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‘The Boost’ is a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the long-term effects of the ever-shrinking computer


Set in 2072, 'The Boost' by Stephen Baker imagines a world in which everyone has a networked computer, called a “boost,” installed in his or her brain. Baker is a gifted futurist whose first stab at fiction is remarkably well written, although his inexperience does show in a few places. But Baker compensates with a fast pace and solid scientific grounding. 'The Boost' is a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the long-term effects of the ever-shrinking computer.

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‘My Real Children’ is a heartwarming, heart-wrenching exploration of feminism and politics

Jo Walton’s My Real Children is difficult to classify. Although it can be read as an alternate history (actually two alternative histories—more on that in a moment), the novel really belongs on the shelf beside the work of “literary” writers like Jonathan Franzen or Alice Munro. The book both warms and wrenches the heart as it explores feminism and gay rights, as well as war and peace. The lives of Pat and Tricia tell us much about the world in which we live and what it means to be part of a family.

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You are invited to the ‘Afterparty’: there’ll be lots of drugs and gods

Good science fiction is not about the future so much as the present, and Afterparty by Daryl Gregory is good science fiction. It amplifies the societal insecurities of today and projects them into tomorrow without losing track of the human element that drives dramatic storytelling. With elements of a good mystery, Afterparty is full of twists and turns and red herrings on the way to an unexpected and satisfying resolution.

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‘The Revolutions’ is an intriguing blend of steampunk and Victorian-era occult

Many novels that have tried to straddle sci-fi and fantasy end up simultaneously irritating the hard-core sci-fi fans and discombobulating the fantasy lovers. The Revolutions does neither and is an intriguing blend of steampunk sci-fi/fantasy with dabbling in Victorian-era occult.

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‘Song of Ireland’ hits all the right notes


Song of Ireland is a modern retelling of an ancient Celtic myth. Juilene Osborne-McKnight knows her source material well, but never lets it get in the way of the story. Complex and unpredictable, Song of Ireland offers a satisfying blend of history, myth and solid storytelling.

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Gender and sexuality as continuums rather than two-sided coins in Jared Diamond’s ‘The Third Chimpanzee’

Episode 2 of Cosmos dealt with the always controversial subject of evolution. I thought the show provided a wonderful and very accessible overview of the subject, but at the end of the show my husband, who is not a scientist, was ready to hear more. Being ever the bookworm, my answer was, to him and anyone else who might feel the same way, read Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee.

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