Edmonton-based book club that reads and reviews new books in science fiction in an effort to contribute positively to discussions about Hugo Award nominating and voting.
The Hugo Book Club Blog was established and is maintained by Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne. Most posts are co-authored by Olav and Amanda with input and/or collaboration from other book club members. Guest posts are welcome.
Thursday 3 August 2017
All The Birds In The Sky — Book Club Review
All The Birds In The
Sky comes with a gold-star pedigree. Universally, our book club looked
forward to reading it because of our longstanding respect for Charlie Jane
Anders’ work as a science fiction
Image via Amazon.ca
While this book — Anders’ first novel — shows
promise, it ultimately did not live up to our expectations.
As with many journalists who turn their quills to novel
writing, Anders’ fist attempt at long-form writing seems to be an aggregation
of vignettes. The prose is more than competent in places, but the structure is
uneven, the pace is off-putting and the dialogue left us wondering about the
Written with knowledge of the genre
That being said, Anders’ long-time involvement in fandom and
knowledge of the genre shine through. Members of our book club praised the
magic system she created and the odd applications of scientific technology
— particularly the university-based A.I. that is trying to help people
find romantic partners.
Many of these ideas may be worthy of development into
standalone short stories — a format that Anders has shown skill with in
the past (We would particularly highlight her first-rate story The Fermi Paradox Is My Business Model).
Charlie Jane Anders (Image via Wikipedia)
As noted in a previous blog post, our group has a preference
for books that have a beginning, middle and end and are self-contained. This
book’s large-scale structure — childhood, divergence, conflict, apocalypse
— works, and it’s good to see at least one nominated book that fulfills a
single large narrative arc.
But the pacing of this arc is choppy and characters
disappear and reappear suddenly and without explanation. The assassin — one of
the more interesting characters in the book — disappears for long
stretches without cause and, when he is written in, seems to act without clear
The book’s exploration of societal dichotomy between nature-based
neo-pagan beliefs and technophilia spurred some lively debate in our group.
Given our appreciation for much of Anders’ previous work as
a journalist and short stories, many of us are looking forward to her
subsequent works. However, this book was not at the top of any of our Hugo