Next meeting 15th December

The next meeting is on Saturday 15th December in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing John Dies at the End by David Wong. This is an unusual book. Wikipedia describes it as comic horror but it’s not comic in the sense it will make you laugh. It’s more that the two protagonists, Dave and John, are somewhat asinine. Think Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, though this is a much darker story. I enjoyed it but I suspect it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

At this meeting we have to choose the next four books for Jan to April 2019. The shortlist is given below. There is a PDF with summaries of all the books here.

The shortlist is:

  • Cat Rambo – Altered America
  • Dacre Stoker – Dracul
  • Drew Magary – The Hike
  • Jaroslav Kalfar – Spaceman of Bohemia
  • Kate Mascarenhas – The Psychology of Time Travel
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
  • Lian Hearn – Across the Nightingale Floor
  • Marie Brennan – A Natural History of Dragons
  • Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater
  • Tom Sweterlitsch – The Gone World
  • V E Schwab – Vicious

Next meeting Saturday 17th November

Our next meeting will be on Saturday 17th November in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi.

I think this is a somewhat brave choice. I had never heard of Ahmed Saadawi before and it appears to be a rather strange book. The reviews I’ve read of it use adjectives like hallucinatory and absurdist, but then the Guardian review I’ve linked above also described it as wickedly funny. The novel won the 2014 International Prize for Arab Fiction, so it has been well received by the literary world.

Another task for this meeting is to come up with a shortlist of a dozen books for the first four meetings in 2019. The books currently on the shortlist are:

  • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Across the Nightingale Floor – Lian Hearn
  • Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
  • The Thief’s Gamble – Juliet E. McKenna
  • Bridge of Birds – Barry Hughart
  • Altered America – Cat Rambo
  • Ironskin – Tina Connolly

Please come armed with suggestions for future books.

Next meeting Saturday 13th October

Our next meeting will be on Saturday 13th October in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing Planetfall by Emma Newman.

Emma Newman isn’t an author I had come across before, but she has had some recognition – her short story A Woman’s Place was nominated for best short story in the British Fantasy Awards 2015. The Tor review I’ve linked above says:

Planetfall is a genius novel that is far more than its exterior belies; a distressing, harrowing novel that left a deep mark on me. It isn’t an easy, cheerful read, but it is a captivating story that can be very aptly be described as a must read.

Next meeting Saturday 15th September

The net meeting will be on 15th September in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.

This book is unlikely ever to be regarded as a classic, but it’s good fun and an entertaining read. It is obviously based on the Scooby Doo characters, and it asks what happened to the meddling kids once they had grown up and fame took its toll. And what’s happened isn’t good: one is dead and the others are battling numerous personal problems.

The kids get together for one last case, but this time the supernatural really is involved. Or is it? Read the book and decide for yourself.

NB the October meeting is scheduled for 20th October but this clashes with the FantasyCon meeting in Chester so we are looking into moving our meeting to 13th or 27th October. Watch this space!

Next meeting Saturday August 18th

The next meeting is on Saturday August 18th. We will be discussing The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, book one in Vance’s Dying Earth series.

There is a nice review of the Dying Earth series on The Guardian’s web site. They are very much a classic of fantasy, though I’m not sure they appeal to everyone.

At this meeting we have to choose the final four books for 2018. Summaries of all the books are available in a PDF here. The shortlist is (in no special order):

  • David Wong – John Dies at the End
  • Edgar Cantero – Meddling Kids
  • Emma Newman – Planetfall
  • Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Travellers Wife
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go
  • Lian Hearn – Across the Nightingale Floor
  • Ahmed Saadawi – Frankenstein in Baghdad
  • Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Juliet E. McKenna – The Thief’s Gamble
  • Barry Hughart – Bridge of Birds
  • Cat Rambo – Altered America
  • Tina Connolly – Ironskin

Next meeting Saturday July 21st

The next meeting is on Saturday July 21st in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan.

Altered Carbon is a classic of the hard science fiction revival. Richard Morgan was one of a group of authors who reinvigorated the genre. It’s a gritty, and frequently gory, book absolutely stuffed with interesting ideas. It has recently been made into a TV series though that has received somewhat mixed reviews. It is frequently described as cyberpunk though I think that’s a bit misleading. It’s more like military SF – the protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is an ex elite soldier now in prison for various crimes. This is a somewhat overused trope but don’t be put off. The Kirkus review of the book says:

The body count is high, the gadgetry pure genius, the sex scenes deliriously overwrought, and the worn cynicism thoroughly distasteful: a welcome return to cyberpunk’s badass roots.

and I’d say that’s a good summary.