Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 1, 1997

Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer

Attendees: Renee Babcock; A. T. Campbell, III; Fred Duarte, Jr.; Matthew Duarte, Cyndi Dunn; Emily Gamboa; Mona Gamboa; Ruben Gamboa; John Gibbons; Debbie Hodgkinson; Karen Meschke, Elaine Powell; Jeff Rupley; Willie Siros; Lori Wolf.

We held the July 1 meeting in an unusual location — Elaine Powell’s pool. Last summer’s pool party was much fun that Elaine had us over again. Elaine provided drinks and munchies, Pizza Hut catered dinner, and John Gibbons made a delicious dessert. Between eating, visiting, and swimming, we actually did talk about the

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 17, 1997

One For The Morning Glory by John Barnes

Attendees: A. T. Campbell, III; Fred Duarte; Cyndi Dunn; Wes Dunn; Debbie Hodgkinson; Jeff Rupley; Willie Siros; Lori Wolf .

We assembled at Adventures in Crime and Space to discuss One For the Morning Glory, a fantasy novel by John Barnes. The book is a charming tale about a young prince whose left side disappeared due to a magical incident that occurred when he was a baby. Despite this apparent handicap, the prince goes on all sorts of adventures with exceptional companions. The characters in the book are very aware that they’re in a story, but they’re not sure what type of story or which of them is supposed to be the hero.

We all finished the book (a rarity for our group), and most people liked the book quite a lot. Several people liked the meta-fantasy aspects of the story, and Willie

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 20, 1997

Firestar by Michael F. Flynn

In attendance: John Gibbons, Cyndi and Wes Dunn, Jeff Rupley; Debbie Hodgkinson came in near the end. This is an ambitious book, and I think a lot of us liked what Flynn was trying to do, but we didn’t think he carried it off very successfully.

The focus on education as necessary to long-term technical advancement as a society was probably the most innovative and potentially interesting part of the book. Everyone liked this element at the beginning, particularly the kids’ reactions to the novel types of testing. But this theme was not as well developed later, and the coincidences of having the entire senior class reconnect in various ways with the Firestar project was just too much. One of the central moral issues in

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 6, 1997

The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Seven of us gathered at the FACT Office: Wes Dunn, Cyndi Dunn, Debbie Hodgkinson, Karen Meschke, Jeff Rupley, Lori Wolf, and A. T. Campbell. The novel is a contemporary coming-of-age fantasy story set in a summer resort in Oregon. We all found the prose style readable and easily finished the book.

This book is unusual for a current fantasy novel. It’s fairly short, it doesn’t seem to be part of a series, the rural Oregon setting is refreshing, and it doesn’t contain a quest. We liked the “boy meets girl, boy meets wolf” story. The writing

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 26, 1997

Dinner with Elizabeth Moon

Since we’d discussed two of Elizabeth Moon’s books, we decided it was high time to take her out to dinner. On April 26, ten of us gathered at Cafe Serranos to honor Ms. Moon and her work. She told us that she considers Remnant Population to be “the most Texan SF novel” she’s written. The main character was based on people she knew while growing up in South Texas. To make sure that her depiction of the elderly was correct, she read several fiction and nonfiction books about the subject, and she hired a “70+” writing teacher to help edit the manuscript. We learned about Moon’s “3 Step Revision Process.” She shared some of her experiences collaborating with Anne McCaffrey, which she found “a valuable learning opportunity.” Ms. Moon was a gracious and entertaining dinner guest, and we’re glad she found time to share with us.

–A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 15, 1997

Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon

Our largest group ever, twelve people, assembled at Adventures in Crime and Space on April 15 to discuss Elizabeth Moon’s Hugo-nominated Remnant Population. The book is a first contact story involving an old woman left by herself on an alien planet. It was humorously (and accurately) termed “a coming of age novel for little old ladies.” The characterization of the woman is complex and well-executed, and the alien society she encounters is an intriguing concoction. We found the prose quite readable, and one person pronounced it a “compulsive page-turner.” Another person had particularly strong feelings for the work, since “this is the book that got me reading again after finishing college.” In addition to the main story of the first contact, the book examines family dynamics and the roles of the elderly in human society. One person felt that this was “Elizabeth Moon’s first literary novel.”

–A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 1, 1997

The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust

On April 1, seven of us gathered at the FACT Office to discuss Steven Brust’s The Phoenix Guards. The book is a swashbuckling romp in the tradition of Dumas and Sabatini, with a few minor fantasy elements thrown in. We all enjoyed the book immensely. Brust’s prose style was a clever and humorous pastiche of classic adventure writing (The multiple-page discussion of “brevity” was particularly amusing) . We loved the book’s clever forward and afterward, supposedly written by a fictional narrator. The book is set in the distant past of Brust’s well-known Vlad Taltos series, so the story definitely does not take place in our world. Various races of people have lifespans ranging from decades to millennia, and gender roles in society are different. Brust’s four main characters all have distinctive and enjoyable personalities, although it goes without saying that each is a master fighter. There are so many wonderful and clever touches to this book that I can’t even begin to mention them all, so let me repeat the recommendation of our group: “Read This Book!”

–A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 18, 1997

Expiration Date by Tim Powers

Seven of us met at Adventures in Crime and Space on March 18 to discuss Expiration Date by Tim Powers. The novel is a dark fantasy set in Los Angeles, featuring the ghosts of Thomas Edison and Harry Houdini. We all liked many of the ideas and elements of the book, but we were divided about how successfully the story was told. Two of the group found the writing style “wonderful,” while most of the rest found that the story started very slowly and took a couple of hundred pages to pique our interest. One person had nightmares while reading the book, so obviously the writing style was effective for her. One member who’d also read the British version of the book, which differed substantially, felt that the American version seemed “padded.” Powers’s ideas and unique points of view are always interesting, and we never know what he’ll do next.

— A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 4, 1997

Wildside by Steven Gould

On March 4, eight of us met at the FACT Office to discuss Steven Gould’s Wildside. It’s a coming-of-age science fiction story in which a group of Texas teenagers discover a gateway to a world filled with saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, and other supposedly-extinct creatures. We found Gould’s prose style quite readable, and we admired the author’s intent for the book to be read both by adults and younger readers. The novel features extensive aviation scenes, which the private pilot in our group pronounced generally accurate. The characters were multidimensional and easy to tell apart, and their relationships seemed real. While we all found the basic concept fascinating, many of us wished the author had explored his world more. As one person put it, “it’s like making Jurassic Park with the dinosaurs offscreen.” Overall we liked the book, and we’re looking forward to what Gould writes next.

-A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 28, 1997

This month’s report contains something special. In honor of the upcoming Hugo Awards, the Reading Group has compiled a list of novels that we recommend as good choices for the Best Novel Hugo nomination. Each book on the list received at least two recommendations. Here’s the list:

  • Lunatics by Bradley Denton
  • Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Branch Point by Mona Clee
  • Wildside by Steven Gould
  • Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt
  • Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
  • Blameless in Abaddon by James Morrow
  • Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling

All attending and supporting members of LoneStarCon 2, the upcoming WorldCon in San Antonio, are eligible and encouraged to nominate for the Hugo Awards. The nominating ballots must be mailed by April 1, so you should start thinking about what you want to nominate.

–A. T. Campbell, III