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Midtown Reader lines up a month of virtual book events in August – Tallahassee Democrat



From fantasy to Mars, from sci-fi to Southern caves, Midtown Reader has lined up a variety of virtual author talks for the month of August. For more information visit Midtown Reader at midtownreader.com.

The VandeerMeers talk fantasy

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m. 

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer discuss “The Big Book of Modern Fantasy”

online via Zoom.

A conversation with Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, editors of the new anthology The Big Book of Modern Fantasy. Ann and Jeff will be joined by several of the book’s contributors, including authors Victor LaValle, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Kelly Link, with Matt Cheney moderating the panel.

About the Book: From Jorge Luis Borges to Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock to Angela Carter, Terry Pratchett to Stephen King, the full range and glory of the fantastic are on display in these 91 stories in which dragons soar, giants stomp, and human children should still think twice about venturing alone into the dark forest. Completing Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s definitive The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, this companion volume to takes the genre into the 21st century.


Life on Mars

Thursday, Aug 13, 6 p.m.

Kate Greene discusses “Once Upon a Time I Lived On Mars: Space, Exploration, and Life on Earth” online via Zoom.  

Join Midtown Reader and the Challenger Learning Center for a conversation with Kate Greene. In “Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars: Space, Exploration, and Life on Earth,” trained laser physicist, poet, and essayist Greene explores her time as a crew member for NASA’s Mars analog — a project called HI-SEAS — where her mission’s main goal was to test food systems as well as other social and psychological strains over the two-and-a-half-year journey.

But it was not only food experiments that took place during four isolated months in 2013, where Greene called a dome on the Hawai’ian volcano of Mauna Loa, situated at 8,000 feet above sea level, home base. Greene and her fellow “astronauts” lived and breathed other research studies: assessing anti-microbial clothing; tracking sleep patterns; and documenting the way isolation affects stress, health, and social interactions.

Greene was the crew writer and second-in-command on a simulated Mars mission for the NASA-funded HI-SEAS project. She currently lives in New York City where she is a teaching fellow in the writing department at Columbia University.


Sci-fi is ‘Glorious’

Thursday, Aug 20 @ 6 p.m.

Gregory Benford and Larry Niven discuss “Glorious” online via Zoom 

Join talk with the sci-fi power duo Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, authors of “Glorious,” the climactic conclusion to the NYT bestselling Bowl of Heaven series.

In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, “Bowl of Heaven” and its sequel, “Shipstar,” audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. 

Gregory Benford is a recipient of the United Nations Medal for Literature, and the author of more than 20 novels. Larry Niven is the award-winning author of the Ringworld series. 


Exploring hidden caves

Thurs, Aug 27, 6 p.m. 

Michael Ray Taylor discusses “Hidden Nature: Wild Southern Caves”

Online via Zoom 

“Hidden Nature” tells the story of a vast underground wilderness that underlies the American South. Beyond describing the majesty of the region’s wild caves and the concurrent joys and dangers of exploring them, Michael Ray Taylor examines their scientific import, their relationship to clean water, and their uncertain future.

The book also contains several chapters set in and around Tallahassee, where Taylor began caving in 1979 with the Florida State Cave Club (now the Flint River Grotto). “Hidden Nature” is memoir mixed with science, a compelling a personal narrative of the author’s long attraction to these caves and the people who dare enter their hidden chambers.

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