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, 15 November 2011

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones


"You are now a discard. We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner." When Jamie unwittingly discovers the scary, dark-cloaked Them playing games with human's lives, he is cast out to the boundaries of the worlds. Only then does he discover that there are a vast number of parallel worlds, all linked by the bounds, and these sinister creatures are using them all as a massive gamesboard. Clinging to Their promise that if he can get Home he is free, he becomes the unwilling Random Factor in an endless game of chance.

What Did We Think?

Discussion and vote breakdown to follow.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin


Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the clouds where gods' and mortals' lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history. But it's not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably.

What Did We Think?

  [notes to follow]

 Scores were as follows: 6, 7, 7, 7, 7

Thursday, 8 September 2011

NEW EVENT: Richard (K.) Morgan signing

It's been a while since I've had a science fiction or fantasy specific event which I've been able to bring to your attention and then two come along at once (more on the second one when the details are ironed out - but its a doozy!).

First off is a signing with award winning Richard Morgan, signing in store on October 19th at 12.30pm:

Remember The Steel Remains? We read it wa-ay back in October 2009 so I don't blame you if you're a bit hazy, indeed many of you weren't even with us so long ago. Anyway, go read it if you haven't already - it's a brilliantly dark, gritty fantasy that sits on the boundary between science fiction and fantasy inspired by stuff like Moorcock's Elric and the Howard Conan stories (not the naff film...).

Richard made a name for himself with hard hitting, excitingly dark science fiction such as the Takeshi Kovacs books (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies) and his Arthur C. Clarke award winning Black Man, before moving over to Fantasy and writing the utterly superb and gritty The Steel Remains in 2008.

His new novel, The Cold Commands continues the adventures begun in The Steel Remains and is a hotly anticipated addition to the genre. If you're a fan of George R. R. Martin's brand of fantasy, or Joe Abercrombie, then you'll absolutely love these books. 

Richard has also written graphic novels, such as Black Widow: Homecoming, and was lead writer for the blockbuster videogame Crysis 2

So don't miss this opportunity to meet one of the top names in science fiction and fantasy, come along and get some books signed! 

- If you can't make the signing please contact the store and we can arrange for a reservation to be made and your book to be signed in absentia.

Official Facebook event <-- invite your friends!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical by Robert Shearman

The first love song in the world, as composed by a pig in the Garden of Eden…
The Devil, alarmed when his hobby of writing romantic fiction begins to upstage his day job…
A man finding love with someone who has an allergy to his happiness, another losing love altogether when his wife gives him back his heart in a Tupperware box…

By turns macabre and moving, horrific and laugh-out-loud funny, Robert Shearman's short stories come from a place just to the left of the corner of your eye. Following his World Fantasy Award-winning 'Tiny Deaths', this new collection puts a bizarre twist on the love story. What is love, why does it hurt so much, and how is it we keep coming back for more?

 - Winner of the Readers' Award in the Edge Hill Short Story Competition.
 - Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story Collection.

What Did We Think?

Much praise was meted out for this, the second collection of Short Stories we've read in our times as a book club.

We liked how Shearman uses the fantastic to express more "mundane" issues. In doing so he accurately and poignantly conveys emotions, concepts and ideas that few other fantastical authors are capable of expressing in their work (or mainstream authors for that matter). It was felt with almost unanimous consent that the stories in this collection make a connection with genuine human emotions, particularly (of course) that of Love.

Despite praising the use of the fantastic, it was also appreciated that Shearman seems to know the power of understatement - both in the amount of fantastic elements a story requires, but also in the prose used to tell it. Many, if not all, of the stories were paced superbly and felt natural at the lengths they were published in. At the same time it was noted, and appreciated, that several of the stories use rather clever narrative techniques and devices, however they are also used in the perfect manner so that they complement the story rather than draw unnecessary attention away from the plot or mood being evoked.

