Jul

22

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 22, 2008

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

This meeting was held at A. T.’s home in north Austin. Eleven people attended. Our topic, Magic for Beginners, was a World Fantasy Award-nominated collection by Kelly Link. Three us had read Kelly Link previously. Nine started the book, and four finished.

One person had only read two stories: “Magic for Beginners” and “The Faery

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Jul

07

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 7, 2008

July 7: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Nine of us gathered at the North Village Library to discuss The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, the recent Nebula-winner by Michael Chabon. The book is set in an alternate world where a large Jewish population settled in Alaska instead of Israel after World War II. The plot, set roughly in our present, is a police procedural mystery. Four of us had read Chabon’s earlier work. All of us started the book, with five finishing. Also, four of us had met the author when he’d been in Austin earlier this year.

One person described the protagonist, Meyer Landsman, as “Sam Spade as a Yiddish Cop.” She’d read the book twice and felt it was better on a second reading.

Another felt the story had a fascinating concept. The sliver of history that served

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Jun

17

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 17, 2008

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

12 people attended the discussion of China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun. 8 people had read China Miéville before. Everybody but one person started the book. 6 people finished it.

Un Lun Dun is a story of two young girls’ adventures in an alternative London, called Un Lun Dun. It is inhabited by all sorts of strange and magical creatures,

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Jun

02

Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 2, 2008

Mainspring by Jay Lake

Ten people attended the discussion of Jay Lake’s Mainspring. Everybody except 2 people started the book. 6 people finished it, 2 more were planning to finish. 8 people had read something by Jay Lake before.

Mainspring is set on a world that looks a lot like our Earth, except it’s literally a clockwork mechanism. The gears along the Earth’s equatorial wall mesh with those of the Earth’s orbital track as the planet travels around the Sun. Inside the

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May

20

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 20, 2008

Water Rites by Mary Rosenblum

Eleven people attended this discussion at  A.T. Campbell’s home. Our topic was Water Rites by former ArmadilloCon Guest of Honor Mary Rosenblum. This is a new book that contains the novel Drylands and several related stories, all set in a near future where the Pacific Northwest has gone dry. Seven of us had read Rosenblum before. Eight people started and finished Water Rites.

Many of us read Drylands it when it came out in the early 90s. We feel that the book is more relevant now, and we found the stories filled in some gaps. We

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May

05

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 5, 2008

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Thirteen people attended this discussion at the North Village Library, including one first-time attendee. Our topic was Bridge of Birds, a World Fantasy Award-winning humorous fantasy novel set in ancient China. In this book, the children of a village are all struck with a mysterious illness, and a young man named Number Ten Ox is sent out to find a wise scholar to heal them. Four of us had read Hughart before. Everyone at the meeting had started and finished Bridge of Birds.

One reader commented that she had such a good time with this book’s protagonists, the young and strong Number Ten Ox and his wise older companion, Master Li. She loved the flaw in Master Li’s character. Early in the book, she was

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Apr

22

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 22, 2008

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont

This discussion at A. T.’s house drew twelve attendees. Our topic was The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, an adventure story featuring famous writers of the Pulp Era. An obscure writer named H. P. Lovecraft dies under mysterious circumstances, and his friends Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, and L. Ron Hubbard look into it. They are drawn into a wild adventure reminiscent of the stuff they write. As this book is Malmont’s first published work, none of us had read him before. All of us started the book, and nine finished.

The group member who originally recommended this book said that he was initially intrigued by the title and main characters. He felt the story took off

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Apr

07

Posted by : atcampbell | On : April 7, 2008

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

Seven people attended this discussion at the North Village Library. Our topic was The Fourth Bear, second in Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crime series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jack Spratt and Detective Sergeant Mary Mary. In this book, our protagonists investigate the murder of Goldilocks and try to capture an escaped mass murderer, the Gingerbread Man. We had all read Jasper Fforde before, and all of us started and finished The Fourth Bear.

One reader commented that he simply loved this book. He had read several of Fforde’s other books, and this was his clear favorite. He liked Fforde’s smooth writing. Spratt’s numbered plot devices were amusing (e.g. #26: Looking for Dr.

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Mar

18

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 18, 2008

Farthing by Jo Walton

Twelve people attended this meeting at A.T.’s house. Our topic was Farthing, an alternate history set in England in the 1940s. In the world of this book, the US never entered World War II, leading to Germany taking control of continental Europe and signing a peace treaty with the United Kingdom. At a weekend gathering of the rich and powerful at an English country estate, a prominent politician is killed. The plot of the book revolves around the murder investigation. Only one of us had read Walton before. Ten of us started the book, and nine finished it.

A few readers felt that the alternate history element was the book’s strongest feature. They felt the theme of this book was how much people will take and let happen. They noted the book’s deliberate references to The Man in the High

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Mar

03

Posted by : atcampbell | On : March 3, 2008

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Fourteen people attended this meeting at the North Village library, and two submitted comments by email. Four were first-time attendees. Our topic was A Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein’s classic novel of a revolutionary war between a lunar colony and the Earth. Nine of us had read Heinlein before. Ten of us started the book, and all finished. Four of us had read the book years earlier, including two who read it serialized in a magazine in the 1960s.

One reader said that Heinlein is one of his all-time favorite authors, and he’d read this book at least four times. He remarked that Heinlein did an exceptional job

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