How does a science fiction author influence actual science, and save the planet? In Allen Steele’s Arkwright, a reclusive, best-selling author named Nathan Arkwright uses his will to set into motion a lifelong dream: instead of leaving his fortune to his estranged family, he enlists his literary agent and his closest friends to start a foundation with the goal of establishing a colony on another planet. Not just Mars either—the Arkwright Foundation’s goal is to colonize another star system, something considered relatively impossible with current technology, and without better forms of space travel. But Nathan Arkwright has thought this through, and he knows the answer isn’t warp drives or a generation ship, carrying colonists and their descendants for centuries before they reach their ultimate destination. Instead, the Foundation sets in place the means to promote research and develop the means of achieving its goal, both technologically, and by ensuring that the goals of the Foundation will endure the generations it will take on Earth to see Nathan’s dream realized.
Arkwright is a thoughtful, evenly-paced novel that focuses on hard sci-fi solutions to solve an outlandish goal. Allen Steele has researched his material thoroughly, as is clear from the sources for further reading at the end of the book, and in the breadth of references that Arkwright makes to history, science, and science fiction, including many classic authors in this genre. I enjoyed that even though the novel doesn’t have one central character, Steele manages to pass the torch from one generation of his characters to the next, embodying the challenge and complexity of the undertaking that the Arkwright Foundation is working to achieve.
Atomic Blonde takes place in Berlin in 1989, just before the wall fell. A British MI6 agent is killed by a Russian KGB agent, who takes possession of microfilm that contains a list of all the undercover agents in the country. MI6 dispatches another agent, played by Charlize Theron, to find the list, and to discover the true identity of a double agent named Satchel. Bedlam ensues as agencies from Britain, Russia, America, Germany and even a French spy scour the city looking for the list.
I think this movie tries too hard to be sleek and stylish. It's peppered with 80s music throughout, but many of the sequences are set to the music and glammed up, giving them more of an MTV video feel than a movie. We also get a lot of shots of Theron in slow motion with sunglasses and fashionable clothing. The violence in the film, of which there is a fair amount, tends to be pretty stylized as well. All of this is ok, but what I really enjoyed were the scenes that were at a slower pace and had more of a gritty feel. In particular, there’s an extended fight sequence between Theron and four or five bad guys in the second half of the movie that is one of the best action bits I’ve seen in a while. The film also does a good job of not getting too confusing with all the various spies running around, which can be a common failing of the genre.
In a nutshell: Atomic Blonde is an entertaining movie, far more so when it's trying to be a movie and not a music video.
Board games have come a long way since the games we grew up with. Modern board games go well beyond rolling dice, moving your piece, and following board instructions. Games today come in all sorts of styles and are usually designed to make sure all players stay in the game until the very end.
I recently had the opportunity to try a game of Pandemic, one of many cooperative games available. Several deadly viruses have broken out all over the world, and you and other players must find treatments and research cures before they spread beyond recovery. Cure all four diseases before time runs out, and you all win! This was harder than it sounds…
The rules of the game were easy to pick up after a few rounds. As a Scientist, I was the most efficient in finding cures, while the Researcher, Medic, and Dispatcher played their specialized roles. The key was to work with each other’s strengths to communicate and strategically plan moves. We thought the first game was going well, but before we knew it, the epidemics quickly spiraled out of control. The thing with Pandemic is that while you may be defeated, you easily find yourself saying 'just one more game!' - surely you'll win next time. Each time you play, it's a different game and you never know what will happen. Try curing diseases in Pandemic to see how you and your friends fare!
With the huge diversity among board games today, there's a game out there for everyone. Set off on a railway adventure with Ticket to Ride or try a party favourite like Codenames. Work with other players to explore, dig, and collect your way back to civilization in Forbidden Desert, or defend your castle against a horde of monsters in Castle Panic. There is a whole world of modern games to try and Kitchener Public Library can help you get started.
Dive into an old favourite or try a new game at our Board Game Cafe.
For more information about our Board Game Cafe, click here.
- Laura A., Information Services
In the Community
Cruising on King
On Friday, July 13th, downtown Kitchener is set to once again become home to one of summer's greatest street parties.
Starting at 3:00 at Carl Zehr Square, classic cars will be on display, food trucks will be keeping you fed and hydrated, and live entertainment in the form of tribute bands dedicated to the music of Tom Petty and Creedence Clearwater Revival will be keeping the party going.
As the traveling bands play on, a parade of classic cars will start at Victoria Park down on the corner of Water St. and Jubilee Dr. and travel up around the bend to King St., where it ends at Frederick St. N.
Click here for more information and be one of the fortunate ones enjoying Cruising on King this Friday!
- Cassidy, Information Services
Book to Movie
book written by Steven King
film directed by Andrés Muschietti
Stephen King’s novel IT is a dark and creepy story told in almost 1,200 pages! It details the lives of six adults, “The Losers Club” coming back to their childhood home to fight the monster that tormented them and the town as children. The monster, known as IT or Pennywise, often takes on the appearance of a disturbing clown which is brought wonderfully to the big screen in a terrifying way.
IT was originally made into a TV mini-series in 1990, clocking in at a little over 3 hours. One half covered the story of the kids and the other half covered the story when they return as adults. More recently in 2017, IT has been released again but this time for the big screen. Once again this film only covers the first half of the story – The Losers Club as children.
Overall, I liked the book but it was a long, drawn out read. It felt like the book could have been chopped in half and still kept the important parts of the story. Stephen King creates some truly freaky scenes, but they are better experienced visually through one of the movie options. The TV mini-series was one of my first horror movies growing up and it was brilliantly scary, but this new version is even better. The only downside of the new version was that Tim Curry couldn’t be involved! If you have time for only one option, watch the new version, but keep in mind you will need to wait for the conclusion in 2019.