Book News: Badass Librarians, a Grunt Trailer and the Order of Canada


Badass Librarians – How some awesome librarians foiled Al Qaeda and saved some ancient manuscripts.

Locus Awards – The Locus Awards were held last weekend and here are the awesome winners!

Best Books of 2016 – Book Riot take a look at the best books that read in 2016 . . . so far.

100 Must Read Nature Books – Now that summer is in full swing, we’re all going out a lot and checking out the outdoors, and here are 100 nature-related recommends to add to your travels.

Grunt Trailer – Mary Roach’s new book, Grunt, is out all about the science of the military. Roach is known for her bestselling books Stiff and Bonk. And here’s her entertaining book trailer for Grunt.

100 Family-Friendly Audiobooks – It’s road trip season, which means a lot of time spent in a vehicle and what better way to pass the time than listening to audiobooks, and here are 100 that your kids can listen to as well.

Order of Canada: Bestselling science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer has been appointed to the Order of Canada.

“Quantum Night” by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2016)

It’s been a few years since Robert J. Sawyer published a novel, his last being Red Planet Blues in 2013. With the passing of his brother, Sawyer needed to take some time off. Now he’s back with a new novel, Quantum Night, and if readers and fans might be wondering if the new book might be lacking in some classic Sawyer way with the time off, they will not be disappointed in the slightest!

Jim Marchuk is an experimental psychologist who has developed what he believes to be the perfect technique for identifying psychopaths. So he’s excited when he gets used in an important case to show his technique in action. But as he is cross-examined, he discovers a hole in his mind: he is missing a six-month period in his life from twenty years ago, from when he was in college.

He begins his trip down a strange memory lane he doesn’t recollect, reuniting with an old girlfriend, Kayla Huron, and discovers he was apparently somewhat abusive during this dark period, which was totally out of character for him. They reconnect and begin dating again, as he is the same lovable, interesting person. She is now a quantum physicist and has made her own brilliant discovery with human consciousness. Meanwhile tensions are heating up around the world as riots are, well, running riot just about everywhere. But Jim and Kayla might be able to work together to somehow have an effect on this worldwide tension.

Quantum Night is a classic example of a Sawyer novel: a near future with some cool tech, a complex plot that has the reader thinking and questioning from cover to cover, and plenty of Sawyer-patented wry humor. Fans will be delighted and new readers will be sucked in with this compelling story.

Originally written on March 25, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Quantum Night from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Red Planet Blues” by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2013)

Red Planet Blues

One of the purposes of science fiction is to take a good story and insert it into a futuristic world of science fiction, making it a great story; something you haven’t read before.  Bestselling author Robert J. Sawyer does just this with Red Planet Blues as he presents the classic noir detective novel that just about everyone is familiar with, and inserts it into a future world of a colonized Mars, which makes for some very riveting reading.

Enter Alex Lomax, a Private Eye who left Earth for reasons we’re not sure of, but he’s not welcome there.  So he makes his home now in New Klondike on Mars, underneath the great dome.  But New Klondike is very much the edge of the world locality that it’s named after; the Martian frontier.  The city is dirty, run down; there’s prostitution and drug use and crime.  It’s a dead-end world, just where Lomax expected to end up.

The hope many of the citizens of New Klondike hold out for is making it rich on Martian fossils.  Alien life was found to exist on Mars, but has long died out.  All that remain are some fossils that are worth a fortune back on Earth.  Some of the lucky few have made discoveries and are now doing well for themselves; others continue to spend their time in their suits out on the plain in search of riches.  There is also the nugget of knowledge that everyone knows: somewhere out there on the Martian desert is the alpha deposit, first discovered forty years ago by Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly that began this Great Martian Fossil Rush; the mother lode that would make its discoverer rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Another reason people want to strike it rich is so they can become immortal.  In this world there are those known as transfers: essentially practically indestructible robots that have had people’s minds and consciousnesses downloaded into them.  Becoming a transfer is expensive, but then you’re practically unstoppable; you don’t need to eat or breathe or even feel.  You can go out on the harsh Martian plain and continue looking for those pricey fossils.

Lomax isn’t that likeable a character.  He’s a drinker, a womanizer, and doesn’t think very highly of himself.  But he has integrity.  So when he gets a couple of new clients looking to find out the true history behind Weingarten and O’Reilly’s discovery, as well as the alpha location, he agrees to do it for good money, but also becomes he knows what’s at stake.

