Orange County Science Fiction Club Orange County Science Fiction Club

Past Meetings

---- 2011 ----

November 30, 2011 NEW MEETING PLACE!

  • Guest/program: " PARALLEL WORLDS, PARALLEL LIVES" Video

    Do you remember an episode of the original Star Trek " Mirror Mirror" written by Jerome Bixby? In it an ion storm interferes with the transporter and Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura end up swapped with their duplicates from a parallel universe. That parallel universe was a bit different from the normal Star Trek Universe with the alternate universe's culture based on fear and advancement by assassination.

    Whether the episode's plot was spawned by complete fantasy or some projection of the latest theoretical physics from a paper of physicist Hugh Everett III published in 1957 which proposed his Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum physics we can never know. Jerome BIxby died in 1998..

    Unhappy with the scorn garnered by his theory from the physics establishment, Hugh left his career in physics when he completed his PhD. His math skills and insight led him to the development of LaGrangian multipliers for operations research and applications for his new career as a defense analyst and consultant which he pursued until he died at the early age of 51.

    The murky genesis behind the idea of "Mirror Mirror" might be explained by Hugh's other interests. Hugh's friend, Harold Arnold, characterized Hugh as "... spending most of the time buried in a science fiction book..." He's definitely our kind of physicist! While I think the idea might be attributable to an SF author, Hugh actually figured out how and why such parallel universes might exist.

    In the video, Hugh's son Mark interviews his father's colleagues and other physicists about Hugh's Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Through these conversations the theory, which is still frequently discussed and has many followers, is given an explanation that you don't need to be a physicist or mathematician to grasp. And then, you too can contemplate the possibilities and implications it presents.

    This month's book is "The Illustrated Man " by Ray Bradbury

    The Illustrated Man is a book of eighteen science fiction short stories that explores the nature of mankind. While none of the stories has a plot or character connection with the next, a recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of people. The unrelated stories are tied together by "the Illustrated Man," a vagrant with a tattooed body whom the unnamed narrator meets. The man's tattoos, allegedly created by a woman from the future, are animated and each tell a different tale.

    The appeal of this book was mixed. Some liked the short stories in the book, or at least some of them. For others, the works didn't resonate. They are bleak, spare tales without happy endings, often with one note plots and unidimensional characters, and the framework of the illustrated man is a somewhat arbitrary trick to tie a disparate collection of short stories together.

    With the exception of The Fox and the Forest, none of these stories really qualify as Science Fiction. They are best though of as fables: retrofuturistic fables from the 40's and 50's; and if one likes collections fables such as Grimm's fairy tales and approaches this collection in that light, then this collection will connect with you. Like in Grimm's fairy tales, a lot of these stories are pretty grim and have a moralistic tone to them. And like Grimm's entire collection of fairy tales, there are some hits and misses. We remember and revisit the best of Grimm's fairy tales, but a lot of them, the ones you are not familiar with, are pretty pedestrian. Bradbury's stories are similar. Some are showing their age, but other's like Rocket Man are still poignant, timeless and transcendent and will always be worth reading.

    Availability: Moderately priced on Amazon, Widely available in libraries.

    256 pages
    Pub. 1951.

October 26, 2011 NEW MEETING PLACE!

  • Guest/program: Artist Katherine Wadey


    Katherine Wadey has been a long time fan of Fantasy and Science Fiction since the Sixties. That's also when she joined LASFS. She shares her visions through pantings like the dragon above, And, she is a fan of gaming where she shares her imagination with her paintings bringing the gamers' worlds to life.

    Although she's spending a lot of her time these days enjoying her two grand-children and using her studio space as playground and sleeping space for a 4 year old, she has plenty of art to look in web galleries accessible through the following links.
    Deviant Art

    Katherine has worked many conventions so you might recognize her from attending LOSCON, WesterCon, or World Con. And, her friends include several noted authors.

    This month's book is "Conjure Wife " by Fritz Leiber

    "Professor Norman Saylor considered magic nothing more than superstition. Then he learned that his own wife was a practicing sorceress. But he still refuses to accept the truth…that in the secret occult warfare that governs our lives, magic is a matter of life and death. And that unbeknownst to men, every woman knows it."

    The work started out as a short story in 1943 and was expanded into a novel in 1953. It earns its title as a classic by being ahead of its time: a horror fantasy set in the modern urban world, something that did not come into vogue for another 20 years; and it still holds up.

    The group generally liked it. The writing and characterization show a level of maturity that is amazing considering that the original short story was one of his earlier works. In terms of modern, urban horror though, the field has been developed considerably since Lieber's initial foray into it, so, in terms of sheer menace, it doesn't come near such classics as Rosemary's Baby For those of you who are affectionados of the genera, it will be a satisfying read, particularly if it is also enjoyed as a historical satire of the sexual and academic politics of the time.

    Availability: AMZ-U Braille-RC LAPL

    224 pages
    Pub. 1943.

September 28, 2011 NEW MEETING PLACE!

  • Guest/program: Open meeting - no guest <

    A lot of the time was taken up with a discussion of the grouplist.

    As group list moderator [Dave Moore], I explained that while I thought posts with a specific political or religious agenda were not suitable for our grouplist, I did not think that when the online conversation wandered into these areas or wandered off the topic of Science Fiction that it merited any sanction; however, the consensus at the meeting was that post on the group list should stick strictly to Science Fictional topics (we'll include Fantasy here) and that if the grouplist conversation goes off topic members who want to continue the discussion should privately email each other.

    So that is the new moderator policy for the group.

    There are about 70 who do not post but obviously see some value in our list, and we are interested in whether the off-topic posts were a feature of the list or a detriment. People lurking out there, we are interested in why you subscribe to the list.

    Ken Williams also put some effort into his suggestion of replacing this current Yahoo Groups mailing list with a web based multi-forum message board.

    If you wish to view the forum, click this link:

    Your feedback on this is also appreciated.

    Please note that while feedback to these changes will be taken into account those of you who wish to lobby for a change in the grouplist rules must make presentations at the meeting unless you can get someone attending the meeting to carry the can for you.

    The original and still main purpose of this list is to draw new members to our group meetings.

    Dave Moore

    This month's book is "Memory and Dream " by Charles de Lint

    The Otherworld tends to lurk just out of sight in DeLint's (Moonheart; Spiritwalk) works, waiting for some chink to appear in the facade of his characters' lives and allow its spirits entry. This latest work is no exception; here fantastic creatures gain access to the bohemian village of Newford through the work of Isabelle, a talented young painter. Apprenticing herself to the troll-like master painter Rushkin, Isabelle learns to paint amazing creatures-creations that subsequently take on a (possibly evil) life of their own.

    Generally, the response to this book by the group was positive; although, some of us found it a little slow paced. If one word could be used to sum up the novel, I'd say "evocative." The writing is of the highest caliber and draws both the characters and setting with an artful delicacy, starting first with modern times and subtly weaving in the fantasy elements to produce a unique world. This is not you standard high-fantasy with Tolkeinesque tropes. Readers felt the tone and style reminded them of Victorian fantasies, or, of more modern works, that of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark.

    Whether this book would appeal to readers of SF depends on how much the word evocative resonates with you. If it does, you'll like the book. If you have wide reading tastes and are only mildly inclined to this sort of thing, then I think you may still like the book such is the quality of its prose. If, however, you like your SF strictly hard or feel dissatisfied if body count does not reach a certain minimal total per page, then this probably isn't the book for you.

    AvaAvailability: Cheap Amazon, Some Libraries

    400 pages Pub. 2007

August 31, 2011 NEW MEETING PLACE!

  • Guest/program: Scott Dickerson, Author

    Scott is the creator of a new series of Tom Swift stories writing under the traditional publishing house pseudonym of "Victor Appleton" but adding a "II" to distinguish it from the original series "author."

    The stories are available on-line at the website: Tom Swift Lives!

    and are listed and described on the website: The Complete Tom Swift Jr. Home Page


    This month's book is "The Master And Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov

    (Note: this is a change for our original pick.)

    A fantasyfull satire on life in Russia under Stalin, this story includes a visit by the devil to the Moscow writer's federation, an enormous walking, talking black cat named Behemoth, and other assorted mythological creatures. The book is all at once a comment on a writer's life under Stalin, a reworking of the stories of Pontius Pilate and Faust and at the same time."

    Note: the Burgin/O’Connor translation is considered the best.

    One of the surprising things about this book is how modern it feels. Its magical realism written 40 years before magical realism. The book weaves three stories together. In the first, set in the thirties, the devil comes down to Moscow and wreaks havoc, which is particularly embarrassing, as Communist Russia at that time is avowedly atheist and therefor his existence cannot be admitted. As devils go, he's not particularly evil, more mischievous--a trickster whose antics tear holes in the carefully woven social fabric that covers the ugly truths of the time.

    The second thread deals with Margarita, a well-to-do wife who will do anything, including a do a deal with the devil, to get back with her lover, the master. The master has written a book about Pontius Pilate's dealings with a public nuisance named Yeshua, but it has been rejected and he is in a mental institution.

    The 3rd thread is the narrative of Jesus's crucifixion mainly from Pontius Pilates' point of view.

    The first and third thread weave together on the theme on political expediency. The reason for the second thread is less obvious. We all found the ending a little weak, but Bulgakov died before he could do his final revision.

    The reader's group members response to this the book ranged from mildly enthusiastic the very enthusiastic; the variation due to the nature of the the novel. Bulgakov' fantastical storytelling is engaging and entertaining but the substance of the book is fairly impenetrable, so your reaction will depend on how you respond to these conflicting properties.

    The Burgin/O’Connor translation is considered the best and is well annotated. I read the Michael Glenny translation which is a little less accurate but a little more colloquial. I would recommend also consulting some websites about his work to annotate your knowledge of the work.

    Some good ones I've come across:

    This book is not a beach read, but one that, if some effort is made to understand the context of the time and place it was set in and its underlying themes, will provide a rich and enjoyable reading experience for anyone who is not averse to

    Availability: AMZ-U Braille-RC LAPL-cd OCPL-cd

    384 pages 1940, pub. 1967

July 27, 2011

  • Guest/program: Tim Powers and James Blaylock, OC authors, teachers

    We had a great visit with Tim and James who shared a lot of information about their writing with us. We covered Tim's experience with the movie industry with questions about "On Stranger Tides" and heard about his visit to the set during the filming of the "Lighthouse" scene. You can see a recount of this at the following web-site Johnny Depp Reads! enjoy an interview with forever witty Tim and see some neat pictures too.

    Both Tim and James shared some insites into their research techniques and resources.

    Tim Powers teaches creative writing at the Orange County High School of the Arts.

    His book "On Stranger Tides," gave Disney the title and quest objective (the Fountain of Youth) for their movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

    Tim is a Philip K Dick Award Winner for "Dinner at Deviant's Palace" and was nominated for a Nebula as well as several World Fantasy Awards.

    His book "The Stress of Her Regard" was a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winner. And, "The Last Call" was the LOCUS Fantasy Award Winner and the World Fantasy Award winner in 1993 and in 2001 "Declare" was also a World Fantasy Award winner

    James Blaylock, is winner of the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award and two time winner of The World Fantasy Award,

    James Blaylock contiues to teach at Chapman University and at the Orange County High School of the Arts.

    His soon to be released "The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs" is another of the Langdon St. Ives adventure published by the Subterranean Press available as a limited signed edition illustrated by J. K. Potter

    In 2009 James published a collection of short stories titled "The Shadow on the Doorstep" and a Langdon St. Ives novel also illustrated by J.K. Potter "The Ebb Tide"

    In 2008 he published two novels "The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives" and "The Knights of the Cornerstone "

    The Landon St. Ives series by James is in the Steampunk genre where James is recognized as a master.

    And these are only since the last time James Blaylock was guest of the club.
    A lot of great books came before them.

    One of them, notably appropo of the May release of the movie "On Stranger Tides," is the book co-authored by Jim and Tim Powers under the name of William Ashbless and illustrated by Gahan Wilson, "On Pirates"

    This month's book is "Blood Music " by Greg Bear

    "renegade biotechnologist Vergil Ulam creates simple biological computers based on his own lymphocytes. Faced with orders from his nervous employer to destroy his work, he injects them into his own body, intending to smuggle the 'noocytes' (as he calls them) out of the company and work on them elsewhere. Inside Ulam's body, the noocytes multiply and evolve rapidly, altering their own genetic material and quickly becoming self-aware." This is an expansion of the Hugo & Nebula Award-winning short story.

    In 1983 Greg Bear wrote the Hugo & Nebula Award-winning short story, Blood Music. In 1985, he expanded it into the novel, which again collected a Hugo and a Nebula. At the time the novel was written, nanotechnology was something new and mind-blowing, certainly Greg's concept was. But that was 26 years ago, and time has worn the concept down to something more mundane.

    Blood Music was a sense-of-wonder novel, but the novelty of the story has gone away--at least for the dedicated SF reader--so, instead, we have a story that has to stand or fall on the elements that carry any story.

    How did the group rate it? Mostly positively. The story had its weaknesses , and the enjoyment of it by our group's members depended very much on their tolerance of these weaknesses.

    The novel starts reasonably well and, for the first half, reads like a good action thriller. As in an action thriller, the characters are not very dimensional and, in this case, not particularly likable either.

    It is in the second half that the novel starts to fall down. The plot becomes more arbitrary and contradictory in places. New ideas are introduced to top up your sense of wonder, but they are not well explored. This results in large quantities of exposition being used to try and explain things. The noocytes start conversing meta-mystically in bold type, which is really annoying. And finally, the story just ends without any real resolution.

    The above tend to be the problems that bedevil many SF stories, particularly hard SF , and this novel is far and away from being the worst offender; so your liking for this book will depend, very much, on your taste.

    Availability:AMZ-U Braille-RC+DB AnaPL FulPL LAPL OCPL

    262 pages Pub. 1985.

June 29, 2011

  • Open meeting.

    The discussion included ideas for future meetings. One idea was to plan a regular video showing about once a year with the members submitting recommendations for things to see based on their own interests. We would discuss the recommendations and try to put together a short list of we would like to watch.

    I suggest that we should do this on the mail list. So, look for some action there.

    I would like some help remembering other subjects we discussed and what direction for further action might have been suggested.

    This month's book is "The Dragon Masters " by Jack Vance

    "Humans have almost been eradicated. Those that remain are mostly slaves of aliens, modified for special uses; except on one planet, where a few remain free. Indeed, these free humans have captured some aliens and radically modified them for their own uses. The hero, Joaz Banbeck, is a very Vancean hero, dour, misogynistic, intelligent but resigned. He has determined that the aliens are due to return, and he tries to organize a defense while dealing with a foolish enemy in the next valley, and also with the reclusive humans who live underneath the ground." Winner of the Hugo Award.

    Reaction to this story was mixed.

    Jack Vance is considered a writer's writer. Such people as Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons and Tanith Lee all site him as a pivotal inspiration. He combines high prose with low motives in unique style that has not bent to the fashions of the times.

