Greetings, Earthlings!

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 Zoom meeting. Just contact us via the About the Beamers page and we’ll add you to the Zoom distribution list.

A star will shine on the hour of our meeting.

Innocently tripping across the fourth dimension

Leo and Diane Dillon show the Happy Medium giving the children a glimpse of their future

In a month confusticated by a switch to a different video conferencing package, the Beamers persevered to escape from the selfless conformity of pop literature with the help of a book that was passed from publisher to publisher as being too different.  Instead, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle kicked off a quintet of books involving the Murry family and their very much themselves members, particularly the youngest, Charles Wallace (never “Charlie”!).  Woven amid a lot of fantastical speculation on tesseracts, centaurs, good vs. evil, and the life and after-life of stars, there is a simple message of love.  Would the Beamers think that is all they need?  Or would they demand something more, like a delicious turkey dinner?

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Don’t Panic

May 25th is Towel Day.StayInForTowelDay1000x665

Of genies and interstellar bottles

Waving ‘hello’, Motie style

Taking a look back at their own history, the Beamers re-visited a book that was on the reading list a mere 12 years ago, this very month.  The Mote in God’s Eye is a major work of First Contact fiction, a collaboration between two popular and award-winning authors, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle that has remained in print since its original publication in 1974.  At the time, it garnered high praise from other sf authors like Robert Heinlein (“Possibly the finest sf novel I have ever read”) and Frank Herbert, and the aliens it spawned, the Moties, became fan favorites if not particularly suitable for cosplay at conventions (3 arms??).  Would the Beamers take the Moties in or would we consign them to the dark nebula of the Coal Sack?

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Tek Jansen Revealed

If you are fan of Stephen Colbert, you may recall from watching the The Late Show or The Colbert Report that he is a big fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In a recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Stephen discusses the important role that science fiction and fantasy literature played in his life. That discussion begins about 32 minutes into the podcast. The true origin story of Tek Jansen is revealed at last.

A wrinkle in reading

For many of us, Madeleine L’Engle’s first novel, A Wrinkle in Time, is likewise our first encounter with science fiction, the beginning of a lifelong love affair. But, this beloved children’s classic was anything but beloved nor considered a classic when it was being considered for publication. Natalie Escobar in Smithsonian details how the manuscript “made the rounds”, passing from publisher to publisher with no takers. “Publishers hated it,” Ms. Escobar states simply, due to the book’s unusually complex story and characters, “something between an adult and a juvenile novel.”

It won a Newbery, introduced strong female leads, and got publishers to bring out sf/f by American authors. What is not to love?

And the controversy continues, as the book’s mix of science, fiction, and religion sits uneasily with some orthodox-minded guardians. Up through the 1990s, the American Library Association had it listed on their “Top 100 Banned and Challenged Books” list.

Will it still upset readers in the 2020s? We shall see, as the Beamers will take on A Wrinkle in Time for our June book, on Friday, June 11.

The Mote in God’s Eye: Beam! Zoom! Discuss!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a Zoom session on The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, May 14th, at 7 PM Eastern.

The Mote in God’s Eye should be readily available from your favorite new and used book stores and libraries in hard copy, and in paper, e-book and audio formats from your local library.

The united ‘Second Empire of Man’ spans vast distances, due to the Alderson Drive which has enabled humans to travel easily between the stars. After an alien probe is discovered, the Navy dispatches two ships to determine whether the aliens pose a threat. This magnificent exploration of first contact and a truly alien society is a “must read” for science fiction fans.

Winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal, this is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships.

“Possibly the greatest science fiction novel I have ever read.” – Robert A. Heinlein

“A spellbinder, a swashbuckler…And, best of all, it has a brilliant new approach to that fascinating problem — first contact with aliens.” – Frank Herbert

“One of the most engrossing tales I’ve read in years…fascinating.” – Theodore Sturgeon

“Nobody does it better than Niven and Pournelle” – Tom Clancy

If you’d like to participate (or just listen in), please contact us through the About the Beamers page or send me your email address via Messenger, Messages or stepping disk.

We’ll send you all you need to connect to the Zoom meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Barking up the White Tree

According to Andrew Liptak on Tor.com, the Tolkien Society has just made the archives of their annual scholarly journal, Mallorn, open for public reading. The latest two issues, #60 and #61, along with the bimonthly newletter, Amon Hen, remain available for members only. But the previous 59 issues, dating back to 1970 (#1), are all downloadable in PDF format.

While most of the articles concern Prof. Tolkien and the creation of his magnificent Middle-Earth, there are also items on the other Inklings (C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield) as well as musings on connections to other famous fantasy cycles, such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and its literary circle.

And for those who want it all, membership in the Tolkien Society is $41.40 (£30).

Hearing the owl call

Cannot spell “flower” without “owl” …

Well used to the power of books in our lives, the Beamers decided to take on a tale of a myth that bends and breaks the lives of those caught up in its power.  From the Welsh Mabinogion, Alan Garner adapted a story of magical love turned into betrayal and vengeance, bringing us The Owl Service.  Would the Beamers be pleased to dine off the plates of past perfidy or would we find it a dish best served cold?

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The Owl Service by Alan Garner: Zoom! Beam! Discuss!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a Zoom session on The Owl Service by Alan Garner. The book was recommended to the Beamers by Yangsze Choo, author of our January book, The Night Tiger.

Please join the Beamers on Friday, April 9th, at 7 PM Eastern.

We’re hoping — probably, fruitlessly — to have Mr. Garner join us.

The Owl Service should be readily available from your favorite new and used book stores and libraries in hard copy, and in paper, e-book and audio formats from your local library.

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to effect everybody’s lives.

Relentlessly, Alison, her step-brother Roger and Welsh boy Gwyn are drawn into the replay of a tragic Welsh legend – a modern drama played out against a background of ancient jealousies. As the tension mounts, it becomes apparent that only by accepting and facing the situation can it be resolved.

Winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal, this is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships.

If you’d like to participate (or just listen in), please contact us through the About the Beamers page or send me your email address via Messenger, Messages or carrier pigeon.

We’ll send you all you need to connect to the Zoom meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Turning a shade of red

Looks like a lot of the Southwest, according to the main character

With the imminence of Spring and clock fiddling upon us, the Beamers moved up and out to the nearest Earth-like planet, the Red planet, Mars. Tackling the late Ben Bova’s Grand Tour at its beginning, we accompanied Native American geologist (back-up) Jamie Waterman, a man in search of a home, on a quest to see if life had existed in a neighboring corner of our own Solar system.  Would we, too, find traces of our ancestors in the cliffs of Martian canyons, or would the cold, dry dust storms of Ares bury our hopes? 

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