Greetings, Earthlings!

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

“Live long and prosper!” G. Roddenberry

“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.

A star will shine on the hour of our meeting.

Max Barry’s Lexicon: Zoom! Beam! Discuss!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a Zoom session on Max Barry‘s Lexicon.

Please join the Beamers
on Friday, December 11th, at 7 PM Eastern.

Lexicon 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.

Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words.

They’ll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember.

Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back . . . 

Barry is also the creator of NationStates, the most popular online nation simulation game created to date.

If you’d like to participate (or just listen in), please contact me through the About the Beamers page or send me your email address via Messenger, Messages or watchtower beacon. I’ll send you all you need to connect to the Zoom meeting.

We look forward to seeing you.

Into and out of and back into the Wood

A cover pretty enough to get an Advanced Reader Copy to an admiring Eileen …

Since you cannot spell “November” without “N-o-v”, the Beamers turned again to our November author, Naomi Novik, this time tackling her first non-Temeraire fantasy, Uprooted, the fairy-tale inflected (and Nebula/Locus/Mythopoeic award-winning) tale of a village woman taken by a Dragon, learning magic, and laying to rest the spirit of the unruly Wood that threatens to overgrow her home.  Would the Beamers be as charmed by Agnieszka as much as by Miryem the moneylender’s daughter who transmuted the cold heart of a fairy prince to warm gold in our November 2019 selection, Spinning Silver?

Continue reading

Last, best hope for Harlan

Is there room for one more? Joe Straczynski thinks so!

Andrew Liptak on Tor.com reports that J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5 and the executor of the estates of Harlan and Susan Ellison, has announced that, at long last, he will get the missing entry in Harlan’s groundbreaking “Visions” series into print, with a target date set for Spring 2021. The Last Dangerous Visions, originally announced in 1973 for publication in 1974, has been a sf publishing legend (akin to the Sasquatch or Nessie) ever since Mr. Ellison failed to bring it to market. Bulked up to 150 stories or so, with 100 or more still considered to be part of the anthology (compared to 33 for 1967’s original Dangerous Visions and 42 for the 2-volume sequel, 1972’s Again, Dangerous Visions), the missing Last Dangerous Visions has triggered a lot of controversy, not least among its putative contributors who sold stories to Harlan and then fought to get them back so they could be published elsewhere.

British sf writer Christopher Priest, the first to regain his story from LDV, wrote his own polemic on Harlan’s troubles, “The Last Deadloss Visions”, which proved popular enough to get published in book form as The Book on the Edge of Forever, a 1995 Hugo nominee for Best Related Work. According to the Guardian, Mr. Priest is cautiously pessimistic about Straczynski’s chances to complete LDV:

“Many of the stories were withdrawn, because Ellison acted like a dick. Of the ones that remain, most of them are by writers who are now deceased, so the rights have expired and the estates would have to be traced. A lot of the writers have disowned their stories as juvenalia, or outdated, or simply because Ellison was acting like a dick.”

Not being entirely downbeat, Mr. Priest concluded by saying: “Mr Straczynski is an experienced professional, so maybe he’ll work something out.”

Mr. Straczynski himself is confident, planning to complete the revised LDV, including new stories by current established and by newly published sf writers to replace any of the older ones that cannot or should not be included (due to inability to trace publication rights, or datedness of the fiction, or both). His most intriguing leak is a mention of a final work by Harlan, an unpublished piece that “ties directly into the reason why The Last Dangerous Visions has taken so long to come to light.” Those of us who were blown over by Harlan’s original duet will be anxiously awaiting Mr. Straczynski’s delivery of this last, lost legend.

Megaphysics

Cogito observo sum

In Flashforward, author Robert J. Sawyer has accomplished an amazing feat. He’s packed the novel with a flood of physics facts and theories, yet at the same time written a compelling story of real feeling people.

