Meanwhile at the Discussion Group: February 2012

The name of this blog was inspired by the Beyond Reality discussion group, which has been around for almost two decades and which I’ve been managing for more than half of that time. The group is currently housed at GoodReads (a site I love) and has over 850 members. Each month, our members may nominate one SF and/or one fantasy novel. We put all those nominations in polls, so everyone can vote and decide which books they’d like to discuss. In addition, we usually also have a series discussion running, in which we discuss an entire SF or fantasy series, one novel per month.  I’ve been blessed with one of the most intelligent and unique groups of readers I’ve ever encountered in online discussion groups (and I’ve been a member of many of them over the years). As a result, the discussions at Beyond Reality are often entertaining, insightful and surprising. We also frequently have the authors of our Books of the Month joining us for the discussions.

Because this site’s name took its inspiration from the group (truth be told, I actually would have named it Beyond Reality if that domain had been available!) I’ve decided to post monthly updates about the group here, including our Books of the Month, our series discussions, and any other special events like giveaways or author visits. Please consider this an invitation to join us, if you’re interested in SF&F book discussion. And if book discussions aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll find some additional book recommendations in this monthly feature!

Beyond Reality‘s Books of the Month for February are:

Archangel by Sharon Shinn for SF. Yes, yes, I know. Is this really science fiction? Isn’t it fantasy? I’ve seen the debates, and having read the book (years ago) I’d say both sides could be right, but I distinctly remember a big honkin’ space ship somewhere towards the end, so it ended up in the SF category. In either case, as far as I’m concerned it’s actually a romance novel masquerading as either SF or fantasy. This isn’t one of my favorite books, but as such as it’s an excellent example of how Beyond Reality works. It’s a democracy. I run the group, but I don’t decide our Books of the Month. It’s all up to the members’ votes.

Jhereg by Steven Brust for fantasy. Now we’re talking! This is the first novel in one of my favorite ongoing fantasy series. I love this book. Love love love. I’ve read the entire series, most of the books several times, and I’ve reviewed some of them for sites such as Tor.com and Fantasy Literature. I could write a few thousand words about what makes this series so fantastic, but I’ll save that for a big review or write-up here later. For now, I’ll just recommend this one if you haven’t read it yet, and if you have read it, come drop by the group and participate in the discussion!

We also have an ongoing Series Discussion running at Beyond Reality, and the current series is David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, also known as the Honorverse, which starts with On Basilisk Station. Back when we started this feature, I decided to start our series books on the 15th of every month rather than the 1st, just to stagger things a bit so all the discussions didn’t start on the same day. So, we’re currently reading book 6 of the series, Honor among Enemies, and on February 15th we’re starting book 7, In Enemy Hands. As for my participation, I read the first book and enjoyed it, but I confess I was hoping for something a little closer to the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, which was the topic of one of our previous Beyond Reality series discussions. I have the entire Honorverse series on my iPad, but I haven’t read past book 1, mainly because I’ve had so many review assignments. Can’t complain about that, obviously!

Finally, we also have regular short story discussions at Beyond Reality, usually of stories that can be found online on author websites or in one of the many great magazines like Lightspeed and Clarkesworld. This feature has been on hiatus for a bit, but I’m hoping to get it going again soon. I’ll have more info in next month’s update!

And that’s it for this quick look about what we’re doing at the Beyond Reality discussion group. This will probably be a monthly feature. I could post more frequent updates, but I realize most visitors are here for reviews, not book discussion. Still, I’m hoping there’ll be some cross-pollination between the group and this site, so if it seems like something you’d be interested in, please drop by the group!

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