    In the "The Dragon Masters" he uses flowing, almost biblical prose, and flowery archaic speech patterns to convincingly dress an exotic far future setting in which the remnants of man struggle to survive but also have time to fight their petty battles. Explanations of the situation and the science involved are minimal. There is no grand story arc. The ending is weak and the characters are not particularly likable. The story is however concise and does not feel dated. It has that timeless feel of a good fairy tale.

    Whether you will like it will very much depend on your taste. You will either be enchanted by poetry and originality of the language and the petty mendacity of the characters or the story will leave you cold.

    Availability: Included in The Jack Vance Treasury. AMZ-U Treasury: Braille-RC+DB FulPL LAPL

    130 pages Pub. 1962.

May 25, 2011

  • Guest/program: Video of the 1/24/2004 OCSFC meeting with PKD Panel

    This is a new multimedia presentation of the meeting when we had a panel of Greg Benford, Tim Powers, James Blaylock, and Paul Williams talk about Philip K Dick who they all knew. The meeting was a "Friends Remembering PKD" for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first Science Fiction novel "Solar Lottary." The entertaining wit from these authors made it a great evening of insight into this great author who made Orange County his home for the last decades of his life.

    The video was two hours long and some had to leave early; but, most stayed and enjoyed the video. Much remembered and a good number of laughs.

    This month's book is "To Say Nothing of the Dog " by Connie Willis

    By popular acclaim, we revisited Connie Willis's "To Say Nothing of the Dog."

    In the mid-twenty-first century, the formidable Lady Schrapnell has donated a small fortune to the Oxford University department of time travel in order to rebuild Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed during a Nazi bombing raid. Among the Oxford researchers is Ned Henry, who has made so many drops into the cathedral's past that he's suffering from a dangerously advanced case of "time-lag." The infirmary prescribes two weeks of bed rest with no time travel, but the only way Ned can avoid Lady Schrapnell for that long is to escape into the past -- into Victorian England, to be precise. He just has to run a vital errand in that era for the department first. Unfortunately, Ned's time-lag is so bad that he's not sure what the errand is; but if he fails, history could unravel around him.

    The reader's group was almost uniformly enthusiastic about this book. The basic story is an interwoven time-travel mystery and a comedy of manners that is almost along the lines of Oscar Wilde's plays. The conversation is witty, the characters are delightfully eccentric, the scenery is bucolic, and it is all leavened with a deft wit that is not overstated. All of which makes the book a very enjoyable read.

    On the time travel side of things, the group felt that Connie Willis handled the inherent paradoxes involved with an intelligent set of rules, which she also used to set up and solve a good, solid mystery.

    That been said, this book will not appeal to everybody. It is mainly a story of character, and has a leisurely pace, particularly at the beginning. (Stories involving drifting down a river and enjoying the bucolic countryside are inherently not given to fast-paced action and explosions.) So, your liking for this book will depend on your taste.

    Availability: Cheap Amazon Widely Available in Libraries

    512 pages Pub. 1998.

April 27, 2011

  • Guest/program: Ray Bradbury lecture on DVD
    "An Evening With Ray Bradbury"

    Ray Bradbury, is one of the greatest SF writers of our age.

    Ray spoke at the 6th Annual Writer's Symposium By The Sea in 2001 held at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

    This lecture is about how to become and be a writer.

    There is also an interview of Ray done at the same symposium which we are not showing and both are available from UCSDTV.

    This month's book wss "The Knights of the Cornerstone " by James Blaylock

    304 pages Pub. 2008.

    Calvin Bryson has hidden himself away from the world, losing himself in his work and his collection of rare and quirky books. He never meant to let so much time go by without visiting his aunt and uncle in the tiny town of New Cyprus, California. When he gets there, he'll discover the towns strange secrets and a mysterious group dedicated to preserving and protecting holy relics—a modern-day incarnation of the legendary Knights Templar

    James Blaylock is a fairly prolific local author having approximately 2 dozen novels and short story collections to his name. Most of his works fall within the fantasy field: Steampunk, Fantasy Mysteries, and Supernatural mysteries in a local setting are some of the areas he has worked in. We chose "Knights of the Cornerstone" as it was one of his recent supernatural mysteries.

