Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 20, 2001

The Marriage of Sticks by Jonathan Carroll

This meeting had fourteen attendees. Eight had read the book, and the rest were there to socialize. Additionally, one person had e-mailed in comments. The subject of this discussion was Jonathan Carroll’s The Marriage of Sticks. Several people in the group were longtime fans of Carroll’s prior work (including The Land of Laughs and Outside the Dog Museum) and had been trying for years to get one of his books on our reading list. The mainstream packaging of his books, combined with their tendency to go out of print quickly, had thwarted those efforts until now. The Marriage of Sticks is an urban fantasy novel about Miranda Romanac, a young woman who owns a used bookstore in New York City. The book starts out reading like a mainstream novel, but gradually some weird stuff happens and Miranda discovers disturbing truths about herself.

Many of us liked Carroll’s evocative prose and the quirky, surreal world he depicted. We liked one of the supporting characters, an offbeat small-town sheriff. A couple of people in the group who’d read Carroll’s previous book (Kissing the Beehive) and next book (The Wooden Sea) said that this book provided some

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 6, 2001

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

Fifteen people turned up for this meeting, including one first-time attendee. All but one of us had read the book. The topic of this discussion, A Civil Campaign, is the latest in Bujold’s science fiction series about the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, a nobleman of the planet Barrayar. The previous books in the series have been military/spy adventures, but this volume tells a different type of story. The thirty-ish Miles has become smitten with a young widow named Ekaterin, and he’s trying to win her affections. His attempt at courtship takes place against a backdrop of court intrigue, a strange business venture by Miles’s not-so-evil clone, and preparations for Emperor Gregor’s wedding.

We had a lot of fun with this book. The emphasis of the story is romantic comedy, but the plot has several unquestionably SF elements including cloning and space travel. Miles gets himself into a series of increasingly strange and

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