Imagine waking up in a room full of stairs. No ceiling, no floor, just endless stairs. There is no one else around. What would you do?
William Sleator’s House of Stairs, inspired by the famous Escher painting, is a short science fiction novel set in an unspecified (dystopian) future. The plot revolves around four orphaned children, all sixteen years old, who find themselves cast into the situation I described above. They eventually find each other and a small machine that dispenses food and becomes the source of all value for their world. As the story continues, it becomes clear that the children are fed only as a reward for when certain actions that harm or hurt other people are performed. But why? What is to be gained? Who is controlling the machine, if anyone? How should the children react? What effect will this have on them?
One interpretation of the story could be a testimony to the strength of the human spirit. Another could be a depressing reflection on the nature of selfishness and the depths to which we all might go to save ourselves. In the true spirit of science fiction, House of Stairs, doesn’t make the conclusions for us but leaves it to us to decide which to believe. The conclusion to the story is philosophical and fitting and will certainly leave you with a delightfully poignant frame of mind that will challenge your very conception of what it means to be human.
Mr Tristan Hill
If you are looking for an insightful, entertaining and unbiased commentary on Australian politics and the economy over the last 40 years then this is a great read.
It highlights all the various policy steps taken, their successes and failures to get us into the comparatively sound economic position we enjoy today.
Mr Doug Galbraith
Imagine if, instead of your Grandma asking you what you want to be when you grow up, she said ‘What do you want to be IF you grow up’?
For black kids living in the ghetto areas known as ‘The Projects’ in the US, the reality is that large numbers will die before they’re out of their teens, shot during gang warfare or dying from a drug overdose.
If I Grow Up is about DeShawn, a 12 year old who has never left The Projects. The gang ruling his area is known as ‘The Douglas Disciples’ headed by Marcus whom DeShawn looks up to as a hero and surrogate father. His mother was killed in crossfire years earlier, and his father left home when he was too young to remember.
DeShawn is bright, with the potential to earn a scholarship to a school outside The Projects, but he is afraid to leave everything and everyone he has ever known. So, as he gets older he sees his friends shot and his choices narrowing - the future looks very bleak.
This book gives a vivid picture of a life which could hardly be more different to your own. It is exciting because there is double dealing and murder, thugs and shoot outs, and tension – you never know what’s coming next. Don’t expect a falsely happy ending. Do expect to be left thinking about how lucky we all are to live where we do.
Sally & Tom are jolted out of their soporific summer holidays in Perth when they witness a murder and inherit the dead man’s crumbling mansion. Within days a mysterious boy has taken over the premises, Tom is gored by a minotaur, Sally is confronted by sea monsters and a disaster of epic proportions must be averted. If you like lots of action and an imaginative plot, try this local fantasy/thriller.
Check out Myke’s blog- there’s a day by day tour of the settings for ‘Fire in the Sea’