Sammath Naur
Mythopoeic Society of Hawaii

Discussing Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature since 1975

Suggestions for 2006

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon for both

Burt's Comments: I got lucky and had a number of good books come my way this year. This was probably the best. Here's the beginning -
" I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetry of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, and we walked through the streets of a Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper.
" Daniel, you mustn't tell anyone what you're about to see today," my father warned...(two pages later when they enter into this secret library)...This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strenghtens." The back cover of the book says it's "an epic story of murder, madness and doomed love" and it is all that but it's more - it is such a well written book that I cared for its myraid of characters, was fascinated by the their journey and savored every page rather than rushing through it.

The Planets by Dava Sobel for both

Burt's Comments: It's been a long time since we've read a science book. I attribute this not to our lack of interest but in general to unexciting writing by science writers. A couple of months ago I stumbled on the perfect science book for us. "The Planets" is about...surprise - our planets (including the Sun and the Moon). Written by probably the best science writer currently working, Dava Sobel, it updates us on the science of the planets while tying it into Genesis (The Sun), Mythology (Mercury), Beauty (Venus), Geography (Earth), Lunacy (The Moon), Sci-Fi (Mars), Astrology (Jupiter), Music (Saturn), Night Air (Uranus and Neptune), and UFO (Pluto). And best of all (drum roll!!!!!), it is short - 231 pages in Big Print. Here's a flavor of the book - The Chapter on Mars is written in the first person by...the oldest Martian Meterorite ever to hit the Earth, Allan Hills 84001. Big Al is 4.5 billion years old (in comparison the olderst Earth rock is less than 4 billion years! old). Here's a little of his narrative: Large, ancient Martian craters, newly visualized, now bear the names of scientists and science fiction writers, including Burroughs and Wells...on the smallest level, individual surface rocks...have assumed whimsical names from cartoons and storybooks, including Calvin and Hobbs, Pooh Bear and Piglet, Rocky and Bullwinkle, or nicknames based on their appearance: "Lunchbox," "Lozenge," and "Rye Bread." In this chapter Big Al explains his improbable journey from Mars, how he was discovered (he is one of 28 meteorites from Mars discovered so far on Earth) and what he can tell us about the history of Mars and the possibility of life there.

The Burning Stone by Kate Elliott for Sammath

Burt's Comments: 2006 would be a dull year without reading the next installment of The Crown of Stars series by our wonderful writer in residence, Alis.

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link for both

Burt's Comments: I'm not a great writer. It's not a talent I was born with. But I still thought I could be an author because of my imagination, that would interest people in my books. I see my imagination traveling 60 mph while most authors are going 35. Unfortunately Kelly Link by that yardstick is traveling 100 mph. I eat her dust. This collection of stories will tie your brain in knots and then jerk it inside out. There's a story about a town that is about to be invaded by barbarians and suffer a major earthquake at the same time. To escape they hid the town and all the people in a woman's handbag. There's a story for Melisa and Richard about a convenience story that's located on the border of the U.S. and Canada. It's run by a Turk who never sleeps and wears CIA pajamas, a young everyman, and a woman who rides around town giving shelter dogs their last ride before they're put to sleep. The store customers are mostly Zombies who lived in the Abyss across the road. Here's a sample of her writing from the story

"The Cannon". "Q: Is there such a thing as a happy marriage? A: Let me answer that question. My name is Venus Shebby. When I was a young girl, they fired me from the cannon one day and when I came down, I was in a different place. A beautiful place, full of beautiful people! The people who live in that beautiful place are hairy in winter and in spring they shed their hair and go naked. In winter they catch fish by setting fires on the frozen lakes, but in summer they don't eat fish. In summer they eat fruit and grains which they ferment in bladders, and those people stay drunk the whole summer long. Summer is the time of ghosts. In winter ghosts are easy to spot..Dead people have no hair themselves, which is how they can be recognized in the winter. But in summer, the living and dead may pass each other on the street, and no one knows the difference. There are epic comedies, famous tragedies about the misunderstandings that ensue."

