1. special meeting: anathem and a few others.
  2. josh

    1. verdict: +
    2. review:

      a definite read. it was fun. yeah, it's a lot of pages, but they're
      quick. you guys are all haters (ed: he sees *that* coming). it's a
      funny book. that's all. (ed: obviously it's not.) "the first few
      hundred pages that you all hated was among the best!" some of the mess
      hall stuff was lame, and when they were in space. blah blah. josh
      obvoiusly liked it.

  3. brandon

    1. verdict: +
    2. review:

      "for a neal stephenson book, it was unusually well unified." the
      characters are just mouthpieces for certain ideas, and the main
      character had "no traits whatsoever." the story had a shape. stayed
      interested through the whole thing, and found the conceits more
      amusing than annoying. enjoyed it.

  4. chris

    1. verdict: +
    2. review:

      "it had me for awhile, and i felt like there was just a lot of wasted
      potential." it lost him when it turned out it was something from
      space. the setup was good and then it went in an uninteresting
      direction. the space voyage was "bottom of the barrel." chris has
      historically been a pretty big neal stephenson fan, this did not live
      up to his expectations. "i do think the made-up language is funny and
      i'm enjoying using it tonight." largely a disappointment.

  5. marko

    1. verdict: +
    2. review:

      "this book was good for the world, but not good for me." marko is glad
      that this book is popular, he thinks it's great that people are
      reading about math. he thinks we're all understimating how good the
      book is for being able to explain "this stuff" (ed: which
      stuff?). after they left the monastery, it was all stereotypes and
      junk. he's "heard all this before," but he thinks it was very well
      presented. the end was interesting, but he thought it was a different

  6. chad

    1. verdict: -
    2. review:

      didn't really like it, but it was readable. got through it quickly,
      all things considered. enjoyed the beginning and the very end,
      although he was annoyed and bored and frustrated by the entire
      thing. "every time i got something he was trying to explain in terms
      of a stupid idea, i was like, this sucks." nothing i like about sci-fi
      was there: characters, mood, style. but it had an interesting enough
      plot, i guess, for the plot of a star trek show. "i liked the end,
      because that was where it was clear that his stupid ideas didn't make
      any sense, and it all fell apart, i guess."

  7. adam

    1. verdict: -
    2. review:

      only read the first 40 pages. based on what we've said, he realized in
      the first 40 pages that this is absolutely not the kind of book he has
      any interest in. was stuck on page 16 for like two weeks. gave up.
      incidentally, he thinks it's terrible that this is on the bestseller
      list. he thinks it will turn people off to sci-fi in hordes.

  8. matt

    1. verdict: -
    2. review:

      (ed: normally i don't record my own thoughts, but i'll make an
      exception in this case, handing the syntactic device (ed: god, i hate
      myself) to brandon.)
      "all right. i'm surprised that nobody has said anything about the,
      like, the content of the book. i thought the book sucked. i hated it.
      i thought it was terrible. i thought it was indulgent, too long,
      characters horrible, mouthpiece for him to spout these ideas (which
      are incoherent and didn't make any sense). there were parts that i
      found offensive. there were parts that i found aesthetically
      (you're just too much of a mystagogue.)
      "maybe my familiarity with his sources was part of it, but there are
      many books that he refers to which are better. they aren't fiction,
      but this isn't fiction either. this is just bad pop philosophy. 800
      pages of philosophers talking. it's like the republic. is the republic
      a work of fiction? no. it's a work of thinking. this is a work of
      thinking, too. it's just thinking that's shallow and stupid. his big
      idea is a warped version of platonism that doesn't make sense in the
      world of the story let alone in a larger philosophical sense. he
      needs to spend 800 pages developing a wrongheaded philosphical
      framework to tell this bad story."
      "it did read quickly."
      "most of what was in this book did not need to be in this book -- it
      did not need to be in *any* book."

  9. interlude

    a great deal of argument and vitriol. redacted.

  10. chris: george r r martin. a game of thrones.

    1. verdict: ++
    2. review:

      first of a seven-book set. well-loved, from 1996. the series is not
      yet complete. "i think it's really good." the polar opposite of the
      joe abercrombie. joe abercrombie is the star wars of fantasy, this is
      maybe the "children of dune" of fantasy books. (ed: i like that
      specificity.) we hear a brief synopsis. there's lots of interpersonal
      stuff and not a whole lot of action. a lot of intrique and killing
      people. really brutal, lots of characters that you like get
      killed. almost exclusively politicking. he will definitely read the
      rest of the series.

  11. jen: simon messingham. doctor who: the doctor trap.

    1. verdict: +
    2. review:

      this was a christmas present. (ed: love you, babe.) it's young adult
      fiction, although not marketed as such in the us. jen's first foray
      into doctor who novels. it's kind of a strange story, and would never
      be a tv episode. this guy has this strange planet, captures things and
      builds hunting areas for people. he plans to capture the doctor, and
      so on. they do only an ok job with the personalities of the
      characters, she'd read another doctor who novel. she thinks another
      story might be better.

  12. interlude

    some discussionf of the new doctor.

  13. adam: brandon sanderson. elantris.

    1. verdict: -
    2. review:

      this is the brandon sanderson who will be finishing the wheel of time
      books. this book was written in 2005, and he had good reasons for
      doing this. found on joe abercrombie's blog, in a linked review. the
      reviewer liked brandon sanderson better than joe abercrombie. this is
      a single self-contained fantasy novel. several people have read
      positive reviews of this book. "this book sucked." it's not very well
      thought out, the magic mechanics aren't very interesting, the plot
      device is forced and didn't make much sense. we hear a synopsis. this
      book wasn't so good, his next series is better, and we'll hear more
      about that next time?

  14. coda

    a fair bit of discussion on the wheel of time. chris and i have
    tentatively agreed to read the wotmania chapter summaries and then
    finish the last three chapters.

  15. administrivia

    meeting schedule is discussed, the anathem trailer is watched. (ed:

  16. that's all, folks.