Saturday, August 31, 2019

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08/31/2019 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Winner of the WA State Book Award and Autumn House Fiction Prize Sharma Shields is joined by author and artist Simeon Mills, each sharing an acclaimed, daring new work of fiction. In Shield's The Cassandra, inspired by the classic Greek myth, a woman gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, takes a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. Hanford, a massive construction camp on the banks of the Columbia River, exists to test and manufacture a mysterious product that will aid the war effort. Only the top generals and scientists know that this product is plutonium for use in the first atomic bombs. Mildred is delighted, at first, to be part of something larger than herself. But her new life takes a dark turn when she starts to have prophetic dreams about what will become of humankind if the project is successful. As the men she works for come closer to achieving their goals, her visions intensify to a nightmarish pitch, and she eventually risks everything to question those in power, putting her own physical and mental health on the line. A timely novel about patriarchy and militancy, The Cassandra uses both legend and history to look deep into man's capacity for destruction, and the resolve and compassion it takes to challenge the powerful.   "biting ... brilliant" -- The New York Times Book Review "Provocative, beautifully rendered... a clever, fierce parable about the blindness of those entranced by the powers of violence" --Nylon, Best Books of February  "[A] galvanizing variation on the ancient Greek tale of a seer doomed always to be right, yet never to be believed. Shields . . . offers satirically comedic scenes and satisfyingly venomous takedowns of the patriarchy, welcome flashes of light... uniquely audacious" --Booklist (starred review) Simeon Mill's The Obsoletes is a thought-provoking coming-of-age novel about two human-like teen robots navigating high school, basketball, and potentially life-threatening consequences if their true origins are discovered by the inhabitants of their intolerant 1980s Michigan hometown. Fraternal twin brothers Darryl and Kanga are just like any other teenagers trying to make it through high school. They have to deal with peer pressure, awkwardness, and family drama. But there’s one closely guarded secret that sets them apart: they are robots. So long as they keep their heads down, their robophobic neighbors won’t discover the truth about them and they just might make it through to graduation. But when Kanga becomes the star of the basketball team, there’s more at stake than typical sibling rivalry. Though they look, sound, and act perfectly human, if anyone in their small, depressed Michigan town were to find out what they truly are, they’d likely be disassembled by an angry mob in the middle of their school gym. Heartwarming and thrilling, Simeon Mills’s charming debut novel is a funny, poignant look at brotherhood, xenophobia, and the limits of one’s programming.   "Fantastic . . . Mills creates a world where what it means to be a teenager is deliciously complicated. . . . this intelligent comedy will captivate readers." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)   “The Obsoletes is inventive, moving, and funny. A perfectly weird and weirdly perfect novel.” — Jess Walter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins