Fiction Feature Friday: Series Fiction

Welcome to the Fiction Reboot’s Friday Fiction Feature!

This week is Fiction series Friday! (And we’ll even pretend it was on purpose). As always, a big thank you to Tabatha, my long-suffering research assistant, for compiling these–and for mining the reading habits of her student peers!

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The Golden Compass remains a favorite by those who claim to have outgrown it despite rushing to see the recent movie starring James Bond, erm, I mean Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel in the alternate universe of soul-pets. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

For the horror fans, another popular series, The Gunslinger, the first in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Beginning with a short story appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1978, the publication of Stephen King’s epic work of fantasy — what he considers to be a single long novel and his magnum opus — has spanned a quarter of a century.

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King’s most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement.

Book I
In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

One of the most read books by non-English Majors, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

(Be honest, who hasn’t wondered about the pen thing?)

When young Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his adopted family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of inescapable destiny, magical forces, and powerful people. With only an ancient sword and the instruction of an old,mysterious, hermit storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a Emperor whose evil and power knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….

One more recent movie, The City of Ember.

Citizens of Ember shall be assigned work at twelve years of age…Lina Mayfleey desperately wants to be a messenger. Instead, she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means she’ll be working in damp tunnels deep underground. Doon Harrow draws messenger – and asks Lina to trade! Doon wants to be underground. That’s where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix it. For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless darkness at bay. But now the lights are beginning to flick…

Last but not least, a Minnesota author, known for his Prey series, John Stanford’s Virgil Flowers series (the newest book in the series Mad River in which Flowers goes after Bonne, Clyde and what’s-his-name the sidekick is set to release Oct. 2 2012- just in time to catch up on the first 5).

Virgil Flowers-tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s-had kicked around for a while before joining the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. First, it was the army and the military police, then the police in St. Paul, and finally Lucas Davenport had brought him into the BCA, promising him, “We’ll only give you the hard stuff.”

He’d been doing the hard stuff for three years now-but never anything like this. In the small town of Bluestem, where everybody knows everybody, a house way up on a ridge explodes into flames, its owner, a man named Judd, trapped inside. There is a lot of reason to hate him, Flowers discovers. Years ago, Judd had perpetrated a scam that’d driven a lot of local farmers out of business, even to suicide. There are also rumors swirling around: of some very dicey activities with other men’s wives; of involvement with some nutcase religious guy; of an out-of-wedlock daughter. In fact, Flowers concludes, you’d probably have to dig around to find a person who didn’t despise him.

And that wasn’t even the reason Flowers had come to Bluestem. Three weeks before, there’d been another murder-two, in fact-a doctor and his wife, the doctor found propped up in his backyard, both eyes shot out. There hadn’t been a murder in Bluestem in years-and now, suddenly, three? Flowers knows two things: This wasn’t a coincidence, and this had to be personal.

But just how personal is something even he doesn’t realize, and may not find out until too late. Because the next victim . . .may be himself.

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