Out Of This World
Out of This World is a new book group featuring speculative fiction. Each month will feature a new book exploring the different genres in what is commonly known as science fiction/fantasy. Out of This World meets the 4th Wednesday of the month at 7pm in the Library's Meeting Room.
Copies of Out of This World books may be obtained through MeLCat (our interlibrary loan service) or by asking at the Reference Desk.
Out of This World is ELPL's first patron led book group. Click here for a complete list of past Out of This World titles.
How are you enjoying Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed? For me, the jarring part was adapting to the different assumptions of fantasy worldview outside pseudo-medieval west Europe or east Asia. Even when we read Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, the frame of reference was still Western even if the setting was pseudo-Indian.
Our book for April was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It is about a girl who can taste emotions and history in food. When she eats cake, she can tell how the baker felt and where the eggs came from and whether the cows were milked by hand. Our protagonist spends her life avoiding her potential and what makes her special. This is also a metaphor for the book, which carefully avoids its potential or making anything of its premise. This is a book about hiding from emotions and escaping from life. The writing is good but the story is poor.
Last month we read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender. It was a change of pace for us, being neither sci-fi nor fantasy, but rather magical realism. In this case, as one group member put it, “the book is light on magic and heavy on realism”. The characters are all believable, and their lives a recognizable collection of letdowns and achievements. The language itself is graceful and pleasant, drawing the reader into the protagonists mood. The consensus criticism from the group is that other than being moody, the protagonist, and indeed the other characters, don’t really do much. They spend all their time avoiding the various oddities and conflicts in their lives, and by the end of the book, while they have aged, they haven’t really grown.
This month we return to our roots with the 2013 Nebula and Hugo Award Nominee
The Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed, a fantasy novel inspired by the tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights. Join us on the fouth Wednesday of every month (this time it's the 22nd.)
The following titles were the most popular book group picks in January based on votes at Bookmovement.com.
Rendezvous with Rama is an evocative piece of speculative fiction. It is about the sudden appearance in our solar system of a massive interstellar spacecraft, which is soon dubbed Rama. The plot centers around the exploration of the ship, which it is seemingly abandoned.
Three names dominate 20th century science fiction in English literature: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein. They were the most prolific and influential authors of their generation and genre, and if you want to think of yourself as an educated reader of English-language science fiction, you need to read at least 1000 pages of each. You can sample any of them in conveniently small bites because all three were prolific writers of short stories.
January's Out of This World meeting has been canceled due to illness. Join us in February when we discuss The Hobbit.
We have no December meeting, so let's consider a few things you might read in the meantime. How about some graphic novels? Let's focus on ones you can understand without a lot of context.
We have no December meeting, so let's consider a few things you might read in the meantime.
The trope codifier for Western fantasy literature is The Lord of the Rings. Protagonists are heroic, evil is absolute, magic is grand, and violence is noble swordplay. The world is mostly beautiful and full of wonder. This is high fantasy, with a low fantasy counterpart that tends towards smaller stories in dirtier settings.
The structure of the story mirrors the subject. There will not be a lot of action scenes. You might be better served to think of them as set pieces rather than scenes. It is like going to a museum or a circus.
In honor of National Novel Writing Month ( NaNaWriMo) (and as an antidote to Halloween ghoulishness or apocalyptic gloom), this month’s book selection is Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, a book which began its life as NaNoWriMo work. It’s a love story, set in a moody and mystical carnival.
The first few chapters are mostly dry exposition, introducing our protagonists at a young age and explaining, more or less, the point that drives the narrative. They are magicians pitted against each other by their teachers in a contest to see whose method of magic is better. That is all and the reader is told. Part of the novel’s fun is discovering what the rules and the stakes of the game are just as our heroes do. The titular circus is the venue for their demonstrations. It is a character in itself, peopled with lively and detailed characters, any of which could be the star of their own story, without intruding upon the main attraction. The story evokes a mood reminiscent of Edward Gorey or Charles Addams, somewhat melancholy, somewhat sinister, entirely enchanting.
If you have read (or are going to read) this novel, please join us on Wednesday the 28th, at 7PM, in the Storytime room (behind the Children’s area).