2008/09/23

British Fantasy Awards

Posted in fantastic literature, meetings tagged , , at 10:00 am by åka

At Locus Online, I see that a list of winners and finalists of the British Fantasy Awards is available. Perhaps of interest.


Don’t forget that our next regular meeting will take place on the second Tuesday of October (that is Oct 14) at The Sleepless Goat! Time: 7 pm. This will be a general book recommendation meeting.

2008/09/20

Convention in Montreal

Posted in fandom tagged , , , , at 8:22 am by åka

The next science fiction convention not too far from Kingston is Con*Cept in Montreal, October 17-19. One of the Guests of Honour is David Brin, author of among other things the Uplift books, about a future where humans have helped many other animals to reach conciousness and intelligence.

A fan-run convention is usually a very relaxed event, with lots of space to socialize and meet people. In contrast to the more commercial events, meeting people is actually the most important point. One way of getting involved and see things a bit from the inside is to volunteer. Usually it’s possible to volunteer for only a few hours, just to help out with some practical things — in that way you will not miss much of the programming.

At a convention, you can expect to see more discussion panels than lectures and readings. Here, pros and fans talk about a topic, and might also answer questions from the audience. Sometimes panels drift off the topic, and the quality of the discussion depends a lot on the moderator. If you know a lot about something, you can also volunteer for panels!

Many authors like to go to conventions, even if they are not invited as guests (not everyone can be a guest every time!).

You can also expect parties, of course. Especially if you stay at the convention hotel. And a masquerade, where people show off their costumes (see pictures on the convention website). Other common ingredients are the art show and a dealers room. Lots of fun!

I’m probably going. Are you?

2008/09/10

Summary of the September meeting

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:17 pm by åka

The September meeting took place yesterday at The Sleepless Goat, and it was possibly the longest and most lively meeting in the young history of our group. Four were present: M, S, Penny, and myself. (No new faces, despite our fancy colour flyers. But we are not giving up!)

After some initial chatter about summer and future travel plans we started to actually talk about books.

I had a pile of books from the library. Last year we read Keeping it Real by Justina Robson, and now we talked a little about the sequel Selling Out. M has already read it, and I’m looking forward to.

S is reading (***forgotten, will fill in the title and author when I’ve found out). Penny is reading (***same here… crappy notes!)

What was the best book you read over summer? This turned out to be a more difficult question that it sounds like, because we had to try to remember what we have read. M could not remember at all, except that it was many. I mentioned how I have been writing down every book I finish for ten years. Of course I didn’t have my list with me, so it didn’t help much.

Together we started filling out a questionnaire for SF/F book groups. The most interesting question was perhaps the one about what makes a book (or story) discussionable. We agreed that it has to bee exceptional in some way — very good or very bad, or somewhat controversial so that you want to argue with (or about) it.

To illustrate discussability I mentioned two stories from a collection of seminal science fiction stories (in Swedish translation) I’m reading now.

“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury had a explanation of the butterfly effect (perhaps originally named after this story) that I found stupid (although the effect itself was well described and the story was good). This made us talk about chaos, alternate histories and the importance of individuals. I mentioned The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson as an example of an interesting and well executed alternate history. (I could also mention his short story collection Vinland the Dream, where he among other things explores the questions about the sensitivity of history on particular events.)

The other story was “No Woman Born” by C.L.Moore, led to a discussion about human nature, and about self-knowledge. S made a comment about the connection to literacy, therefore the discussion took a turn to be about education, education politics and policies and funding — and led to an increasingly heated (but good-natured) political discussion.

After this we needed to talk about something else. Penny had a great idea about having a meeting where we read a book and watch a movie adaptation. We decided to have a special meeting. We are going to read War of the Worlds and watch at least one of the movies — perhaps two. We’ll have a potluck dinner and make a full movie night, and M offered to host it. The regular October meeting will still take place, of course.

The subject of movie adaptations of books made us express some opinions on the Lord of the Rings movies, and talk a bit about Batman (and other comics). S mentioned inofficial lobby groups putting pressure on publishers and television producers to control the content of what they produce. We were close to a political discussion again, but I turned it to books by recommending Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (about control of information, note that the whole book is available on the author website — follow the link!) and the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (money and large companies controling the world). In this short report I have mentioned Stan Robinson three times. Have I ever told you that he is my favourite author?

Another point on the questionnaire was if our group has any contact with fandom. What is fandom? The short answer is that it’s the informal network of people that has existed around the science fiction (and fantasy) genre since the 1920’s. A slightly longer answer can be found here: a not so new but still good web resource about fandom, with a Canadian angle.

Next regular meeting: Tuesday October 14, 7PM at The Sleepless Goat!

2008/09/03

September meeting on Tuesday 9!

Posted in meetings at 8:12 am by åka

Frosh week madness is spreading over campus (and spilling over into town). This does not affect our meeting schedule: the second Tuesday of every month it is! This means that we will gather at The Sleepless Goat at 7pm on Tuesday September 9. See you there! Let’s talk about what we have read over summer! And perhaps have some opinions about the Hugo Award winners of this year.

See you there!