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Bookgroup of the Month Archive

Every month we feature a different bookgroup. We'd like to hear from other bookgroups. Please email us at info@bookgroup.info and tell us about your group. If we choose it we'll send you a book voucher for £10.

Science Fiction Book Club, London

Bookgroup of the Month, May 2011

Who are you?

My name is Gerard and I organise Londonís only Science Fiction Book Club. See our website

How did you get started?

I started a book club in Wimbledon in fall 2008, which is now very successful in its own right with almost 300 members, but I noticed that when I put the occasional Science Fiction book on the list some people became very resistant to reading any at all. Then there were LOTS of other people who kept saying 'thank goodness you put something like this on the reading list'. A few members commented that there were no book clubs in London specifically catering to Science Fiction, so I thought 'why don't I do it?'.

Right after starting the book club I was approached by a number of book shops asking what our upcoming books will be, which was very surprising. So after putting posters up in their shops it has led to a steady stream of new members ever since.

What's really nice about the people who come along is that itís an even mix of men and women. All the other book clubs I've been to tend to be dominated by women but ours is an even mix of people which really adds something to the discussion that I've never had in any other book club (and I've been to a few). I think people would expect that we would be all men but really the group is quite self-selecting and we don't seem to attract the stereotypical hard-core Sci-Fi geeks. Which is a relief : )

How long have you been going?

We started in May 2010, which is when I put a website online and launched and meetup group to organise our meetings through.

Where and how often do you meet?

We meet in the Pendrellís Oak in High Holborn one Monday a month. The downstairs area is very spacious & quiet on a Monday night. We have been very lucky to find such a great venue to meet in. We sometimes have film nights or other events. We charge £1 per person just to cover the costs, people seems very happy with that.

What sort of books do you read?

We will read anything Science Fiction. Which usually means fairly contemporary Sci-Fi paperbacks but we like to sometimes read something a little different. This could be pre-20's Scientific Romance, 30-50's Golden Age Science Fiction, New Wave Science Fiction from the 60-70's, Literary Classic SF like Jules Verne or HG Wells, Graphic Novels, Cross Genera SF, the occasional Fantasy Novel's, Short Story Collections or anything else that helps us become 'Well Read in SF'.

Which books have provoked the best discussion?

One recent book was called "Man Plus" which led to a really good discussion on the moral implications of enforced organ donation and how people feel about that. I think people genuinely enjoy reading something different and thought provoking.

Gene Wolfs Book of the New Sun also got a very heated discussion going when people couldn't decide if it was Sci-Fi, a retelling of the life of christ or fantasy. I'm still undecided on that one. Either way itís a fantastic book, filled with endless complexity and levels of meaning.

Then we had The Wind-Up Girl which is set in post-peak-oil Thailand. Most people knew very little about the culture of Thailand or the regional tensions that have been there for the last few hundred years. Having the story set in the future allowed the writer to exploit those tensions for dramatic purposes. That was as excellent read.

What was your worst read?

Surprisingly it was a book called Enders Game which is considered a SF classic. It's about a boy called Andrew Wiggin who is trained by the military to become their new Napoleon. Only problem is nobody's told him that's the plan, so he does his own thing. It's a great book but somehow the issues in the book didn't grab people.

Anything else?

Only to tell people that we are in Central London once a month and full details are on our website at http://www.sciencefictionbookclub.org.

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