Category Archives: Science Fiction

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

In the most recent 111th congress, representatives discussed and argued new laws concerning regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) as food (for instance, should cloned animal meat be sold and consumed and if so should it be labeled?), a carbon emissions trading scheme (also known as Cap and Trade) where polluters trade carbon credits as an incentive to lower carbon emissions, green jobs to help with the United States jobless rate all the while dealing with radical Islam and its rise in the Middle and Far East. Proponents of these regulations asked us to imagine a world where global warming cause sea levels around the world to rise, where GMO foods are the norm and unanticipated damaging side effects cause food shortages and possibly contagions and oil and other non-renewable resources are no longer in abundance. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine this world. Paolo Bacigalupi, Hugo and Locus award winning author, has done it for us.

The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Night Shade Books
2010

The Windup Girl is set in a future Thailand where steep walls are all that hold back the rising seas, where gene-ripping (using genetic material from food to create genetically modifying foods) has led to terrible food shortages as meddling with the food sources has led to several incurable defects that not only destroy the crops but also infect humans virally, and where countless refugees live after leaving certain death in China after an Islamic revolution and subsequent purge. Gone are the empires and nations of our time, replaced instead by powerful corporations that hold power by constantly creating new versions of food that the starving world needs. The Thai Kingdom is one of the final South Asian nations still independent of the militant corporations and their quest for dominance.

If the setting alone doesn’t set Science Fiction fans salivating then consider the characters and their actions to the terrifying future setting. Bacigalupi adds murder, revolution, countless “gun” fights (with weapons that use springs to shoot spinning discs instead of bullets,) racial and religious tension, the mob, and more all surrounding one unassuming windup girl, a genetically modified person (called New People,) held captive and sexually abused nightly for the pleasure of a curious mob at a seedy bar.

When tensions between two powerful government agencies rise to the tipping point, the windup girl becomes the key player in the future of the Thai Kingdom as she struggles to rise above her genetic programming and secure her freedom.

The setting is timely and filled with social commentary without being heavy handed. Like good Science Fiction should, The Windup Girl sets about asking the question of what if as a way of warning us of the possibilities. This book isn’t about taking positions on current debates and laws. Instead it takes for granted that the worst imagined has happened. Now what?

Not an easy book to access, Bacigalupi uses language and social customs that fit perfectly in the Thai scenario and setting. Unlike movies like the Prince of Persia where Caucasian actors play Persian characters and speak with weak English accents, The Windup Girl is authentic. I was never once startled out of the narrative by an out of place or time phrase or word used. Once past the steep learning curve, the book really hits its stride as the several forces in the story align against each other and characters are revealed for whom they really are and who they work for. The last hundred pages are breathtaking. The conclusion is uplifting and terrifying at the same time. It will stay with you long after you put this book down.

The Windup Girl is an excellent work of literature that should find itself on a short list of modern must reads in the same vein as venerable classics such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 (while at the same time being somewhat more entertaining.) A must read.

Originally Published at BuddyHollywood.com

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka and Fransesco Sedita

BookGateway is dedicated to encouraging people of all ages to get into reading – including children. They offer perspectives that adult readers just won’t get. This review is the first by an 8 year old who we will call Sunshine. Note: We did not edit her answers because they were amazingly funny. We did fix spelling and punctuation errors.

From the publisher: Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren’t kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. But with a hamster as their leader, “kids” who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment?

BG: Was this book easy to read for you? Were you able to get into it quickly?
Sunshine: The book was easy to read (even for me and I’m eight). I got into it quickly.

Was it fun to read? If so, what was fun about it?
Well it is hard say there wasn’t much fun in the story so I say well duh nothing. Well I can’t say it was kind of both, well maybe yes. Or no. I don’t know. I didn’t like it much. It was a good book. As I said there was no fun in the story. Not really. I mean totally.

