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.
Just a reminder that I got talked into giving a talk at the Lache Library, Chester on Thursday 21st June at 2:30pm Although the talk centres on the historical fantasy novel Xaghra’s Revenge it is not necessary for you to have read it. Much of my delivery is why I wrote it, what strange things popped up when I did the research, images of the Gozo features that are in the story and a brief reading from me. Plenty of time for a Q&A. There’s a drinks machine there and I’ll bring biscuits. I only know of 3 people who are definitely coming and one of them is me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.