Sep

17

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 17, 2013

Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

Eight people attended this meeting at the Milwood Library. Our topic was Blue Remembered Earth, the first in a new space opera series by Alastair Reynolds. After the death of a rich and powerful woman, her family discovers mysteries from her past that lead them to a journey all over the solar system.  Seven of us had read the author before. All of us started the book, and seven finished it.

Many of us found this to be an enjoyable read that grabbed our attention from the beginning and kept us interested through the end. People commented that they liked several characters, particularly the family retainer who turned out to

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Aug

20

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 20, 2013

The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

This meeting at the Milwood library had twelve attendees. Our topic was The Warrior’s Apprentice, a 1986 military space opera by Lois McMaster Bujold. This book is the first to star Bujold’s popular character Miles Vorkosigan. Miles, the son of military parents, has the mind of a warrior but a small, fragile body. In this story, Miles flunks out of his planet’s military academy yet takes advantage of an unlikely opportunity via his intelligence and determination to become a military leader. Everyone at the meeting had read Bujold before. Ten of us started this book, and nine finished it. Four attendees read the book electronically.

Most of us had a lot of fun with the book. Comments included “a fun ride while on it”,  “good candy reading ” and “lots of clever touches.” One reader appreciated the strong female characters and noted that “often a woman has solve the

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Aug

05

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 5, 2013

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Ten people attended this meeting at the Milwood Library. Our discussion topic was The Master and Margarita, a literary Russian novel. The book alternates between two plot threads: a visit by the Devil to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and a historical story involving Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate. Two people in the group had read Bulgakov before. Six of us started the book and four finished it.

Notably, two members of the group were unable to find copies of the book to read. Several members of the group are now reading many of their books electronically. Unfortunately The Master and Margarita was one of the first books

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Jul

16

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 16, 2013

The Departure by Neal Asher

Eight people attended this discussion, and another submitted comments by email. Our topic was Neal Asher’s The Departure, a story set in a dystopic future Earth. Only one person present had read the author before. All of us started the book, but only four finished. Five of us read the novel electronically.

A couple of us had trouble getting into the book. One person complained that the huge amount of infodump in the first chapter kept putting him to sleep. Another complained of “odd diction” and “clunky sentences”, and said that he was “tempted to throw the book across the room, but it was an e-book”.

Those who got a bit further into the book enjoyed it more. One reader called it “a

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Jul

01

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 1, 2013

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

We had a weird series of events around this meeting. Several of our regulars read the book, but due to various personal issues (sickness, travel, etc.) many of them missed the scheduled meeting. So only two people attended the meeting but four emailed in comments. Reports on the meeting and the mailed-in reports follow.

From the two who attended the meeting

We had both read the book, and not read anything by that author before.  We both liked the book.  We were impressed that the main characters all had developed back stories.  We agreed that the middle was a little slow.  We both thought that the author had left himself a lot of options for sequels or other books

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Jun

03

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 3, 2013

Redshirts by John Scalzi

We had nine attendees for this meeting. The topic was Redshirts, a humorous space opera. In this book, several  members of a starship crew start noticing vast differences in the life expectancies of their shipmates based solely on the colors of their uniforms. This leads to startling realizations about the nature of their reality, and drives them to some surprising actions. Everyone at the meeting had read Scalzi before. All of us started and finished the book. Three read it in e-book form.

A couple of readers simply loved this book. One said the first few pages seemed all seemed a big cliché, but then he realized that was the point of the book. He came to enjoy it a great deal as homage and parody. He thought the main story was good but not great, but the three codas at the end of the

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Feb

04

Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 4, 2013

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Six people attended this meeting at the North Village Branch Library. Our topic was The Bookman, a 2010 steampunk novel set in a 19th Century England ruled by giant lizards where historical characters move amongst literary figures of the era, particularly from the the Sherlock Holmes mythos. In this story, a young poet protagonist encounters a plot involving terrorists, robots, aliens, and a mysterious and deadly figure called “The Bookman.”

None of us at the meeting had read anything by Lavie Tidar before.  We all started The Bookman but only one had finished it, although two others said they would probably also finish.

A couple of readers read about 1/4 of the book and gave up, citing “standard and dated steampunk tropes”, “pointless name-dropping”, and “nothing interesting.” One of these said the book “thought it was more clever than it actually was.”

Another reader complained that this book’s prose was so purple that he felt he was reading an entry in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  He felt the prose style

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Jan

22

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 22, 2013

In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Seven people gathered at our Organizer’s home for this meeting, and another person submitted comments by e-mail. Our topic, In War Times, is a World War II science fiction novel involving a young American soldier who gets involved in secret physics research projects during the war. The soldier is a big fan of jazz music, which turns out to have a major role in the story. Many of the scenes of military life in the book are based on letters written by the author’s father while he served in the war himself. Three of us had read the author before. All of us started the book, and four finished it.

About half of us thought the book worked best when viewed as a straight historical novel about the war. This group felt the author’s prose style was good, liked the jazz and big band elements, and felt the scenes of military life were well-depicted. The concentration camp scenes were so vivid that they bothered many of us. The

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Oct

16

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 16, 2012

Wizard’s Bane by Rick Cook

Seven people attended this discussion at the Milwood Library. Our topic was Rick Cook’s first novel, Wizard’s Bane, which was originally published in 1989. The story concerns a computer programmer, nicknamed “The Wiz”, who is magically whisked away from his world into a fantasy world of witches, elves , trolls, and the rest. This new world is decidedly low-tech with nary a computer to be found, but eventually he finds ways to put his expertise to good use in the fantasy land. All of us started the book, and five finished it.

All five who finished the book enjoyed it a great deal. They called it a “fun romp” and “great popcorn.” Several in the group with technical backgrounds appreciated the computer humor that permeated the book.  The Wizard’s work

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Oct

01

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 1, 2012

Among Others by Jo Walton

Ten people attended this discussion at the North Village Library, including three first-time visitors. Our topic was Jo Walton’s 2011 novel Among Others, a recent winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. The book tells a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl attending English boarding school in 1979-1980. Our protagonist  is a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy. Four of us had read the author’s work before. All of us started and finished the book.

We found much to like about this book. We thought it was a good portrayal of how a love of reading can get young people through some difficult times. One

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