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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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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