At some point in the session someone must have picked out pretty much every story individually as an example of one they really liked. Even "George Clooney's Moustache" which was, on the whole, found to be a deeply disturbing tale. On the whole the collection was praised for being consistently good rather than putting its best stories at the beginning and deteriorating over the course of the book, as can sometimes happen in such collections.

If anything a criticism of the book was (rather ridiculously) that the stories were so good that you couldn't read them too quickly in succession or they would erase the preceding stories from your mind - so captivating and intense is each narrative. For this reason it reassured at least one member of our group that the stories have been published separately as it was felt that with room to grow in isolation from the other brilliant tales in the collection, they would truly shine.

Votes were as follows: 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6

Next month's book is the rather more traditionally fantastic The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemsin.

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

[I refuse to use the film tie-in cover]


A psychologist arrives at a research space station called Prometheus, his mission to ascertain whether research into the mysterious planet of Solaris should be terminated. He finds Prometheus all but deserted, its straggling crew seemingly haunted by hallucinations of figures from their pasts.


What Did We Think

[Glyn's Note: I wasn't present for this session and the notes were kindly taken by Al Shipman. What follows are his transcriptions with some minor editing by yours truly. I've added a few comments of my own in square brackets - much like this one, some with some factual background, others with my opinions.]

[First opinions seem to be negative...] Rachel struggled to have an opinion whilst Susan thought badly written, and didn’t hold her attention, so had to skim, and even then didn’t get to end of book. Susan felt that being a Russian translation was not a valid excuse and what came across was lazy writing [I should point out that firstly, Lem was Polish not Russian (major faux pas), and secondly that the translation commonly available in English is actually a translation of a French translation, so I feel bad that Lem might be being misrepresented here]. These feelings tended to provoke speed reading, thus the reader could easily go on to miss the context and undervalue the prose. Several people agreed with these points to varying degrees, and most people chose to skip the internalized dialogue of Kelvin.

Al felt that the way Russians [Poles!] tend to write, very introspectively, and the significant age of the work (before many aspects of modern science and before the full emergence of psychology as a science) were significant challenges for the modern western reader. Rachel suggested this was in part due to the book being very much of it’s time in the sixties [Solaris was written in 1961, the English translated was released in 1970]. Liz wondered if it was all in Kelvin’s mind. Elaine sympathised with this viewpoint. The book was very intense but had a slow narrative, with stunted dialogue. Elaine suggested that it started better than it finished…she was very disappointed by the end. Although later in the discussion Al pointed out how moving and pertinent the closing line was “…I persist in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past”, and several people did find this line to be quite moving, and was food for further thought for Elaine also.

Liz could see why it was picked up for a movie, as it reads very cinematically. No exposition of the story. Susan noted that lots of things could have been left out. Rachel liked the oddness of the lack of narrative, and felt that this was done on purpose.

The sense of personal loss in the story was perhaps understated. Rheya’s sacrifice was met with mixed viewpoints. Considered quite surreal. There was some discussion of the Rheya’s .. past read and present representation, both suicidal. Al suggested that the recent movie adaptation made much more of the role of Rheya. Some amusement over what was going on in in Sartorius’s laboratory. The ocean as an immature child god growing and learning on a galactically slow timescale. The subjectivity of their attitudes was noted by Al to detract from true scientific approach, and therefore discredited their ‘studies’. Furthermore Kelvin wasn’t very convincing as a psychologist. He was too immotive, even from the start. Hardly likely.

It was strange that Kelvin, and thereby the readers, do not experience the ocean close up until the end of the book, though this was very possibly deliberate. Al commented that the recent film adaptation was highly effective, addressing many of the concerns raised in the discussion. The producers saw fit to change the ending. In one sense this was very odd, as the moving final line was lost. On the other hand, the cinematic ending was not untrue to the spirit of the book and raised a number of interesting points that were not a million miles from the spirit of the book. By the end of the discussion, there had been a degree of re-assessment by the members of the group.

