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Archive for December, 2013

extra books-dec2012I’m always impressed by all the books people mention at our meetings — there’s such a variety!   These are the books mentioned at our December meeting:

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup

Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

A Talent for War by Jack McDevitt

The Year’s Best SF 16 edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Dangerous Women – edited by George RR Martin & Gardner Dozois

short stories by Philip K. Dick

Seed by Rob Ziegler

The Three Stigmata of Philip Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

The Proteus series of books and Brother to Dragons by Charles Sheffield

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We met on December 18th to discuss The Cassandra Project.   While it wasn’t our most lively discussion, we still found quite a bit to talk about.   Here’s some of what people had to say:

  • Glenn started out us by saying he felt the book could have been done in less pages.  Menolly agreed, and said she appreciated the realism in the book, like the real-world politics.  However, she felt the points were somewhat belabored.
  • Hola stated she felt there were “shades of Mormonism” in the book (especially at the end).  She said that she approached the book as a mystery and not as science fiction, and that made reading it much easier.  She felt the book was 90% reality, which other readers agreed with, as well.
  • Tery said she felt the book dragged on and even though she finished it, she couldn’t recall the ending.
  • aNON noted he felt the alien idea didn’t seem plausible, even though other elements of the book were realistic.  Mike added he felt this book explained the alien scene in The Life of Brian (and other readers agreed with this).
  • Jen said that for her, not only did the pacing feel very slow, but the writing style, itself, felt like the book was a much older book than it was.  For her, it read like something from the “classic” science fiction era, and reminded her of some Heinlein stories.  Mike agreed, and said the book reminded him of stories from old Analog magazines.  He didn’t finish the book, and said that if he had found it more interesting, he would have pushed through.
  • Other readers expounded on what had been said about the writing style.  Theresa said she wanted more character development, and that except for a few people, all we got was stock characters.   Bucky was the one character that readers found to be the most interesting, although there was some discussion of how he was written, and how believable he was, as well.  Furry pointed out that even Bucky seemed like a pretty stock character, though.   As far as the character of Jerry Culpepper was concerned, however, people felt he was … bland.   As Jen said, she kept waiting for him to become more interesting, but it was like he was layer upon layer of bland.
  • We had some general discussion of Jack McDevitt’s writing style, and the fact that this book was originally a short story that was then expanded into a book.   aNON stated he felt McDevitt’s forte is really the short story.  Jen wondered where Mike Resnick was in the book — for her, it read like McDevitt, and she wondered how the collaboration came about.   A few people in the group had read the short story first, and found that they enjoyed it more than the book.  Hola said she was glad she had read it, because it made her understand that it was more of a political mystery thriller (and so she read it as one).
  • The conspiracy element of the story was something that many readers liked.   Readers thought it was clever (and funny) that Nixon and Watergate were brought into the story, as well.
  • Overall, however, the general feeling among readers was that although there were some interesting ideas in the book, it just didn’t resonate with anyone.

We gave this book the codes: ATT, NFW, POL and MEH.   MEH is a new code, and basically, it is what it says.  The overall reaction people had to this book was “meh.”    The averaged-out rating was a 3.

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