    While most of the group were entertained by the work, they generally felt the story did not live up to its potential. Those who had read his stories felt it was a reworking of some o his previous work and not to its advantage. This was not a story of any great thematic depth, but such works can frequently be delightful, fun romps. Unfortunately, this story's generally laid back pace and eclectic nature made it more of a pleasant stroll.

    Members of the group, who had read other of his works, did not think this was a good representative sample and felt some of his other novels such as "Night Relics" were much better.


    Amazon Cheap, Some Libraries

March 30, 2011 Our first meeting at Denny's on Chapman in Orange

  • Guest/program: James C. Glass, author and artist

    James C. Glass is a Writers of the Future Grand Prize winner for his story "Georgi" which is now available in his short story collection IMAGININGS OF A DARK MIND

    James has six published novels: Shenji (1991) Empress of Light (2001), The Creators (2002), Visions (2008), The Viper of Portello (2008), and Toth (2009),

    Besides the new collection of short stories already mentioned, James has a collection published in 2004: Matrix Dreams & Other Stories.

    Dr. James C. Glass, now a full time writer, retired from his earlier career in 1999 after thirty five years as a Physics professor when he wrote seventy five technical papers on his research in molecular biophysics and superconductivity.

    We had a great time with James Glass. He told us a lot about his writing and the art of writing in general from his perspective. We got a good look at his skill when he read one of his short stories.

    He told us about his good fortune with audio-books as his novels became popular with long haul truckers. Sadly, that business relied on the original owners who got the tapes into truck-stops and with a change in ownershop the audio publishing and distribution to that market won't continue.

    He also told us his grim outlook for the big bookstore chains, Borders and Barnes & Nobel, with Borders going soon and the other to follow not long after. At least, the clicks (internet) end of the business might survive after the bricks (neighborhood bookstores) vanish leaving only the few independent small specialty bookstores. Consequently, he spent a lot of effert recently to all of his work available as eBooks via the various on-line outlets.

    James related his bio, his early writing, fanzine, working as an engineer for Rocketdyne and then becoming a college Physiics professor, finally retiring to become a full time writer and artist.

    He was a delight as our guest and we look forward to seeing him at LOSCON and having him back to the club in the future.

    This month's book was "The Silver Metal Lover" by Tanith Lee

    304 pages Pub. 1999.

    Tanith Lee is a highly prolific British author. Most of her books are Fantasy and Horror so the number of SF volumes to pick from are slim.

    "The Silver Metal Lover" is a loose retelling of the story of Demeter and Persephone. Jane is a sixteen-year old girl of privilege in a society deeply divided between the wealthy elite and the common mass. Controlled by her mother, she has few independent thoughts of her own, until she meets a handsome, talented humanoid robot who is programmed to make her happy.

    To quote the author on how she got the original idea:

    "Back in England then, I was sitting in the BBC TV Centre in London, talking with some of the people from Blake’s 7, an SF series I had already written an episode for. We were discussing that old question, so ably brought into the light by such brilliant writers as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov - the true relation between Man and Machine. Were they ultimately destined to be enemies - or friends. Something in the conversation stayed with me. If enemies, then was it really a war to the death? And if not enemies - then just how far would tolerance stretch. Romeo and Juliet must then also have intervened. What about a man of metal, a man who was a machine, and therefore ... perfect ... What about a lover made of silver?"

    The story is basically that of a coming of age romance and as such is both widely regarded and popular. Her characterization is strong and the group enjoyed her writing, but as Science Fiction, a work of speculative fiction, it is weak. The setting is arbitrary and poorly explained. There are some intriguing questions raised as to the exact nature of the robot, but the premise of the story explored in a depth more suitable for a short story than novel.

