Daughter Moon by @hg47 Harv Griffin

Here’s the author’s blog but I could not find any video book trailer online.

Description: (from Goodreads.com) DAUGHTER MOON is Old School hard Science Fiction at 122,840 words, with Matriarchy as the twist. All the Usual Suspects: Alien Invasion, teleportation, space battles, nanotechnology, virtual reality; a nobody suddenly given incredible powers; a struggle for the survival of our race and the future of the Universe; a Love more powerful and decisive than any technology.

Personal Reaction: Some of the discussion of the science in this science fiction was a little too detailed for me, so I skipped over it. In general, the book was a lot of fun with tongue-in-cheek humor. Inflating and deflating body parts on a whim depending on your technical proficiencies seems like an interesting future. I enjoyed Aero and Kronos discussing religions and space-time travel in a locked room while Aero makes everyone else thinks she’s a “victim of horizontal violence.” Changing every since instance of the word man to woman and boy to girl was a little over the top at first, but I got used to it. The black royal class was why I took on this book for review, but unfortunately they were not the main players in the story.

Summary: Jack’s future self snaps some bracelets on him and sends him off in time to save the universe! As he struggles to master the art of time travel, a few pit stops along the way cause enough sensation to have a religion spring up around his appearances. After a new technology called eNet “kills” the inhabitants of Earth, only a colony of women on the Moon are around to populate the galaxy. Jack has become goddess Kronos to them through the millenia, and techno-hacker Kali and her astronaut team are sent out to try to intercept “her” at the next possible appearance. But what will they do when they find out she is a he? What will everyone want to do with him??

Any Cautions: This book is for adults, not children. The one man available is having a great time, though same-sex relationships are the norm for this society of all women.

Connections to other books: I’m a fan of the Foundation series by Asimov and the Dune series by Herbert.

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Dragon’s Mind: Dragon & Myth #1 by Vered Ehsani

Dragon’s Mind: Dragon & Myth #1 by Vered Ehsani

Links: Author’s website and the video book trailer made by her 12 year old son.

Summary: Mind Operating System or “MindOpS” (aka Dragon) is the lab-created brain that runs all the systems on this vacation island. Myranda Thalia Johannson (aka Myth) is the bi-racial teenage daughter of one of the elite scientists who works on the MindOpS project. Myth is working on a thesis to allow Dragon to choose an avatar, a holographic projection of himself in human form, to make it easier for humans to interact with him. When Dragon selects an image not provided in the files, he discovers that he has a memory of himself as a real human and then realizes that he’s a brain harvested from a murdered man rather than a lab-created mass. Then the Games Boss and the Albino move in…

Personal Reaction: I liked it. It was simple, but well-written and I’d be interested in seeing where it goes in book 2. There are an awful lot of virtual brains running things out there.

Any Cautions: Murder and political bribery are mentioned, not graphic.

Curriculum or discussion topics: Gambling addiction (or even gaming addiction) is briefly addressed. You can discuss teen gaming or Internet habits or even local issues with Internet gambling establishments, lottery, etc.

Connections to other books: There are lots available on the Artificial Intelligence theme, machines with feelings, etc… or at least I thought there was until I tried to come up with a specific title that I’ve read that was similar for middle graders. Help me out with a suggestion?

Reminds me of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey by Clarke or even I, Robot by Asimov, but those are for a much more advanced reader (grade 11+). Biographies or nonfiction on the developers/development of brain science, computer systems and/or AI: Cool Careers Without College for People Who Love Video Games by Croce, Artificial Intelligence by Margulies, Robot Brains by Jefferis, The Brain by Simon, Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by Fleischman, etc.

Items to display with book: Video game consoles, lottery tickets, computer network equipment & cables, photos of a human brain (or even better… a realistic, squishy model or one preserved in formaldehyde), cell phone, ear piece/ear bud, and a non-working Taser gun.

Food items connected to story: brief references to Chinese food takeout (spring rolls); sandwich, bottle of water. Not much for the book party!

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

author’s website              no video trailer found

Summary: 7 year old Tan-Tan is taken away from her world, Toussaint, by her father who is escaping a murder sentence (for poisoning his wife’s lover in a duel). The only world they can get to is a world where the prisoners are sent anyway, a world without the all-knowing “Granny Nanny” artificial intelligence that has made their planet a life of pleasure. New Half-Way Tree is a world of survival against nature and often against your fellow man. Bird-like creatures called the douen trade with the newly settled humans. Tan-Tan grows up in a harsh world.

Personal Reaction: The writing and storyline are excellent.  Rich in Afro-Carribean culture, the dialogue was hard for me to follow at first, but it wasn’t long before I figured it out, “doux-doux.” Loved the connections with Tubman and the slave boat-to-rocket history. I’ve been wanting this genre (AF Am Sci Fi) so much, but I cannot recommend it to middle grades students due to content. I’d really love recommendations for elementary and middle grades multicultural science fiction – the MAIN CHARACTER needs to be of color! And preferably on the book cover!

Any Cautions: The story opens with young Tan-Tan seeing her mother and “uncle” getting caught in a descriptive moment of adultery. Her mother and father’s relationship is terrible and both take multiple lovers. The main character is raped by her father on her 9th birthday and it continues until she murders him at age 16 (this will be her 2nd pregnancy by him as well). There is mention of him ejaculating into her mouth. Her stepmother knows what is happening but does not help and, in fact, blames Tan-Tan for being a seductress and chases the girl from village to village as a murderer.

Curriculum or discussion topics: N/A

Connections to other books: I love Octavia Butler, especially Fledgling and Parable of the Sower (both adult content); other adult sci-fi like Ringworld by Niven (with a cool animal sidekick) or even Dune by Herbert (planet survival)

Items to display with book: machete, Robber Queen attire (like the sombrero with little skulls hanging around the brim); stuffed bird of some kind

Food items connected to story: any raw fruits and vegetables will do; corn on the cob;  any meat can be passed off as “roast manicou”

Earthseed by Pamela Sargent

author’s website   – this book has been optioned by Paramount Pictures

Summary: An Earth group of scientists has created an asteroid ship that will take genetic material far away, and when the intelligent computer finds a habitable planet, it will raise human babies to seed the new world. The story begins just before the new teens will go into training to live on their own and ends when when Ship leaves them on their new world.

Personal Reaction: I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the Dom Testa novel, The Comet’s Curse, but that’s because Earthseed is so dark. It left me feeling hopeless for mankind and I really don’t need any more reasons to do that. I did like the plot twists of adding unknown groups to the population. Regardless of idyllic upbringing, the kids have strengths and weaknesses of body and of character. That’s what I hated… why steal, lie and plot against others? There’s a moment when Manuel might rape Zoheret, and Ho leads groups to raid for supplies instead of trading for them. Zoheret chooses to sleep with Dimitri because he provides her with alcohol. It’s very depressing.

Curriculum or discussion topics: Dystopian literature, character trains (maybe conflict resolution strategies)

Connections to other books: sequels Farseed and Seed Seeker by Sargent; The Galahad series by Dom Testa; maybe Everything You Need to Know about Conflict Resolution by Nathan

Items to display with book: Papier-mâché asteroid, science laboratory equipment, fake stun gun, realistic looking baby doll, spy cam

Food items connected to story: Food of every kind is plentiful from the ship’s dispensers; when kids survive on their own – Beef jerky, eggs, fish, vegetables, etc.