

Memoirs of a Survivor

Doris Lessing

 

In a beleaguered city where rats and roving gangs terrorize the streets, where government has broken down and meaningless violence holds sway, a woman -- middle-aged and middle-class -- is brought a twelve-year-old girl and told that it is her responsibility to raise the child. This book, which the author has called "an attempt at autobiography," is that woman's journal -- a glimpse of a future only slightly more horrendous than our present, and of the forces that alone can save us from total destruction

Skinny Legs and All

Tom Robbins

 

One of Ms. G’s all-time favorites. In a phantasmagorical, politically charged tale you wish would never end, Robbins holds forth--through a variety of ingenious, off-beat mouthpieces--on art (with and without caps), the Middle East, religious fanaticism of many stripes, and the seven veils of self-deception. Salome, skinny legs and all, belly-dances rapturously at Isaac & Ishmael's, a much-molested restaurant located across the street from the U.N., founded by an Arab and a Jew as an example of happy, peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence. Ellen Cherry Charles, artist and waitress, heir to the most positive legacy of Jezebel, works at the same joint, nursing a broken heart inflicted by Boomer Petway, redneck welder/bemused darling of the New York art scene. Meanwhile, Can o' Beans, Dirty Sock, Spoon, Painted Stick and Conch Shell traverse half the world on a hejira to Jerusalem--where Conch and Painted Stick will resume religious duties in the Third Temple, dedicated (of course) to Astarte.

White Noise

Don Delillo

 

A Ms. G favorite. Chairman of the department of Hitler studies at a Midwestern college, Jack Gladney is accidently exposed to a cloud of noxious chemicals, part of a world of the future that is doomed because of misused technology, artifical products and foods, and overpopulation. PW appreciated DeLillo's "bleak, ironic" vision, calling it "not so much a tragic view of history as a macabre one."

 

Time and Entropy AND/OR Evolution and Devolution

Title

Author

stars

Comments

Planet of the Apes

ISL

Pierre Boule

 

Much, much better than the movie (especially the new version). A Ms. G pick. Short read but packed with ideas.

Last and First Men

 

Olaf Stapledon

 

Ms. G had a hard time reading through this. It’s highly detailed and fascinating but a long read. Only for detail minded people. One of the most extraordinary, imaginative and ambitious novels of the century: a history of the evolution of humankind over the next 2 billion years.

 

Utopias and Dystopias

Title

Author

stars

Comments

Ape and Essence

ISL

Aldous Huxley

 

In this savage novel Huxley transports us to Los Angeles in the year 2018, where we learn to our dismay about the 22nd-century way of life.

A Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

 

A must read for anyone. The future is not so good… A Ms. G  pick.

The Dispossessed

ISL

Ursuala Le Guin

 

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. he will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

Farehnheit 451

ISL

Ray Bradbury

 

A classic read of dytopias where book burning is common… A Ms. G pick.

Feed

ISL

MT Anderson

 

This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people's brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment--even on trips to Mars and the moon--and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy.

A Handmaid’s Tale

ISL

Margaret Atwood

 

A Ms. G  favorite pick. Please don’t choose this if you haven’t already taken Modern Lit  This is a dystopian world where women are kept as breeders for people who can’t have babies.

Herland

 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

A Ms. G favorite. About a utopian society run only be women without any men. What happens when a few men discover this place?

Midnight Blue

ISL

Greg Frost

 

Highly readable spin on the classic Bluebeard tale, setting his version in New York's Finger Lakes district during the 1830s. Charismatic preacher Elias Fitcher, the Bluebeard figure, has set up a utopian community that prays and works while awaiting the end of the world prophesied for 1843. Into this hotbed of religious fervor comes the Charter family from the nearby town of Jeckyll's Glen. The father and stepmother succumb to Fitcher's mesmerizing preaching, but it is the three daughters-Vernelia, Amy and Catherine-who listen to household spirits and end up, each in turn, marrying Fitcher, then vanishing, except for Catherine, the youngest. In order to survive, Catherine must use her wits and the understanding passed on from her sisters.

Myrphy’s Gambit

ISL

Mitchell Syne

 

Thiadora Murphy is a "floater." Born and raised to withstand a zero-gravity environment, the floaters are considered the dregs of the universe-an outcast society of space workers who have been ostracized and nearly enslaved. Murphy thought she could rise above her floater heritage. But then she was expelled from her military academy and forced to work as a test pilot for a powerful corporation. It's a job with many risks-and questionable rewards. Because her mission requires her to steal something from a rival company-a faster-than-light technology that could liberate floaters once and for all....

Utopias

Isaac Asimov

 

A comet, redirected to strike the ecologically bereft planet Inferno, could create new rivers or totally destroy the planet. The human colonists want to take the risk, but will the robots acquiesce?

Utopia

Sir Thomas More

 

The man who coined the word in this piece about a patriacrchal island where tolerance is practiced.

Utopia: A Novel

ISL

Lincoln Child

 

A fantastic near-future amusement park is the setting for this techno-thriller by Child (coauthor with Douglas Preston of the Preston/Child bestsellers) in his first solo outing. Utopia, a Nevada amusement park extraordinaire, features several elaborate holographic theme worlds (like Camelot and Gaslight, which meticulously recreates Victorian England), all run by an ultrasophisticated computer system and serviced by robots. When a series of fluke accidents culminates in the near death of a boy...

Vulcan’s Hammer

Philip Dick

 

Tale of a giant computer, Vulcan 3, to which humanity has acceded absolute power over the fate of the world. Its flying "hammers" are deadly extensions of itself, spying on everybody and killing whomever it perceives as a threat. One needs to be very paranoid indeed to survive against this paranoid machine.

Wall Aorund Eden

Jane S.

 

See Aliens Section

Woman at the Edge of Time

Marge Piercy

 

Consuelo (Connie) Ramos, a woman who exists on the fringes of life in contemporary New York City. Early in the novel Connie beats up her niece's pimp and is committed - again - to the psychiatric ward in Bellevue Hospital. The novel shifts between the horrible conditions in psychiatric wards and the year 2137, as Connie at first talks to, then time travels with Luciente, a person from that future time. Luciente lives in a non-sexist, communal country where people's survival is ensured based on need, not money. A sense of freedom, choice, and safety are part of Luciente's world; Connie's world is the complete opposite. Though Connie struggles to stand up for herself and others in the treatment centers, she knows that the drugs she is forced to take weaken her in every way. She knows she shouldn't be there, knows how to play the game, and tells herself "You want to stop acting out. Speak up in Tuesday group therapy (but not too much and never about staff or how lousy this place was) and volunteer to clean up after the others." But she knows she is stuck. Connie spends more time "away" with Luciente, trying to develop a way out of her hell. Ultimately Connie makes her plan of action, and the book leaves us with our own questions about Connie's insanity and decisions.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CLASS

Title

Author

stars

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