The Speculative Fiction Book Group

The Speculative Fiction Book Group
 
The Speculative Fiction Book Group focuses on science fiction, fantasy, and tales of alternate social realities. Picks include classics, contemporary, and young adult. Each meeting starts with a check-in period when attendees get a chance to summarize their fellings and rate the book at hand. Follwed by free-for-all general discussion. We have an established group of regular participants, and always welcome new members. 
 
Meets the 2nd Sunday of each month at Books Inc. in Palo Alto.

 

Spin State (Mass Market Paperback)

$6.99
ISBN-13: 9780553586244
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spectra, 11/2004
September 2014 Selection: Nominated for the 2003 Philip K. Dick Award, this highly atmospheric debut (Publishers Weekly) from a stunning new voice in science fiction deftly mixes murder, politics, and cyber-romance.

$14.99
ISBN-13: 9780062255662
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company, 6/2014
August 2014 Selection:

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out.

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780345549341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey, 3/2014
July 2014 Selection: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "BUZZFEED"
Karen Lord's debut novel, the multiple-award-winning "Redemption in Indigo, " announced the appearance of a major new talent--a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Mieville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company--yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.
Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. "The Best of All Possible Worlds "is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.
A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race--and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team--one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive--just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9781607013877
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Prime Books, 4/2013
June 2014 Selection: There is no such thing as conservation of shadows. When light destroys shadows, darkness does not gain in density elsewhere. When shadows steal over earth and across the sky, darkness is not diluted. Featuring an Introduction by Aliette De Bodard, Conservation of Shadows features a selection of short stories from Yoon Ha Lee.

The Magicians (Paperback)

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780452296299
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Plume, 6/2010
May 2014 Selection: The "New York Times" bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world
Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, "The Magicians," the prequel to the "New York Times "bestselling book "The Magician King "and the forthcoming "The Magician's Land," is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren't black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.

Ancillary Justice (Paperback)

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780316246620
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit, 10/2013
April 2014 Selection: On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the "Justice of Toren"--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.
From debut author Ann Leckie, "Ancillary Justice" is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

Life After Life (Paperback)

$18.00
ISBN-13: 9780316176491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books, 9/2013
March 2014 Selection: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula's world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization -- if only she has the chance?
Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

Spin the Sky (Paperback)

$14.99
ISBN-13: 9781597803403
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Night Shade Books, 7/2012
February 2014 Selection: HOME IS WHERE THE HERD IS . . .
Fifteen years after winning the Spacer War, Cesar Vaquero has returned to Ithaca, a rugged orbital colony that boasts the only herd of cattle in space, and a wife and a son who don't even recognize him when he shows up at their doorstep. Posing as a homeless drifter, he soon discovers that making his way home past space pirates, one-eyed giants, and mad scientists was the easy part . . .
Penelope swore off men after her husband disappeared. She's been busy enough running the ranch, raising her son, and fending off pushy suitors eager to get their hands on her and her herd. But something about this war-weary drifter stirs forgotten feelings in her, even as sabotage, rustlers, and a space stampede threaten to tear Ithaca apart!
Spin the Sky is an rollicking, high-spirited riff on a certain classic odyssey--featuring characters as big and full of surprises as Space itself!

Cloud Atlas (Paperback)

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780375507250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 8/2004
January 2014 Selection: Now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer
A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
"[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel's every page."--"The New York Times Book Review

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780451235688
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NAL Trade, 3/2012
November 2013 Selection: Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a deperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, whereshe came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?Winner of two RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America and the Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada

Solitaire: a novel (Paperback)

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9781931520102
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Small Beer Press, 1/2011
October 2013 Selection:

There are many books we'd love to see back in print and we're very happy to have acquired Kelley Eskridge's debut novel, "Solitaire." Jackal Segura is a Hope: born to responsibility and privilege as a symbol of a fledgling world government. Soon she'll become part of the global administration, sponsored by the huge corporation that houses, feeds, employs, and protects her and everyone she loves. Then, just as she discovers that everything she knows is a lie, she becomes a pariah, a murderer: a person with no community and no future. Grief-stricken and alone, she is put into an experimental program designed to inflict the experience of years of solitary confinement in a few short months: virtual confinement in a sealed cell within her own mind. Afterward, branded and despised, she returns to a world she no longer knows. Struggling to make her way, she has a chance to rediscover her life, her love, and her soul--in a strange place of shattered hopes and new beginnings called Solitaire.

Kelley Eskridge (kelleyeskridge.com) is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. Her stories have received the Astraea Award and been adapted for television. A movie based on "Solitaire" is in development. She lives in Seattle with her partner, novelist Nicola Griffith.

$8.00
ISBN-13: 9780141441030
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics, 6/2005
August 2013 Selection: H.G. Wells' original masterpiece now includes a newly established text, a full biographical essay on the author, a list of further reading, and detailed notes. Famous for the mistaken panic that ensued from Orson Welles' 1938 radio dramatization, "The War of the Worlds" remains one of the most influential of all science fiction works.

The Quantum Thief (Mass Market Paperback)

$7.99
ISBN-13: 9780765367662
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Science Fiction, 1/2012
July 2013 Selection:

Jean le Flambeur gets up in the morning and has to kill himself before his other self can kill him first. Just another day in the Dilemma Prison. Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is a currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turned-singularity lights the night. Meanwhile, investigator Isidore Beautrelet, called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur....

Indeed, in his many lives, the entity called Jean le Flambeur has been a thief, a confidence artist, a posthuman mind-burgler, and more. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his deeds are known throughout the Heterarchy, from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of Mars. In his last exploit, he managed the supreme feat of hiding the truth about himself from the one person in the solar system hardest to hide from: himself. Now he has the chance to regain himself in all his power--in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed.


$15.99
ISBN-13: 9780765314574
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books, 12/2005
June 2013 Selection: This is the first novel in what has become one of the most popular series in contemporary SF, now back in print from Tor. In the 24th century, the Company preserves works of art and extinct forms of life (for profit of course). It recruits orphans from the past, renders them all but immortal, and trains them to serve the Company, Dr. Zeus. One of these is Mendoza the botanist. She is sent to Elizabethan England to collect samples from the garden of Sir Walter Iden.
But while there, she meets Nicholas Harpole, with whom she falls in love. And that love sounds great bells of change that will echo down the centuries, and through the succeeding novels of The Company.

The Rook (Paperback)

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780316098809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books, 10/2012
May 2013 Selection: Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.
As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, THE ROOK""is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.

Soulless (Mass Market Paperback)

$8.00
ISBN-13: 9780316056632
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit, 10/2009
April 2013 Selection: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Earth Abides (Paperback)

$14.95
ISBN-13: 9780345487131
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey, 3/2006
February 2013 Selection: A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.

$8.99
ISBN-13: 9780345339683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey, 7/1986
January 2013 Selection: THE GREATEST FANTASY EPIC OF OUR TIME
Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo-alone and unaided-who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside . . .
This stirring adventure fantasy begins the tale of the hobbits that was continued by J.R.R. Tolkien in his bestselling epic "The Lord of the Rings."