If you like your magic tame and predictable, if you don't like what you're reading to tweak your mind, this is NOT the book for you.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel for both

  • 2002 Man Booker Prize
  • New York Times Notable Book

Burt's Comments: This is a nomination from Raph, a friend of Joy Reymond's who came to our book groups a number of times in the 1970s. She and her family live in Australia and she started her own book group there. This is a book her book club read last year and loved. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 and is listed as one of Australia's 100 Favorite Books.
" After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy." The publisher further describes the book as "a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure."

Reviews & Excerpts

Sabriel by Garth Nix

First book in a triology which was nominated for the Mythopoeic Society Best Children's Book.

Vanessa's Comments: I am currently reading this book and find it very different set in a fantasy world and dealing with necromancy and death, but so far hasn't been too gross nor depressing. Although it is classified as a children's book for the Mythopoeic award, I think it's more young adult to adult.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling for Sammath

Comments: Come on, you guys. What are we being - snobbish? We're not going to discuss the one book that more of us will have read than any other we select? The one book that will pull from both generations of the book club?? Have we become so jaded that we can't find anything good to say about Harry??? No scene or moment that we enjoyed????

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova for Sammath

Ed's Comments: 15 weeks on best seller list so far. Hard to put down. A teen age girl finds a old book which is blank except for a picture of a dragon on its center page. She shows it to her father who found the same book when he was a grad student in the 1960s. At that time he showed it to his advisor who had found a similar book in the 1930s. The story then moves back and forth in time as each of these characters relate there story of research that lead them to try and uncover the truth behind the story of Vlad the Impaler, Dracular. As each story unfolds it meets with strange accidents, threats and disappearances that are thrown in the way as the story moves from England, America, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania as well as back to the 14th century.

The March by E. L. Doctorow for Moolelo

Ed's Comments: I have not read it but it has been getting good reviews and just appeared on the best seller list. It is a continuation of Doctorow's style of combining history and fiction as he did in Ragtime and Billy Bathgate. This time the historical background is Shermans march through Georgia that devastated the area but helped to shorten the Civil War. The story of fictional characters is intertwined with the story of real historical people as this famous, or infamous, campaign unfolds.

Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon for Sammath

Vanessa's Comments: Wow! I couldn't put this one down. The main character is an autisitc man, Lou. The book explores how an autisitc thinks and what is the meaning of normal. Lou works at a pharmaceutical company with some fellow autistics. They are pattern-recognition experts. A new boss wants the autistics to be subject to a surgery that will "cure" them or face unemployment. But how will this change them? Will they still have their skills?. And what does it really mean to be normal?

  • Nebula Award Winner
  • Finalist for the 2003 Arthur C. Clarke Award

Reviews & Excerpts

Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson for Sammath..

Vanessa's comments: Here's another interesting tale from the author of the Chronoliths. He once again takes a totally improbably scientific feat and weaves a story that is believable The people are realistic and the ideas intriguing. Blind Lake is the name of a research facility studying life on a distant planent. They don't know exactly how their observation tools work,but they do and they are able to observe and follow the day to day life of an intelligent being many light years away. Suddenly the facility is locked down and outside contact is cut off. Food and supplies continue to be delivered weekly, but no other contact with the outside world is possible.The story is about the lives of several of the people who live in the facility as well as three writers who happen to be there the day the facility was locked down.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Neffenegger for Sammath

  • Finalist for 2005 Arthur C. Clarke Award

Vanessa's Comments: The ultimate time paradox. What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet your younger self? What if you could go back and meet your spouse as a child? Could you change tragic events from your past or would you be doomed to watch tragedy over and over again? This is the story of Henry and Clare and their intertwining lives. Clare grows up knowing her future husband, Henry, from his periodic visits since she was 6. Henry at 28 first meets Clare when she is 20.She knows much about him. He knows nothing of her. Henry is a time traveler. A love story like a Möbius strip. Tragedies, enduring love, eroticism and violence — this book has it all.

Reviews & Excerpts

The Hollow Kingdom Triology by Clare B. Dunkle consisting of three books - The Hollow Kingdom, Close Kin, Coils of the Snake.
  • 2004 Mythopoeic Society Winner for best Children's fantasy book.

In Book one, Kate is captured by Goblins and is being forced to marry the Goblin King. Goblins best procreate cross-species. Is the Goblin King an evil ruler of an evil people or is he something else? Kate's sister Emily accompanies her to the Goblin kingdom and book two is about her. Book three is just hitting the shelves.