Would you recommend it to your friends to read? What age group is this book for?
Well let me think NOOOOOOOOOO! I already told you it was boring not fun and the worst book I have ever read in the whole earth people! There is the reason why I don’t like it: it was meant to be for middleschoolers not me. I am eight years old. Well I am not OLD.

Is this a good book for girls?
No way never! The girl is an alien. She stinks.

Do the characters show good moral values? Is it religious in any way? Do people pray or read the Bible?
Ok, for the tenth time NO.

Is there any language or actions that parents should worry about?
Maybe. I think so ya. There arent, well, that is to me, there is everything that is in my brain is wrong I think so.


Sunshine is an 8 year old avid book reader at school and home, with a reading level several classes ahead of her current grade level. She loves to read and we love to ask her what she thought of the books she reads.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

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Master of the World by Jules Verne

I’m going through a phase where I’m reading quite a few classics and – as in this case – books by authors of classics. There is something special about the way that English in literature was used a hundred years ago. I love the tempo and naive hope and civility of the stories. And thanks to Librivox.org, many of the classics are available by excellent readers for free. Verne’s book was read by Mark F. Smith, one of the best readers – at least as good as any professional I’ve listened to. So when I decided to listen to this book I was excited by the prospect of another great classic. Verne’s greater known books are adventure and excitement, dashed with science fiction. I expected the same here, but was sorely disappointed.

The Master of the World is about a man who creates a machine that can change forms between automobile, submarine, boat and airplane. At the time of the writing, submarines and airplanes were anticipated but not realized. To readers of this time, an automobile that could travel 120-200 mph would indeed seem near impossible. As a result of the invention, the Master of the World decides to flaunt his superiority, ignoring offers by governments to purchase the invention. Investigator Strock is charged with discovering and capturing the madman before his invention can cause harm to citizens of the United States.

One would think, as I did, that the premise would serve up an adventure worthy of reading. However, the book is a complete failure. The hero is merely a bystander, affecting the plot and the story in almost no way. The chase is wholly unsatisfactory. The resolution is so ridiculous and abrupt that when it was over I cried out loud, “Really? That’s it?!” Nothing happens in the book. And the book is not worth reading. By far the worst book I’ve read in years. There is a reason this is not a well known story by Verne.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. He reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com and previously on Bookboro. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Matched by Ally Condie (Golden Reviewer)

This review by the Golden Reviewer, an 80 year old avid reader.

Cassia and her family – father, mother, younger brother Bram and grandfather – live in Mapletree Borough and the entire country is governed by the Society. Her father is one of the Officials. The era is sometime in the future. The Society provides everything – food, clothing, schools, jobs and one has no control over their own life – it is controlled by the Society. Most of the old information – books, poems, etc. have been destroyed and there is only 100 poems and 100 books by authors the Society deems worthy to be preserved. All diseases have been eradicated and everyone have healthy genes that allows them to live until their 8oth birthday. On their birthday they are given a Final Banquet, visits by family members bringing gifts and then mysteriously die in their sleep. DNA is collected from the individual, frozen to a time in the future when the Society had discovered how to bring people back to life. Are they dying of old age or are they being murdered?

Cassie Maria Reyes is seventeen years old and she is going to the Matched Banquet. Today is her birthday and tonight she will be matched to her future husband. There are other girls being matched this night and Cassie is both scared and impatient as she awaits her turn. When her name is called, she is surprised to learn her matched husband to be is her life long friend Xander Thomas Carrow. How can this be – you are never matched to someone you know. The marriage will not take place for two years – after she has finished Second School. She is given a microcard that supposedly contains information about Xander. What has the Society decided she should know about him, the person she’ll spend most of her life with. She and Zander have lived on the same street all their lives. Is there something new about him she doesn’t know? However, when she insets the card and touches the words Courtship Guidelines, Xanders face disappears. The new face that appears is that of Ky Markham – an Aberration. What is going on – no one has two matches, Did the Society make a mistake?.

