We've been doing some fun and different stuff with the FACT Reading Group lately. The F.A.C.T. Sheet editor, a participant in the group, asked me to share our recent activities with the rest of FACT.
Eight people showed up at the FACT Office on June 4 to discuss Resume with Monsters by local author William Browning Spencer. We all liked this comic novel about a man who has a succession of terrible jobs at companies invariably owned by monsters from the Cthulhu mythos. We appreciated Bill's skill in making us sympathize with a character who can't hold a decent job, spends a lot of time in mental institutions, and has trouble letting go of doomed relationships. One member said it best: "We like this guy because his life is worse than ours."
We had so much fun with the book that we took the author, Bill Spencer, out to dinner with us the following week. Eight of us met Bill at Senor O'Brien's, where we devoured their delicious nachos. We learned a lot of secrets about Resume with Monsters: "I wrote it in four months;" "If you think this cover was bad, you should have seen the first one;" "My editor had never heard of Lovecraft or Cthulhu before he read this book;" "My typesetter friends complained about the kerning on the cover." Talking to the author about his work was fascinating; we'll likely invite the next local author whose book we discuss (this means you, Brad Denton) to dinner with us.
On June 18 we met at Adventures in Crime and Space bookstore to discuss Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, a current Hugo nominee. Everyone was favorably inclined toward the book, but opinions ranged from "outstanding but annoying flawed" to "I'm happy he's finally learned to write a big, complex novel" to "Brilliant! The best thing he's ever written." Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish the novel until a couple of days after the discussion, but I think I agree most strongly with one member's comment: "The middle 80% of the novel is much better than the beginning or ending 10%".
Our next meeting will be a pool party at the home of one of the discussion group's members (see elsewhere in The F.A.C.T. Sheet for details). We'll be discussing Robert J. Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment, recent Nebula winner and a current Hugo finalist.
-- A. T. Campbell, III
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