In the stacks: Several science fiction titles now available at the library

The original source for the film 'The Ring' among the selections

Posted: Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Juneau Public Library has new fiction, just for you!

"Wasteland of Flint," by Thomas Harlan. In an alternate history universe where the Aztec empire never fell, a xenoarchaeologist, Gretchen Anderssen, has been sent to a dead planet to search for a missing survey team. Instead of a company ship, she travels on an imperial warship commanded by a Japanese commander, and, most unusual, she is accompanied by an Aztec aristocrat who is an imperial judge and a sorcerer. As Gretchen struggles to navigate the political minefield, and complete her mission, she finds that the "dead" planet isn't all that dead.

"Miniatures," by Norah Labiner. Fern Jacobi, a young, talented but unfocused writer, takes a job as a maid for a literary legend and his wife in Ireland. When she arrives at the house, she discovers that it is shrouded in dust and mystery alike, much of it concerning the death of the writer's first wife. Full of digressions, allusions and philosophies, this is a tangled but fascinating story.

"Money for Nothing," by Donald E. Westlake. Imagine that you suddenly received an envelope with a check for $1,000 from someone named "United States Agent." Would you keep it? Try to find out why you got it? Josh Redmont has been getting these checks every month for years: He's gotten used to them, cashes them automatically and has moved up in the world thanks to them. One day a smiling man approaches him, saying he's from the United States Agent and tells Josh that he is an active spy. Josh is now in a very different world than the one he's used to.

"Ring," by Koji Suzuki. This is the first time that American fans of the films "The Ring" and the original Japanese version "Ringu" have been able to read the book the films were based on. This well-written, well-translated thriller really delivers chills. Some of the characters are different from the films, but all in all, the films are faithful adaptations of this wonderfully scary novel.

"Sims," by F. Paul Wilson. In this futuristic novel, Sims are genetically-engineered chimpanzees who occupy a grey area in the human world, neither human nor simian. Sims are gradually given more and more of the boring or dangerous jobs, and since they are non-human, their treatment is haphazard at best. But when a lawyer tries to unionize the Sims, he quickly finds that the corporation that created them has a hidden agenda for the Sims and for the world.

"The Happiness Code," by Amy Herrick. A scientist, working to rid the human gene pool of a genetic defect, finds that the defect has a side-effect: happiness. His lab assistant, who knows what he's found, conducts her own experiment. And now, powerful people want to get hold of the smiling, contented baby that was produced.

"Farewell, my Queen," by Chantal Thomas. Written by an authority on French literature of the 18th century, this oft-told tale of the French revolution comes from an entirely new angle. Madame Agathe-Sidonie Laborde reminisces about her years as Marie-Antoinette's reader before the revolution, and how she escaped the fate that threatened the entire court. She juxtaposes the opulence of the court with the squalor of the times and paints a fascinating picture of the inner workings of royalty battered by outside forces.

"The City Trilogy," by Chang Hsi-Kuo. This science-fiction novel (actually a collection of three novellas that are tied together in an arc) is the first English translation of this noted Taiwanese writer's work. Banish from your mind thoughts of Heinlein, Asimov and Clark, and enjoy this look at the way Chinese culture has shaped thoughts of the future. As the Huhui people try to overthrow their interstellar overlords, the Han, they must gain the cooperation of the several other races that share their planet. Alliances continually shift, and political machinations abound, keeping readers on their toes in this very different allegorical tale.

•If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and look at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in this column is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply look up the column, click on the title you want and you will be ready to place a hold.

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