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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: 11/22/63, abraham lincoln vampire hunter, all american girl, american queen, american wife, , , , , , , dolley, eighteen acres, ellen feldman, eugene burdock, executive orders, failsafe, frost/nixon, , harvey wheeler, , it can’t happen here, jailbird, , jenn marie thorne, joe klein, , , leader of the free world, , lucy, , , mount vernon love story, mrs. President, nicole wallace, peter morgan, , primary colors, , seth grahams-smith, sierra simone, sinclair lewis, stephen carter, , , the impeachment of abraham lincoln, , the plot against america, the president is missing, the wrong side of right, tom clancy, wide awake   

    25 Fictional Presidents 

    President’s Day is around the corner, so we compiled a list of 25 fictional presidents for you to read about! If watching the news bums you out, but political intrigue does not, these books are for you.

    Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
    This haunting novel centers around the true story of Lincoln’s son, who died during his Presidency. While President Lincoln visits the gravesite of his son, the ghosts who have clung to life narrate a deeply moving, complex thread of tales.

    11/22/63, by Stephen King
    This political sci-fi is about a man who travels back in time with one goal—to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While the President does not “officially” appear in the story, the entire plot centers around Jake Epping managing to stop Lee Harvey Oswald…but will his actions have the opposite impact on American history than he hopes?

    American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Loosely based on Laura Bush, this novel stars Alice, a small-town girl who grows up to marry a future President. Follow Alice in her courtship by a dazzling Republican man she finds herself unable to stay away from…but once they enter the White House, she realizes she disagrees with in ways they may be unable to reconcile.

    Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut
    Watergate gets even more insidious in this story, told from the perspective of a fictional co-conspirator in the Nixon Administration cover-up. Wry and humorous, but also dark and revealing of the jagged edges of human nature, Vonnegut’s anti-hero shares the story from his perspective years later, after serving his time for the crime.

    Dolley, by Rita Mae Brown
    Dolley Madison was the fourth first lady in American history, and this novel explores her fictional diary. Being the wife of one of America’s founders was both glamorous, full of fashion and parties…and horrendous, as her husband ushers the country into war.

    Primary Colors, by Joe Klein
    Originally published anonymously, this novel takes readers behind the political curtain of presidential campaigns. Based on Bill Clinton’s rise to the presidency, told from the perspective of a lower-level aide, every moment is rife with drama on the verge of scandal.

    Eighteen Acres, by Nicolle Wallace
    Nicole Wallace is a former Communications Director of the White House (and current political pundit) and wrote a novel imagining the first woman president as she weathers a re-election campaign, an infidelity scandal, and an international blunder.

    American Queen, by Sierra Simone
    Now for a very different kind of novel, this erotic romance imagines a completely fictional scenario in which a girl finds herself in love with two men: they just happen to be the President of the United States…and the Vice President of the United States. Confused? Once you meet Greer, Embry and Maxen in this reimagining of Camelot, you’ll be in love.

    The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    This book isn’t even available yet, but it’s totally pre-order worthy…because it’s the first novel written by a former President! Bill Clinton teamed up with James Patterson to write a political thriller about what happens when a President vanishes without a trace.

    Failsafe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
    Published in 1962, when tensions between Russia and the US were at an all-time high, this speculative novel imagines a scenario in which American bombers take control of the nuclear weapons and decide to put an end to the conflict once and for all…and the President must act before Russia engages them in all-out war.

    The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
    Stephen King returns to the list with this bestselling speculative novel about a man who wakes up from a coma with the mysterious ability to see people’s futures. But this becomes a problem when he has a vision of a man running for President…and it’s disastrous. Does he intervene to prevent it from coming true?

    Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy
    The worst has occurred: the President, the cabinet, and most of congress is dead. That leaves the VP, Jack Ryan, in charge. President Ryan must govern without a government all the while trying to figure out who is responsible. Riveting and with twists that will leave you breathless, fans of Designated Survivor will love this novel.

    The Inner Circle, by Brad Meltzer
    An adventure of presidential proportions begins when an archivist and his one-time crush find a mysterious dictionary that belonged to the first president, George Washington. They must race against the clock to decipher the meaning of the dictionary, and, once a man ends up dead, hope they don’t end up suffering the same fate.

    The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. Carter
    This fascinating novel imagines a world where Lincoln did not die, and instead lived to face the consequences of the Civil War…namely, an impeachment trial for a breach of executive powers. When one of Lincoln’s lawyers is murdered, a young black woman working for his defense team must unravel the mystery.

    Mount Vernon Love Story, by Mary Higgins Clark
    Mystery master Mary Higgins Clark wrote an historical novel about George Washington! Did you know that many people believe Washington, despite being married to Martha, was in love with someone else? Higgins Clark is not one of them; she writes the love story between America’s FIRST first-couple as one of mutual respect, admiration, and affection.

    Lucy, by Ellen Feldman
    In contrast, this novel is about a president who was in love with someone who wasn’t his wife. Before he was President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Lucy Mercer…Eleanor’s social secretary. Through polio, a world war, and two presidential terms, despite his promises to Eleanor, Franklin and Lucy remain connected. Heartbreaking, romantic, and beautiful.

    Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith
    Presidents go paranormal in this fun novel that reveals the true story behind our 16th President. Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter, hell-bent on vengeance against the creatures responsible for his mother’s death.

    Mr. President, by Katy Evans
    Matt and Charlotte have known one another since they were kids. He was the son of a President, and vowed never to follow in his father’s footsteps…except now he has, bringing Charlotte along for the ride. The problem? Charlotte loves him, but knows she can never love a President. This erotic romance novel sizzles with political steam.

    The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth
    An Alternative history where FDR loses the 1940 election to isolationist Charles Lindbergh…who strikes a deal with Hitler to stay out of his way. But tensions rise, along with anti-Semintism, and the consequences are seen through the eyes of one boy.

    It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis
    This book was written during the Great Depression, but the subject matter is still relevant today. Featuring another character who unseats Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the Presidency, this novel details the dangers of populist rhetoric with a President who halts progress on all fronts and holds his enemies captive.

    Frost/Nixon, by Peter Morgan
    This play dramatizes the epic showdown between journalist David Frost and President Nixon, in which the former tries to get the latter to confess to his crimes. (You can watch the movie, too!)

    Crooked, by Austin Grossman
    Grossman’s reinvention of Tricky Dick as the inheritor of a presidency imbued with magical powers—a man consistently distrusted and marginalized by the people who could have prepared him for the battles to come—is thoroughly enjoyable. Most importantly, it offers up an idea of a president who has more than a veto up his or her sleeves. Certainly a little black magic would be very welcome in today’s unsettled world.

    All American Girl, by Meg Cabot
    One of my favorite YA novels featuring regular-girl Sam Madison, who saves the president from an assassination attempt. Sam is in love with her older sister’s boyfriend, but as she spends more time with the President’s son—the only person who seems to understand the downsides to her newfound fame—she starts to question both her choice, and whether she could love the kid who lives in the White House.

    The Wrong Side of Right, by Jenn Marie Thorne
    Kate has never known her father, but when her mother dies, he reveals himself: a powerful politician vying for the White House. Suddenly, Kate is embroiled in the world of politics, a new family, and a dangerous first-love…all the while grieving for her mom, and the life she once loved.

    Wide Awake, by David Levithan
    This speculative novel stars the first gay, Jewish President…whose election is promptly declared invalid by a governor of a crucial state. Jimmy and Duncan, a teen couple, decide to lend their support by joining the protests to support him.

    What novels featuring fictionalized presidents do you love?

    The post 25 Fictional Presidents appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:30 pm on 2015/07/07 Permalink
    Tags: day of the jackal, frederick forsyth, , , , one shot, , the firm, the hunt for red october, , tom clancy   

    5 Thrillers that Resist Easy Fixes 

    In the realm of science fiction and fantasy, there’s such a thing as a “handwave,” a problem-solving technology or phenomenon presented without sufficient or believable explanation. The handwave isn’t just for science fiction, though: even ostensibly gritty, realistic thrillers can sometimes resort to a handwave to get themselves out of a jammed-up plot. If you’ve ever read about someone mysteriously “hacking” a computer system in order to access crucial narrative data, or raised an eyebrow at a character’s quick recovery from a grievous injury, you have experienced the handwave. The antidote? These five thrillers, which assiduously avoid such shenanigans.

    One Shot, by Lee Child
    In his ninth Jack Reacher novel, Lee Child offers a pure mystery for his hulking, drifting hero to solve: an expert sniper is accused of murdering several people in a public place, but Reacher uses a combination of his natural detective abilities and a deep knowledge of sniping and weapons to figure out what’s really going on, before it’s too late. Child manages to make pages of detail regarding the science and art of the sniper fascinating, and makes Reacher’s logical leap in solving the mystery 100 percent sound.

    The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
    The rumor is Clancy was so accurate in his depiction of cutting-edge submarine technology and tactics in this 1984 novel, the FBI paid him a visit to inquire how he knew so many classified details. While that may not be true (Clancy always maintained he gleaned all his information from public sources and meticulous research), the fact remains that The Hunt for Red October is one of the least-handwaved military stories in modern times. In this caper about a top-secret (and incredibly powerful) Soviet submarine hijacked by officers intent on defecting to the United States, every event, technological reference, and piece of information is justified with real-world facts and experience.

    The Firm, by John Grisham
    It says something about Grisham’s talent that the conclusion of his 1991 breakthrough novel, about a young lawyer who unwittingly joins a mob-associated firm, centers on the exciting topic of over-billing and mail fraud, and yet remains a nail-biting climax to an exceptional legal thriller. A lawyer writing legal fiction should never have to resort to hand-waving plot twists in the courtroom, but when your whole plot sits on legal maneuvering and minutiae, it’s impressive that not a single aspect of the story is glossed-over or left unclear for the reader.

