Feb 21, 2021

Switching up Authors and Books in the Worlds of Speculative Fiction Series

We're in year six of the Worlds of Speculative Fiction series - which moved from in-person to entirely online due to covid-19 - and I've decided to switch things up a bit.  I had put together a full list of 12 authors and their works (two of which we've done already - Liu Cixin and Philip K. Dick), but as I have been rereading to prepare for the third session, it has struck me that some changes are in order.

The third session was to focus on R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy - The Darkness that Comes Before, The Warrior Prophet, and the Thousandfold Thought - and we'd try to cover all of that in one single 90-minute video, followed by the usual 90-minute Zoom session.  There's two main obstacles to that.

One is that it's a LOT of reading.  Bakker's books are quite readable, but there's a number of characters, many connected sub-plots, and a ton of world-building revealed in each of them.  They come in at about 600, 640, and 540 pages.  So, just a bit under 1,800 pages for participants to read before the session.  Well. . .  that's a lot to expect of people to plow their way through!

The second consideration is that, upon my second read of the first volume, there is so much content to cover in these rich works that, in order to do justice to them, I think we'd need more time. Between the magic system, the back-history, the different races, the religions, the geography, the philosophy there is so much packed into these books that there's no way that we can cover enough of this in 90 minutes.

What I've decided to do is pretty simple.  We're going to spend the next three sessions - March, April, May - discussing Bakker's trilogy.  This is like what we did last year when we covered  Ursula K Leguin's six Earthsea books (each of which was 140-200 pages long) in two sessions.  Looking at the schedule, I've also decided to break the Philip Jose Farmer session, focused on his six World of Tiers books, into two sessions as well.  So that means that someone's gotta go!

Here's what I'm envisioning now:

March - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Darkness That Comes Before

April - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Warrior-Prophet

May - R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy
  • The Thousandfold Thought

June - Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers novels
  • The Maker of Universes
  • The Gates of Creation
  • A Private Cosmos

July - Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers novels
  • Behind the Walls of Terra
  • The Lavalite World
  • More Than Fire

August - A.E. Van Vogt's Weapon-Makers novels
  • The Weapon Shops of Isher
  • Weapon Makers

September - Stanislaw Lem's Ijon Tichy stories
  • The Star Diaries
  • The Futurological Congress
  • Peace on Earth
  • Observation on the Spot

October - Neal Stephenson's Anathem
  • Anathem

November - J.G. Ballard's modern dystopias
  • Crash
  • Concrete Island
  • High Rise

December - Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy
  • Northern Lights
  • The Subtle Knife
  • The Amber Spyglass

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