Sawyer has done a great job in creating a concrete, believable world and some strong characters, especially in Lomax who you don’t really like, but still kind of care for.  At times events seem a little over the top and ham-handed, but that’s just Sawyer remaining true to the genre, even if it is on another planet.  Science fiction readers will not be disappointed; noir crime readers will not be disappointed; and where the twain shall meet shall be one very satisfied reader.

Originally written on April 27, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Red Planet Blues from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Triggers  Distant Early Warnings  Wake

Bookbanter Column: “Thank You Borders” (September 16, 2011)

Borders 1Window signs for Borders Roseville store #130 at the beginning of liquidation

I started working for Borders in October of 2005; last October I had my fifth-year anniversary working for the company; by the beginning of October this year Borders Books, Music and More will no longer exist.  It is estimated that around 10,700 people will lose their jobs when Borders closes its doors for good.  The original Borders bookstore opened in 1971 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  At its height in 2003, Borders had 1,249 stores; five years later it announced its intention to sell.  Two years of doubt and uncertainty followed, mainly for the Borders employees, knowing that the end would come and it was merely a case of when.  A revolving door of CEOs and constant changes to upper management couldn’t stem or slow the tide of inevitability.

It is truly the end of an era, not just with all of us losing our jobs, but as a community venue that so many people have attended over the years.  Whether it was for books, DVDs, music, coffee, Paperchase stationary items, or somewhere to enjoy a music performance or a signing on the weekend; Borders to many was a place to go and have fun.  And now there will just be a series of big empty locales across the country.

Borders 2
Employees putting up liquidation signs

Borders prided itself on carrying a wide variety of authors, especially during the better years when it wasn’t just bestsellers, but a large number of midlist authors that readers couldn’t find at Barnes and Noble, and wouldn’t be able to ever discover at  Independent bookstores do their best to carry many of these authors, but they don’t have the spread and range that Borders used to carry.  In a recent interview with bestselling author George R. R. Martin, he indicated that a number of these authors will have a lot of trouble selling their books, what with the small publishers already owed millions by Borders, as well as not having such a large retailer to carry their titles anymore.  The next few years are going to be interesting as readers, publishers, writers and booksellers look at what happens to this big hole in the book world.  Will and Barnes & Noble automatically fill it?  Will new independent bookstores begin to flourish across the country?  Will eBooks fill this great void?  Only the future will tell.

But Borders will not be quickly forgotten.  Many of the employees in the history of Borders – as well as current ones – have had many fond memories of working for this institution.  Many customers also have their own recollections of shopping at Borders, in fact at the beginning of the liquidation a customer came into the Folsom Borders asking if they could have a piece of the carpet once the store closed as it was there that she was proposed to; sadly she was not granted her wish as the carpet is needed for future tenants.  Shortly after the liquidation announcement, Sourcebooks publisher Dominique Raccah created a special Twitter hashtag, #ThankUBorders, where everyone and anyone could share their fond memories and happy times with Borders; each and every day there are many new entries under this hashtag.

I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, reminiscing about my job and experiences at this place called Borders that I will never forget.  I know on that last day, we’re going to need a lot of tissues.  For now, I invite you to read what a variety of authors and one publisher have to stay about the end of Borders . . .

Borders 3
Letters and messages received from caring customers

“I am saddened by the demise of any book purveyor, though of course there must be a sadness hierarchy — with the defunct independents outranking the bankrupt chains.  I long ago forgave Borders for shelving Stiff under Medical Reference, because they also chose the book for their Original Voices program, and that program was a nice a leg-up for a first-time author… “ – Mary Roach is the author of the bestselling Stiff, and most recently Packing for Mars.

“Borders was a wonderful chain, with terrific stores.  It’s a huge loss to all of us.  We mourn when a single bookstore closes, and rightly so — but when 700 close, it almost defies imagination.  Countless communities will have no local bookstore at all.  I’m truly sorry to see them go.” – Robert J. Sawyer is an award winning author; his most recent book is WWW: Wonder.

“Well, my thoughts aren’t particularly complicated. It’s a shame, even though we all sort of saw it coming. Fewer book stores – whether it’s a chain or an indie going bust – is bad for readers, and bad for writers. Fewer books available means fewer books sold. And for that matter, it means a number of (often) book-loving people are out of a job.  Perhaps the Borders closings will open an opportunity for independent stores to rise up and fill the void – particularly in some of the markets where Borders was the only bookstore in the area. I’m not sure how viable or likely that is, but a girl can hope.” – Cherie Priest is the author of the bestselling Boneshaker.