Cassia is constantly thrown together with Ky and her feelings start to change. He is teaching her how to write which is strictly against the rules of the Society. Her grandfather recently died on his 80th birthday and her father has lost his DNA sample. What will the Society do when they learn about this? Will they demote her father or just punish him. What will they do to her when they learn of her feelings toward Ky? An Aberration cannot be match with anyone.

Wow! The book is riveting, page turner, intriguing , full of sadness, love and hope, even murder – subtle murder, but murder just the same.. A must read – thoroughly enjoyable.

Highly recommended. Ms. Codie is an excellent fiction writer. The book is a keeper for your personal library. Can’t wait to read the sequel – hope it is already in the works.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.” Her former blog was at http://GoldenReviewer.blogspot.com.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon: Matched

Matched by Ally Condie (Arieltopia)

This review by Arieltopia, an 11 year old avid reader.

From back: In the society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely the price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainly that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for just an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she has ever known and a path that no one else has dared to follow-between perfection and passion.

I recommend this book to all young adults including junior high and high school. I think it is a great book and all readers looking for a romance (but nothing parents need to worry about,) with a hint of adventure. This book was great, but not God related. It is a very good book and I hope everyone goes out and buys one. It was fun and certainly not boring. I got into it very quickly and loved it to the very end. The only problem was it seemed unfinished to me. I have no idea if she ever finds unnamed and if so when? What happens? Other than that this is a great book!


Arieltopia is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She is an 11 year old avid reader – usually going through a book a day – who gives readers a unique perspective on Young Adult and Teen Fiction; an actual teenager’s perspective. Her blog is http://Arieltopia.blogspot.com.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon:Matched

Cinco De Mayo by Michael J. Martineck

A mind changing event, simultaneously across the globe everyone experiences excruciating pain that lasts a matter of seconds and then instant relief, as if your mind has completely reset.  Then the memories slowly flood in, but these memories don’t belong to you. You have another person’s memories as if you lived them yourself.  You can feel what they felt, remember smells, and even how to speak different languages.  A rich playboy learns what it is like to be a Indian slave boy, a man in Chicago suddenly has recollections of murder in the Aryan Brotherhood, a third grader can speak fluent Korean,  an ad exec in New York experiences life as a blind railroad worker in China.  Phones begin to ring as people’s Others begin calling, because they know everything about them. They know phone numbers, family member names, bank accounts, personal details, everything about their lives and they know their other knows just as much about them. There is nothing hidden, nothing left behind. And no one has an answer as to why this happened.

How weird would it be to trade memories with someone? Learn every single possible memory in someone’s head. There were numerous characters introduced in this book and a lot of them overwhelmed me a bit. It was overwhelming with everything that was going on and the POV switches so suddenly (each chapter was one to three pages long and rotated between the characters).  Then in the end even more characters were introduced that we had never heard from before. I felt at times the book was overly condensed and skimmed over each person’s life. I wanted so much more! It really had me wondering if this could actually happen.  Overall it was a good read.


Amanda Gray is a book lover who generously supplies reviews to BookGateway.com whenever she gets a chance.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon:Cinco de Mayo

Blending Time by Michael Kinch (BuddyHollywood.com)

Turning seventeen isn’t as exciting as it used to be… say, back in 2025. Because in 2069, turning seventeen means that you are ready to be assigned to a permanent work assignment by the Global Alliance.

Do well in school and differentiate yourself and you may get out of digging a canal for the rest of your life. Jaym, a poor child of a single mother is seventeen and running out of job options. Reya, daughter of refugees from the desert formerly known as MexiCal doesn’t have a choice. D’Shay, a young man with a history of mistakes has no shot of getting a good career without bribing a hacker. All three think that they’ve made it by avoiding canal duty. Their job: go to Africa, where the population cannot reproduce because of a terrible solar flare damaging their genes, marry a pre-chosen mate then repopulate the continent. But the Blender program they’ve been chosen for isn’t all it seems.

