October meeting now moved to 13th

The originally planned date of our October meeting, 20th October, clashes with the FantasyCon being held in Chester. Since lots of our members want to go to the FantasyCon we have arranged a new date.

The meeting is now on 13th October at 2 p.m. in the Storyhouse meeting room.

But don’t forget the September meeting on 15th!


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.

Next meeting Sat May 19th

The next meeting is on Saturday 19th May at 2 p.m. in the Storyhouse meeting room. We’ll be discussing Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

There was a lot of interest in this book because the film of the book has just been released. The reviews suggest that the book and the film complement each other so it’s well worth reading/seeing both.

The book was published in 2011 but it harks back to the games of the 90s. Anyone who was around at gaming at that time will spot loads of sly references to old games. The book paints a frighteningly plausible picture of just how grim life could get in the next few decades.

Next four books

After a prolonged discussion, with only limited bloodshed, we have selected the next four books for discussion. They are:

We wanted to get a balance of SciFi and Fantasy, and we have ended up with two of each. Ready Player One is a (modern) SciFi classic and we chose it first because the film of the book is currently doing the rounds and several of the group members have already seen it. Early reports suggest the film and the book are complementary and it’s well worth reading/seeing both.

James Brogden is not one of the well known authors, but Hekla’s children received a four star rating from SFX. It has been compared to Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood books in its world building.

Altered Carbon is an absolutely fantastic example of modern hard SF. It’s violent and gritty and uncompromising, and an enthralling read. It has recently been serialised on NetFlix.

And finally Tales of the Dying Earth is one of the all time classic fantasy works. It is a series of four books. We will be discussing the first book, The Dying Earth, but if you feel the urge to read the other three books as well they are well worth your attention.