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Science Fiction Books That Are Out Of This World

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There was a time when Science Fiction was considered the realm of anti-social twelve-year-old boys. Thank heaven those days are long gone, and young and old, we can all enjoy “SF” from some truly creative and accomplished authors.

Writing good comic Science Fiction is no easy matter. After all, it has to be outrageous enough to make us laugh, yet fit within the bounds of what dedicated SF readers want to experience. Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, and now John Scalzi are among the few who can make us laugh while we keep turning the pages to see what crazy thing is going to happen next. I’m recommending REDSHIRTS as a perfect gift for anyone who loves “Star Trek,” in all its many incarnations. If you’re one of us, honestly, when Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock beam down with their posse to some unknown planet, don’t you just know the day player in the red shirt is going to be killed off almost immediately? Ensign Andrew Dahl is a redshirt who becomes concerned aboard the Universal Union’s flagship Intrepid. Why do all his coworkers end up dead whenever a senior officer assigns them to an away mission? What’s really going on aboard the space ship?

Linda Grimes also writes with humor; IN A FIX provides plenty of sexy romance, too. Ciel Halligan is a human chameleon who makes a living by transforming into her clients. This enables her to solve their problems for them. Ciel thinks her next assignment will be a breeze. All she has to do is take an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas, to get a proposal for stunning Mina Worthington from super rich Henry Howard Harrison III. Unfortunately, a monkey wrench is thrown into her plans when an explosion destroys her bungalow, and Henry is taken captive by modern-day Vikings. Calling in her best friend, Billy, and the hot CIA agent for whom she has a yen, Mark, seems like a good idea at the time, but turns out to be just one more obstacle to overcome.

Of course, science fiction doesn’t have to deal with outer space. Fantasy is also considered part of the genre, and no one does it better than Kelley Armstrong. THIRTEEN is the finale to her beloved Otherworld series. Her lead character, Elena, is a werewolf. She’s now joined by another protagonist, Savannah Levine, a wonder kind of Otherworld. Savannah is half-witch, half-sorcerer, and because of her sensational abilities, she’s the target of the radical Supernatural Liberation Movement. They’ve already captured her brother and left her injured, but she’s determined to defeat them. One special aspect of this book is the device of having alternating chapters in the voices of various characters.

SERPENT’S KISS is another welcome follow up, this time to Melissa de la Cruz’s runaway hit “Witches of East End.” This novel asks the important question can a virgin witch find love with a mortal police detective who doesn’t believe in magic? Joanna is the matriarch of a family that includes her daughter Ingrid, who’s quiet and bookish, and Freya, a free spirit. Freya’s twin brother, Fryr, returns from Limbo to announce that Freya’s finance, Killian Gardiner, is responsible for his downfall. Get ready for an unforgettable Thanksgiving, as all hell breaks loose on Long Island.

Fans of Oliver Potzsch’s international bestseller “The Hangman’s Daughter” are overcome with joy over the paperback edition of his follow up, THE DARK MONK: A HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER TALE. Potzsch is renowned for his historical research, a fact made even more interesting because of his family background. The author comes from a long line of Bavarian executioners; much of his information comes from a relative who gathered a large archive of factual material. Potzsch has said he sees his writing as “A kind of vindication for my forefathers,” since “executions are a fascinating topic often treated with undue prejudice.” Well, all right then. The year is 1660; the hero here is Jacob Kuisl, a hangman. Along with his daughter, Magdalena, he endeavors to solve the mystery surrounding the poisoning of a local priest. This book is not strictly speaking science fiction, but it does deal with the occult, so I’m recommending it along with these other flights of imagination.

Science Fiction and Fantasy is, admittedly, not everyone’s cup of tea. But I’m suggesting that you give it a try if you haven’t read this type of book before. And if you’re already a fan, dig in and enjoy these out-of-this world selections.

Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle.

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