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 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.


  1. Sorry i couldn't make it, I had to bake a cake! lol

  2. When the urge strikes you you've just gotta bake! Did you read (and if so enjoy) the book?

  3. Haha lol - well yeah but this was someone else's urge - I sell cakes part time so can't argue when somoene's paying you! I finished most of the book, only had about 3 or 4 stories left. I did like it, though it was very strange and some stories I didn't 'get'. I think I actually really like the first one best :)
    By the way, this site won't let me post under my normal blogger account, says i don't have permissions, hence my anaonymous status.