Dec

19

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 19, 2006

Bad Prince Charlie by John Moore

Nine people attended this meeting at A. T.’s house. Our topic was Bad Prince Charlie, the latest romantic comedy fantasy by Houston-based FACT member John Moore. The story involves the prince of a small impoverished country deliberately trying to do a bad job of ruling, so that his country is absorbed by a wealthier empire. His plan is complicated by his father’s ghost, noble ladies, a wizard, and a priestess. All of us had read Moore before, and all had finished the book.

This was a fun book to read. We found the story compulsively readable, and two of us had finished the book in one sitting. Prince Charlie’s clueless romantic

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Dec

05

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 5, 2006

Mindswap by Robert Sheckley

Nine people assembled at Charles and Willie’s home to discuss this recently-reissued classic. Also, one person submitted comments by email and another participated via telephone. Mindswap depicts a future where humans and aliens can explore each other’s worlds by swapping minds between bodies. The story follows a man whose extraterrestrial vacation goes terribly wrong, forcing him to undergo a series of mindswaps with strange aliens in strange environments. Most of us had read Sheckley before, and all had finished this book.

Several of us found this book to be a lot of fun. The prose style was easy to read. We liked how the increasingly more surreal mindswaps were explained as

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Nov

21

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 21, 2006

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

Eleven of us gathered at A. T.’s house to talk about the first novel in Jasper Fforde’s “Nursery Crime” series. There was one first-time attendee, and we welcomed back three members we had not seen for a while. Six people had previously read Fforde. Eight of us finished the book, and another was halfway through and expected to finish it soon.

The Big Over Easy is a detective novel set in a fantasy world, where Detective

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Nov

07

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 7, 2006

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

Eight readers gathered at Willie and Charles’s place to discuss The Algebraist, a recent Hugo-nominated novel. All of us had read Banks before. Five had finished the book.

A few of us had been too busy working on the recently-concluded World Fantasy Convention to read much of the book. Since the organizer was among this latter group, this report may appear less informative than usual. It’s hard to take

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Oct

17

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 17, 2006

Howard Who? by Howard Waldrop

Nine people gathered at A. T.’s house in north Austin for this meeting. Our topic was Howard Who?, the recent 20th anniversary edition of local author Howard Waldro’s first collection. Six of us had read Waldrop before, and four had heard him read his work aloud at ArmadilloCon. Seven of us read this book for the discussion.

The book contains Waldrop’s best known early story, “The Ugly Chickens”, which is about a graduate student’s search for a fowl that had been thought extinct. We found this story to be surreal, unusual, and memorable, with the most classic

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Oct

03

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 3, 2006

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

On October 3, 2006 the FACT reading group discussed A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Of 6 people who attended the discussion, only 2 people finished reading, or rather re-reading it. Some others had read it long ago when it first came out. One reader commented that he enjoyed “A Scanner Darkly” back then, but it didn’t seem as good the second time around. This change in perspective was attributed to the reader’s head being in a different place than it was a couple of decades ago. 🙂

Two readers said they liked this book because they like books about paranoia. One reader could really relate to the paranoia, experienced by the protagonist; in her view, paranoia was inseparable from the 1965-75 drug era that she thought

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Sep

19

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 19, 2006

Snake Agent by Liz Williams

Eleven people attended this meeting at A. T.’s home. This was the first occasion most of the group had been to the house, so there was a brief home tour before the meeting started. Our topic, Snake Agent by Liz Williams, is about a police detective in near-future Asia who investigates a case involving ghosts and demons, which eventually leads him to visit the Chinese underworld. Nine of us had finished the book, and three had read Liz Williams before.

Several in the group commented that they would normally not have read this book because they do not like procedural mysteries and genre mixing. They read

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Sep

05

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 5, 2006

Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan

This discussion at Charles and Willie’s home drew seven attendees. One person submitted comments by email. Our topic was Thrice Upon a Time, a science fiction novel written by recent ArmadilloCon Special Guest James P. Hogan. The story concerns a team of scientists in Scotland who discover a means of limited time travel. Six of us finished the book, and three had read it when it was published originally in 1980. All of us had read Hogan before.

The first third of the book is devoted to the scientific investigation of time travel. Experiments are described in detail from planning to execution to compilation of results. There are pages devoted to descriptions of scientific apparatus. The

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Aug

15

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 15, 2006

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

On August 15, 2006 the FACT reading group discussed The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, which consists of novels The Atrocity Archive and The Concrete Jungle. Everybody but one person in the group finished the book, and the one person who had not was planning to finish it. Everybody has read Charles Stross before. Most people in the group loved The Atrocity Archives. Like “Family Trade”, and unlike some of Charles Stross’ Singularity-themed science fiction, this book is a crowd pleaser. People described it as clever, loads of fun, and (to borrow a word occasionally used to characterize good space opera), rollicking. (The Atrocity Archives is not space opera, but it’s rollicking nonetheless.)

Somebody took an informal survey on which genre did people think this book

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Aug

09

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 9, 2006

Dinner with Julie E. Czerneda and James P. Hogan

Since two authors our group had read and enjoyed were in Austin to be major guests at ArmadilloCon, the Reading Group took them out to dinner. There were seventeen of us at Kerbey Lane North. Dinner topics included spicy food, Texas history, international politics, and artificial intelligence. Our guests, Julie and James, wandered up and down the table and made sure they talked to everyone. The food was good, service was fine, and everyone had a good time.

— A. T. Campbell, III