Once they get to Africa they find a world very different than their training prepared them for. With no support from the Global Alliance, they have to make their way in a land filled with rebels and abject poverty…

CONTINUE READING AT BuddyHollywood.com

The Bloodlight Chronicles: Reconciliation by Steve Stanton

Zakariah and Mia Davis are Eternal – they have the alien virus – and will live forever. Their son Rix does not have the virus – he is human – subject to die like all humans. Zak will risk everything, even his own life, to get the alien virus for his son and give him Eternal life. Zak is a slider, a hacker, highly intelligent. He can and does create back doors into the system virtually going into cyberspace at will. Zak is wired for direct connection to global computer system where activities are conducted by avatars in virtual cyberspace. His avatar, business partner and surgical twin is Helena Sharp, Director of Eternal Research Institute (ERI).

Helena and Zak are going off planet through the McPherson Doorway to find the source of the virus. The mission goes terribly wrong and Zak is busted and burned. – he has been mind swept. All his memories are gone and he functions almost like a robot. He does not remember or recognize his wife and son. Mia is determined to winning back Zak’s love and starting over.

You will thoroughly enjoy Zak’s journey through cyberspace and his time in the belly of the beast. Stanton is an excellent writer of science fiction.

Highly recommended.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.” Her old blog was at http://GoldenReviewer.blogspot.com.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon: The Bloodlight Chronicles: Reconciliation

The Last Christian by David Gregory

By Lori Stilger

When I received this book to review, I was really skeptical; the title wasn’t Biblical, and I just didn’t see much hope for its contents.

Am I ever glad I didn’t let the title stop me from reading! This is a wonderful book, filled with interesting premises concerning the future, Biblical truths, and practical application all wrapped up in a fast-paced novel.

Set in 2088, the book’s main character is Abigail Caldwell, a missionary’s daughter who was born in New Guinea. Through events you’ll have to read for yourselves, Abigail makes her way to the States – where the trials and adventures really begin.

From self-propelled cars to self-replicating nannites, the book is filled with technology that, because of our current technology, is completely believable. From learning to politics, the changes the author puts forth seem both ordinary and terrifying.

I really don’t want to share too much of the plot or the truth and application you’ll find in this book; but I really do recommend that you read THE LAST CHRISTIAN. Plot twists, a fast read, and eye-opening Scripture usage will make this a book you won’t quickly forget.

The book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Gospel According to Science Fiction by Gabriel McKee

Gabriel McKee sets out to explore how science fiction views theological issues, such as the nature of God, creation, souls, sin, and the afterlife, through how these have been portrayed in science fiction novels, television and film. Through the book the author uses his depth of science fiction knowledge to illustrate the connections that he has found between science fiction and religion. McKee uses illustrations from mainstream science fiction, like Battlestar Galactica (2003), Star Trek, Star Wars, the Matrix and the Twilight Zone, as well as science fiction that hardcore students of the genre will appreciate, like, Bova, Bradbury, Dick, Herbert, Heinlein, Silverberg and Vonnegut.

From the moment that I started reading McKee had me hooked. Admittedly, I am a big science fiction fan. Not just film either. My good friend Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, and science fiction author and reviewer, made certain of this by providing a gift of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964, which opened my eyes to the progress that science fiction has made through the years and also to the way that science fiction speaks to the zeitgeist.

Today, we are inundated by science fiction focused on the end of the world because we are worried about it. I am convinced that a student of history could read the science fiction of the day and get a better understanding of the concerns of the generation that they study than by using university history texts.

In the same way that science fiction is focused on the same things that all people are, it is only natural that we find science fiction to be preoccupied with religion. What more important question can there be than, “Is there a God?” Followed closely behind by, “If so what or who is it?” These are the starting points of any human’s quest to find purpose. “Why am I here?” “How do I live?” or even, “Am I real?”

McKee’s book is an enjoyable lesson in the history of science fiction that deals with religion. Fans of science fiction and people of faith will undoubtably enjoy this book immensly as I did.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.