Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Forty Years With the Force

Poster for Return of The Jedi by Matt Ferguson
image © Matt Ferguson

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, so this post will feature all things Star Wars for all ages, whether you’re new or seasoned fans! The franchise is galaxy-spanning, so I’m not going to be able to recommend everything, but if I miss a favourite of yours, chime in in the comments!

Also, expect to see minor spoilers, though I will try to avoid major ones.

We’ll start things off with the original trilogy featuring Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, which you can borrow individually or as a trilogy set.

Follow it up with the prequel trilogy (or don’t, if you hate them, although I personally enjoy them) in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith for insight into Luke’s origins and why and how he came to be the Jedi’s new hope.

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ChatGPT and Reader’s Advisory

The cover of Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework by Joseph Mayo

I’ve been testing ChatGPT lately and wondered about its ability to perform RA services. So with my Help! I’ve finished the Discworld Novels post in mind I gave it this query:

“Hello ChatGPT1, I really enjoyed the Discworld Novels, but I’ve finished them all! Can you give me some recommendations for what to read next?”

I left it deliberately open. I didn’t ask for details or state how many books I was looking for, and, notably, didn’t say why I enjoyed the Discworld novels.

Here’s the response ChatGPT came back with (Links added by me):

“Certainly! If you enjoyed the Discworld novels, you might also enjoy these other fantasy series:

  1. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: This series follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary magician and musician. It’s a beautifully written series with a rich and complex world.
  2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson: This is an epic fantasy series set in a world of magic, monsters, and political intrigue. It follows the lives of several characters as they try to save their world from destruction.
  3. The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie: This series is a dark and gritty take on the fantasy genre. It follows a group of flawed and morally ambiguous characters as they navigate a world of war, politics, and magic.
  4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan: This is a classic epic fantasy series that spans 14 books. It follows a group of characters as they try to save their world from an evil force known as the Dark One.
  5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson: This series is a complex and sprawling epic fantasy that spans multiple continents and hundreds of characters. It’s a challenging read, but incredibly rewarding for those who stick with it.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful!”

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Klara and the Sun (and Other AI Stories)

Book cover of Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo IshiguroI’ve been thinking a lot about the future recently and what it will be like. Perhaps it’s because for the last year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of change and adaptation to new things and at the same time a lot of the days have had a certain sameness to them with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders meaning we can’t do a lot of the things we might like to (though here at VPL we do have lots of online programs to keep people entertained and informed!). And while some people’s lives are busier than ever, many of us have just had a lot more time than usual to think about what the future holds for ourselves and for all of humanity.

With the future on my mind, earlier this year I stumbled across a mention of World Futures Day — which futurists of the world can’t entirely seem to decide between calling World Futures Day and World Future Day — and it prompted me to read and think about our ever-changing world even more, as well as to make a list of suggested books to read for World Futures Day. (These futurists also haven’t entirely landed on a consistent day of the year for World Futures Day, but it’s always celebrated in early March and most people seemed to agree on March 1 for this year. Seriously though, futurists? Get your act together and pick a fixed day of the year!)

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