Book Discussions - Science Fiction (Sci Fi / SF) & Fantasy

Rolling Thunder by John Varley Book Discussion

(Earlier books are Red Thunder and Red Lightning)

BEWARE — spoilers below…

1. What expectations did you have upon starting Rolling Thunder? Where did the book surprise you?

2. Do you think Travis and Jubal are right to seek their own happiness while there is misery and suffering in the universe?

3. Is there a tragedy big enough to get all people working together in cooperation forever?

4. Of all the places Podkayne visits and lives, which one would you most like to make your home?

5. While bubble technology makes spaceflight, and food storage, cheap and impressive; do you think it is a good way to extend human life?

6. From what we read in the book, do you think the crystals regularly visit Earth? What is the purpose of the crystals' visit to Earth?

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston Book Discussion

BEWARE — spoilers below…

1. What expectations did you have upon starting Invasive Procedures? Where did the book surprise you?

2. Frank Hartman is obviously the hero of this book. Does he fall victim to placing too much faith in the science and technology surrounding him? Does he remember to challenge his own hypotheses and theories?

3. Can a person's mind ever be transferred from one body to another?

4. Of the genetic modifications Galen performed on himself and his disciples, which would you most enjoy having?

5. What possibilities exist for a highly supported, secretive government division, like the BHA, to infringe on the due rights and processes of individuals in our society?

6. While Galen's gene therapy makes miracle cures possible, do you think this is a good way to cure patients unable to be helped by the medical establishment?

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett Book Discussion

"Just delivering the mail, Miss Cripslock, just like I said I'd do," said Moist in firm, manly tones.
"But it's rather strange, is it not, that a man on horseback is more reliable than a—-"
"Please, Miss Cripslock! We are the Post Office!" said Moist, in his best high-minded voice. "We don't go in for petty rivalry. We're sorry to hear that our colleague in the clacks company are experiencing temporary difficulties with their machinery, we fully sympathize with their plight, and if they would like us to deliver their messages for them we would of course be happy to sell them some stamps"… pg. 193

It was garbage, but it had been cooked by an expert. Oh, yes. you had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency, and then sent to walk the gutter for Reacher Gilt, although "synergistically" had probably been a whore from the start. The Grand Trunk's problems were clearly the result of some mysterious spasm in the universe and had nothing to do wih greed, arrogance, and willful stupidity. Oh, the Grand Trunk management had made mistakes-oops, "well-intentioned judgments which, with the benefit of hindsight, might regrettably have been, in some respects, in error"-but these had mostly occurred, it appeared, while correcting "fundamental systemic errors" committed by the previous management. No one was sorry for anything, because no living creature had done anything wrong, bad things had happened by spontaneous generation in some weird, chilly, geometrical otherworld, and "were to be regretted."
The Times reporter had made an effort, but nothing short of a stampede could have stopped Reacher Gilt in his crazed assault on the meaning of meaning. The Grand Trunk "was about people" and the reporter had compeletly failed to ask what that meant, exactly? And then there was this piece called "Our Mission"… pg. 295

1. S.W.A.L.K. on an envelope means Sealed With A Loving Kiss. Terry Pratchett makes up racier acronyms L.A.N.C.R.E and K.L.A.T.C.H. Come up with possible meanings.

2. Compare the clacks workers' tradition of "Sending Home" to real-world traditions surrounding a death.

3. Moist excels at selling the "sizzle." Is it more important to create excitement around events or to build long-lasting services and supports?

4. Should golems have the right to vote and/or hold public office?

5. Do you, or someone you're close to, collect government issues such as stamps and money? When does a hobby cross over into being an unhealthy obsession?

6. Moist von Lipwig makes claims that are so far reaching, no one takes him seriously. Does this help him in making his claims come true?

7. Define tubso and bisonomy.
"…the Virtues: Patience, Chastity, Silence, Charity, Hope, Tubso, Bissonomy, and Fortitude." pg. 176
cupidity pg. 34, 51
thlabber pg. 177
cocking a snook pg. 194
snook-cocker pg. 312

8. How does our name create our identity? What name would you take if you were to work as a confidence man, defrauding those looking for a get-rich-quick scheme?

9. Technical clacks passages are over Moist's head. How do you feel when people describe the details behind how computers work?
"How did you know that tower was going to break down?"
"We broke it," said Sane Alex. "Broke the differential drum. They take hours to sort out, because the operators have to-"
Moist missed the rest of the sentence. Innocent words swirled in it like debris caught in a flood, occasionally bobbing to the surface and waving desperately before being pulled under again. He caught "the" several times before it drowned, and even "disconnect" and "gear chain," but the roaring, technical polysyllables rose and engulfed them all.
"-and that takes at least half a day," Sane Alex finished.
Moist looked helplessly at the other two.
"And that means what, exactly?" he said.
"If you send the right kind of message, you can bust the machinery," said Mad Al.
"The whole Trunk?"
"In theory," said Sane Alex, "because an execute and terminate code—-"
Moist relaxed as the tide came back in. He wasn't interested in machinery; he thought of a spanner as something that had another person holding it. It was best just to smile and wait. That was the thing about artificers, they loved explaining. You just had to wait until they reached your level of understanding, even if it meant that they had to lie down. pg. 320-321

10. What do you think will happen to the characters next? Yes, there is a sequel entitled Making Money where Moist takes over the mint…with some pointed encouragement.

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