Final votes out of ten were: 9,6,6,6,7,8. Final score: 7/10

There was much enthusiasm for next months book, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical

[Coda: I am a big fan of this book and acknowledge there are stylistic problems and its possibly not as sophisticated in its prose as some other science fiction has proven to be - this however could be down to the double translation issue (I'd be interested in reading the original, but since that would involve learning a language I have absolutely no grounding in it is clearly not going to happen). For me Solaris is a classic example of 60s/70s science fiction which is exploding established tropes and perceived truths. In Solaris Lem is examining the idea of the alien in a way which is in equal turns frustrating and pessimistic, completely odds with earlier visions of aliens which are humans with funny names and a different colour skin. Solaris is a relatively rare view of an alien which is genuinely alien, and thus completely incomprehensible to humanity. As a Pole, Lem is probably better placed to write this kind of fiction than anyone else given that Poland has frequently in its recent history been subjected to alien languages and cultures and experiences incomprehensible traumas and situations beyond the control of its populace or government. For me Lem remains on of the most important, and least recognised, authors of science fiction operating at his time, and Solaris a keystone of his work. - Glyn]

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


A fight to the death - on live TV. The game show where you kill or die, and where the winner's prize is survival. In District 12, where Katniss Everdeen lives, life is harsh and brutal, ruled from afar by the all-powerful leaders of the Capitol. The climax of each year is the savage Hunger Games - where twelve boys and twelve girls from each District face each other in a murderous showdown. When sixteen-year-old Katniss is chosen to represent her district in the Games, everyone thinks it's a death sentence. Only one person can survive the horrors of the arena. But plucky Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature...

What Did We Think?

Votes were as follows: 3, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 9.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin


The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous communication. It is the life work of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the arid anarchist world of Anarres. But Shevek's work is being stifled by jealous colleagues, so he travels to Anarres's sister-planet Urras, hoping to find more liberty and tolerance there. But he soon finds himself being used as a pawn in a deadly political game.

What Did We Think?

[notes to follow]

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

Monday, 6 June 2011

New Books Selected Until December

Evening all,

At today's session we used the highly scientific method of "bits of paper in a hat" five books to occupy our time, money, and minds until December 2011. As such the reading list for the next six month looks like this:

July: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
August: Solaris by Stanislaw Lem.
September: Love Songs of the Shy and Cynical by Robert Shearman.
October: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin.
November: The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones.
December: The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov.

In the interests of recording everything for posterity, the books which were suggested but didn't make it out of the hat were: Thief with No Shadow by Emily Gee, Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, "Something by Gene Wolfe", Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, Plan for Chaos by John Wyndham, Zoo City by Lauren Beaukes.

We will next select new books in November, so keep your eye out for interesting material. As it is the new list comprises a solid blend of science fiction, fantasy, novel, short story, classic, and modern. Not bad for random selection.

Monday, 23 May 2011

NEW EVENT: Adam Roberts Evening

Hi all,

Remember when I started out with the book club and I moaned about the lack of genre-events we were getting as a store? Well that seems to be turning around at a good pace and the latest author to enter our store is Adam Roberts. We read his Yellow Blue Tibia back in July and it got largely impressive comments and a very healthy score of 8/10. He's also written the introduction for books like The Inverted World, as well as reviews and academic papers and books on a plethora of other science fiction and fantasy titles and topics.