    Those in the readers group who had read her would recommend her but felt that other of her stories were better examples of her work, in the SF field in particular her pair of stories "Don't Bite the Sun" and "Drinking Saffire Wine" were recommended.

    May be at your local library, and is available on Amazon cheap.

February 23, 2011

  • Guest/program: Maria Alexander, author and snarkiologist

    Maria was a delightful guest relating her interesting bio which brought her to her present job as a web content author for Disney. The following links lead to examples of her work: click on the Haunted Mansion pages, and scripts for videos such as this Turtle-talk video (click here)

    Maria also writes poetry and her collection titled "At Louche Ends" will be published this spring. Her poem "39 Regrets" will appear in "A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock"

    Her short story "Though Thy Lips Are Pale" received an Honorable Mention for The 2009 Year's Best Horror.

    And her novelette "UnHollywood" is available as a Kindle edition. It was previously published as "Samantha Blazes: Psychic Detective of L.A" in an anthology.

    This month was spent talking about book selections for the coming year

January 26, 2011

  • Guest/program: Lin Sten, author and film producer/director,

    Lin started with a little background on himself and then began to go through some of his writing beginning with some poetry. He read several which were very nice. Lin Sten's most recent work is a novel

    a save the Earth story with a girl who claims to be an alien and the man who loves her. It was published in May 2010.
    Lin read several parts from "Mine" to give us a flavor of his prose and the characters in his fiction. Some very clever ideas appeared in the sections he chose to read.
    In 2008 Lin, who also teaches math, published a introduction to Probability
    The Simple Sorcerer's Illustrated Probability Primer"

    Sten published a non-fiction book in 1999

    "Souls, Slavery and Survival in the Molenotech Age"
    was reviewed as a futurist's insights cautioning us not to "ignore the serious and detrimental implications of technology."

    Lin didn't say a lot about the film: "Star Worms II: Attack of the Pleasure Pods." which he produced and directed and released in 1995..But, he did bring some copies of the poster for the film which he gave to several members along with a couple of his books via a lottery of sorts.

    This month's book is "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi

    300 pages Pub. September 15, 2009.

    The 2009 Nebula award winner.

    In a dystopian future of oil scarcity, global warming, bioterrorism and genetic engineering, weaponized viruses have ravaged the world's food crops, so most of the world is now beholden to large, American agribusinesses. They have the monopoly on disease resistant seeds, which are sterile. Each year the world has to pay their price or starve. There is one holdout though, Thailand, which through indigenous ingenuity and ruthless isolation maintains its independence in seed stocks. This novel follows the machinations of an agribusiness representative to open up the Thai market.

    The author has spent considerable time in Thailand and this shows as the novel unfolds with an exotic realism that matches John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" or William Gibson's "Neuromancer."

    It is a grim, poverty stricken world though; there is a moral ambiguity to each of the many viewpoint characters as they struggles for position. This turned off some of the readers; it is not a fun book and there are no simple heroes to identify with. The moral complexity of the story did, however, strongly appeal to other members of our group, which found this aspect both thoughtful and challenging.

    I found the book slow off the mark and the ending is a little deus ex machina. Despite its various weaknesses, I found it a worthwhile read, it's strength being in the future it builds. The book's appeal, though, will be a matter of taste.

    This month, we were supposed to pick titles for the year, but because turnout was so low, we settled on something by Tanith Lee for next month.

    Tanith Lee is a British author, who writes mainly horror and fantasy, so finding some fairly available Science Fiction by her proved not to be easy. I therefore settled on "The Silver Metal Lover" (1999) 304 pages, which may be at your local library, and is available on Amazon cheap.

    It is a fairly long book, so if too many of you have trouble finding it and reading it in time for the next meeting, I'll bump it to March and we'll use next month to work out the rest of the year's books.

    This book is available in librariies and for a moderate amount on Amazon.

Prior Years:

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003

Email for more information or call Greg at (949) 552-4925.