SteamPunk/CyberPunk/Dystopian/Hard-SF Recommendations for a Precocious 6th Grader

Discussion in 'Movies, Books, TV & Media' started by ElRay, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    I know we've got the Official What Are You Reading Thread: but I'm looking for some specific recommendations.

    The oldest girl is close to finishing Marissa Meyer's "The Lunar Chronicles", so we're looking for the next series. The big problem is that many of the books that are "on topic" theme/plot-wise are too adult socially.

    She's read all the typical "young adult" series already: Rich Riordan's Percy Jackson novels & the Greek spin-offs, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Spirit Animals, The Warriors (the one with the cats), etc.

    She'll love Dune, when she's older, but concubines, sexually hedonistic Harkonnens, selective breeding Bene Gesseritt (we won't even talk about the Honored Matres yet), are not the way to go yet. Likewise, Heinlein's "Friday" will be good, just not for about a decade.

    I looked at the Heinlein juveniles, but many haven't aged well. Podkayne of Mars isn't bad, until it ends in an essentially "She should have stuck with the boy" ending (unless I can find a copy with the original "valiant hero dies" ending. The Menace from Earth has it good parts, but there still too much focus on "gotta get the boy"/female rivalry. And the later stuff, that does better with the female characters, is definitely too adult.

    I know these themes are "realistic", but we don't need to focus on that crap now, and, most importantly, she doesn't want to either. Her comment about Divergent/Insurgent was, "It's like Hunger Games, but with romance and kissing. It's for kids that like Twilight."

    I thought "Clockwork Angles" would be great -- it's spot on theme/plot-wise (finding a happy medium between enjoying the now vs. planning for later, excess-order vs. self-serviing-anarchism, embracing the suck for something you want down the road, etc.), but there was still two "she took him to her tent and made him a man" segments that were inappropriate.

    We want the as much organization as needed, but no more, self-reliance, self-determination, dream-big, multi-curturalism, proud of your heritage, but work as part of a mutually-beneficial-group, take care of things yourself, but don't be afraid to ask for help, etc. themes from a lot of Heinlein's works, but none of the fetishist, pre-Oedipal, examples of sexual freedom, females still need a man to truly fix things, etc. that exists in a lot of his later works.

    Maybe it is time for "Tunnel in the Sky", 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". At least in the latter one, they realize that the self-aware computer system is really female

    Of course, anything with cyborgs, robots, engineering, fixing problems that nobody in charge sees, etc. are pluses.
     
  2. asher

    asher So Did We

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    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, maybe?

    I'm guessing any Philip K. Dick is too much right now for you guys.
     
  3. Skyblue

    Skyblue SS.org Regular

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    The Golden Compass? It's been a while since I read it, but from what I remember it might fit the bill.

    Are we only doing SF by the way? Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett might have good stuff (Well, they obviously do, but I'm talking about making sure she's the right age for it)

    Anyway, great job on educating her :D Oh how I miss my days of sitting on my bed and discovering awesome books into the night...
     
  4. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    I'm not familiar with this. We'll check it out.
    A lot would be good, but unfortunately, she's not into short stories. She's liking the longer stuff where things that happen at the beginning, or a previous book, are important.

    I've described a number of PKD stories (Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep, We'll Remember for You Wholesale, etc.), but nothing has grabbed her.

    The one that surprised me was the lack of interest in the Anne McCaffrey Dragon Riders of Pern, but I think it's because she's in much more of a tech focus. Similarly, Ursula Le Guin didn't grab her. Oh, maybe I can try her Hainish Cycle books/stories. They at least involve space travel.
     
  5. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    That's a bit SteamPunk-ish/dystopian. I've only seen the movie. I forgot it's a series.
    Right now, that's a big focus. Tech and Super Heroes. Thor & Captain America were the big two for a long time, but now Ant Man, The Fantastic Four, Big Hero Six have taken the front. She likes Iron Man, but thinks Tony Stark is a bit of a jerk. The scary thing is that her sister loves Tony Stark and The Hulk.

    She's getting to grasp that style of humor. She gets some of the Monty Python, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, etc. jokes I make. I'll have to see what I have around.
    Fortunately, we haven't needed to push. The youngest (3rd grade) likes to read, but it's more "social" stuff Magic Treehouse, Thea Stilton, etc. and isn't too keen on books she can't read in one sitting. Fortunately, she'll sit and read for 30-60 mins, but once the book is done, she's done for a bit. Maybe she'll go for PDK? :lol:
     
  6. asher

    asher So Did We

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    Snow Crash isn't really dystopian so much as satire-corporatopian? A good deal of it's rather tongue in cheek. And one of the main characters is a 14-16 year old hoverskating hacker girl, so that should help :lol:

    Stephenson and William Gibson's works should probably be a decent bet, though I can't give you specifics.

    Looking into Cory Doctorow's Little Brother might be good too.

    How about handing her the first volume of Gaiman's Sandman, if she's down with graphic novels? I'd guess Watchmen or V for Vendetta are too adult right now though. Maybe also Gaiman's American Gods?
     
