Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 20, 1998

Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle

Attendees: Renee Babcock, A. T. Campbell III, Shirley Crossland, Fred Duarte, Debbie Hodgkinson, Willie Siros, Lori Wolf

An enthusiastic group discussed Celestial Matters, a first novel set in a world where the ancient Greek scientists were right: Earth is the center of the universe, and the sun and planets revolve around it. The book also has alternate-history aspects, with Greece remaining the world’s dominant power centuries longer than it did in our world. The story involves a group of Greek scientists who travel to the sun to capture a piece of solar matter to be used as a weapon. Most of us liked the book’s concept a lot, and we enjoyed how completely the author thought through all the implications of the science. The fast-paced story proved to be a fun romp, and we appreciated how the author made his characters deeper than they needed to be. Debbie, the lone dissenter, found the premise to be absurd, and she was only able to finish the book by reading it as a farce. The rest of us thought it was a fine first novel and are curious what the author might do next.

— A. T. Campbell, III



Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 6, 1998

Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust & Emma Bull

Attendees: A. T. Campbell III, Shirley Crossland, Debbie Hodgkinson, Karen Meschke, Willie Siros, Lori Wolf

Freedom and Necessity is a 19th-century tale of political intrigue and secret societies in Europe. The story is told through a series of letters and newspaper articles, with no traditional narrative. Our group’s opinions were sharply divided on this book. I personally found the unusual narrative style impenetrable; the letters were boring, there was little discernable plot, and once I figured out that there was no speculative element I gave up on reading it. The rest of the group, who’d finished the book, loved it! Positive comments included “interesting philosophical discussions,” “seems like a Victorian novel”, “fascinating strong-willed female characters,”, “swell historical romance,” and “interesting insights into Prussian history.” Obviously, tastes vary.

— A. T. Campbell, III