Speak, Friend, and Enter!

Welcome to the Beam Me Up International Science Fiction Book Club blog!

“Live long and prosper!” Spock bet Sarek bet Skon bet Solkar

“Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!” Dr. Lazarus of Tev’Meck

All are welcome to join us at our monthly meetings. This is us and this is what we will be reading and discussing.

We’d love to have you at our monthly virtual meeting. Just contact us via the About the Beamers page and we’ll add you to the distribution list.

A star will shine on the hour of our meeting.

Louis L’Amour’s The Haunted Mesa: Virtual Discussion!

Turning from the frontier of genetic engineering to the frontier of the American West and beyond, the Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a virtual session on Louis L’Amour‘s The Haunted Mesa.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, July 8, at 7 pm Eastern.

The Navajo called them the Anasazi: an enigmatic race of southwestern cliff dwellers. For centuries, the sudden disappearance of this proud and noble people has baffled historians. Summoned to a dark desert plateau by a desperate letter form an old friend, renowned investigator Mike Raglan is drawn into a world of mystery, violence, and explosive revelation. Crossing the border beyond the laws of man and nature, he will learn the astonishing legacy of the Anasazi — but not without a price.

Set in the contemporary Southwest, The Haunted Mesa draws on Louis L’Amour’s extensive knowledge of Indian lore and mysticism. In this extraordinary book L’Amour tells a tale of epic adventure that takes his readers across the most extraordinary frontier they have ever encountered.

Louis L’Amour was an American novelist and short story writer. His books consisted primarily of Western novels (though he called his work “frontier stories”). In addition, he wrote historical fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, poetry and short-stories. Many of his stories were made into films. His books remain popular and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death in 1988 almost all of his 105 existing works (89 novels, 14 short-story collections, and two full-length works of nonfiction) were still in print, and he was one of the world’s most popular writers.

In 1982 L’Amour received the Congressional Gold Medal, and in 1984, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

If you’d like to participate in the discussion, please contact us through the About the Beamers page. We’ll send you all you need to connect to the virtual meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Dinosaurs red in tooth and claw

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

For the cool end of a cool Spring, the Beamers went for the coolest critters in all science (and science fiction), our extinct friends, the dinosaurs.  Brought back to life by the uncompromising vision of an entertainment entrepreneur, these long-gone inhabitants of a Cretaceous planet Earth show all too well why they lasted hundreds of millions of years at the top of the food chain (and in most of the places beneath).  So how do they wind up in Jurassic Park?  Because author Michael Crichton, too, is an uncompromising entertainment entrepreneur, it seems.  Would the Beamers succumb to the wiles of his rapacious velociraptors, or would we escape before chaos left us trapped inside the pages of his novel?

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Crichton’s Jurassic Park: Virtual Discussion!

In recognition of the so-called final Jurassic Park movie, Jurassic World Dominion, the Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a virtual session on Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, June 10, at 7 pm Eastern.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.
Until something goes wrong, and something else, and something else, and….
In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

If you’d like to participate in the discussion, please contact us by eye contact or through the About the Beamers page. We’ll send you all you need to connect to the virtual meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Randomly roving through the Perilous Realm

Tackling a Dragon? Bring Caudimordax (“Tail-biter”). Don’t leave home without it!

While known mainly for the towering achievement of The Lord of the Rings, Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien was a writer of many further pieces that explored those Lands Beyond the Fields We Know, the “perilous realm” that he called Faery.  The Beamers not being the sorts of readers to not go a-roving, no matter what the signs say, decided this month to hike along these paths that Prof. T first laid out, some in prose, some in poetry, some as stories for his children.  And one even as his heart-felt rant against the encroachment of modern technology on ancient sources of life and wonder.  Could the Beamers keep up with his learned delving into the roots of Fantasy, or would we be tossed to the side by the Oliphaunt of his disdain?

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Tolkien’s Tales from the Perilous Realm: Virtual Discussion!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a virtual session on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Tales from the Perilous Realm.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, May 13, at 7 pm Eastern.

The five tales are written with the same skill, quality and charm that made The Hobbit a classic. Largely overlooked because of their short lengths, they are finally together in a volume which reaffirms J.R.R. Tolkien’s place as a master storyteller for readers young and old.

  • Roverandom is a toy dog who, enchanted by a sand sorcerer, gets to explore the world and encounter strange and fabulous creatures.
  • Farmer Giles of Ham is fat and unheroic, but – having unwittingly managed to scare off a short-sighted giant – is called upon to do battle when a dragon comes to town.
  • The Adventures of Tom Bombadil tells in verse of Tom’s many adventures with hobbits, princesses, dwarves and trolls.
  • Leaf by Niggle recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle who sets out to paint the perfect tree.
  • Smith of Wootton Major journeys to the Land of Faery thanks to the magical ingredients of the Great Cake of the Feast of Good Children.

