Amazing! Astounding! Science fiction has engaged readers since Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published Frankenstein, generally considered to be the first novel in this genre, in 1818. Two-hundred years later, science fiction remains a popular staple for readers and moviegoers.

Adult Services Librarian Lindsay Beckman recently introduced me to Sci-Fi July. Beckman and a former library colleague began this Facebook reading group in 2015 for book nerds, to spur interest and discussion of all forms of science fiction—books, movies, comics, tv shows, and podcasts.

Participants challenge each other to read widely within the genre. Diversity abounds! Subgenres such as steampunk, time travel, and cyberbunk all take a turn in the spotlight, as do authors reflecting queer, Latinx, and Muslim cultures; Nebula and Hugo award winners; and alternate formats such as short stories, novellas, and graphic novels.

Beckman enthuses, “This group is so much fun, and very inclusive about reading. We really draw upon the diversity in science fiction publishing right now. The group has introduced me to a lot of new stuff, especially to different formats, such as nonfiction podcasts. It’s been a great way to find out about new books and new perspectives in sci-fi.”

Launch your own Sci-Fi July with one of these brand new titles on the library shelves:

The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders. Sophie is supposed to be dead after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice of her dying planet, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans--and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.

The Chaos Function, by Jack Stillingstead. An intense, high stakes thriller with a science fiction twist that asks: If technology enabled you to save the life of someone you love, would you do so even if it might doom millions?

Emily Eternal, by M. G. Wheaton. Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years early. As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. Soon it becomes clear not just the species is at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

Learn more about the history of science fiction at “How We Conquered the Galaxy,” a presentation by Colorado Mesa University professor John Nizalowski at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, July 17, in the library meeting room. Explore science fiction’s origins in the pulp adventure magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. Seek out its craftsmanship during the Golden Age of the 1940s and 1950s. Boldly go towards its triumph of literary form and content during the New Wave movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This free program is open to all interested teens and adults.

John Nizalowski has written extensively about science-fiction and fantasy. He’s the author of five books, the most recent being a volume of essays, Chronicles of the Forbidden (Irie Books, 2019). He has also interviewed such luminaries of fantastic fiction as George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Jane Lindskold, and Jack Dann. Currently, he teaches mythology, creative writing, and composition at Colorado Mesa University.

Go boldly into new reading adventures!

Tania Hajjar is the Assistant Director of the Montrose Library.

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