“I can only talk about our local Borders, which was always wonderfully supportive of our books and events. I think the loss of any brick-and-mortar store is bad news. I do know that in later years I had several conversations with people in the book business who didn’t understand some of Borders’ business practices. Unnecessary expenditures, including over-production of author interview videos (when a lot of people are just using a hand-held flip camera, for example). I don’t know what I think really. ” – Jeff VanderMeer is the author of Booklife and Finch.

“I think it sucks.  Leaving aside the fact that I still enjoy browsing real live bookshelves and this cuts down on my options for doing so, there’s the terrible economic impact this is going to have on the entire book industry.  We were already facing an economic system dangerously denuded of “retailer ecodiversity” — and now the few remaining apex predators, no longer impeded by competition, are free to ravage anyone they see as lower on the food chain:  namely, book producers and book lovers.  It’s already happening, and now will get worse.  Still, at least there’s one hope from the liquidation:  Borders might finally be able to pay back the millions of dollars in unpaid-for books it’s owed to publishers and authors for years now.” – N. K. Jemisin is the author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms.

“Any bookstore closing, chain or independent, is a cause for regret. We may enjoy our e-readers of all kinds, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a bookstore and wondering what you’ll discover today, just by being among books, picking them up, sharing that space.” – Guy Gavriel Kay is the bestselling author of Tigana and Under Heaven.

“As both an author and a reader, the news of any bookstore closing is a tragedy. But when I learned about Borders closing I was particularly saddened. Borders was instrumental in making my first book, The Lost City of Z, a success. Borders employees were some of the most devoted readers, who recommended books and passed them on to customers. I did a reading at a Borders in Westchester, New York, near where I live, and was so struck by the extraordinary staff. And so when I think about those people who worked there losing their jobs, and all the readers and authors who will lose such a great place to gather and share their love of books, I’m left without words.” – David Grann is the writer for the New Yorker and the author of the bestselling Lost City of Z.

“First of all, my heart goes out to all the hardworking Borders salespeople and managers who have lost their jobs. The demise of Borders is a sad day for them, for us authors, for publishing houses, for the reading public — and indeed for our country. Fewer bookstores mean fewer books sold. It’s that simple. And that impoverishes us all.” – Douglas Preston is the bestselling co-author of Cemetery Dance and Gideon’s Sword.

“This is one chapter we hoped would never be written. But today’s business climate doesn’t take a sentimental approach. There are so many forces that conspired to effect Borders’ demise, but it boils down to the fact that the business model changed. Borders didn’t. I feel bad for all my friends and terrific booksellers who are losing their jobs, and the readers who lose their neighborhood bookstore. Borders was more than just a store…in its heyday, it was a community’s social pulse…a happening place where people gathered for book signings and musical concerts. It’ll be sorely missed.” – Alan Jacobson is the bestselling author of Crush and Inmate 1577.

“I’m crushed and shocked.  The loss of Borders will have a resounding and lasting impact on the publishing market.  Worst of all, it leaves fewer outlets for readers to easily browse, purchase, and explore new books.  And the effect will reverberate throughout the economy as well:  from the dumping of the 400 stores’ retail spaces into an already fragile marketplace to the 11,000 employees seeking new employment during these tough times.  There is not a silver lining in any of this.”– James Rollins is the bestselling author of The Doomsday Key and The Devil Colony.

“Well, it’s funny, I remember when Borders was “cool.”  —Before they became intent on opening a location next to every indie in town and running them out of business. I was so sorry to see their business model change; they really became the opposite of how they started.  Borders was “sex-positive,” and gay-friendly in their infancy; back when it was considered risky. They were out front with graphic novels and comics.  Whereas some prominent booksellers were saying: “No title with the word SEX in it will be allowed to have a signing in our store!”— Borders would welcome me.   I think I first went to one in Chicago, that was fun. I also remember very well being in their Wall Street location a few months before 9/11. They had such a jolly time inviting me to “invade” the suits and have a reading there.  I wish I could remember names better, because obviously, the good times were all about the great individuals I met, who in many cases, had been booksellers for years, at every kind of store. I hope I keep seeing them in the future!” – Susie Bright is the bestselling author of Big Sex Little Death, as well as the editor for The Best American Erotica.

