Jul

20

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 20, 2004

Singularity Sky by Charles Stross

Fifteen people showed up for the discussion of Stross’s first novel published in book form (a previous novel was serialized). Two people had not read the book and five had not finished.

Comments ranged from “The best book we’ve ever read,” to “I’m surprised it made the Hugo [nomination] list.” We found this post-cyberpunk space opera surprisingly complex for its length. The conflict begins when an artificial intelligence called The Festival drops telephones on a repressed pseudo-Russian

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Jul

06

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 6, 2004

Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling

Of the ten people who showed up for this discussion of the second book in the Tamir Trilogy, seven had read the book and one still had to finish it. Seven people had read Flewelling’s work previously, and seven (not all the same seven) had read the previous volume, The Bone Doll’s Twin.

In the second book, Tobin, the second heir to the throne of Skala, now knows that he (Flewelling uses male pronouns for Tobin until nearly the end of the book) is really a girl and was given his twin brother’s shape by dark magic. Throughout this book Tobin trains as a warrior and deals with the problems of coming of age

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Jun

15

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 15, 2004

Whole Wide World by Paul McAuley

Ten people showed up for this discussion, and one person e-mailed comments. Everyone tried to read the book, but only six finished. Of the five who thought they remembered reading the author before, most liked his previous work better. Whole Wide World is a near-future, police procedural set in London after an InfoWar. Despite the extreme right-wing government’s wide use of surveillance cameras, crime and pornography are rampant.

We found this book lacking as a science fiction and as a murder mystery. Most of us quickly became bored by the mystery. The police detective pegs the killer

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Jun

01

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 1, 2004

Dread Empire’s Fall: The Praxis by Walter Jon Williams

Ten people attended this discussion on a hot n’ humid evening in central Austin at the home of Willie & Charles Siros. Nine people had started the book, eight finished, and eight had read WJW before.

Part one of a trilogy, The Praxis presents a galaxy of several races “at peace” after being conquered into submission by the Shaa. In place is an empire heavy with any corruption that can flourish between the lines of the Shaa’s ruling compact, the Praxis. After the last Shaa passes away, a rebellion pops up like a

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May

18

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 18, 2004

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Of the eleven people who attended this meeting, only one had not read the book, and only eight finished it. Five had read Doctorow’s work previously, and some of them preferred the short story “Craphound.”

This light, easy-to-read, short novel begins with the overhaul of the Hall of the Presidents in Disney World. When the animatronic presidents are discarded and replaced by direct imprinting of experiences on the brains of visitors, the

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May

04

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 4, 2004

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Of the ten people who attended this meeting, only two had read all eight stories (or had read them in previous publications) and six had read some of the stories. Four of the readers had never read Chiang’s stories before.

This book consisted of eight stories, seven of which had been previously published. Of these, so many have won awards that Chiang probably has the

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Apr

20

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 20, 2004

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Twelve people showed up for this discussion, plus we heard emailed comments from one person. Everyone had read at least part of the book, and of the five who hadn’t finished it, most did plan to finish later. All but one had read Gibson before.

Set one year after September 11 (although that wasn’t clear enough–several of us thought it was set ten years later), this book contains no science fiction elements. However, only a science fiction writer of Gibson’s caliber could have

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Apr

06

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 6, 2004

Permanence by Karl Schroeder

Of the five who attended this discussion, one was new to the group and had not read any of Schroeder’s work. The other four had read the whole book, plus Schroeder’s previous book, Ventus and thought the author had done a much better job this time.

Permanence is a classic space opera set in a completely different universe from Ventus. The main character is a feisty young woman, Rue, who steals her family’s ship and escapes to the nearest brown-dwarf planet. On the way she discovers an unoccupied interstellar cycler ship, which will make her rich if she can claim it

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Mar

16

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 16, 2004

Schild’s Ladder by Greg Egan

Of the eight who showed up for this discussion, all had read at least part of the book, but only four finished it. Some of the seven who had read Egan’s work before preferred Diaspora or his short fiction, but others did enjoy this book.

The book begins far in the future when an Earth scientist and several aliens decide to test a space-time theory and create a novo-vacuum. The test goes awry of course and the novo-vacuum begins to expand and take over our universe. The rest of the book is set even further in the future and involves a

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Mar

02

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 2, 2004

Thraxas by Martin Scott

Ten people attended this discussion and two submitted comments by email. Seven had read part of the book, but only four read the entire Baen volume, which is composed of the original Thraxas (2000 World Fantasy Award winner) plus a second book, Thraxas and the Warrior Monks. No one had read British author Martin Scott before, nor any of the urban fiction under his real name, Martin Millar.

Scott parodies both noir and high fantasy in a way that most of the group found amusing and enjoyable, but nowhere near “hilarious.” We did not think it merited

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