J’s Take on The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

We all hit on the scheme of each suggesting a book that the other two had to read. My suggestion was The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. Little did I realize they’d want me to write a review of it too!

In the end, I decided not to reread the book. Not that I don’t have an interest in rereading it at some point. But I have too many books on my plate at the moment. Including a way-overdue review of my Alan Turing book. (Wait, was that really due in May?! Oops!)

So I’ll tell you why I suggested The Green Glass Sea and how I came to read it in the first place.

I first attended Wiscon in 2008. Although I had been thinking about it for a couple of years before that, when I’d see con reports and panel descriptions on my Livejournal friendslist. I even voted on panel suggestions in.. I think it was 2007. Though I didn’t attend that year. (I was unemployed and dead broke that year! So I took 6 weeks and went to California instead. ;) )

You hear things about Ellen Klages before you even get to the con. If you’re one who’s reading every bit of writing on the Wiscon website, like I was. The description of the Tiptree Auction declares it’s an event not to be missed, almost due solely to Ellen Klages. It promised entertainment and laughs. And boy did she deliver. And when I think of the term ‘feminist’, she’s going to be one of the people who comes to mind first.

So how could I not want to read a book she wrote? Especially with a description like this: “In 1943, eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan lives with her scientist father in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as he works on a top secret government program, and befriends an aspiring artist who is a misfit just like her.”

Not a laugh riot, no. But a very enjoyable book, that I would say only has a tween audience because of its main character’s age. Not that it’s unsuited for middle grade readers, but that I think it’s suited to all ages. (Adults who refuse to read middle grade or YA fiction is a whole rant I won’t get into now.)

I really liked Dewey and the er.. ‘aspiring artist misfit’ of the book summary. They’re geeks. They’re girl geeks. In the 1940s. And their parents are working on the freaking atomic bomb!

I really liked it. And I like the sequel White Sands, Red Menace, so you should totally read that too.

Later, at a Readercon, I attended a Kaffeeklatsch with Klages, where she talked about the research she did for GGS. She said everything at that time was Atomic! — just like that, with the exclamation point. You’d buy Cracker Jacks or cereal and there’d be something Atomic! in the box, or that you could collect box tops and send away for. She went on Ebay and bought some of these things. Proof that writerly research can be strange and fun.

I actually thought my fellow Triple Takers would like GGS and this was just a ready excuse to make them read it. I suspected the historical fiction and the smart girl main characters would be right up their alley. And that they’re living in a community of scientists reminiscent of “Eureka”, which I know at least K watches, definitely doesn’t hurt.

I have yet to read their reviews of it. I look forward to doing so.. well, ASAP!

The thing I like most about this book is that while it’s not technically science fiction, it really feels like it. It makes you re-examine exactly what you mean when you say ‘science fiction’. It’s fiction with science in it. It’s got science fiction fans in it. And yet, and yet..

Can I coin a term? Science-fictioniness. SFiness.

I think we need more books like this; both historical fiction centered around science and technology, and stories with smart, geeky girls in them.


2 thoughts on “J’s Take on The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages”

  1. I’ve only just started The Green Glass Sea, but I already like it, so you’re right about the combo of historical fiction and smart girl teens. And I definitely thought of Eureka, which I also watch. Interestingly, they just had an episode where they went back in time to the ’40s.

    I had no idea there was a sequel. Happily, my library has that, as well.

  2. Yeah, it did have some shades of Eureka.

    I liked the book, I did. I’d just have liked it more if certain elements had been omitted.

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