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, 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

1 comment:

  1. a very enjoyable worked book, not quite what i expected, i.e. zombies or a psychological decline into madness. the heroes desire to travel to london for his son is a thread which holds the rest of the story together in many ways otherwise he would not have had to have travelled. the first contact with another human being, after The Event, dispels the initial idea,he is the only One.
    the journey itself is well detailed and glimpses into the survival possibilities do give credance to his son's survival being possible. his companions found and lost allow for some very good humanistic values, such as when the two australians are arguing and as he declares the end of the world and she still dumps him over nothing. the hunt for food was convenient at times, did find it difficult to believe that the heat of the Event made machines and cars heat to destruction but tins of beans remained edible. and bottles of plastic water still intact.
    the mystery of the skull is hinted at and not fully utilised, i think this was a strong possible which petered out to nothing in the end.
    the journey to London, via Newcastle, was by necessity short and detailed enough to envision what would be awaiting them in London.
    The time jump from entering London was a bit unecessary/necessary not decided yet but helped the story develop. the survivors in the numbers was a bit surprising but assuming that the tubes are packed feasible.
    enter the Skinners, as hinted at earlier that the bodies where not decaying as they should developed into alien parasites intent on eating everything that was still alive. much better idea than they all turned into zombies...ish. we find that they kill and eat the men on contact but capture the women for something horrendous as the only surviving female is to traumatised to even describe what she has seen.
    after escaping from London via a ring of Skinners, they manage to get to a raft, bit obvious, though necessary to allow for some means of hope.
    here we find out what the Skinners are doing with the women, if not already figured it out that is.
    enjoyed this but it has so many holes in it.
    the food and water
    cars not working but still intact, petrol does explode when super heated
    the Skinners are afraid of only fire, but build large bonfires.
    the womans captivity not ring as plausible
    humans can kill the Skinners but are to afraid of them, even in numbers.
    the ring of Skinners, they knew what was happening but nobody tried fire to get through
    no defense against them in their headquarters, i.e. fire rings set up
    think this was a very good story but appeared to miss the one aspect of human nature which would have helped, survival instincts when backed into a corner.
    would have given story 7 out of 10