Sunday, September 30, 2012

Center For Inquiry fiction book club fall 2012-spring 2013 reading list

Update: we will have a meeting in November 2012 -- see below.

Here is the list of books we'll be discussing in the next few months in the CFI Austin fiction book club.

October 2012: Nancy Kress "Steal Across The Sky"


"The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the internet:

"We are an alien race you may call the Atoners. Ten thousand years ago we wronged humanity profoundly. We cannot undo what has been done, but we wish humanity to understand it. Therefore we request twenty-one volunteers to visit seven planets to Witness for us. We will convey each volunteer there and back in complete safety. Volunteers must speak English. Send requests for electronic applications to"

At first, everyone thought it was a joke. But it wasn't.

This is the story of three of those volunteers, and what they found on Kular A and Kular B."

November 2012: Mark Twain "Mysterious Stranger". In this Mark Twain's last, unfinished novel, a young Satan comes to a remote Austrian village. He claims to be able to foresee the future and informs the group of unfortunate events that will soon befall those they care about. The boys don't believe Satan's claims until one of his predictions comes true.

December 2012: Octavia Butler "Parable of the Sower"

From "When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny... and the birth of a new faith."

January 2012: Michael Bishop "Close Encounters with a Deity" - a story collection.

From "The book's unifying theme is man's concept of the Deity. Bishop's stories intermingle humor, horror, and awe in a manner similar to Vonnegut."

February 2012: Jonathan Strahan, editor, "Godlike Machines"

From "In science fiction, nothing says sensawunda like a Big Dumb Object--a colossal, extremely powerful machine of unknown purpose and origin. It's that feeling that editor Jonathan Strahan was after when he asked six of today's finest authors to write for Godlike Machines. And they succeed brilliantly!"

March 2012: Greg Egan "Clockwork Rocket"


"Set in another universe where light does not travel at a constant speed but instead has a velocity that depends on its wavelength, Clockwork Rocket recounts the personal life journey of an inhabitant in this fictional universe."

"Alongside a taut and well imagined story set in a very alien world - complete with a sympathetic range of characters and a well imagined society - Greg Egan develops an entire alternative physics. This isn't just done in a hand waving way, it is properly worked out. The story of Yalda, the scientist who is the main protagonist, is also the story of the discovery of "rotational physics" in her universe, of the implications of that, good and bad, for her planet, and finally - in the construction of the rocket of the title - the story of the action she takes to safeguard that world."

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