This new collection is fully illustrated throughout by Oscar-winning artist, Alan Lee, who provides a wealth of pencil drawings to bring the stories to life. Alan also provides an Afterword, in which he opens the door into illustrating Tolkien’s world.

World-renowned Tolkien author and expert, Tom Shippey, takes the reader through the hidden links in the tales to Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his Introduction, and recounts their history and themes.

Lastly, included as an appendix is Tolkien’s most famous essay, “On Fairy-stories”, in which he brilliantly discusses fairy-stories and their relationship to fantasy.

Taken together, this rich collection of new and relatively unknown work will provide the reader with a fascinating journey into lands as wild and strange as Middle-earth.

If you’d like to participate in the discussion, please contact us by Palantir or through the About the Beamers page. We’ll send you all you need to connect to the virtual meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Seeing off-red

The Wall, come tumbling down …

With the promise of new life springing up around us, the Beamers put themselves into a setting where the idea of birth was fraught with perils for all involved.  Margaret Atwood’s tale of a patriarchal dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale, carries a lot of weight with feminists who fear an anti-woman backlash is brewing.  Would the Beamers find that her recipe is indeed tasting true or would we think it too bitter to be palatable?

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Primitives by Erich Krauss

Posted on behalf of Beamer Chris:

I just read a preview copy of the novel Primitives by Erich Krauss. At 414 pages, I read it in three days; it turned out to be a real page turner.

From the inside of the jacket: “From New York Times bestselling author Erich Krauss comes Primitives, the adventure of two unlikely heroes through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where their very survival is intertwined with the fate of mankind.”

The book is broken down to 45 chapters. The prologue and even chapters are with Seth (Keller), the odd chapters with Sarah (Peoples) – both told in first person. After the Great Fatigue infected mankind, the cure reduced humans to a primitive state. The premise was a combination of the pandemic meeting the walking dead. Seth lives with his adoptive Professor who had one time worked and subsequently had a falling out with Caldwell, a ruthless scientist who controls the area in which Sarah lives, Both Seth and Sarah, each in their own way, are trying to save mankind. It is interesting that they do not meet until chapters 38/39.

The ugliness and violence throughout is taxing, both for the protagonist as well as the reader. Overall, a worthwhile read.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Virtual Discussion!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a virtual session on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, April 8, at 7 pm Eastern.

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic.

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the FloodMaddAddam; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature.

If you’d like to participate in the discussion, please contact us through the About the Beamers page. We’ll send you all you need to connect to the virtual meeting.

Not a talking space squid

We look forward to seeing you.

Lost in a good book

We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden?

As dedicated readers, the Beamers love to get lost in a good book.  Well, at least metaphorically.  What happens when we get truly lost inside a story, maybe even one not of our own making?  Would that be as enjoyable?  David, the young protagonist of The Book of Lost Things, has to find out for himself where he is and how to get home (assuming he really wants to go back).  As we followed in his footsteps, did the Beamers find themselves caught up in the quest to find the title book?  Or did we wish we could just click our heels 3 times and get right back to Kansas?

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The magic of mathematics

How to make every March 14 a bit sweeter …

Happy Pi Day! Number-minded folks the world over celebrate March 14 as a day to acknowledge our attachment to numbers, since the numerical form of the date (3/14) resembles the famous ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, Pi (3.1415926535898…). For countries that prefer “day/month” formatting for dates, well, they are stuck with March 14, too, as “3-14” in their preferred format requires a 14th month and “31-4” is the 31st day of April and we know how well that rhymes out (“30 days hath September, April, June, and November”).

Over on Tor.com, fantasy novelist Fran Wilde (the Bone Universe, beginning with Updraft) is discussing her favorite moments in fantasy where the magic of numbers becomes a bit more literal. While many of us would be leaping onto the literal literary translation with L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s Harold Shea novels that start off with The Mathematics of Magic, Ms. Wilde goes a bit deeper, putting in recommendations for Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (with a character called the Mathemagican), and some more current offerings from Ellen Klages (Passing Strange) and Liz Ziemska (Mandelbrot the Magnificent). Making Benoit Mandelbrot, the proponent of fractals and the ways to use them to capture the chaos of Life with elegant formulas, seems so natural that it is surprising other writers did not think of it sooner. Oh well, genius is the ability to make people go “Oh, wow”, followed by “Oh, of course.”

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