    Radiant Angel, by Nelson DeMille
    In John Corey, Nelson DeMille has created a thoroughly believable character who happens to be placed at the highest levels of intrigue and adventure. The stories he constructs for Corey aren’t everyday adventures, but they’re crafted with care and an attention to detail that neatly avoid the handwave, giving the reader plenty of reason to believe it could all really happen. DeMille’s newest Corey adventure, Radiant Angel, packs a gritty, old-school Cold War punch, and once again, the author shows his work at every step, ensuring the reader can get on board without having to make any leaps of faith.

    Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
    The attention to detail and real-life roots of Forsyth’s 1971 novel are legendary. He was working as a journalist in Paris when he wrote the story about an assassin hired to kill the President of France, and drew on actual events he witnessed or heard about through firsthand accounts, setting many of the novel’s scenes in well-researched places. In fact, rumor has it the assassin’s sniping spot can still be located—with the precise view described in the text. When you can physically visit the settings of the story and inspect them for accuracy, it’s safe to say nothing was handwaved.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2015/05/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , kai bird, martin j. sherwin, , , rebecca skloot, , , tom clancy   

    7 Books In Which Technology Goes Horribly Wrong 

    Anyone who has suffered a computer crash that deletes seven years’ worth of emails, photos, and Word docs knows technology doesn’t always work as planned. Sometimes our GPS steers us into a lake, sometimes we butt-dial exes, and sometimes the machines attain sentience and rise up to exterminate us. That’s the risk we take in exchange for being able to order sushi from anywhere.

    Some of the best novels ever written are based on the idea that technology not only can but will go wrong—and they’re not all science fiction, either. Here are seven novels exploring what might happen when technology betrays us.

    Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
    It’s a tale as old as time: Man figures out how to clone dinosaurs, dinosaurs turn around and eat man. The idea that there are things mankind was not meant to investigate is an ancient one, that has served as the basis for horror novels since time immemorial. Jurassic Park updates this concept of forbidden knowledge and the rotten fruits it yields with the slick idea of cloning dinosaurs from residual DNA traces—with predictably horrific results. If only people would stop thinking cloning is merely incredibly creepy and realize it could also knock us all down a notch on the food chain.

    The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    An odd choice, you say? That’s because you’re not paying attention. Sure, for the most part Tolkien’s masterpiece doesn’t have much to do with technology—unless you consider Saruman and his despoliation of Isengard, which is couched in clear technophobic terms. In short, Saruman the Many-Colored leaves behind the wisdom and power of his fellow Istari and begins industrializing, raping Isengard of resources, cutting down trees, and embracing technology. And it’s this embrace that leads to his downfall, as it angers the Ents and in ways large and small causes the series of events leading to Saruman’s death. The moral of this bit of the story? Ensure no immortal tree beings live nearby when you decide to salt the earth in your backyard.

    The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
    Sure, you could make the point that a nuclear submarine loaded with missiles and designed to be nearly invisible is actually working as intended when it comes very close to sparking World War III. But the genius of The Hunt for Red October is, in many ways, the fact that the technology at its center would not be nearly as “gone wrong” without the fears and desires of its human crew and the Americans trying to claim it. The motto of the book seems to be “nuclear submarines don’t kill people, people (in possession of nuclear submarines) kill people.”

    Reamde, by Neal Stephenson
    Software has given us so much: Angry Birds, cat videos, Britney Spears albums. So it’s easy to forget software isn’t magic, it’s technology, and technology that could so easily go wrong. In Reamde, Stephenson drops a computer virus into a virtual world and lets the ripples extend into the real one, leaving death, property damage, and awesome gunfights in its wake. Considering the story delves deeply into an imaginary massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that helps spread the virus, this is actually a case of two technologies gone wrong.

    Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
    The Entertainment is the ultimate betrayal. As Homer Simpson once said of television (and by implication, all entertainment), it’s our teacher, mother, and secret lover—so the idea of an entertainment so perfectly constructed people would gladly cut off their own fingers (or, if possible, someone else’s fingers) in order to watch it just once more cuts to the core of our streaming, downloading, and always-entertained society. If entertainment itself turns against us, we’re doomed.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    For a lot of people, the idea of immortality is exciting stuff. Except when it means you’re actually dead, and cancerous cells taken from your body without your consent live on forever as invaluable material for laboratories around the world. The story of the Lacks family’s pursuit of justice after discovering the ongoing use of Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cells is a stark reminder that even the technology we rely on to keep us alive and healthy can be turned against us—even after we’re gone.

    American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
    If you want to talk about technology gone wrong, you can’t avoid the atomic bomb, as there are very few ways for technology to go more wrong than the potential end of the world. It’s the worst-case scenario of the fundamental forces of our universe being used not to feed the hungry, or to build incredible things, but to destroy in one tiny sunburst of energy. Again, it took human intention to turn this technology against us, and this incredibly rich and thoughtful biography of the man who led the way and his regrets and reactions to the consequences of his research puts a serious spin on an idea that’s usually exciting and fun in tension-filled thrillers.

     
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