  7. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    OK. That alone sounds like enough to get her started. :lol:

    EDIT: Wikipedia says:
    ... The book presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain. According to characters in the book, the goddess Asherah is the personification of a linguistic virus, similar to a computer virus. The god Enki created a counter-program which he called a nam-shub that caused all of humanity to speak different languages as a protection against Asherah (a re-interpretation of the ancient Near Eastern story of the Tower of Babel). ...
    This seems up her alley. The negative reviews seem to be the ones that missed the satire.
     
  8. asher

    asher So Did We

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    It's all kinds of wonderful :wub:

    The first main character is named Hero Protagonist, ffs!
     
  9. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk SS.org Regular

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    I'll second Snowcrash -- it has a doggy! And yeah, the girl is awesome. I'm pretty sure I remember it being safe for tweens.

    Would also recommend Diamond Age -- the girl is the central figure, but it gets pretty dark
    her father dies early
    don't remember if there's anything inappropriate.
     
  10. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    That's not bad in itself, we're already dealing with the moody-pre-teen nonsense from time to time, so I'd rather avoid fueling any "Why bother doing anything." teenage angst. We want to fuel the "you have control of your life" emotions.

    Ray
     
  11. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    I'll have to bounce that off her. If she gets the pun, then she's ready :lol:

    I did describe the set-up of "Tunnel in the Sky" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" to her. They clicked. Especially the part of more memory, more sensors, more controls, etc. being added to a computer until it becomes self-aware. I didn't touch on the "colonial revolt" part. That can be a surprise.
     
  12. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    The Dispossessed by Le Guin has a more SciFi theme and I thought was a quite interesting read. Maybe a bit too heavy for that age though.
     
  13. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    The whole "Left Hand of Darkness"/"Hanish Cycle" books/stories will be good, but I think she needs a bit. I know I have "The Word for World is Forest" original novella around here somewhere, and I think I have something that has some of short stories set in the same universe.
     
  14. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk SS.org Regular

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    Well, then I have to recommend Diamond Age all the more strongly, because that's the whole point behind that one. For example, there's a scene early on where she takes on a bully larger than herself from things she's learned from the book. So yeah, dark, but empowering.

    Read it yourself, first -- it's a great read, you won't be disappointed -- there's a lot of people that actually rank it higher than Snowcrash.
     
  15. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Aw, shucky-darn, I'm going to have to read good books I've missed reading the past decade+, in order to take care of my kids. :lol: It's sad, the only "for fun" reading I've done since the kids were born has been traveling.

    That's the way this is looking. I'm going to have to "read ahead".

    I think we'll start with "Tunnel in the Sky" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (and then Podkayne of Mars -- if she responds well to the first two, and I can find a version with the origin ending). That way I'll have some time to pre-read the other suggestions.

    Ray
     
  16. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG SS.org Regular

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    I too would rank Diamond Age over Snow Crash, but both are excellent.

    So glad to hear you are exposing her to the work of The Dean. Heinlein gets so much s@#$ these days from critics on the left who seem to view ideas like self reliance, honor, responsibility to be relics of the past. Yeah, people have been listening to these a-holes since the 70's and look at the world it has brought us.

    The thing with his juvies you have to remember is that most of them were written as serials for publications such as Boy's Life magazine.

    Just FYI, you want the 93 or the 95 Baen editions. I find them in used book shops now and then. If I find one I will send you a message.
     
  17. Baelzebeard

    Baelzebeard Grinder of strings

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    The Maze Runner series was OK. Nothing spectacular, but fairly entertaining. Definitely for the same demographic as the Hunger Games books. There's no overt sexuality, but there is a fair bit of violence/blood.
     
  18. TechDeathWannabe

    TechDeathWannabe SS.org Regular

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    Etiquette & Espionage, female main character, steampunk, and my little sister (13,) loves the series.

    Or, Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, which has some fun Darwinism vs Industrial aspects. (Also steampunk, and has more romance themes, but it isn't a lovey-dovey romance, romance just plays a part.)

    And more explicit and 15-17 audience range, but if she likes darker comedy with some sci-fi influences, (or if you do,) Croak, by Gina Damico. Or less comedy, more darkness and badassery, Anna Dressed In Blood. Not necessarily 6th grade material, but that's not my decision. :shrug:
     
  19. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Thanks all. We just took a semi-unexpected segue. It was scholastic book club order time and she picked:
    • Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 -- She was intrigued by it being "old" and that the firemen burned to books.
    • The Eye of Minds by James Dasher -- The author who wrote Maze Runner, etc. The Eye of Minds is a cyberpunk "crime" drama.
    • The Fault in our Stars by John Green -- Admittedly, this was mostly because the actress in the movie version played Tris in the Divergent series.
    The first totally caught us off guard. The last one caught us by surprise too, but it's actually good for her because it's outside her typical genres.

    We'll hit others from this thread the next time around.
     
  20. Ralyks

    Ralyks The One Who Knocks Contributor

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    Don't know how late to the part I am, but add me to recommending Snow Crash. Quite possibly my favorite book ever.
     

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