In 2009, the scientists at CERN are using the Large Hadron Collider accelerator to search for the Higgs boson, aka the God particle. (In real life, the Higgs Boson was found in 2012.) They don’t find it. But their accelerator run apparently causes the entire human race to lose their consciousness for two minutes and experience their life approximately 21 years in the future. That is, those who are alive in that future.

Sawyer focuses his story on two physicists, the senior scientist who ran the experiment and his assistant who was apparently murdered two days before the future flashfoward point. He weaves their stories with theories of quantum mechanics and time travel, explaining same with clarity and wit. Integral to these theories are discussions of free will and determinism.

The novel ends with an apparent homage to Olaf Stapleton, the British philosopher and science fiction writer. Not just his novels, but his belief that community life was of utmost importance.

All in all, nicely done. Science fiction, rich in science and rich in fiction.

Beamer Blog Books: Year Three

It is 2014, the third year of the Beam Me Up blogsite, and

  • The Ebola virus epidemic begins, infecting at least 28,616 people and killing at least 11,310 people, at the time the most severe in terms of numbers of infections and casualties
  • A Sunni militant group now calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (i.e. ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) begins an offensive in northern Iraq
  • Michael Brown is shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri

and the Beamers read and perhaps discuss:

This Immortal, Roger Zelazny
Leaving lost Vegans

Alif the Unseen, G Willow Wilson
Paging through a book about paging through a book

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
The last man on Earth, alone in a room

The Hum and the Shiver, Alex Bledsoe
Listening to the rustling of the night wind

Continue reading

Tolkien Fandom Oral History

The Department of Special Collections at Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Library is building a collection of brief testimonials from J.R.R. Tolkien fans.

Its goal is 6,000 audio interviews, one for each of the Riders of Rohan that Théoden mustered and led to the aid of Gondor.

Here are the interviews already gathered.

Each fan is given up to three minutes to respond to the following three questions:

  • When did you first encounter the works of J. R. R. Tolkien?
  • Why are you a Tolkien fan?
  • What has he meant to you?

If you wish to join but cannot visit Marquette in Wisonsin, you can visit its scheduling page to claim a time slot and record an audio interview via Zoom.

More info at Marquette’s FAQ page.

Thank you to the Duke of Numenor for the heads up.

Free Tom Lehrer!

A certain lawyer of our acquaintance points out that Tom Lehrer has released all of his lyrics into the public domain. Enjoy! Click below for more info.

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted: Zoom! Beam! Discuss!

The Beam Me Up Science Fiction Book Club will conduct a Zoom session on Naomi Novik‘s Uprooted.

Please join the Beamers
on Friday, November 13th, at 7 PM Eastern.

Uprooted should be readily available from your favorite new and used book stores and libraries in hard copy, as well as in e-book and audio formats from your local library. Continue reading

That has such people in it!

Better living through chemistry?

In the frightening new world of 2020, the Beamers looked backward to a classic work of science fiction that posits a future of unending happiness, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Long considered a dystopia, and one of the earliest, Huxley’s cautionary tale is filled with all kinds of pleasures and rewards for its genetically engineered citizens.  Would the Beamers also be tempted to take in an evening at the “feelies”, or would we need a hit of soma to chase away our discontent?

Continue reading

Beamer Blog Books: Year Two

It is 2013, the second year of the Beam Me Up blogsite, and

  • The Supreme Court of the United States grants federal recognition to same-sex marriage in the United States
  • Two Chechnya-born brothers–one a U.S. citizen–detonate two bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring 264
  • Former CIA employee Edward Snowden discloses U.S. government mass surveillance program and flees the country

and the Beamers read and perhaps discuss:

Among Others, Jo Walton
Not at all far from the book-reading crowd

The Return of the Sorcerer, Clark Ashton Smith
Oh the horror! (of Clark Ashton Smith)

A Certain Ambiguity, Gaurav Suri &
Hartosh Singh Bal, Prime Delight

A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan
A Natural History of Dragons

Continue reading
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