Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 2, 2013

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Twelve people attended the meeting tonight at the North Village library. Of those, ten started the book, while seven finished the book. Two people had read the author before, one person had met the author, one had seen the movie made from this book and one had played the video game.  Two people read the book electronically.

In Roadside Picnic alien beings stop by Earth while traveling. They have a long picnic then take off again, but leave behind their trash, which causes extreme complications for earthlings. The trash turns out to be technology that is “advanced enough to be indistinguishable from magic,” one group member

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 4, 2013

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Ten people attended this meeting at the North Village library.  The Long Earth is set in a universe where there are a large number of parallel worlds to our own Earth, each slightly different. The story follows a pair of adventurers who travel between the worlds to explore them. Nine had read at least one of the authors before, and eight people started this book.  Three people read the book electronically. Only two people managed to finish this book, which was explained by the comments of most group members.

Although several people thought the writing was clean, and that the concept and several ideas were interesting, most felt that the execution was lacking.  Many people commented that the book was lacking in plot, that the plot was “vague”

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 21, 2013

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Nine people attended this meetings at the Milwood library. Our topic was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The book, winner of both Hugo and Nebula Awards, is set in a future Earth under threat of an alien invasion. The story follows Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a gifted child  sent to military school to train him and other children to fight the aliens. All but one of us had read Orson Scott Card previously. Everyone at the meeting started and finished the book. Six of us had read the book  long ago.

Several of us liked the book a lot.  One person felt it was a fun space adventure for high school boys, and that it still held up well.  Card’s polished prose drew us into the story quickly and kept us reading to the end. Many of us appreciated

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 7, 2013

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

Eight people gathered at the North Village Library for this meeting. Our topic was the 1982 novel Fevre Dream, published well before its author became famous for writing Epic Fantasy. Fevre Dream is a novel set in the 1800s, about a Mississipi riverboat and its crew encountering vampires. All of us had read Martin before. All of us started the book and finished it.

One reader said the book’s tone fit the locale and story, and she appreciated how the author kept the reader emotionally distant from all characters except the riverboat captain. She appreciated this book’s unique version of vampirism

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 17, 2013

Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

Eight people attended this meeting at the Milwood Library. Our topic was Blue Remembered Earth, the first in a new space opera series by Alastair Reynolds. After the death of a rich and powerful woman, her family discovers mysteries from her past that lead them to a journey all over the solar system.  Seven of us had read the author before. All of us started the book, and seven finished it.

Many of us found this to be an enjoyable read that grabbed our attention from the beginning and kept us interested through the end. People commented that they liked several characters, particularly the family retainer who turned out to

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 20, 2013

The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

This meeting at the Milwood library had twelve attendees. Our topic was The Warrior’s Apprentice, a 1986 military space opera by Lois McMaster Bujold. This book is the first to star Bujold’s popular character Miles Vorkosigan. Miles, the son of military parents, has the mind of a warrior but a small, fragile body. In this story, Miles flunks out of his planet’s military academy yet takes advantage of an unlikely opportunity via his intelligence and determination to become a military leader. Everyone at the meeting had read Bujold before. Ten of us started this book, and nine finished it. Four attendees read the book electronically.

Most of us had a lot of fun with the book. Comments included “a fun ride while on it”,  “good candy reading ” and “lots of clever touches.” One reader appreciated the strong female characters and noted that “often a woman has solve the

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 5, 2013

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Ten people attended this meeting at the Milwood Library. Our discussion topic was The Master and Margarita, a literary Russian novel. The book alternates between two plot threads: a visit by the Devil to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and a historical story involving Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate. Two people in the group had read Bulgakov before. Six of us started the book and four finished it.

Notably, two members of the group were unable to find copies of the book to read. Several members of the group are now reading many of their books electronically. Unfortunately The Master and Margarita was one of the first books

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 16, 2013

The Departure by Neal Asher

Eight people attended this discussion, and another submitted comments by email. Our topic was Neal Asher’s The Departure, a story set in a dystopic future Earth. Only one person present had read the author before. All of us started the book, but only four finished. Five of us read the novel electronically.

A couple of us had trouble getting into the book. One person complained that the huge amount of infodump in the first chapter kept putting him to sleep. Another complained of “odd diction” and “clunky sentences”, and said that he was “tempted to throw the book across the room, but it was an e-book”.

Those who got a bit further into the book enjoyed it more. One reader called it “a

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 1, 2013

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

We had a weird series of events around this meeting. Several of our regulars read the book, but due to various personal issues (sickness, travel, etc.) many of them missed the scheduled meeting. So only two people attended the meeting but four emailed in comments. Reports on the meeting and the mailed-in reports follow.

From the two who attended the meeting

We had both read the book, and not read anything by that author before.  We both liked the book.  We were impressed that the main characters all had developed back stories.  We agreed that the middle was a little slow.  We both thought that the author had left himself a lot of options for sequels or other books

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Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 3, 2013

Redshirts by John Scalzi

We had nine attendees for this meeting. The topic was Redshirts, a humorous space opera. In this book, several  members of a starship crew start noticing vast differences in the life expectancies of their shipmates based solely on the colors of their uniforms. This leads to startling realizations about the nature of their reality, and drives them to some surprising actions. Everyone at the meeting had read Scalzi before. All of us started and finished the book. Three read it in e-book form.

A couple of readers simply loved this book. One said the first few pages seemed all seemed a big cliché, but then he realized that was the point of the book. He came to enjoy it a great deal as homage and parody. He thought the main story was good but not great, but the three codas at the end of the

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