“For any trade publisher the loss of Borders means that print runs will drop, in some cases by quite a lot for some categories in which Borders did well, which will then put pressure on unit costs and retail prices and profit margins. The knock-down effect would include loss of employees, fewer output, and more. And if this is the direction of chain stores, with indications that B&N will soon follow in five years, at least with attrition, as leases expire, then we could see a situation where publishers are either put out of business entirely or transitioned to ebook business models in order to save themselves. It’s a brave new world, but it’s anyone’s guess how brave and new it’s going to be.” – Sean Wallace is the editor and publisher for Prime Books.

“I think it’s a sad day when thousands of people lose their jobs and the ability of the consumer to browse through books in person becomes even more limited.” – Amber Benson is the author of Death’s Daughter and starred as Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“The closing of Borders leaves an enormous void in the book world, not only physically but also spiritually. The professional implications to the publishing industry aside, there’s something about the experience of stepping into a book store that can’t be duplicated by browsing books on If the other brick-and-mortar stores suffer the same fate as Borders, then we will have lost a fundamental piece of our culture.” – S.G. Browne is the author of Fated and Breathers.

“I’ll miss Borders.  The closest bookstore to me right now is a Borders.  It’s in a local shopping center that has a movie theatre, and nearly every time I go to the movies I go in there to shop.  But that’s just the tiny little sliver of my personal regret.  Thousands of people are losing their jobs.  Big shopping centers will have massive empty real estate that will be hard to lease, and the cities and towns won’t be getting the taxes those businesses generate.  Of course, even that is only one aspect of the loss taking place with Borders flaming out.  Doubtless it will hasten the rush toward digital books as people have a harder time finding a bookstore.  The long term picture–what publishing will look like a decade from now–is unclear.  Perhaps once the conversion to digital is complete, or nearly so, that will create jobs and opportunities for writers.  But in the short term, we’ll have to navigate carefully as the industry continues to undergo its metamorphosis.” – Christopher Golden is the author of numerous books including The Myth Hunters and The Map of Moments with Tim Lebbon.

“Borders was the only new book store near my house when I was a kid.  I spent so many hours there.  Borders was the bookstore that always had the book I wanted, that always had the people who knew what I was talking about.  When I started publishing my own books, Borders was the bookstore that happily invited me in to sign and read and be a part of the bookstore dream.  I miss my local stores so much.  I can’t believe the whole chain is going away.  It’s a loss to me as a writer, to me as a reader, and to me as a little girl who just wants to walk into a bookstore and be amazed.” – Seanan McGuire is the author of Late Eclipses and Feed under Mira Grant.

“Triggers” by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace, 2012)


Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer’s new novel, Triggers, is a little different to what readers might be used to from this science fiction writer, as the genre he’s used to writing in some ways becomes secondary to the main story, which is more about the relationships and interactions between a great cast of characters.  The science fiction is still very much there as part of the plot, but by the end you’re caring more about the people than the science.

In a time not too distant from our own, there is a world ravaged by terrorism and fear.  The United States is one of its most vulnerable victims, the events of September 11, 2011 merely a precursor to more devastating attacks on other cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia.  With the development of a new kind of bomb that remains undetected, its destruction is unmatched, and yet it isn’t nuclear; its fallout emits an electromagnetic pulse, and by then it’s too late.

President Seth Jerrison begins a very important speech at the Lincoln Memorial, as he mentally prepares for the ultimate attack aimed at those who have caused the most harm; a devastating message equal to that made during World War II that brought it to its abrupt end.  Barely into the speech, an assassination attempt is made and Jerrison is shot.  He is rushed to the hospital and immediately treated, barely surviving a traumatic injury.  At the same hospital is Dr. Ranjip Singh who is performing a unique experiment on a patient to see if he can halt the man’s post-traumatic stress dreams and episodes; the device is supposed to erase these memories.

But then another terrorist attack takes place, destroying most of the White House, just as Singh begins his experiment.  The EM pulse hits and something very strange happens to all the people located within a certain distance of this device.  They begin having memories; only not their own, but other people’s memories all within this specific area.  It begins a chain of events that will eventually affect every person on the entire planet.

In Triggers, Robert J. Sawyer should first be applauded for a wonderfully diverse cast, as readers are immediately introduced to a powerful female secret service agent, an impressive African-American female doctor who is the president’s primary physician, and the interesting Dr. Singh, who is actually Canadian, which is Sawyer’s own nationality.  The book juggles an impressive cast of characters, which Sawyer does excellent job of keeping both straight and complex.  The weak point of the book to some will be the ending, nevertheless, it is a powerful novel that plays around with some great science fiction, but ultimately explores the lives of a number of interesting people and how they would react in a given situation, if they started sharing each other’s memories and thoughts.

