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.

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Next meeting Saturday June 16th

Our next meeting is on Saturday June 16th in the Storyhouse meeting room. We’ll be discussing Hekla’s Children by James Brogden.

There is a (positive) review here. The book seems to have passed under the radar of the large review sites though what reviews I can find on the web are pretty positive.

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.

Next meeting Sat 21st April

The next meeting is on Saturday 21st April at 2 p.m. in the Storyhouse meeting room. We’ll be discussing Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.

We also have to choose the next four books for the May to August meetings. The shortlist is:

  • The Dying Earth By Jack Vance
  • Ready Player One By Ernest Cline
  • Across the Nightingale Floor By Lian Hearn
  • Frankenstein in Baghdad By Ahmed Saadawi
  • Assassin’s Apprentice By Robin Hobb
  • The Thief’s Gamble By Juliet E. McKenna
  • Bridge of Birds By Barry Hughart
  • Hekla’s Children By James Brogden
  • Altered America By Cat Rambo
  • Ironskin By Tina Connolly

As usual I’ll write summaries of the books and post a link to the PDF on Facebook.

Next meeting Sat 17th March

The next meeting is on Saturday 17th March at 2 p.m. in the Storyhouse meeting room. We’ll be discussing Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson. This isn’t a book or author I know much about, but the reviews have been pretty good, though judging from the reviews it’s a pretty weird book.

At this meeting we need to come up with a shortlist of about a dozen books for our next four meetings. The current shortlist is looking pretty bare:

  • James Brogden – Hekla’s Children
  • Lavie Tidhar – The Violent Century
  • Paul McAuley – Something Coming Through
  • Johanna Sinisalo – The Core of the Sun (removed?)
  • Sheri S. Tepper – Grass (removed?)

I think, though I wouldn’t swear to it, that we have already decided to remove The Core of the Sun and Grass from the list on the grounds they were never going to be chosen. So we need at least nine new books! The books don’t necessarily have to be works of genius. Any book that is likely to provoke a heated discussion is fine. Please post ideas on the Facebook group.

Next meeting Saturday 17th February

The next meeting is on Saturday 17th February in the Storyhouse meeting room. We will be discussing the book Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones.

There was some discussion about the availability of the book. It was published in 2016 but apparently only as a hardback or e-book. The paperback edition has only just been published. However if you’re looking for a copy there are several cheap copies (of the hardback) available on Amazon and eBay so you should have too much trouble getting one.

This was a book I pushed hard for, so you have me to to blame if you don’t like it. I thought it was a wonderful depiction of what life would really be like for werewolves, and their life is … well … rubbish. Rather than say more here let me direct you to the Tor review of the book, which I think gives an excellent idea of what the book is like.

Stephen Graham Jones is a native American, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, and I wonder if his depiction of the werewolves as social outcasts is a metaphor for the position in which native Americans find themselves.

Finally, since it came up at the meeting, let me direct you to a completely different but equally good werewolf book – The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. There is a review by the Guardian here. Tread carefully though, for this book is not for the faint of heart.