Dec

17

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 17, 2002

The Pickup Artist by Terry Bisson

Fourteen people attended this meeting at Lori and A. T.’s home, and two submitted comments by email. Our topic was The Pickup Artist, a near future sf novel by Terry Bisson. In this story it has been decided that there is too much content (art, books, movies, music) in the world, so old stuff must be eliminated to make room for people to buy new content. Regular lotteries are held to determine which creators’ works are to be eliminated, and all the world’s governments develop collection agencies that confiscate obsolete content. The protagonist title character works for such a collection agency. Eight of us had started this book, and all finished it.

The Pickup Artist is full of thought-provoking ideas. The story is an obvious variant on Fahrenheit 451. We wondered why an award-winning author like Terry Bisson would write a book about such a painful theme as the destruction of art. We all found the concept horrible, but felt the scenario presented in this book is

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Dec

03

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 3, 2002

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

Eleven people attended this meeting at Willie and Charles’s home. The topic was Revelation Space, an epic science fiction novel by new writer Alastair Reynolds. The story, set in the far future, involves interplanetary archaeologists looking into the mysterious disappearance of an extraterrestrial species. Their search leads to a big adventure that includes academic rivalries, assassination attempts, and galactic conspiracies. Nine of us started the book, and six finished it.

We liked a lot about this book. One person described it as an imaginative political space opera. The book is full of neat sf ideas. The complicated plot, told in a structure that jumps back and forth in time, is fun to read and has a good payoff

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Nov

19

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 19, 2002

Archangel Protocol by Lyda Morehouse

Thirteen people attended this meeting at Judy and Jeff’s home. The topic was Archangel Protocol, a hybrid detective/sf/religious novel set in near-future New York. In this story, a female private detective gets involved in a case that involves the Internet, virtual reality, politics, angels, and the devil. Ten of us had started the book, and five finished it.

We liked several things about this book. The noir atmosphere was unusual and got the detective story off to a good start. We liked the idea of covens of angels living within our world. The story provided a clever twist on the apocalypse.

Unfortunately we found much to dislike. Computer and network technology is an important part of the story, but it is portrayed so inaccurately that it seriously

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Nov

05

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 5, 2002

Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David

Eighteen people attended this meeting at Charles and Willie Siros’s home. The topic was Sir Apropos of Nothing, a humorous fantasy novel written by Peter David. This book, set in a medieval world of knights and kings, follows the adventures of a young man called Apropos who is the illegitimate offspring of nobility. Apropos tries to lead a low-key existence, but somehow he keeps falling into situations involving duels, princesses, and mythical creatures. Fourteen of us had read the book, and twelve finished it. Five had read prior books by Peter David.

Two of us enjoyed the book a lot. We loved how it made fun of the traditions of fantasy. It covered several standard fantasy bases with a twist and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. One highlight was when Apropos was concerned that he might

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Oct

15

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 15, 2002

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

Fourteen people attended this discussion at Jeff and Judy’s home, and two submitted comments by email. Our topic, the near-future science fiction thriller The Chronoliths, was a recent Hugo nominee. In this book, large artifacts start mysteriously appearing all over the Earth. These artifacts, called chronoliths, bear messages declaring future military victories. The story follows a group of scientists trying to figure out how the chronoliths are getting sent from the future, why they are being sent, and how to avert the supposedly inevitable conquest of the planet. Nine of us had started the book, and all finished it.

We thought this book had an interesting premise and the author developed it well. We enjoyed that much of the action took place in unusual locations like Thailand, Minneapolis, and El Paso. The fast-paced action and Wilson’s lean writing style produced a fast reading experience. We found the emergence of

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Oct

01

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 1, 2002

Declare by Tim Powers

Twelve people attended this meeting held at Charles and Willie’s home. Our group had discussed and enjoyed several previous books by Tim Powers before, and we were looking forward to his latest novel. Declare is a World War II era spy novel with supernatural elements, and it recently won the World Fantasy Award.

While we approached Declare with high hopes, we generally found the reading experience unrewarding. Only four people finished the book, and the other seven who started reading it were not interested enough to stay with it to the end. The one person who claimed to enjoy the book could not cite any reasons

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Sep

17

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 17, 2002

Alien Taste by Wen Spencer

Fifteen people attended this meeting at Jeff and Judy’s home. Our topic was Alien Taste, the first novel by Wen Spencer. The book’s story involves Ukiah Oregon, a private investigator raised by wolves, in an unusual case involving with extraterrestrial elements. Twelve of us started reading the book, and eleven finished it.

Alien Taste was full of fun ideas: a private eye who investigates primarily with his nose, lots of action scenes, pod people, invaders from Mars, intelligent hedgehog creatures, motorcycles, and aliens who seem like a cross between vampires and

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Sep

03

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 3, 2002

Ventus by Karl Schroeder

This meeting was held at Charles and Willie’s place. We had ten participants, including one person who came directly to the meeting from the airport after flying into Austin. Another person submitted comments by email. The topic of our discussion was Ventus, the first solo novel by Canadian physicist Karl Schroeder. The story has a strong element of mystery so we won’t reveal a lot of plot details, but it does involve talking rocks, magic, quests, and supernatural winds. All of us had started Ventus, but only four finished it.

Many of us found the story engrossing and enjoyed the ambiguous setting. The characters were all three-dimensional and we even understood the motivations of the “bad guys.” The story alternated between viewpoint characters with different ideas about this world, and we enjoyed piecing together their diverse

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Aug

20

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 20, 2002

The Quiet Invasion by Sarah Zettel

Thirteen people attended this discussion at Lori and A. T.’s house, including one first-time visitor. Also, one person submitted comments by email. Our topic was The Quiet Invasion, a sf novel set on Venus featuring noble scientists, academic dishonesty, flying aliens, and politics. Eight of us had started the book, and five finished it.

We thought this book had cool aliens. They were nonhumanoid flying creatures with strange biology, but they had distinct personalities and were well-drawn sympathetic characters. The structure of their society and its interpersonal relationships were well thought-out, and Zettel described this so well that we

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Aug

06

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 6, 2002

Deepsix by Jack McDevitt

Sixteen people attended this discussion at the home of Charles and Willie. The topic, Deepsix by Jack McDevitt, is a hard sf novel about a group of scientists who rush to explore a mysterious planet before it is destroyed in a cosmic collision. All of us had read prior books by McDevitt. Eleven of us started Deepsix, and seven finished it.

We enjoyed reading a traditional sf novel. The story got off to an interesting start, and we enjoyed discovering strange things on the planet. We loved the alien species, particularly the cool “cricket people.” The prose style was clear and told the story well. We appreciated how the author skillfully kept the pace of

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