Program - Book Discussions, Featuring "Classics of SF"

Each day, Renovation will feature a book discussion group. We encourage you to read one or all of the following books and join in the discussions at the con! Two of these will be books from the mid-80s, and the remainder will be "Classics of SF."

A classic is a work that survives its own time. After the currents which might have pushed it up have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself. If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of the three classics is famous - and differently famous from the others. Try reading all or any for a first time now, or try re-reading; do they look even better today?

Wednesday: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, our Guest of Honor. If you are already a Powers fan, you know what a great book this is. If you are new to Powers, this is a great place to start. Discussion led by Jim Mann.

Thursday: A Classic of SF: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron. The New York Times said "scientific facts are emphasized in this well-built story," Mushroom Planet was applauded by Ellen Datlow and Walter Moseley and found on dozens of children's-book lists, it has strangeness and charm. Discussion led by John F. Hertz.

Friday: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones Based loosely on the tales Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer, with T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, Frazer's The Golden Bough and a wide range of children's books thrown in, Fire and Hemlock was Jones's most successful attempt to "write a book in which modern life and heroic mythical events approached one another so closely that they were nearly impossible to separate." Polly meets Tom when she is a child, but as a teenager is surprised to discover that she seems to have forgotten his significance. Discussion led by Farah Mendlesohn.

Saturday: A Classic of SF: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. We did go to the moon, a century later; we did leave from Cape Canaveral, with a crew of three; the Apollo XI command module was the Columbia, and the command-service module was the size and shape of Verne's projectile. But never mind; science fiction is not in the prediction business. What a storyteller Verne was! Discussion led by John F. Hertz.

Sunday: A Classic of SF: The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber. Here are a host of viewpoints, a first contact with aliens story as we learn a third of the way in, a look at some favorite notions like "Rovers are free and good" and "Love conquers all" and a breathtaking exercise in climax and perspective. Leiber's second Hugo-winning novel. Discussion led by John F. Hertz.