Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 15, 2003

Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury

Twelve people showed up for this discussion at the home of the Brothers Siros. Our topic, Donald Kingsbury’s Psychohistorical Crisis, is a far-future novel about mathematicians who try to predict the future. Many of the ideas discussed in this book were major elements of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, which Kingsbury acknowledges as his inspiration. Seven of us started Psychohistorical Crisis but only four finished it. Two of us had read prior Kingsbury works, and all but one had read Asimov’s Foundation books.

Many of us were intrigued by the idea of psychohistory, and we thought Kingsbury explored it well. This book was full of big ideas and first rate science. The depiction of mathematicians at work seemed genuine. We found this book’s

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 1, 2003

The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford

This discussion at Judy and Jeff’s home drew fifteen participants, including one first-timer. Our topic was John M. Ford’s The Last Hot Time, a novel about a young paramedic who stumbles into a fairy world resembling North America in the 1930s, but with gangster elves. All but one of us had started and finished the book.

We found much to like. Enjoyable elements included sympathetic characters with good characterizations, clear prose, and a literary narrative style that reveals information in a carefully chosen manner. Some of the scenery was interesting, including a fantastic aquarium. The moral and ethical crises that faced the

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 18, 2003

Probability Moon by Nancy Kress

This meeting at Willie and Charles’s home attracted fourteen people, including one first-time participant. Our topic was Probability Moon, a science fiction novel by Nancy Kress. The story involves a delegation of scientists from Earth who travel to a distant planet (via newly discovered “space tunnels”) to make first contact with aliens. The story is told via several viewpoint characters, including humans and aliens. Nine of us had started the book, and eight had finished it.

We enjoyed reading a traditional science fiction novel. Kress’s polished prose and well-developed characters led most of us to a fast, enjoyable reading experience. The alien society with a “shared reality” was vividly portrayed. We were able to

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 4, 2003

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Sixteen people attended this discussion at Willie and Charles’s house. Our topic was American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a contemporary fantasy novel that had recently won the Hugo Award. The book follows Shadow, an ex-con hired by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday to accompany him on a long road trip during which they encounter ghosts, landmarks, serial killers, and mythical beings. Everyone at the meeting had started the book, and all but one had finished it.

We found a lot to like about this book. One person said, “This is my kind of fantasy!” We enjoyed the strange and intricate details of the places Shadow visited, many of which really exist. We liked the god of the Internet, whose style of speaking resembles that of a well-known Austin writer. We liked this book’s exploration of mythology, and we appreciated Gaiman’s acknowledgement of

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 18, 2003

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

This discussion was originally scheduled for February 4, but on that date two members of the Reading Group, including the one who’d recommended this book, were in the hospital. Thus we rescheduled the meeting, and both of the patients were healthy enough to attend.

Eleven people attended the meeting at Jeff and Judy’s house. All of us had started the book, and nine finished it. Five at the meeting had read other books by Feist or Wurts.

Daughter of the Empire is set in a low-tech world with a male-dominated society. The title character is a young woman, Mara, who inherits control of her

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 21, 2003

The Duke of Uranium by John Barnes

Twelve people attended this discussion of at Judy and Jeff’s house. Our topic was The Duke of Uranium, a futuristic SF adventure. The story follows a group of teenage high school friends who get involved in a plot involving kidnapping, conspiracy, aliens, and daring rescues. All but one of us at the meeting had read the book in its entirety, and the other person was just at the meeting to socialize and tag along for dinner.

Several of us found the story to be a fast-paced romp in a classic style. We liked the old-fashioned flavor of earnest young people yearning to do brave heroic deeds. We were interested in the details of the Hive, the space habit in Earth’s

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 7, 2003

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Seventeen people, including one first-time attendee, came to this meeting at Willie and Charles’s home. Our topic was The Two Towers, the second volume in Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story involves friendship, honor, battles, poetry, loyalty, attempts to save the world, and talking trees. Everyone at the meeting had finished the book, and only one person had read the book for the first time in the past year. Most of us had first read it in high school or college.

About half of our group thought the book was wonderful. Tolkien’s writing style was described as “beautiful language,” “lyrical passages,” and “masterful storytelling.” Also, several people were impressed with the size of the story, with

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