Book Descriptions

Thinking about reading a book the discussion group has already read? We recommend you do! Here are some descriptions to help you pick. They are listed in the order in which we read them.

October 2002: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Nominated for the 2002 Hugo Awards, American Gods will hold you spellbound as you follow Shadow out of almost-comfortable reality and into the oncoming storm of war between the old and young American Gods. Gaiman's best novel so far.

November 2002: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Another Hugo Nominee, Curse of Chalion includes many standard fantasy elements - magic, gods, goddesses, earnest young maidens, handsome young fighting men, a mother who may not be as mad as she seems, a tyrannous arm of state, a suprisingly insightful and dedicated tutor and, oh yes, the royal family curse...
Though it bears few surprises, this novel is highly enjoyable to read and will give us plenty to talk about.

January 2003: Trouble and her Friends by Melissa Scott...

Winner of the John W. Campbell award for best new writer and the Gay/Lesbian SF award, Melissa will be our author Guest of Honor at ConFusion 2003. Trouble is described as a low-key cyberpunk mystery set in a time when computer networks have become the turf of a group called ``netwalkers.'' Our heroine, India, has quit the hacker life to become a ``syscop'' for a small art co-op, has found her life disrupted by hacker bragging about system break-ins and using the alias Trouble, which India used in her semi-outlaw days.

February 2003: Med Ship by Murray Leinster

We are only reading the first story, "Med Ship Man" for our disccussion, but you can feel free to read the whole book, classic Golden Age SF about the adventures of Calhoun, a physician with the Interstellar Medical Service. He travels the galaxy in a small spaceship with his pet and companion, Murgatroyd. Each story is self-contained, and tells of Calhoun's adventures on a new planet with a new plague.

March 2003: The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick

Winner of the 1963 Hugo, an alternate history set in the Pacific States of America, where Mr. Tagomi, a minor official in the Japanese Trade Ministry, is in charge of the city of San Francisco. America lost the war and was split, the east occupied by Nazi Germany, the west by Japan. A german naval intelligence agent is on his way to San Francisco to meet secretly with the Japanese, in poor Mr. Tagomi's office.
Meanwhile Frank Frink tries to start a jewelry business, aware that at any moment he could be arrested and deported to the East Coast for the crime of being Jewish. He'll get no trial under German law, just a sentence of death.

Everyone in the book is reading an underground bestseller, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, an alternate history in which America won the war, and everyone consults the I Ching, which says:

28. Ta Kuo (Excess):

 The Judgment:
 Preponderance of the Great.
 The ridgepole sags to the breaking point.
 It is favourable to have a destination.

 The Image:
 The lake rises above the trees:
 The image of Preponderance of the Great.
 Thus the superior man, when he stands alone,
 Is unconcerned;
 If he must renounce the world,
 He is undaunted.

April 2003: The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein

Certainly one of Heinlein's most enjoyable books, with one of the best feline characters in fiction, Dan Davis' cat Pete, an independent soul who expresses himself without a single line of dialog (he is, after all, a cat). The story, written in 1956, includes cryogenic suspension, time travel, practical robotic engineering, and love bitterly betrayed. I first read the book while at IBM working as a summer co-op in manufacturing engineering, and found Heinlein's description of an engineering job much like the real world.

May 2003: To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey

Four extraordinary women who read minds, heal bodies, divert disasters, foretell the future, and become pariahs in their own land. An elite cadre of "Talents", they stepped out of the everyday human race....

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