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Archive for April, 2013

The once-utopian Chasm City -a doomed human settlement on an otherwise inhospitable planet- has been overrun by a virus known as the Melding Plague, capable of infecting any body, organic or computerized. Now, with the entire city corrupted -from the people to the very buildings they inhabit- only the most wretched sort of existence remains. For security operative Tanner Mirabel, it is the landscape of nightmares through which he searches for a low-life postmortal killer. But the stakes are raised when his search brings him face to face with a centuries-old atrocity that history would rather forget.   (summary courtesy of Goodreads).

We’ll be meeting on Wednesday, May 29th at 7:00 pm in Meeting Room B to discuss this book — everyone is welcome to come and share their thoughts!

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This is the Czech book cover - I just thought it looked cool and wanted to share

This is the Czech book cover – I just thought it looked cool and wanted to share

We met last night to discuss Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion.   We always have a great discussion (thank you to everyone!!!), and I try to hit some of the points that people made (aliases for those who prefer them).

  • Rachel started our discussion by saying that she liked the book, and that she especially liked the main character, Cazaril.   This book was a re-read for her, as well as for a few other people in the group (although Ed said that when he was reading, he didn’t remember anything at all about the book).
  • Sabine said that she liked the book, but would have preferred it to have more fantasy & magic “More fantasy, less treachery.”)– she has read a lot of historical fiction and felt this book was similar in many respects.  She also felt the book needed better flow, and felt the author’s syntax to be odd at times.   Brian the Elder commented that while he liked the book, he found the author’s writing style to hold back the book.  He mentioned that especially in the first third of the book, that he felt like he was reading topic sentences in each paragraph, and then skimming down to the next one (action, plot, place …. description).
  • Other readers commented on how they felt the first third of the book was especially slow.  For some people, this put them off reading the rest of the book (although at least one person said he might go back and try the book again at some point).  A few people commented that there was a lot of “tell” rather than “show,” and especially in the first third of the book.
  • In contrast, Mike said that he liked that the magic was more in the background of the story.  He thought the author did a great job with her worldbuilding; he liked and believed in this place.  He liked the rousing adventure feel of the story, and thought the book had a nice, fast pace.
  • Furry said that she liked that there was a PTSD component to the main character.  She also liked the whole religion/magic in the story, and how the gods had an active interest in what happened to people.  Brian the Elder pointed out that he also liked how the gods had limitations – they can’t magically change things to how they want them.
  • Hola said that she enjoyed how she kept being surprised by the book — that it was a lot of fun, and not at all predictable.  She liked that the main character was flawed (below-average, actually), and that it didn’t turn out that he’s a “lost prince” after all; that he doesn’t become something completely perfect as a result of what happens to him in the story (like, he doesn’t turn into the most awesome-est warrior ever).   She also liked that Cazaril “gradually gets the ‘holy crap’ feeling that he’s been set up by the gods.”     Mike added that he liked how in this story, being able to talk to a god isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Hola added that another thing she enjoyed about the book is that the female characters weren’t insipid (which was something other readers liked, as well).
  • Burt Macklin, FBI said he was happy to have a book with a happy ending, especially after some of the books the group has discussed recently.  He also liked the idea of “can you be a non-believer when you know the gods exist,” in this story.  He added that he enjoyed the bits of humor that the author had throughout the story, which was something that other readers liked, as well.
  • One person said that he had never read Bujold until the previous book group facilitator, Susan Emmons Kroeger, recommended her books to him (Susan was great at that here in the library!).   He really enjoys Bujold’s writing style, and how she seems to ponder, “What is the worst possible thing that I can do to this character?”  He likes Bujold’s worldbuilding and detailed writing and although he wasn’t sure how he would like this book (seeing as he usually reads her science fiction books), he found it enjoyable.

The group assigned these codes: REL, HIS, HOME, FEM and MVL — and the averaged-out rating was a 4.

