Waterstone's Liverpool One Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club

Waterstones Liverpool One Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club

"This is space. It's sometimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can't have a *final* frontier, because there'd be nothing for it to be a frontier *to*, but as frontiers go, it's pretty penultimate...)"
- Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures

About Us

This is the official blog for the book club held in the book lounge of Waterstones Liverpool One.

The group meet at 6pm on the first Monday of the month to discuss their thoughts and opinions on the books selected. The books range from classic fantasy to brand new science fiction short story collections.

It's a fun and friendly atmosphere and all are welcome: from those who have never read any science fiction or fantasy before, to those who don't read anything else.

The group, and this blog, are administered by Glyn Morgan, the Bookseller responsible for the Science Fiction section of the store and an avid reader of SF who is currently studying for his PhD at the University of Liverpool.

If you would like to comment on any of the books we've read, this month or in the distant past, please feel free to contribute to the comments section of the relevant posts.

Visit this club's little sister: Coffee and Comics

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Preamble for The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

November's book in The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan and I thought I'd post up a couple of interesting links relating to it which you can read before or after the novel (or not at all) and offer some interesting insights into the movement which the book has become a part of - as well as the author himself.

All three of these articles are from my new favourite website io9.com.

Richard Morgan talks "noir fantasy".

Richard Morgan on the failures of capitalism and the success of science fiction

Noir Fantasy and Magical Cities

This link - here - takes you the author's official website. Once I've read a bit of the novel and won't feel like a complete fool, I'll contact the author and see if he can add any comments to our discussion.

Enjoy reading these, but maybe we should save discussion on the book until the meeting (which I work out to be November 2nd)...

UPDATE: Click here for a review of the book by fellow Fantasy author Joe Abercrombie. I would of course not encourage you to allow your opinions to be coloured by the reviews of others (no matter how eminent) but they do offer interesting insights and encourage you to think about the book.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Eon by Greg Bear

Plot Synopsis

Above our planet hangs a hollow Stone, vast as the imagination of Man. The inner dimensions are at odds with the outer: there are different chambers to be breached, some even containing deserted cities. The furthest chamber contains the greatest mystery ever to confront the Stone's scientists. But tombstone or milestone, the Stone is not an alien structure: it comes from the future of our humanity. And the war that breaks out on Earth seems to bear witness to the Stone's prowess as oracle ...

What did we think?

My first book as "chair" of the Book Club and my initial worried about no one being t
here were dispelled by an impressive turnout.

Whilst the novel seemed to be big on ideas, and good ones at that, it was generally agreed that it fell down on characters. Many of the characters in the novel seems to be little more than cardboard-cutout stereotypes with bland or (in the case of the sex scenes) poorly handled emotions. Much, if not all, of their emotional story was deemed to be superfluous and to distract from the much more interesting concept of the intergalactic, interdimensional asteroid.

As an example of Hard SF, as well as containing an example of a "Big Dumb Object", it drew comparisons with Larry Niven's Ringworld and Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, both of which were written earlier 1970 and '73 respectively (Eon was '85). The politics of the nove
l, steeped in Cold War pessimism about human co-operation, was found to be interesting if, obviously, dated. I would draw attention to Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars which handles multiple plots and politics better than Eon.

On the whole, the novel was enjoyed but not loved, frustrating but not hated. It was seen as an example of an author's earlier work where the author was big on concept and the scientific propping up of said concept, but let down by the human aspect. It could be said that in Eon, Bear lacks the emotional maturity that comes both with age and experience as a writer (he was 34 when Eon was published).

The average score given to Greg Bear's Eon was 5/10

Votes: 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5.5, 6, 6

So. Do you agree with my summary of the meeting? Did I miss out a major point or do you just want to continue the discussion on these themes. Either way is fine, this was written largely from memory (next time I'll take better notes). Post your comments below:

Here we go!

Welcome to the first post on the brand new blog for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club held at Waterstone's Liverpool One.

I'm Glyn, Blogger-in-chief, and also the Bookseller in charge of the Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Graphic Novels/ Manga section of the store (so if you have any suggestions for books you'd like to see on our shelves just let me know and I'll do what I can).

A brief description of what this blog is and what it plans to do:-

  • It's a friendly place where we can go to carry on the discussions of the Book Club itself.
  • It's the first stop to get information on the club, if you miss a session and need to know what to read next, or you didn't write down that other book I recommended, it should all be on here.
  • It's the place to share other knowledge, reviews of books, and opinions which may otherwise not get shared in the brief time we have together once a month.

Hopefully, it goes without saying that this blog aims to create an atmosphere conducive to the friendly discussion of books and science fiction/fantasy-related topics and behaviour detrimental to this cause will not be tolerated.

Finally, whilst I am a Waterstone's employee and this blog is being run by me on the group's behalf, the views expressed by both myself and the blog are not representative of Waterstone's as a company, nor do they represent the opinions of Waterstone's or the HMV group of which the company is a part.


That's all the formal introductory matter out of the way, on with the discussion!

P.S. - If anyone wants to post an article of their own (rather than simply comment on one) then please feel free to e-mail it to send it to me and I'll post it up on your behalf ASAP. This is probably the best way to share your reviews if you want to put any online.