Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meeting for 2010: Odyssey Two

On March 25 2010 we met at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke. Raja had pushed heavily for it.

Here are the votes in the order they were given:

Lisa 8
Abe 8
Chris 3
Damien 8
John Gallman 5
TC 7 ("and I'm being generous")
Raja 10

Chris felt that the book had too many long descriptions and was like a textbook. John Gallman kept hoping for fighting to break out among the crew. By contrast, Raja said that, in his opinion, Arthur C. Clarke wrote five books that were closer to perfect than not; 2010 was the fifth and last.

Our next Barnes & Noble meeting will be on April 22 2010 to discuss Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel. Gregory suggested David Brin's The Practice Effect after that, and the group agreed to discuss it on May 27.

(Posted 2010-03-26 16:05 EDT)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meeting for Friday

On February 25 2010 we met at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Friday by Robert A. Heinlein. Chris had suggested it after we read Saturn's Children (see below).

Here are the votes in the order they were given:
Chris 4
Dru 6
Raja 6
Jeff 9 (compared to our usual non-Heinlein; compared to other Heinlein it would be lower)
Emily 4
Lisa 8

Lisa arrived well after the start of the discussion.

Raja noted that while he didn't enjoy the book as much this time, he found it to be very compelling reading. (You can see his lengthy review on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17208.Friday .) Some others agreed that the book was more enjoyable the first time you read it.

Our next meeting will be on March 25 2010 to discuss 2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke. We chose The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov for April 22, thus completing the triple crown. (Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein are often referred to as "The Big Three" in fandom; the most important SF writers of the 20th century.)

(Posted 2010-03-07 14:06 EST.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meeting for Cordelia's Honor

On January 28 2010 we met at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. Raja had wanted to discuss a Bujold SF book from the Vorkosigan universe for some time, but there had been problems selecting one. Ultimately the group decided to begin at the beginning.

Here are the votes in the order they were given:

Damien 10
Abe 9
Raja 9
Dru 8 (well, 8.5)
John 6
Jeff 3 for Shards, 10 for Barrayar
Chris 9
Emily 6

The next week, we saw Elizabeth at El Norteño. She gave Cordelia's Honor a rating of 10. At that time, Abe noted that he gave Cordelia a 9 "so nothing would have a score higher than Hyperion" ;-)

(posted 2010-02-25 16:19)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Meeting for Saturn's Children

On November 19 2009 we met at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Saturn's Children by Charles Stross. The book had been suggested by Gregory, Abe, and Raja.

Here are the votes in the order they were given:
Abe 7
Emily 8
Chris 7
Dru 8--no, 2--no, 5
Lisa 4
Jeff 4 (though the discussion made him suggest lowering to 3)
Raja 4

(Raja insisted on giving his vote last.)

The book was not terribly popular. Gregory and Raja loved the astronautics, though they had concerns about whether shipping bulky bodies around the Solar System was the best way to do things. Raja liked the planetary science as well; it reminded him of John Varley's work. Unfortunately, the characters weren't as good as Varley's, and Raja resented the time spent with the characters.

Gregory apologized; he'd complained in the past about other members' seeming obsession with books consisting of vampires and sex ... and this book seemed to mostly consist of robots and sex.

Several people said that the book started out reasonably well but got too confusing by about halfway.

(One other complaint of Raja's is that the book, like the middle section of Accelerando, presents people with incredible computational riches frittering them away simulating low-computational lifestyles (i.e., ours). Raja compared it to aristocrats playing at being peasants and found it insulting.)

After the meeting, Jeff suggested Heinlein's Friday--the putative model for this novel, and promised Chris he would be good if she would ;-). Rather to Raja's surprise, Friday will be the book for our February (25th) 2010 meeting.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Meeting for Dracula

On October 29 2009 we met Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Dracula by Bram Stoker. The book was suggested by Emily (since the meeting was just two days short of Halloween).

Here are the votes (in the order they were given):
Abe 7 (who didn't reread it recently but remembers it pretty vividly)
Raja 9
Chris 8 (though she was 19 pages from the end)
Dru ~9 (though on this re-read she was just up to Lucy's death)
Lisa 9
Emily 10
Jeff 10 (He would have given it 9, but he thought it deserved a 10 "because Stoker made Heinlein-haters like a typist who 'thinks like a man.'")

Many people praised the book for its vivid descriptions.

Lots of people like Mina, though they would have preferred better praise from Stoker's characters than "She thinks like a man." Raja brought up several possible complaints, but considered them nitpicking, given how strong the book is. ("It's been in print continuously for 112 years now.") One plot hole people disliked was Harker's escape from Dracula's castle at the end of Chapter IV. Raja also brought up the strange fact that Lucy got three (!) marriage proposals in one day—Raja was expecting something sinister behind the coincidence—but Dru and Chris didn't find it unreasonable.

Gregory didn't read the book; he expected it to be a standard Gothic, e.g., "a woman is whisked away from her home town by her marriage; her husband sets her up in a dark, gloomy castle, and she becomes convinced that her husband is trying to kill her." It was pointed out that the first four chapters of Dracula actually do follow this pattern—but instead of a young bride, the role is taken by naïve young man Jonathan Harker(!)

It was also pointed out that, for the time, the book incorporates cutting-edge hardware (phonographic recorders) and medicine (transfusions). Modern readers wonder how Lucy survived four different blood transfusions from four different men—her blood type must have been AB positive (the "universal recipient")!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Meeting for Furies of Calderon

On June 25 2009 we met at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble to discuss Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher. The book was suggested by Lisa Bradley.

Here are the votes (in the order they were given):
Lisa 9
Jeff 7
Raja 9
Emily 7
Dru 8
Chris 6

Raja liked it a lot; he said that apart from some clumsiness in the first 20 pages or so, the author did a very skillful job of storytelling. He said Butcher was a professional entertainer, and we could use more of those. The only reason Raja didn't give the book a 10 is that, ultimately, it didn't feel like it was about anything more than solid storytelling.

Chris found the world and vocabulary confusing for a while.

Gregory didn't care for the book until the Trial of Wits, which changed certain things, and made for a very interesting relationship between two of the characters (one of them oblivious).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heinlein's fan mail answer

Do you wish you could send RAH some fan mail? Well, you can get an answer from him! I'm pretty sure you can figure out which box he would have checked...