Monday, November 17, 2014

Windycon Clubs!

 Phandemonium & Chi-SF, Ancillary Justice & Good Omens

Trekked out to Lombard, IL to visit Windy Con 41 for the day yesterday, mostly for a chance to sit down with the Phandemonium & Chicago Speculative Fiction Community reading groups.

Both groups were very well-attended (book clubs at conventions: a good idea), and also only had an hour slot, so discussion was a little rushed. I know people have different things they're getting out of book discussions, some maybe more as spectators, but it was a little odd to have so many people that everyone can't realistically have time to speak up.

I wonder what the optimum size is of a group before it needs to seek some kind of graceful fissioning. Or other format things one could do, sub-groups and so on?

At any rate, a good way to introduce more people to the groups. I think I found a few more multiple-book-club enthusiasts too, which is exciting.

Phandemonium discussed Ann Leckie's "Ancillary Justice", which is the current Hugo winner for best novel, and has been getting a lot of buzz. We bounced around a few different issues, but mostly shot back and forth about the hot topic: the genderless society of the Radch, how plausible that is, and what to make of it. Plausibility-wise, I think very: between the actual sex & gender revolutions going on and the amount of SF that has explored non-binary gender possibilities (obviously "Left Hand of Darkness" is the big fish here, but I'm also thinking of a lot of more recent SF that assumes a deep flexibility in gender that will only be enhanced by technology, "2312" for instance), I can wrap my head around it fairly easily. So I was a bit surprised that so many readers had issue with it.

More thoughts on that, later, perhaps.

Phandemonium's next meetings are:
Sat. 12/27- "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter Miller, Jr.
1pm @ the Blue Box Cafe, 176 East Chicago Street, Elgin, IL

Sun. 1/11- "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman
7pm @ Cosi, 1740 Sherman Ave, Evanston IL

The Chicago Speculative Fiction Community met to discuss "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. In a way it's a hard book to discuss, because it's basically perfect, so it's hard not to spiral in towards just quoting your favorite bits with no comment. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing in this case!

We did talk a little bit about Good & Evil & free will (LOL free will LOL), something I'd like to write more about--I'm incredibly tired of the "good and evil in balance" trope, the whole "no light without darkness" fallacy presented as wisdom. I *suspect* that one of the things Pratchett & Gaiman are sending up in "Good Omens" is precisely that facile binary. But that's a thought for a later discussion.

Don't have the details on the next Chi-SF meeting, but presumably it will be Saturday, 12/20 at 2pm in the Oak Park Public Library.

*Update* Chi-SF's next selection is "Lock In" by John Scalzi.

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