Your eyes have just landed on the inaugural post of a new feature I’m calling Trio Tuesdays. Every other Tuesday, I plan on writing about three items from WPL’s collection that are linked in some way. The link might be something as basic as genre or topic but could also be something a little more tenuous such as theme, atmosphere, cover art design or the author’s birthplace. Our amazing brains often make connections out of seemingly unrelated pieces of information….and this feature will celebrate that!
Now for this week’s Trio: The Red Planet! I recently, and by total coincidence, found myself reading two very different books, both set on Mars. Add to that the release of a novel based on my favourite guilty pleasure TV series and voila, my first trio was born!
This Sci-Fi novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars has received a lot of buzz this year. Mistakenly left behind by his crew, Mark Watney finds himself entirely alone on Mars with no way of contacting Earth. He must use every piece of equipment at hand and all his engineering know-how in order to survive. Think Cast Away or Robinson Crusoe crossed with 80s TV hero MacGyver. The book is full of scientific and technological concepts, which I admittedly skimmed over at times. However, the author does a decent job of balancing the tech jargon with moments of humour. Watney keeps both himself and readers amused with his wry observations and corny puns. This struck me as a bit odd in tone considering the direness of his situation but that didn’t stop me from laughing at some of his comments. Further, as likable as Watney is, the scenes of NASA scientists scrambling to react back on earth offer a welcome break from the Martian landscape. If you’re looking for human drama with psychological insight into what it would be like to find yourself alone on a distant planet, then this probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking for an entertaining depiction of what it could look like from a technological standpoint, then this might fit the bill.
This Sci-Fi debut novel has received comparisons to both The Hunger Games trilogy as well as George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne series. The latter comparison is probably more one of tone and writing style, while the first is certainly apt in terms of plot and themes. I found much to enjoy in this dystopian tale set both beneath and above the surface of Mars. Set in a colour-coded future society, this novel tells the tale of Darrow, a lowly member of the “Red” caste who attempts to infiltrate the elite “Gold” echelon by disguising himself as one of them. He soon finds himself in a violent test of war, having to make decisions that could compromise everything he stands for. This first in a planned trilogy has plenty of action, compelling characters, vivid world-building, beautiful writing and more emotion than I would have expected. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installation.
Ok, so this one doesn’t take place on Mars but it does include the word in its title! The exploits of this TV wise-cracking teen private investigator and her gang of misfit cohorts spoke to the Nancy-Drew-loving teen still living inside of me. Sure, it was over-the-top but that only added to the escapist appeal. WPL doesn’t carry the TV show but we do carry the movie that hit the big screens earlier this year after a successful KickStarter campaign. I didn’t make it to theatres and am still on the waiting list for the DVD, but I did recently check out the new novel by the series creator, Rob Thomas. Titled The Million Dollar Tan Line, this book has the same witty dialogue and colourful characters that the show was known for. It’s light fare, right on target for those who loved the series; probably not worth the time for those who didn’t.