He's in Liverpool for the academic conference I've organised (full details here if you're interested enough to pay the £30 fee), and was gracious enough to agree to do an event in store the night before. Here are the details:

An Evening With Adam Roberts
Friday 17th June, 6-7.30pm
Waterstone's Liverpool One
Tickets £2, redeemable against any Adam Roberts book bought on the night

Official facebook event (for those who can)

Hope to see plenty of you there!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney


William is a dissolute book-forger. A talented writer in his own right he would rather scribble poems anonymously for an asian friend (who is becoming increasingly successful as a result), and create forgeries of Jane Austen first editions to sell to gullible collectors. He's not all bad. The money from the forgeries goes straight to homeless hostel and William's crimes don't really hurt anyone. And there are reasons William hasn't amounted to more. He did something he was ashamed of when he was a student, he drinks far too much and he can't commit to any relationships. Oh and he sees demons. Shadowy figures at the shoulder of everyone around him (except the woman who runs the hostel, she remains untouched), waiting for a moment's weakness. Or is just that William can see the suffering of the world? And then an extraordinary woman, who may just be able to save him from the world's suffering, walks into his life. This is William's own story. But who can believe a master forger?

What Did We Think?

This book caused quite a bit of discussion about the nature of Fantasy. It won the British Fantasy Award in 2009 and so is clearly recognised as belonging within the confines of the genre, it's also published by Gollancz as clear a genre stamp as any. At the same time, it carries a cover quote from a professor of 19th Century Literature at Royal Holloway University (albeit science fiction author and critic Adam Roberts) and the content of the novel is carefully phrased in such a way that it could easily have been shelved with the "mainstream" fiction, what China Miéville calls the genre of "litfic".

Nonetheless, it was a novel that was found to be artful, poetic, and striking. The character of William Heaney was seen as being a man who despite being massively flawed (and a raging alcoholic) was also immensely likeable and we were very happy for him at the end of the novel, although the criticism was voiced that elements of the ending were perhaps too neat for a novel with such realist tones, that it was perhaps "too pat".

The issues of trauma which were central to the book (both physical and emotional) were convincingly and thoughtfully dealt with. Whilst the war content was not to every reader's taste, in the book-within-the-book, the examination of Gulf Syndrome was a rare and sincere examination of a phenomenon that that has been largely ignored by much military fiction, let alone science fiction or fantasy.

We enjoyed the contrasts between Heaney the self-confessed fraudster and the characters we encounter everyday: beauracrats, celebrity chefs, politicians who are not literal fraudsters in the sense that Heaney is, yet who live their lives behind a veil of lies and deceit which is far more damaging and less easy to empathise with than Heaney's altruistically driven charismatic swindling.

Overall it was a book that everyone enjoyed although that didn't live up to everyone's expectations of a demonic romp through London. Rather than the trad-fantasy that they were expecting it was altogether something more delicate and unique. A touching, but also funny novel which left you thirsty for a glass of red wine....

(Sorry for the short nature of this summary, it's been a busy week. To make up for it checkout Graham Joyce's acceptance speech for the British Fantasy Award and William Heaney's blog where he makes some entertaining comments about his creative writing tutor...)

Votes were as follows: 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9

Monday, 18 April 2011

NEW EVENT: Twisted Tales Hosts China Miéville's Embassytown Book Launch

Yes you read that right. I've arranged for author of The City and The City, which we read, to come into store to do some readings, answer some questions, and sign some books! All in the name of promoting his newest release Embassytown, a science fiction novel.

For full details and more information, I refer you to the Twisted Tales website. I thought you'd want to know....

Embassytown Book Launch
Waterstone’s Liverpool One
6-8pm, Friday May 13th
Tickets £2

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Inverted World by Christopher Priest


A uniquely powerful novel of a society in decay. On a planet whose very nature is a mystery a massive decrepit city is pulled along a massive railway track, laying the line down before it as it progresses into the wilderness. The society within toils under an oppressive regime, its structures always on the point of collapse, the lives of its individuals lived in misery. No one knows where they are going, why they are going or what they will find when they get there.

What Did We Think?

