My Summer of Sci-Fi

I continued my tradition of sticking to a genre during the summer between semesters. As I traversed the halls of high school I hung comfortably with historical fiction. Last year I focused on the summer of zombies. This year I broke from the brain hungry to focus more on the brainy.

Science Fiction.

I never read science fiction (or fantasy) at a younger age. It seemed like the genre  for “others.” As my research interest drew me into digital technologies I was drawn into science fiction. The two fields weave together into a common narrative.

So as we embark on a semester of studying Children’s literature I want to share my summer reads.

The Thrawn Trilogy

I started my summer of sci-fi by celebrating the 25th anniversary of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. These are the only three sci-fi books I read in  middle school.

I chose these books before Disney banished what once has a strong chance of being the tales in the Star Wars Canon. Lucasfilms, in order to appeal to mass markets, have sent the books into the Extended Universe. The tales now have no impact on the Star Wars Universe.

These books are great. I have always found Leia, in the novels, to be too much “damsel in distress, when compared to the trilogy but characters such as Mara Jade and Admiral Thrawn make this a great read.

The Martian

themartian

What a book. The Martian tells the tale of an astronaut stranded on Mars for over year. He has to survive for over a year. The book does not feel like a science fiction novel. It reads like science. Nothing in the tale seemed far fetch. I usually am not a fan of single character stories but The Martian blew me away.

Ready Player One

Ready_Player_One_cover

Best book of the summer. I loved the tale. It tells the story of Wade Watts in the year 2045 as he competes in a virtual world called, “The Oasis.” The founder of the game died and created a game to win his billions. Watts works with his friends to battle evil corporation in the competition. What makes the story special are the endless references to 1980’s culture. The book is a perfect mix of fanfiction. It is “Wonder Years” for geeks.

Hatching Twitter

hatching_twitter

Not all the books I read were fiction. I also read Nick Bilton’s retelling of the history of Twitter. I have always been a fan of Ev Williams and his philosophy of bringing publishing to the people. The story of Twitter’s founding also helps to frame education . The entrepreneurial knowledge and and grit the Twitter founders inspired my thinking about schooling.

Gutenberg the Geek

gutenberg

A short read on the first information age advancement. Jarvis compares Gutenberg to the start ups today.

 The Hyperion Cantos

The next set of texts I read were a series of books published by Dan Simmons. The serial tells of the tale of a great battle between humanity and artificial intelligence known as the technocore. It spans centuries of time, involves time travel, a little deux ex machina, and some interesting twists.

Hyperion_cover

 

TheFallOfHyperion(1stEd)

Endymion_cover

TheRiseOfEndymion(1stEd)

 

Education Related Titles

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My professional reading revolved around major issues in education. I of course focused on the changing nature of literacy with titles by Henry Jenkis and James Gee.

I also read different perspectives of the educational reform movement.

Sharing what You Read

Every semester I have my teacher candidates complete an auto-biography of themselves as a reader and writer. I throw out this caveat: if you do not have a love for the written you need to choose a different career path (same goes with math phobia but that is a different post).

As teachers we need to let students know we read for enjoyment and share and discuss what we read with the class.

 

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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