The Challenge of Fairness

I struggle with the idea of fairness. Fairness is important to me. It bothers me, deeply, when I see things that are unfair. As a kid, I hated it when people would say, “The world isn’t always fair!” It was always just a transparent excuse for people treat others unfairly. Just because the world isn’t fair doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be.

Most libraries have a Patron Code of Conduct: a document laying out behavioral and usage expectations for people who use the library. Fairness is essential when it comes to these codes of conduct and especially when it comes to disciplinary actions in response to infractions.

Fairness requires us to apply our codes of conduct equally to all patrons. That seems obvious, right?

Maybe not.

Continue reading “The Challenge of Fairness”

Book Review: Lost Mars: Stories from the Golden Age of the Red Planet edited by Mike Ashley

Cover of the book Lost Mars: Stories from the Golden Age of the Red Planet edited by Mike Ashley
Lost Mars: Stories from the Golden Age of the Red Planet
edited by Mike Ashley
Univ. of Chicago/British Library, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist on August 20, 2018.

There has been a craze lately for retro and golden-age science fiction, and Lost Mars fits right into that trend, presenting a collection of 10 classic short stories about Mars written between 1887 and 1963. It features works by H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and J. G. Ballard as well as authors less well known to modern audiences. These stories are of the highest quality and illustrate how our evolving understanding of the Red Planet changed the way we wrote about it and how Mars came to occupy a prominent position in our hopes, dreams, and fears as the modern age dawned and grew. Editor Ashley (The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF, 2013) offers a brief and thoroughly researched introduction which provides background information about both the major Martian discoveries of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries and the history of Martian science fiction from H. G. Wells through Andy Weir. It serves as a fascinating overview of the history of Mars in science fiction, from the birth of the genre through the beginning of the space age.

Book Review: Resistant by Rachael Sparks

Cover of the book Resistant by Rachael Sparks
by Rachael Sparks
SparkPress, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist on August 20, 2018.

In the near future, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have decimated the population. One young woman may hold the cure, and, aided by the Resistance, she is on the run from nefarious government agents. Besieged by betrayals, she must figure out whom to trust and how to save mankind. Sparks’ debut is a thrill ride for readers of biological thrillers like those of Robin Cook. The strong pacing and characterization contribute to an easily believable world with just the right amount of technology to satisfy more traditional sf readers. There is even a dash of romance. Despite the occasional awkward transition and slightly heavy-handed exposition, Resistant is a potent combination of elements, making this a novel that’s sure to appeal to a wide audience.

Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story directed by Ron Howard
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Jonathan & Lawrence Kasdan
Produced by Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios, 2018

What I find most interesting about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that it doesn’t really feel like a Star Wars movie. That’s mostly a good thing.

What I mean is: it doesn’t feel important. It’s the only Star Wars movie so far that isn’t significant. In the original trilogy, Lucas explicitly sought to create a modern myth, a la Joseph Campbell. There’s an inherent sense of weight to it. The new trilogy sought to bring the Star Wars universe back to relevance and so it has a sense of mission, as well as a similar sense of modern myth. Rogue One tells a tale of emotional, moral, and narrative consequence.

Solo doesn’t have any of that. It’s not important to the main trilogies and it doesn’t take itself all that seriously. Which makes it one of the most fun Star Wars movies I’ve seen. It’s pure entertainment. It’s refreshing.

Continue reading “Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Book Review: Dispatches from Planet 3: 32 (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond by Marcia Bartusiak

Cover of the book Dispatches from Planet 3: 32 (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond by Marcia Bartusiak
Dispatches from Planet 3: 32 (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond
by Marcia Bartusiak
Yale, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist on August 13, 2018.

These 32 short essays cover major events in the history of astronomy and cosmology, ranging from the demotion of Pluto to the status of dwarf planet, the evolution of galaxies, the detection of gravity waves and neutrinos, and the role of time in the Big Bang. Bartusiak’s (The Day We Found the Universe, 2009) goal is to provide historical context for many recent discoveries and a summary of how we got to where we are now in the science of space, offered in easy-to-read, bite-size morsels. Many of these essays cover events from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, the period when modern cosmology was born, but the collection isn’t arranged chronologically. Rather, the essays are grouped, small to large, by topic, starting from the solar system and working out to the larger universe. Of particular value, several essays focus on women who did significant work, but who historically haven’t gotten credit. This is an informative and rewarding read for anyone interested in our understanding of the universe. Recommended for fans of Amanda Gefter’s Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn (2014).

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Cover of the book Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
Exit Strategy
by Martha Wells
Tor, 2018

This review was first published by Booklist in August, 2018.

After finding evidence proving that the GrayCris Corporation engaged in illegal activities, Murderbot heads out to hand the case over to Dr. Mensah, its former owner. But Dr. Mensah has disappeared, and Murderbot must track her down—straight into the heart of enemy territory. Saving its mentor and taking down GrayCris are just the beginning of its challenges—Murderbot also has to figure out who it is, where it fits in society, and just how it is supposed to relate to all these people. The fourth installment of Wells’ Murderbot Diaries (after Rogue Protocol, 2018) will satisfy readers’ hopes for this series finale. It follows the same basic structural formula as its predecessors, so it has all the action fans expect. Exit Strategy tones down the humor a bit but adds depth to Murderbot’s introspection as it wrestles with questions of identity that it has been avoiding, and the story leaves it to decide its own future. Everything comes full circle while remaining appropriately open ended. Wells gives us a worthy conclusion to one of the best series in recent memory.