Posted by : atcampbell | On : February 4, 2013

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Six people attended this meeting at the North Village Branch Library. Our topic was The Bookman, a 2010 steampunk novel set in a 19th Century England ruled by giant lizards where historical characters move amongst literary figures of the era, particularly from the the Sherlock Holmes mythos. In this story, a young poet protagonist encounters a plot involving terrorists, robots, aliens, and a mysterious and deadly figure called “The Bookman.”

None of us at the meeting had read anything by Lavie Tidar before.  We all started The Bookman but only one had finished it, although two others said they would probably also finish.

A couple of readers read about 1/4 of the book and gave up, citing “standard and dated steampunk tropes”, “pointless name-dropping”, and “nothing interesting.” One of these said the book “thought it was more clever than it actually was.”

Another reader complained that this book’s prose was so purple that he felt he was reading an entry in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  He felt the prose style

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 22, 2013

In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Seven people gathered at our Organizer’s home for this meeting, and another person submitted comments by e-mail. Our topic, In War Times, is a World War II science fiction novel involving a young American soldier who gets involved in secret physics research projects during the war. The soldier is a big fan of jazz music, which turns out to have a major role in the story. Many of the scenes of military life in the book are based on letters written by the author’s father while he served in the war himself. Three of us had read the author before. All of us started the book, and four finished it.

About half of us thought the book worked best when viewed as a straight historical novel about the war. This group felt the author’s prose style was good, liked the jazz and big band elements, and felt the scenes of military life were well-depicted. The concentration camp scenes were so vivid that they bothered many of us. The

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