Imagine overnight, dozens of huge alien ships hover above the major cities of earth. They remain in their ships, appointing a human liaison to hear their instructions and relay the message to the people of earth. It is useless to resist: they’re impervious to all man made weapons (including nuclear powers), and they have a power to block out all sunlight over an area of their choosing- from one house on a city block to entire countries. Despite their awesome power, it seems the aliens come in peace: over a period of 50 years, they solve all the world’s problems without even leaving their ships. There is no more inequality, no wars, no crime, and a world-wide one government system that sees incredible developments in technology, medicine, and architecture. Suddenly people have the ability to travel across the world for lunch, can go to university indefinitely to study all manner of topics, and form self-sufficient colonies following common interests. No one knows why the “Overlords” came, nor what they want: a common theory is that the Overlords are lost in the universe and simply bored. One day, one of the Overlords comes out of the ship, and their intentions become clear (I won’t spoil it, but their long game isn’t exactly friendly). I found this book, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, to be really thought provoking and amazingly prescient: it was originally published in 1953, but could have been written last year. It was a very quick and incredibly engaging read – only about 200 pages, and a nice introduction to sci-fi, coming from someone who almost never reads it! (Submitted by Mandi)
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Gratuity, or Tip for short, is a terrified, angry, badass eleven-year-old. Ordinarily, Tip is used to handling all sorts of situations, having grown up managing her absent-minded mother. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances. The main reason she’s terrified is because an alien race, the Boov, have taken control of Earth and are forcing all humans in the United States to relocate to Florida, and no one knows what fate awaits them there. The main reason she’s angry is because her mother was abducted by the Boov last Christmas Eve, and Tip hasn’t seen or heard from her since.
And as for the badass part? Tip has decided that instead of boarding the Boov rocketpods to Florida along with everyone else, she is going to drive the family car across the country herself.
Adam Rex creates that great mixture of page-turning, immersive action and wry, self-aware humour that I loved so much in Douglas Adams’ writing. (When I finished, I felt like I needed to read it over again to catch all the satire and social commentary that I missed while I was barreling through to find out what would happen to Tip.) The True Meaning of Smekday is peppered with laugh-out-loud scenes and earworm phrases that I found myself chuckling at days after I had finished reading. Whether you read the book, which has accompanying illustrations by Adam Rex, or – like I did – listen to the audiobook narrated by the incomparable Bahni Turpin (you will be thinking in a Boov accent for weeks), you really cannot go wrong with this quirky, irreverent, giddy romp of a book. (Submitted by T. Thomas)
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