If you have read The Curse of Chalion and would like to read the other two books in the trilogy, they are: The Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt (both are found in our library under call# SF-F BUJ).    If you’d like to add your thoughts on The Curse of Chalion, please do!

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Stephanie from our group was kind enough to send this my way (thank you!!!!) , so I could share it on the blog for everyone to see.    The full article appears HERE on The Guardian  — but here’s a teaser:

Ray Canterbury, a Republican delegate, is appealing to the West Virginia board of education to include science fiction novels on the middle school and high school curriculums. “The Legislature finds that promoting interest in and appreciation for the study of math and science among students is critical to preparing students to compete in the workforce and to assure the economic well being of the state and the nation,” he writes in the pending bill.

“To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.”

“I’m not interested in fantasy novels about dragons,” Canterbury told Blastr in a recent interview. “I’m primarily interested in things where advanced technology is a key component of the storyline, both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers.”

A fan of Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne, Canterbury believes that “one of the things about science fiction is that it gives you this perspective that as long as you have an imagination and it’s grounded in some sort of practical knowledge, you can do anything you wanted to”.

Definitely makes for some interesting, and thought-provoking, reading.   If the schools in West Virginia ever want suggestions, I’m sure our group can give them a list of great titles.   🙂

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As always, people have an opportunity to share what other books they’re reading —- and these are the ones mentioned when we met on April 24th (if our library owns the book, I’ve included any call numbers):   extra books from discussion-2013-04-25

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James      M JAM, CD M JAM

Existence by David Brin (this is the August, 2013 selection for the group also)    SF-F BRI

Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold    SF-F BUJ

“Twelve Seconds” by Tina Gower — a story in the anthology, Writers of the Future, Volume 29

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach             612.3 ROA

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson         SF-F STE

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh       F DIF, CD F DIF

Anansi Boys and American Gods by Neil Gaiman         SF-F GAI, CD SF-F GAI

Libriomancer by Jim Hines    SF-F HIN

Wild by Cheryl Strayed       917.9 STR, CD 917.9 STR

I Feel Bad About my Neck by Nora Ephron       814.54 EPH, CD 814.54 EPH

The Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy, #1) by Brian McClellan  on order for the library

 

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Since we’re reading & discussing one of her books this month, I thought I’d share this interesting guest post by Lois McMaster Bujold over at Fantasy Book Cafe.    It begins with:

“An earnest young (male) fan once blundered up to me at a convention to offer his own impression of my military science fiction tales: “Ms. Bujold,” he said, “you write like a man.” To which I should have replied (but didn’t, because I don’t think fast on my feet—that’s why I’m a writer, the pencil waits) “Oh, really? Which one?”

And it gets better from there.   🙂

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The shortlist has been announced!   This year’s winner will be announced on May 1. This year’s judging panel consists of Juliet E. McKenna (BSFA), Ruth O’Reilly (BSFA), Nickianne Moody (Science Fiction Foundation), Liz Williams (Science Fiction Foundation), and Robert Grant (SCI-FI LONDON film festival).

I’ve included the call numbers for the books the library has.  For the others, there aren’t U.S. editions available yet, so we don’t have them.

Nod By Adrian Barnes

Dark Eden by Chis Beckett

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway    F HAR

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller    F HEL

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson     SF-F  ROB

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The nominees are up!  The awards will be presented at:LoneStarCon 3, San Antonio, Texas, August 29-September 2, 2013

Here’s the list of Best Novel and Best Novellas  (with the library call numbers for the ones we have), but you can see the whole list HERE

Best Novel (1113 nominating ballots cast)

  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)     SF-F  ROB
  • Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)    PB F GRA
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)    SF-F BUJ
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)   SF-F  SCA
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW    SF-F AHM

 

Best Novella (587 nominating ballots cast)

  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)   SF-F KRE
  • The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)    SF-F SAN
  • On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
  • San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

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