Sunday, 9 May 2010

A coalition of equals

Our next meeting is in a week's time (which is a long time in politics) and will be at David's house. We will, of course, be officially discussing The Forever War, but I suspect the forever election may crop up as well.

Mindful that we have a number of postal members that we should not disenfranchise, I have some suggestions for the coming months that we might discuss in advance.

Firstly, our unwritten constitution. While we have titled it the Science Fiction BooK club, the understanding was that it was to look at Speculative Fiction, in other words covering both science fiction and fantasy. I freely admit that I lean more to sci-fi, but I know that others are more fantasy orientated. It would thus be good to have more of a balance between the two. While I feel reasonably familiar with the significant SF works, I am less aware of the fantasy ones and welcome input from the experts. Science fiction proportional representation you might say.

AnathemNext, I have a couple of alternative suggestions for the coming months. One stream is going for a fantasy in June (Terry Pratchett's Guards Guards, where he first starts to explore the possibilities of 'serious comedy' rather than his fluffy comedy that tends to get filmed), SF in July (Lynne's excellent suggestion of Alfred Bester's The Stars my Destination, AKA Tiger Tiger), then Aug and Sept reading David's suggestion of Neal Stephenson's epic Anathem.

The second option is due to the combination of some very interesting new works up for the Hugo this year, which will be announced in September, giving us the chance to read some of the nominations for ourselves and judge which we think should win. While there are 6 books nominated, I believe that there are only three in the running. Firstly there is China Mieville's The City and The City, a detective story set in a dual city, one coincident with another but never touching until now. It is a story that transcends SF and fantasy, winning both the Arthur C Clarke and BSFA awards so far this year. The next is The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is a story about artificially created humans and explores the ethics and implications of such research. Finally there is Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, a steampunk zombie story set in Seattle, which I suspect is competing by being a good read rather than deep story. Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson, Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, and Wake by Robert J. Sawyer do not seem to have the popular backing the first three have.

Yellow Blue TibiaAnother book that is making a splash at the moment is Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts. While it lost to The City & The City in both the Clarke and BSFA awards, Kim Stanley Robinson suggested it should have been up for the Booker. It is an alternative history/parallel universe story where the Soviet Union try to keep their population subdued using stories of alien invasion created by some Russian SF writers. The problem is the stories start to come true.

What do you think?

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