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Book Club: Annalee Newitz Dreams of a Wilder, More Hopeful Future


Good morning and welcome to the LA Times Book Club newsletter.

When Annalee Newitz created “The Terraformers,” a sprawling novel set 60,000 years in the future, the author turned to old Hollywood for inspiration.

Newitz says that Destry, the novel’s tough but empathetic environmental ranger, is named after the main character in “Destry rides again”, a 1939 western starring jimmy stewart.

Stewart’s character dislikes firearms and tries to avoid carrying one, even though he is the son of a legendary gunslinger. It is one of Newitz’s favorite films and helps bring to life the idealistic protagonist of the science fiction novel.

In the acknowledgments, Newitz explains: “I wrote this book because I wanted to dream of a more hopeful world.”

Raised in Irvine and now living in San Francisco, Newitz joins the LA Times book club 28th March for a livestream conversation with the columnist Caroline A. miranda. Register on Eventbrite to see links and autographed books.

In the Times, critic mark athitakis calls “The Terraformers” a “clever book about the brain of the galaxy.”

“This generously overloaded tale has enough ideas and incidents to populate half a dozen lesser science fiction books,” he says. Pablo Di Filippo in it Washington Post. “But the reading experience is never dull or tedious, never plagued by weird detours. “

Throughout, Newitz redefines what it means to be a person. Characters in the novel include a flying moose named Whistle, a game-obsessed sentient passenger train, and an alternate human subspecies who breathes carbon dioxide and lives in a secret city beneath a volcano.

While writing “The Terraformers,” Newitz compiled a massive document, essentially a mini-encyclopedia for the planet Sask-E, to keep the details correct. One of the keys to writing science fiction, says the author, is to try to create an internally coherent imaginary world.

“I think it’s also part of the joy for readers, because the more consistent the world is, the more you can dive into it and escape the terribly inconsistent world we live in.”

What questions do you have for Newitz? Share your comments and questions ahead of book club night in an email to bookclub@latimes.com.

Countdown to festivals

He 2023 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to the USC campus on the weekend of April 22-23.

Poster announcements, schedules and festival activities coming soon March, 15th. keep watch latimes.com/fob for updates

The festival still needs more book lovers to volunteer and help with author conversations across genres.

“The Book Festival became a tradition for me from the first year I volunteered in 2002,” he says. raena hawkinsfestival volunteer coordinator

“It’s an incredible gathering of people who are passionate about reading and literacy. Everyone is very excited to be there. It’s like summer camp every year I return, with volunteers catching up on what they’ve been doing before leaving to create a great experience for everyone who attends.”

Here is the volunteer registration page.

Get Lit Words Ignite poets perform for passersby at the Festival of Books.

(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

Keep reading

Wild stories. Check out 10 new books to read in March, including tales of foraging and magic, cults and breakups, and social ills. You will find new releases of mona simpson, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, michelle dowd and Eleanor Catton in criticism Bethanne Patrick’s last summary.

Book Awards. Los Angeles novelist and recent book club guest Percival Everett he took home the $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Award this month for his novel “Dr. No”, through Publisher’s Weekly. Everett joined us in November at the Autry Museum of the American West for a chat with columnist L.Z. Granderson about his life writing and teaching fiction.

Two men sitting on stage in front of a screen that says Los Angeles Times Book Club

Author Percival Everett, left, and LA Times columnist LZ Granderson.

(Varon Panganiban / For The Times)

Sales success. “If I could have dreamed it,” he says bonnie garmus, “I would not have dreamed it so big.” The 65-year-old writer talks to the seattle times about his first novel, “Chemistry Lessons,” set in California in the early 1960s and centered on Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist frustrated by sexism in the workplace who unexpectedly finds herself hosting a cooking show. The book has sold a million copies and is in the process of being adapted for Apple TV.

Oscar season. Columnist Mary McNamara catches up with Shane Salernothe “Avatar” scribe who just so happens to be Hollywood’s favorite book agent.

Why you should read (or reread) “The House of the Spirits”. The California Book Club savors Isabel Allende 1982 bestselling novel of this month. “Originally developed as a letter to his dying grandfather, it is a book that blurs all sorts of boundaries: between naturalism and magical realism, fiction and family history.” David Ulin writes for Alta magazine.

classical revival. Former editor of the Times sherry stern Explain how “The Secret Garden”, adapted by Marsha Norman from the 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett with music by lucy simonfound one new life at the Ahmanson Theater this season. ashley lee it also discusses the many changes to the Broadway musical.

One person sits onstage on a bench under a crooked moon, with another person watching from a distance.

Emily Jewel Hoder, left, and John-Michael Lyles in “The Secret Garden.”

(Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade)

Ode to the greatest Englishman. time reporter matt pearce writes about being an endangered species.

Tribute to P-22. The Los Angeles Public Library is offering a limited-edition library card honoring P-22, the cougar that has prowled Griffith Park for more than a decade. The card features the famous photo of steve winter National Geographic image of the cougar walking through the park with the Hollywood sign in the background.

Library wars. national time correspondent Jaweed Kaleem explains how drag queen story hours turned into a battle over gender, sexuality, and children.

ICYMI: ‘The violin conspiracy’

best selling author Brendan Slocumb joined book clubs on February 23 to discuss his “The Violin Conspiracy” mystery.

You can watch Slocumb’s virtual conversation with the Times’ classical music critic mark in swedish online.

Slocumb is a musician and music teacher who grew up reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries. He began writing during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, and his debut novel introduces readers to a rising star in the world of classical music whose valuable Stradivarius family is stolen ahead of one of the world’s biggest music competitions. “The Violin Conspiracy” also explores family, race, discrimination, and finding your way through thick and thin.

“I’m a big, big advocate for music in public schools,” says Slocumb. “He put me on the right path. I change my life.”

Last word

“I hope we remember that when we ban books, we ban truth.” —California author and National Book Award winner Sabah Tahir, in the last weekend Tucson Book Festival.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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