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

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Sister Book Club Forming: Coffee and Comics

I'm happy to announce that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club has a baby sister!

I'm founding a new book club to read and discuss comic books / graphic novels / manga (call it what you want) under the name "Coffee and Comics."* We're going to meet at 6pm on the third Monday of every month, meaning that in theory it will smack in the middle between sessions of the Sci-fi/Fantasy Book Club.
The first meeting is on Monday October 18th.

Because I don't know what kind of people will turn up, I've selected two very different books for the first session and we'll discuss which ever one most people have read, hopefully we'll be able to say something about both of them. The books are the brilliant and touching Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and the exciting and infamous Hard Goodbye, the first volume of Sin City by Frank Miller. The aim was to pick two books that had commonalities but which were also very different. I also wanted self contained stories which were relatively inexpensive (as graphic novels go).Read one, both, or neither, then come along and chat.

There will be a few common sense rules, at least at first, the comics will have to reasonably cheap - not £30 hardbacks for example, and be able to stand alone as a single book even if they're a part of a series. Other than that, anything goes and all are welcome to attend.

If you're worried about this taking time away from my work with the Sci-fi/Fantasy Book Club (or even my studies) then worry not because thinking about this very possibility I've enlisted a sidekick for Coffee and Comics to help me run it and take over on occasions when I'm over stretched. It'd be great to see some familiar faces there so if anyone fancies coming along you'd be more than welcome. Same place, same time, different date. No doubt if it takes off there will be a sister blog too.

Hope to see you there!

*Drinking coffee is not required.

Monday, 20 September 2010

EVENT: Twisted Tales - Horror Readings

I could let the flyer talk for itself, but that's not my style.

On Friday 29th October 2010, at 6pm you can come and hear Horror short stories being read by real published Horror authors. Tom Fletcher's first novel The Leaping came out earlier this year and pits young graduates from Manchester against an evil in the Cumbrian Fells. Nicholas Royle's book Antwerp follows a brutal and mysteriously fascinating killer, Nick also runs Nightjar Press, a horror specialist small press. Conrad Williams, you may remember, was in store recently. On Saturday it was announced that he'd won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel 2010 for his novel One, which will be going up as one of my suggestions for this group's future reading by the way. Ramsey Campbell is a Liverpool native and is listed in the Oxford Companion to English Literature as "Britain's most respected living horror writer", amongst his many awards he has 4 World Fantasy Awards and no less than 13 British Fantasy Awards!

The authors will each be reading a work of short fiction, signing and (time permitting) answering any questions. If I can wade through the paperwork we'll also be selling exclusive copies of books that are now out of print or previously unavailable.

Even if you're not a horror fan this is an event worth attending, and the perfect way to mark Halloween 2010!

Twisted Tales

Friday 29th October at 6pm – 8pm
Ticket’s £2
Waterstone’s Liverpool One

12 College Lane
Liverpool L1 3DL
Tel: 0151 709 9820

Friday, 10 September 2010

September Newsletter

As the people most likely to care I thought I'd give you an exclusive preview of a new single-page newsletter for the Science Fiction section in store. I'm going to make one a month and post it up on the pillar next to the book club display. Feedback would be appreciated. [click on the image to open up a bigger version]

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Preamble for The Brentford Triangle by Robert Rankin

It's been a while since I've had the time to write a preamble for one of our books. To be honest, I don't really have the time now, it's just that when I found the link to China Miéville talking about The City and The City, which you can find a  link to at the bottom of my summary of our discussion, it inspired me to look for something similar regarding next month's book Robert Rankin's The Brentford Triangle.

I failed.

I did, however, find a video of him reading from the first book in the series, The Antipope, and you can watch that video here. I've been assured that although The Brentford Triangle follows on from The Antipope, you need not have read the first in the sequence to read Triangle. I certainly hope this is the case because I myself have only ever read Retromancer which is the current new paperback.

Regardless, in this 2009 interview with the British Fantasy Society Rankin himself says that he considers Triangle to be the best he's written.

Rankin's newest release is The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions which is a sequel of sorts to H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds.

There have been some supply issues with The Brentford Triangle as all of Rankin's books are currently undergoing a reissuing into new colourful covers. I've done my best to try and order some in though and should I fail you are all aware of the other retail options open to you *shudder*.

That's all from me, hope you noticed and liked the new logo at the top of the page. Countless minutes were spent colouring it in on Paint! See you next month.

Oh - and should the urge take you. Robert Rankin's official fan club is called Sproutlore and can be found here.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The City and The City by China Miéville


When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. The City and The City won the 2010 BSFA award for Best Novel, the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke award for Best Novel (a record breaking third for Miéville), and tied with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl for the 2010 Hugo award for Best Novel. It has also been nominated for World Fantasy Award and Nebula Awards in the same category.

What Did We Think?

 China Miéville is continuously praised for the strength of his world building. This is showcased in The City and The City in a manner which is in some ways more obvious than in other novels. The reason for this is that what Miéville has written is essentially a straight-forward crime plot set against the background of the amazing and yet seemingly real cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma.

The straight crime plot was where at least one reader fell out with the book, as we discussed there is a case for saying the book is infact neither science fiction nor fantasy, despite accolades from both camps! If you don't like crime fiction it's unlikely that you'll love The City and The City as it conforms to many of the clichés of the genre, especially in terms of characters' relationships: we see both the classic detective-sidekick relationship, and the detective-fish out of water foreign ace detective tropes repeated here, as is the fact that the strongest female character is the murder victim who never actually appears on stage as a character (at least a living one).

Despite this potential flaw all agreed that the novel had a good strong story, interesting characters and strong pacing. The complexities of the world Miéville has created, which I dare not describe in too much depth here for fear or ruining someone else's experience, are enthralling and reading the book can be compared to being a detective in novel as you work out the intricacies of the location. That said, the concept is so complex that some struggled with the first third or so of the novel and it was suggested (although not unanimously agreed) that some form of introductory short story which established the city from the point of view of an outsider would have been beneficial. Whether this would have detracted from, or added to, the experience of reading the novel was a point of contention.

Whether there was a better way of presenting the city or not, it was certainly a heavily detailed setting which many of us wanted to return to. There were interesting discussions about the possibility of the place (hence it not really being science fiction or fantasy), referencing experiments by Quirkology and real world examples of cultural fragmentation within urban areas (something which clearly influenced the novel).

Overall it was a enjoyable, even lovable novel, which whilst challanging was a rewarding read. However, it is still very much a piece of crime fiction and if you're not a fan of Raymond Chandler then you likely won't like this. That said, the setting is engaging enough that it could still win you over.

Votes were as follows: 10, 9, 8, 8, 7, 4


On a personal note: despite ranking this book highly and loving the act of reading it. I wouldn't reccomend it as an introduction to Miéville's fiction, largely for the negative reasons outlined above, if you have the time to tackle such a large book - Perdido Street Station is a superior novel and a massively rewarding read.- Glyn

NEW: Watch a video of China Miéville himself talking about The City and The City here.