Christopher Priest's Inverted World (1974) delighted the majority of our book club members. It was considered to be, on the whole, beautifully crafted although the structure of the novel did cause some debate, oscillating as it does not just between focal characters but also through first and third-person perspectives. Some readers found this a peculiar and seemingly unnecessary added confusion whilst others found it to be a jolt against complacency and thus a form of hint at the novel's twist ending. There was a practical element too, it was widely agreed that the second section of the novel would not have been half as effective, or indeed affective, had it been in the first person. One reason for this is the emotional detachment which third-person narration allows: our protagonist, Helward Mann, couldn't understand what was happening him as he travelled south 'down past' and a first-person narration would have had to replicate his confusion and bewilderment, making the task of understanding this crucial episode far harder for the reader during this "journey through faerie". In addition, a third-person narration allowed the numerous sex scenes in this part of the novel to avoid falling into the realms of erotica.

The sexual content of the book was another focus for the group. The motivations of the women as they become seemingly more and more sexually promiscuous were unclear. Whilst we acknowledged that Helward had different moral and emotional boundaries to us due to his very different upbringing, this element of the novel, dubbed a "sexcapade" was largely seen as peculiar and mostly unnecessary. Certainly it did nothing to advance the plot other than provide something for Helward to do on his journey south. In many ways the fact these scenes were not intended to be titillating - as so many similar sections might be in lesser sf fare - made their inclusion all the more confusing.

Criticism of the sex scenes should not be taken as criticism of the gender roles in Inverted World. On the whole Priest does a brilliant job of providing interesting and faceted female characters who prove crucial in driving the plot. Indeed, Victoria and Elizabeth prove to be far more important characters in the novel than Helward in that they are the driving forces behind the plot whilst Helward is simply the catalyst who brings them all together.

Overall, Inverted World was seen as being a novel which despite its age felt fresh and modern. It was enjoyable and absorbing despite, or perhaps because of, being at times remarkably complex. A worthy Masterwork.

Votes were as follows: 7 (in absentia), 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi


Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of the rich. Engineered as slaves, soldiers and toys, they are the new underclass in a chilling near future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. And as Lake becomes increasingly obsessed with Emiko, conspiracies breed in the heat and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. Businessmen and ministry officials, wealthy foreigners and landless refugees all have their own agendas. But no one anticipates the devastating influence of the Windup Girl.

This astonishing debut novel was named 9th best book of 2009 in TIME magazine. It won the Nebula award for Best Novel, was joint-winner for the Hugo award for Best Novel (a tie with China Miéville's The City and The City [which we've already read] and a plethora of other awards. It has been nominated for the 2010 British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel, results pending.

What Did We Think?

The first thing to point out is that despite the emphasis on Anderson Lake in the above synopsis, this novel doesn't really have a protagonist. There is no set "main character" but rather an ensemble cast of multiple characters whose lives intertwine and crossover to varying degrees. Another thing to note is that none of these characters are what we could call "good guys", there are no heroes in Bacigalupi's world. By the end of the novel we felt sorry for pretty much everyone because whilst there are no truly good people there are no truly evil people either (except perhaps the faceless organisations behind the scenes). The character development was subtle and effective. Despite hopping from character to character we never lost track of where we were or what was going on, something helped by the novel's strong pacing.

It was not universal praise as far as the characters were concerned however. The author's emphasis on Emiko (the eponymous Windup Girl) as a sexual object was hard hitting, especially in the rape scenes, but understandable. However, there were moments when we're alone with the character, inside her mind, and this emphasis on sexuality continues. This was problematic as it sends confusing  messages to the reader about how they should feel about Emiko. The worst instance of this was the "showering" scenes on the roof top where the flow of water and soap is described too sensually, detracting from the fact that this girl has just been violently and horrifically sexually assaulted and raped. That said, it was argued that Emiko's is the most effective character arc, that she grows more than any other character and, from some perspectives, comes closest to having a happy ending at the close of the novel as she is offered a possibility for something she never dreamed possible [he says edgily trying to spoil anything for those who have yet to read it].

This is a dystopia, the word biopunk has been bandied around, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (discussed by this book club already) thematically at least. More than anything this is a capitalist dystopia with layers of big business dominance, union politics, and the kind of arrogance we've come to see from our own capitalist leaders. This is also a rare example of a trade war being made to sound interesting in fiction.

