Geek University – Summer Reading List

Nope. School’s not in session, but that doesn’t mean all of you life long learners shouldn’t be doing things to broaden your horizon. (Pokemon GO doesn’t count as horizon broadening.) Here’s what your esteemed Geek Professors are reading this summer.

Professor Grumpy


The Martian Chronicles
– I try to read a classic or two every summer.  This one caught my eye on a wander through some sci-fi reading website. Bradbury’s second book, published in 1950, it envisions a Mars that is populated and filled with water and flora that we now know that Mars has not had in eons, maybe ever. The book is a series of sometimes interconnected short stories that span 27 years, during which Earth men arrive and colonize Mars. It offers delightful nostalgia, philosophical commentary, and great scientific vision from a 1950’s vantage point and a master storytellers point of view. Bradbury writes so well, I cannot wait for my next book by him. The hardest part for some readers will be that we know that isn’t what Mars is like. Bradbury’s delightful descriptions had me quickly forgetting that this was not the world of Matt Damon and potatoes grown in poop. Throw in the insight of this sci-fi master and you get quotes like:

“They (the Martians) blended religion and art and science because, at its  base, science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we cannot explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”

The Martian Chronicles is a book that needs to be read by sci-fi fans. It is one of the books that makes up the foundation on which the genre is built. This book is as much a part of that legacy as Asimov’s I, Robot or Foundation trilogy. It was as groundbreaking as Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” in the 1960’s. Truly a great in sci-fi, Bradbury needs to be read by the younger generations. Available in trade paperback, it is a quick and enjoyable read.

martianchronicles

Runaways: The Complete Collection – Volume 1
In reading a bunch of “what should happen in MCU Phase 4” articles, a title that has come up a lot is Runaways. It’s a series that debuted in July of 2003. It features a group of kids who accidentally stumble on their parents in the midst of a human sacrifice. Yeah, that would suck. In witnessing this, the six kids find that their parents are actually evil super powered masterminds that head a group called “The Pride”. The kids, apparently being raised better than that, (irony not lost on me) runaway from home and vow to bring their parents to justice. In the process, they all learn that they too have super powers.

I’m about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying the story, created by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. The series is on again, off again, having 4 full volumes that start in 2003, 2005, 2008 with the most recent run being a 4 issue track in 2015. The series now comes in full volumes and you can begin right here with Volume 1.

Runaways_Omnibus_Vol_1_1

Professor Garvey

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – I’ve been a huge fan of The Dresden Files for years, and I try to convince people to read them at any chance I get–just ask my wife, who is now just as big a fan as I am.  This series stars Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, who is Chicago’s one and only advertised practicing wizard.  He even has an add in the Yellow Pages and everything:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties or Other Entertainment

Not a lot of people take Dresden seriously, but he doesn’t let that bother him as he sets out to protect Chicago and its citizens from all sorts of nasties: sorcerers, fallen angels, faeries, etc.

dresden1

When I first found this series, I was a little skeptical about the premise.  I was thinking it would end up being a gritty Harry Potter, which didn’t appeal to me.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would love Dresden as a character and the way author Jim Butcher brings him to life.  Butcher is a great writer, and he’s pretty darn funny too.  That comes across as readers watch Dresden narrate his adventures and goings-ons.  This is a fantasy series, but the world Butcher creates feels real–magic or not.  Watching Dresden and the other characters grow throughout the series is really rewarding.

DF14-Skingame
Yeah, he’s a wizard and everything, but he’s not afraid to use more, uh, modern hardware when necessary.

As it stands, there are fifteen published novels in the series, with the sixteenth book currently being written, and Butcher has claimed to have enough material to take it into the early twenties, and hopefully more!  There are also a number of graphic novels, comics, a tabletop RPG, a card game, and a book of short stories all set in this universe (if not directly starring Dresden himself).  Do yourself a favor and check this series out.  I guarantee you’ll be hooked!

Professor JoJo

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Lost Stars by Claudia Gray – SURPRISE! I chose a Star Wars book! Adam will be on my case big time, as he lent me this book in January so that we could film an episode of The Geekiverse Show to discuss it. I have just finally begun to read it this past week and I am absolutely hooked. The story spans from 8 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to after the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi.

sw lost stars coverThe story features two main characters and their points of view of some of the biggest events in the Star Wars timeline. Ciena Ree & Thane Kyrell begin as young Imperial Cadets and – well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. It’s fascinating to read about characters and get in their minds from the POV of the bad guys. As far as novels in the new Star Wars canon go, I recommend you pick this up and start here.

Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray – This is my next read, so I can’t whole-heartedly recommend it just yet. But, it is by Claudia Gray (who wrote Lost Stars above), and the concept is incredibly intriguing.

sw bloodline cover The story focuses on Leia Organa and the years that follow Return of the Jedi. New threats abound as the daughter of Darth Vader tries to rebuild the galaxy, piece by piece, following the collapse of the Empire. Would you like to buy it for me?

Echoes of Light (The Luminous Legend: Part 1) by Jeffrey Pawlak – Yes, you read that correctly. Our very own Jeff Pawlak (aka Pav aka the Polish Pierogi) has written and published a novel. Now now, he has no idea that I am writing this.

echoes of light coverPart 1 in what is set to be a 3 part series, the story focuses on Alamor, set on a quest to seek out the most sacred source of magic ever known – the Radiant Gems. Be sure to read this soon, as parts 2 & 3 will be coming shortly. The book is available on Amazon right now. If the reader reviews are any indication, Pav is well on his way to becoming a best selling author. The Geekiverse is very proud of him.

 

What’s on your list? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

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