Jul

16

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 16, 2002

The Legend That Was Earth by James P. Hogan

The Reading Group organizer wasn’t able to attend this meeting since he had to be out of town on a business trip. When he got back to Austin and asked how the discussion went, he found that several people had attended the meeting at Jeff and Judy’s house but none of them remembered it. One person took notes but couldn’t recall why she wrote what she did. Just so there is some record of

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Jul

02

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 2, 2002

The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Twelve people attended this discussion in person, and two others submitted comments by email. The topic of this meeting was The Bone Doll’s Twin, a recent fantasy novel by Lynn Flewelling. The complicated plot is hard to summarize, but it involves evil kings, wizards, prophecy, war, sexual confusion, and a haunted doll. Nine of us had read this book, and two had read prior works by Flewelling.

Several of us enjoyed this book a lot. We felt the author’s clean writing style led to a fast reading experience. The sword fighting sequences were fun. We liked the characters with moral ambiguity. One person felt the king’s moral dilemmas

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Jun

18

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 18, 2002

Eternity’s End by Jeffrey Carver

Eleven people attended this meeting at the home of Jeff Hurst and Judy Strange. Our topic of discussion was Eternity’s End, a futuristic space opera by Jeffrey Carver. The book tells the story of Renwald Legroeder, a star rigger whose ship is captured by space pirates. The crew is forced into slavery, but Legroeder eventually escapes. When he returns to his home planet, he discovers that he has been accused of collaborating with the space pirates. To clear his name, Legroeder must lead a daring mission to infiltrate a space pirate base. Eight people at the meeting had started the book, and six had finished it.

Several of us thought this book was a tremendous amount of fun. We enjoyed reading a fast-paced SF adventure novel. It follows an old-fashioned tradition established by Doc Smith and Jack Williamson, but with a more modern writing style and more three-dimensional characters. The plot was a suspenseful and fun

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Jun

04

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 4, 2002

Mars Crossing by Geoffrey A. Landis

This meeting was held at the home of Charles and Willie Siros. Twelve people attended, and one submitted comments by email. Our topic was Mars Crossing, the first novel by Geoffrey Landis. Landis is a real-life space scientist and a prolific author of short SF. Mars Crossing tells the story of the third manned mission to Mars in the year 2028. The first two missions, sent by Brazil and the USA, had been spectacularly unsuccessful, failing to return a single crewmember back to Earth. The purpose of the third mission is to use up the rest of the rapidly diminishing budget for manned exploration and to try to demonstrate that it is possible for people to visit Mars and return home. Almost immediately after landing, the crew discovers an unfixable problem with the return vehicle. In a desperate plan, they travel to the sites of previous expeditions and try to salvage enough supplies and parts to get at least some of them home. During the course of the journey, extensive flashback sequences show how each astronaut came to be on the mission. All of us had started the book, but two did not finish it.

It was fun to read a hard SF novel written by a real scientist. The science in the book was well thought out and believable, and from the author’s background we

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May

21

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 21, 2002

Passage by Connie Willis

Elaine Powell hosted this meeting as a pool party at her house. Eighteen people showed up, including one first-time participant. The topic of discussion was Passage, a recent Hugo-nominated novel by Connie Willis. The book is a contemporary medical thriller involving two medical researchers, Joanna Lander and Richard Wright, who are looking into near-death experiences. They collect some data by interviewing patients who’ve survived such events, and also by subjecting volunteers to a drug that simulates the experience. One of their main obstacles is a new age guru who tries to get to patients first and fill their minds full of his preconceived ideas of the afterlife. Eleven of us had started the book, and all but two had finished it.

The two published authors in our group loved Passage, which one felt was “the most ambitious book I’ve read in a very long time”. They raved about the construction of the novel, citing “structure that takes my breath away”,

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May

07

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 7, 2002

Wheelers by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen

Fifteen people attended this meeting, which was held at the home of Judy Strange and Jeff Hurst. Our topic was Wheelers, a first novel by British scientists Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. The authors were previously best known in the SF community for their contributions to The Science of Discworld with Terry Pratchett. The story of Wheelers starts in the 23rd century when maverick archaeologist Prudence Odingo discovers alien artifacts on one of the moons of Jupiter. Returning to Earth to report her find, she quickly gets involved in a turf war with rival “respectable” scientists trying to usurp her discovery. Eventually the rivalry subsides when an alien threat to Earth arises, and a solar-system-wide effort is made to save the human race. Everyone at the meeting had at least started the book, and all but two had finished it.

We thought this book was brimming with cool ideas: nifty alien devices, space travel by throwing rocks, monks in outer space, political factions within the alien

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Apr

16

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 16, 2002

Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod

Lori and I hosted this meeting at our house in Cedar Park. Fourteen people attended this meeting, including four first-time participants. One person submitted comments by email.

Our topic was Cosmonaut Keep, a current Hugo nominee for Best Novel. The book goes back and forth between two plotlines in different locations and times. The first is a near-future story about a computer hacker being chased by agents of several government, which leads to his eventually leaving the Earth. The other plotline involves people from Earth who have been settled on a distant planet

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Apr

02

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 2, 2002

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells

This meeting was our first since Adventures in Crime & Space closed its storefront. Jeff Hurst and Judy Strange hosted the discussion at their home. Ten people showed up for the meeting, and two others sent in comments by email.

Our topic was Wheel of the Infinite, the most recent fantasy novel by ArmadilloCon 24 Guest of Honor Martha Wells. This book tells the story of Maskelle, an exiled priestess who discovers a threat involving the powerful Wheel of the Infinite. Maskelle and Rian, a young swordsman, travel to the capitol city

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Mar

19

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 19, 2002

Futures edited by Peter Crowther

Eleven people attended the discussion of Futures. The book is an anthology of four hard SF novellas written by prominent British authors. The Reading Group had discussed books by all but one of these writers previously. Since we talked about each story separately, this story will group our comments accordingly. Seven of us had read the book.

“Watching Trees Grow” by Peter F. Hamilton is a murder mystery set on an alternate Earth that has a race of extremely long-lived humans. A crime investigation occupies more than two centuries and takes a detective all over the world and eventually on a tour of the solar system to find the murderer. We thought that Hamilton did an elegant job of dropping us in the middle of the

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Mar

12

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 12, 2002

Time Future by Maxine McArthur

Nine people attended this meeting, and three submitted comments by email. Time Future is a first SF novel by an Australian author. It involves a murder mystery on a space station with a female commander. Everyone at the meeting had read at least some of the book, and seven had finished it.

There was a lot to like about this book. The space opera setting and the tone of the book were old-fashioned fun. Commander Halley is a complex and interesting viewpoint character. The political background of the story was interesting, and it sewed the seeds for this story and possibly several sequels. The plot twists of

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