Tag Archives: science-fiction

Wool by Hugh Howey

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I stumbled across this strange tale on Amazon a few months ago.  Though I’ve never considered myself a “sci-fi” fan, I’ve always enjoyed well-told tales.  So, I thought I’d give this short story with the strange name “Wool” a shot.  What did I have to lose?

Apparently a lot!  That is, if I hadn’t decided to read it.  I honestly think that Wool will undoubtably be one of those books that become a science fiction classic.  Not only is the story excellent, it’s one of those rare self-published books that aren’t full of spelling and grammatical errors, which I find hugely distracting.

“Wool is an ongoing series of science fiction novels by novelist Hugh Howey. Howey began the series in 2011, initially as a stand-alone short story. Released through his own self-publishing efforts, Wool rapidly began to develop a passionate following of fans eager for the next chapter in the saga and as of April 8th, 2012 rates #1 in Amazon.com‘s Kindle Science Fiction & Fantasy Anthologies and High Tech[1]. The series now consists of six novellas:

  • Wool (Jul 30, 2011)
  • Wool 2 – Proper Gauge (Nov 30, 2011)
  • Wool 3 – Casting off (Dec 11, 2011)
  • Wool 4 – The Unraveling (Dec 26, 2011)
  • Wool 5 – The Stranded (Jan 25, 2012)
  • Wool 6 – First shift (Apr 14, 2012)

The series was also released as “Wool Omibus” which includes all 6 novellas in the series.

The story of Wool takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humanity clings to survival in the Silo, a subterranean city extending hundreds of stories beneath the surface. There is one paramount law within the Silo: never say you want to go outside, for if you do, you will get your wish.  To go outside is a death wish; anyone who has left the silo has never returned.

It all started one hundred and fifty years ago when there was an uprising.  The survivors now live their lives in the silos and have only heard stories passed down through generations about life outside, where the sky is rumored to be blue, not gray; the grass is rumored to be green, not brown. The only way to see the outside is through cameras that have been placed all around the exterior of the silo over a hundred years ago.  The cameras project real-time images onto screens inside and are very much valued by the silo citizens. The world they show is one of destruction and despair – brown, dusty, ruined, colorless and lifeless but everyone wants to see just the same.

The trouble with the cameras comes with the air outside which toxic and filthy that over the course of several months, the lenses become dirtier and dirtier until the view is completely obscured.  Someone has to clean the lenses for the good of everyone.  But who will do it?

After losing his wife Allison to cleaning three years before, Sheriff Holston has uttered the fateful phase “I want to go outside” thus “volunteering” to leave the safety of the silo and go outside to clean the lenses.  Since Allison died, Holston has been tormented with the unanswered question:  Why motivates the condemned to follow through with the cleaning?  Why don’t they just run away or refuse to clean the lenses?  What makes them want to help the very people who sent them to their death?

Hugh C. Howey spent 8 years working as a yacht captain. When he was pulled away from the sea by the love of his life, he turned to his childhood dream of becoming an author. His Molly Fyde series has won praise from reviewers, and now his Wool series has become a #1 bestseller, with Random House publishing in the UK and Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian securing the film rights. He lives in Jupiter, Florida with his wife Amber and their dog Bella.

2012, USA, Broad Reach Publishing ISBN 1469984202, Pub date 25 January 2012, paperback and ebook, 548 pages.  Kindle Edition, 1st Edition, 70 pages.

 

 

 

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Review for “The Last Free Cat” by Jon Blake

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The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake.  Published by    Albert Whitman   & Company

The Last Free cat is one of those books that once you start, you can’t put it down.  The story begins with a mother and  her teen daughter, Jade, arguing over a cat that Jade found in their back yard.  Seems innocent enough, right?  After all, how many parents around the world have at one time argued with their child over adding a pet to the family?  But this is where the “normal” part of the story ends and the book dives head-first into a bizarre world where cats are no longer a cute & cuddly house pet, but instead are desired by many but only owned by the very wealthy or are feared as vectors of the deadly cat-flu.  Because Jade and her mom are not wealthy, they are suddenly targets of everyone:  the government who regulates cat ownership and their neighbors and friends who are terrified of contracting cat-flu.  Suddenly, mom and daughter find themselves in hiding in their own home.  They know that one wrong move and their house will be invaded by Comprot, short for “Community Protection”.  Because, you see, in Jades world, owning a cat is very, very expensive.  And illegal, you can count on 10 years in prison for owning a non-registered cat.  And no-one questions this, it’s just the way it is.  The government has convinced its people that an unregistered cat will be diseased and give anyone who is near one the deadly cat-flu.   And if you, like Jade,  come across a cat with no collar and decide to keep it, your life suddenly becomes very, very difficult.

Your story might go something like this:  First, you meet a new friend, a homeless  kid named Kris that you don’t particularly like, but your mom seems to like him, so the next thing you know, he has a key to your house.  “For emergencies” you mom tells you.  You also have a a new cat, whom you name Feela and you have to trust that Kris is not going to turn you in.  And even more annoying, Feela seems to be totally at ease with Kris when it took you weeks of hard work just to get her to sit on your lap.  Then an unexpected tragedy hit and the next place you find yourself is on the run.  With a cat….and Kris.

There are tons of unexpected situations in this book, which made me enjoy it even more.   The ending was good, it tied things up without being too neat and perfect, maybe even leaving room for a sequel.  The characters in the book all have their own distinct personalities without sounding fake or “too much”.  And as you start on the journey with this little group, you’ll start to notice that while it seems like everything is normal, something feels a little “off”.  First the strange cat law.  Then the odd types of transportation, some of it familiar, some of it definitely not.  And gadgets that are far from what we’re used to but can imagine being commonplace in the future.

The author makes it work.  He really works hard at creating believable dialogue between Jane and Kris and then, later, Amelie and Raff.  He writes  in plenty of breathless adventurous, that aren’t too far-fetched to believe, these kids are pretty resourceful.  And they are determined to do what they feel is right, even if it means they work outside of the law enforcement who are on their tail for the second half of the book.

I think this is a story about a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, one I hope I never have to live in.  It’s about breaking rules when someone (or something) needs help, no matter what sacrifice you have to make,  It’s about being rebellious to get what you think is right.  It’s about discovering the truth for yourself, rather than having the government tell you what you should be doing/thinking/living, etc.  About how, if you have enough people who are strong in their beliefs and willing to carry them out, that good things can happen.

This book falls into the Young Adult category.  As a discerning parent, I would be comfortable recommending it to children ages 11 and up.  I have two sons who are young teens and they liked it very much and asked me to find more books by this author.

To find more of this outstanding author’s work, check out Jon Blake on Goodreads.  To find more exciting books published by Albert Whitman & Company, follow this link.