Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club
Meets on the second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Peoria Public Library Lakeview Branch 1137 W. Lake Ave. 61614-5935)
SF/Fantasy Book Discussion Group
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
A job interview arranged by a former teachers leads Madeline "Max" Maxwell to a new career as a time-traveling historian with St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research. The researchers are under strict orders to observe only—no interaction with the locals is allowed. But from her first mission rescuing artifacts from the Great Library of Alexandria, Max soon realizes that time travel is a dangerous activity and that history will go to elaborate lengths to protect itself.
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
'The body you are wearing used to be mine.' So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking memberof a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain.
Classics month: Magic, Inc. by Robert Heinlein and Neuromancer by William Gibson (choose one or read both!)
A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe
It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.
E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.
A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.
May 8 The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
After her creator dies en route to America, Chava, a golem from a Polish shtetl, must navigate the streets of 1899 New York City by herself -- her only ally is a rabbi unsure whether to destroy her, or allow her to fulfill her destiny as the harbinger of destruction. Ahmad, a jinni from Syria's deserts has been released from his thousand-year-old glass bottle by a tinsmith but has little intention of remaining a metalworker, despite his uncanny talent for it. Chava and Ahmad meet and discover that they're soul mates, but a dangerous adversary threatens their future. This vibrant blend of myth, adventure, and romance will enchant fans of stories based on folklore.
Frontier Earth by Bruce Boxleitner
An alien sent to warn Earth of an invasion lands in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881--right in the middle of the OK Corral gunfight--with two bounty hunters on his tail and war about to break out in this frontier town.
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Bowen's debut, a fantastical coming-of-age Western, introduces half-Native American, half-African American teenager Nettie Lonesome. Raised by foster parents who treat her like a slave, Nettie learned early on how to take care of herself, and she isn't too surprised when she can suddenly see monsters no one else seems to notice. Nettie dresses and lives as a man, while working as a ranch hand, and has interests in both men and women, one of many elements that makes this first novel stand far above the usual fantasy crowd. Incorporating Native American and Western myths, plus Nettie's multicultural heritage and characters from a wide range of backgrounds, this is a must-read.
Saturn Run John Sandford
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.
A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.
The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.
The Family Trade by Charles Stross
Reporter Miriam Beckstein uncovers a money-laundering scheme but instead of acquiring the scoop, she finds her job terminated and her life threatened. When Miriam receives a locket belonging to her murdered birth mother, she stumbles into a strange "other world" of mounted knights armed with automatic weapons and noblemen who are also merchants in a highly competitive and lethal reality, one to which she was born. Blending the surreal hip fantasy of Roger Zelazny's "Amber" series with the modern drama of The Sopranos, Stross's (Singularity Sky ) latest novel features a determined, independent heroine ready to make the best of a whole new life.
October 9 (OFF-SITE)
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
In this entrancing alternate history, Kowal (the Glamourist Histories series) introduces the Spirit Corps, a group that communicates with recently killed soldiers to gather important wartime information. It’s the summer of 1916, and American medium Ginger Stuyvesant works with the British Army at Le Havre to coordinate and lead spirit circles. When her intelligence officer fiancé, Capt. Benjamin Harford, uncovers a German plot to target the Spirit Corps and is sent to the front soon after, Ginger must use every power at her disposal to track down a traitor and protect the corps. Kowal’s depiction of spiritualism is richly imagined, and its complications and consequences are thoughtfully considered. Her depiction of the Western Front includes diverse characters often neglected in wartime stories: the many people who help Ginger include women young and old, people of color, and disabled veterans, all of whom are dismissed by the British men in charge. The well-drawn characters and the story’s gripping action and deep emotion will captivate readers.
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
SFWA Grand Master Willis returns to farcical romantic comedy (and timely social satire) in this near-future novel. Briddy Flannigan, an executive at Apple rival Commspan, knows that keeping secrets is futile when social connectivity is a global obsession. Hours after boyfriend and coworker Trent Worth proposes, they undergo the hip new “minor enhancement procedure,” called an EED, that links lovers emotionally, and Briddy is bombarded with digital congratulations. Only her meddlesome Irish American family and C. B. Schwartz, Commspan’s eccentric, basement-dwelling genius, object. Naturally, the EED misfires: instead of Trent, Briddy gets connected to C. B., and instead of emotions, she gets telepathy. With C. B. in her head, Briddy has more secrets than ever. Briddy’s persistent internal monologue is funny, vulnerable, and skeptical, but as she tosses off lie after lie, she reveals the gulf between surface connections and true intimacy we all struggle to fill. C. B. is a gleefully manic presence, given to passionate tirades on everything from Hedy Lamarr to Lucky Charms. Alongside the central romance, Willis lampoons such diverse elements as helicopter parenting, corporate espionage, and Internet dating. This novel is full of Willis’ trademarks—thematically rich storytelling, fascinating historical trivia, quick-witted repartee, and plausible speculative technology—and has fun with them, too.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
England is losing its magic, and the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers normally turns for guidance to its Sorceror Royal. However, Zacharias Wythe is nearly a pariah to the society. Not only is he the freed child of African slaves, but his adoptive father, Sir Stephen Wythe, died under mysterious circumstances, and everyone assumes that the blame lies with his successor. Suffering under the weight of social rejection, Zacharias attempts to discover the truth behind his nation’s dwindling magic. In the meantime, he meets Miss Prunella Gentleman, a young woman of unknown parentage and magical gifts who turns the idea that women must suppress their magical talents on its head. Prunella wishes to enter society and make a life for herself but hides a magical secret that could make or break the future of England itself. As Zacharias and Prunella work towards their respective goals, they find that their paths end up more connected than perceived as they travel a road strewn with foreign witches, fairies, and familiars. Cho’s entertaining, fantastical debut brings past and current issues of diversity and social class to light with charm, wit, and magic.