Overall, The Windup Girl is a wonderfully written book, which evokes place and mood with a skill far beyond most debut novelists. It has interesting and relevant themes and realistically flawed characters that we can enjoy. Whilst almost everything is kept in a morally grey area (as in most dystopian fiction) - with the possible exception of Jaidee who casts a long shadow on the plot, despite being dead for most of it - this allows the reader to enjoy the plot without feeling put-upon and to form their own opinions. Bacigalupi mixes real science with touches of magical realism (the Cheshires, the ghosts) and a flavour of the far-east that comes across as genuine.
Votes were as follows: 1, 7, 8, 8, 8 ,8, 9, 9, 10


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

One by Conrad Williams


This is the United Kingdom, but it's no country you know. No place you ever want to see, even in the shuttered madness of your worst dreams. But you survived. One man. You walk because you have no choice. At the end of this molten road, running along the spine of a burned, battered country, your little boy is either alive or dead. You have to know. You have to find an end to it all. One hope. The sky crawls with venomous cloud and burning rain. The land is a scorched sprawl of rubble and corpses. Rats have risen from the depths to gorge on the carrion. A glittering dust coats everything and it hides a terrible secret. New horrors are taking root. You walk on. One chance.

One won the BFS Award for Best Novel in 2010.

What Did We Think?

Very much a novel of two halves (literally). The first half was seen as being exciting fun science fictional post-apocalyptic horror with powerful imagery and realistic and interesting situations and emotions from the survivors.

The second half however fell foul of many of the group as it was seen as being more fantastical and less plausible than the first. Whilst the emotions still felt genuine the situation did not and the finale left too many issues unsatisfactorily resolved for many: crucially the enigma of Jane's guardian angel.

Overall, the novel was superbly well written with many a wonderful turn of phrase and impressed even the non-horror fans in the group, however the second half just wasn't the cup-of-tea of enough people in the group and so the book's score suffered because of it.

Votes were as follows: 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Events Reminder

Hi all,
I know, I know - I haven't been as good to this blog as it deserves and there are far too many [coming soon] sections dotted around. But I hope you're all well and looking forward to the next discussion session on Feb 7th.

Before then I have two pieces of event news to pass along which I thought would be relevant.

First off - FRIDAY 28th JANUARY (that's this Friday) is Twisted Tales #3. Horror readings by great published authors. What makes this one notable for you guys though is that the headline act is Conrad Williams, winner of the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel - and that novel is One, the next book on our reading list. If you want to come along, hear him read a short story, ask some questions about One, or anything else, and get your book(s) signed then by all means come along. Tickets are £2 each but that includes entry to a prize draw to win some pretty brilliant prizes, plus anything you buy on the night you get £2 off (thus making your money back instantly - bargain). The event starts at 6pm.

Hope to see you all there.

The second event is a signing by Joe Abercrombie on WEDNESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY. Joe's fiction is gritty fantasy in a similar vein to The Steel Remains which we read way back in November 2009. A friend of mine who is somewhat of an expert in these things (he's doing his PhD in Fantasy Literature) cites Joe Abercrombie as 'the natural successor to Gemmell... just with a little more grit, moral ambiguity and believable military.' So if that sounds like your cup of tea, or something you might be interested in then you should come along. He'll be signing copies of his new book The Heroes which is the first in a new series so a nice place to start with his fiction. However he'll also be happy to sign anything you bring from his back catalogue too so go crazy and buy the lot! The signing starts at 12.30 and will go on for as long as it can.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me' So begins the tale of Kvothe - currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeepter - from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.

What Did We Think?

[Notes Coming Soon]

Votes were as follows: 7, (8 in absentia), 8, 8, 10, 10

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny


Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world? Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. 

What Did We Think?

 (Notes Coming Soon)

Votes were as follows: 8, 9, 9, 9, a 6 given in absentia, plus two abstains