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Archive for August, 2013

extra book-August 2013It’s always interesting to hear about what people are reading (other than the month’s selection) — and here are the books mentioned at our August meeting:

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

The Sweetest Dark and The Deepest Night by Shana Abe’

Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire, #8) by Naomi Novik

Codex Born by Jim Hines

The Dark Winter and Original Skin by David Mark

The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

 

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Les was kind enough to provide me with the link to the story he mention in last night’s book discussion of Existence — so I’m providing for you all HERE.full_Anders_Buzelli_404_435

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We met last night to discuss Existence by David Brin, and while not everyone finished the book, people had a lot to say — and we had a great discussion (as always!).    Here are some of the comments (with aliases for people who want them) — along with a link to the Louis CK bit that we listened to (see below):

  • aNON said that he has read Brin’s Uplift books and enjoyed them, and likes Brin’s writing style, and the fact that his stories have a lot of characters, so you get different points of view.  However, he mentioned this particular book had a lot of stuff in it, which made it more difficult to get through.
  • Menolly agreed, and said that she especially found the sections of exposition to be off-putting.  These parts felt like a monologue info-dump, and were a little jarring to the flow of the story. She also felt that Brin’s opinions in the book were somewhat hard-hitting; that instead of having them come from a character’s point of view, it felt like he was just plainly stating them.
  • Furry said she liked the book, but wished it had a prologue.  Because the story jumps so much between the different characters, and because Brin leaves a lot of open ends for the reader to figure out, she said, “I need a flowchart.”  She liked the book, and liked the concepts, but said it took a couple hundred pages for her to figure out where Brin was going with things.
  • This was a general feeling that many readers had — that there was a lot that Brin put into the book, but it was sometimes difficult to figure out where everything was going.  A few people mentioned that it seemed like he would put an idea or concept out there, and then not follow it through at all.  Naberius said she wished he would have put less elements in, and spent more time on the ones he chose to have —- for her, reading the book was a little like looking at a photo album that someone’s flipping through too quickly; just when you want to spend an extra minute on something, they’ve already moved on to something else.   Ed said it seemed like perhaps Brin had a bit of attention-deficit syndrome (see one of our discussion points below).   Klaupaucius said that he reads Brin’s blog, and his nonfiction, and felt like this book was a magnum opus for Brin, for everything that he considers to be important.
  • Menolly brought up how she liked how Brin dealt with the technology in the world, and how there is the idea that everyone is doing so much at once, that there really isn’t any attention spent on anything.  Theresa said she liked how he would write things like “MT-tasking,” which sounds like “empty tasking,” which really emphasized this feeling.    Hola said she found the fact that so many people in this world were so jacked in, that it was a little disgusting.   We talked about an interview Brin did for Wired, and in particular, his response to the question about what the book is about   Brin talked about how there are layers of augmented reality, “terrible things have happened, but guess what? People have reacted to the terrible things by coping, as they always have.”   A few people wondered if the total reliance on the layers of augmented reality was truly a way to cope, or if it were more escapist.  As Naberius said, there’s a difference between “coping” and “coping with the help of Xanax.”     We also talked about how there weren’t many people who seemed to make the active decision to opt out of using so much of the technology.
  • This led to a discussion generally of the technology in our own world, and how there seems to be a feeling of “attention deficit” among a lot of people.     We talked about how technology has changed, and also how different generations react to these changes differently.  We also discussed how people make choices to opt in to a lot of technology, or choose not to opt in at all (or very little).   Please see the Louis CK bit HERE — we had a good laugh when we listened to this (thank you, Klaupaucius for sharing this!)

Overall, we found that while not everyone had finished the book, we still had a lot to talk about.  Some of the concepts in the book made us think about present-day technology, and society, which made for some really interesting discussion.

We gave the book the codes HIT, XEN, NFW, PHI, NEWS, CAP and DRG (Dirigible.  Because there’s one the book … and this seems to be an element we’re coming across in more books, as well) — and the average rating was a 3.

As always, we welcome the opportunity to continue the discussion —- so please feel free to leave a comment!

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In anticipation of our discussion tomorrow night about David Brin’s Existence, I thought I’d provide a few links and info —

GeekWire has a “10 questions” with David Brin — and here’s the first question:

1) What is right with science fiction today?

David Brin

Brin: SF has so flooded into popular culture and beyond that it’s becoming a staple of discussion in politics and philosophy and daily life. The New Yorker just ran a “science fiction issue” featuring works by some of our literary lights, a few of whom spent decades denying they ever wrote sci-fi. People appear to have realized, at last, that we’re in the 21st century. Time to buy that silvery spandex outfit, I guess.

Another good thing, the sheer number of brilliant young writers coming down the pike. They can turn a phrase with the very best in any genre, in any era, and there are so many of them! Liberated by new technology to explore innovative storytelling methods, like novels with embedded media or animated storyboards.

* * * *    * * * *             * * * *            * * * *

You can also find all sorts of information about the book (and David Brin) on his own site; you can not only read what’s there, but you can also view vids of David Brin reading different chapters from the book.

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Since we have lots of room now, I’ve been able to order more shiny, new books for our graphic novel section.  Here are just a few —

Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt

Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration 1 by Nobuhiro WatsukiGN on order-082613

The Shade by James Robinson et al

Templar by Jordan Mechner

Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown

Global Frequency by Warren Ellis

Good Dog by Graham Chaffe

Incidents in the Night by David B et al

March 1 by John Lewis et al

Mumbai Confidential 1: Good Cop, Bad Cop by Saurav Mohapatra

Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns by Adam Beechen et al

Batman Incorporated 1: Demon Star (the new 52) by Grant Morrison et al

 

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I know some of you read graphic novels — and you may have noticed that for a long time, our graphic novels have been packed in, without much room to see what’s there.

But thanks to the hard work of some of our staff, we’ve been able to move some things around.   Now, graphic novels have lots more room — which means we can fit all the new books we’re ordering, and the whole area’s easier to browse.

Why yes, that is a little extra room on the ends there...

Why yes, that is a little extra room on the ends there…

We have also made a little more room in the SF-F section —- which means there’s more room for the shiny new books that are on order!

Come on down to the lower level and check out the new space!

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Our August selection is Existence by David Brin.    We’ll be meeting on Wednesday, August 28 at 7:00 pm.

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.”

Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.  (summary courtesy of Goodreads)

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