Originally written on March 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Triggers from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Wake  Watch  Wonder

For an exclusive audio interview with Robert J. Sawyer, click HERE.

For an exclusive written interview with Robert J. Sawyer, click HERE.

BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, December 6

BookBanter Top Ten

And here are the BookBanter Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, December 6th with some interesting horror, science fiction and fantasy. Check them out!


Thirteen Hallows



The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

One might consider the term of “hallows” to be dangerous in a book title after the last of the Harry Potter series, but bestselling author Michael Scott isn’t fazed by that. In a new adult novel the question remains whether these hallows things of good or things or evil? This will affect how the Keepers of the Hallows are viewed, and how dangerous this two-thousand-year-old secret might be.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Earthbound by Joe Haldeman

After the success of Marsbound and Starbound, Joe Haldeman is back with Earthbound, after the Others have stopped humans from traveling to the stars, Carmen Dula works on coming up with a way to do this using nineteenth-century technology and methods.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


March in Country



March in Country by E. E. Knight

From bestselling author E. E. Knight comes the next novel of the Vampire Earth, now available in paperback, as it has all come down to the area between Tennessee and the Ohio River. While what’s left of the resistance is hiding out in the Kentucky hills, the Kurian vampires are all set to move in. Major David Valentine knows it’s going to take some great planning and crazy ideas to have any hope of fighting back.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer

In a new edition of the hard to get book, Robert J. Sawyer has created a captivating science fiction book that makes the reader ask a lot of important questions. Jake Sullivan has copied his consciousness into an android body, only he finds himself involved in a whole series in new problems as this new “being,” as well as issues with his old “body” causing trouble.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Bridge of Years



The Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson

Tom Winter heads off to a secluded cottage in the Pacific Northwest, where he can find peace and deal with the loss and pain in his life. There he finds a doorway to another time — 1963 — only he soon finds that this may be more a hindrance than a sort of miracle in his life.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Space Merchants



The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants is back in a new and revised edition for the twenty-first century. In this doomed future, the world is severely overpopulated, and multi-national corporations now control the world and are essentially the government. Basic, natural resources are in short supply while advertising agencies tell everyone what they should buy. Mitch Courtenay is challenged to come up with an ad campaign to advertise and get people interested in colonizing Venus.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Himmler's War



Himmler’s War by Robert Conroy

Robert Conroy challenges readers to an interesting, thought-provoking alternate history in Himmler’s War, where Hitler is killed shortly after the attack at Normandy, putting Himmler in charge. The allies are undecided whether to seek negotiations with the new government or keep things the same.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Mecha Corps



Mecha Corps by Brett Patton

In the depressing and disliked planet of Earth, soldiers are in training for riding and controlling their Mechas. This biomechanicals have a devastating firepower, but they will be necessary to fight back against the pirates of the Corsair Confederacy. What they don’t know is each time they jack in to their mechas, their minds are slowly being changed, the question is to what purpose.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Eden by Tony Monchinski

For anyone looking for a new zombie novel to try out, you might want to pick up a copy of Eden. The Eden of the title is a walled-in fortress in Queens where a former Principal Harris is helping survivors deal with a devastating zombie outbreak in New York City.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Future Lovecraft



Future Lovecraft edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

H. P. Lovecraft is definitely an example of what’s hip and popular right now in the horror world, and in this latest collection of Lovecraft-inspired stories, the key is that they all take place in the future, whether that’s a decade, century or millennia. The anthology features stories from Nick Mamatas, Don Webb, Paul Jessop, Catherine Tobler and A. C. Wise.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

For last week’s BookBanter Top Ten New Releases, click here.

A Man of Science: An Interview with Robert J. Sawyer

An Interview with Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer has won just about every award there is in the genre of science fiction. He is the author of the novel Flashforward, which the TV series was based on, and has just completed his WWW trilogy with Wonder .Robert was first interviewed on BookBanter on July 11, 2009 shortly after the release of Wake. You can listen to that interview here.

In this recent interview, he talks about how he has changed as a writer in writing the trilogy, what he hopes readers get from the WWW books, what he thinks about screenwriting, what his next book will be about, where he thinks technology is headed, and what his favorite food is!

To read the interview, click here. To read reviews, click on the covers below:

Wake Watch Wonder