The Fantasy and Science Fiction/Theory Reading Group

The Fantasy and Science Fiction/Theory Reading Group is a casual, convivial group that usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month. We gather to discuss works (partial list of previous readings) that we have chosen collectively and to put those works in some sort of theoretical perspective, the sort, of course, depending on the works and the viewpoints of those assembled. The Group is open on a drop-in basis, because we are always interested in the views of those who are especially interested in a particular work or author, but most participants try to attend regularly. Our currently active members include faculty, graduate students, and staff from the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and other local residents with strong interests in the field. (We are not open to undergraduates. Interested undergraduates may want to consider joining a local science fiction club such as the Stilyagi Air Corps in Ann Arbor.) The Fantasy and Science Fiction/Theory Reading Group normally meets year round from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. although occasionally our schedule varies, so please consult the calendar below. Our current location is 3154 Angell Hall in the Department of English of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The meeting will be hosted by one of our regular members. Light snacks are sometimes provided; if you would like to bring food of some sort, we only ask that you bring enough to share.

At our meeting of 9 Oct 2018, we agreed to continue meeting generally on the second Tuesday of the month and chose a slate of books for the upcoming year. All of the works listed below were available either new or used when the schedule was set, but some books may require ordering, so it is advisable to begin acquiring texts early. Our schedule for 2018/19 follows:



T 13 Nov
George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo (368 pp.): February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old, fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation realizes it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying.
T 11 Dec
Movie Night: Fred M. Wilcox (director), Forbidden Planet (1956): An outstanding, space-faring re-imagination of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Typically, we order pizza and members are free to bring drinks and other snacks they'd like to share. Special location: 1180 Duderstadt Center.
T 8 Jan

Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem (415 pp.): This sweeping, Hugo-winning novel by China's most popular SF writer, set against the Cultural Revolution, explores power plays and social changes when Earth confronts the arrival of aliens.

T 12 Feb
Julie McElwain, A Murder in Time (320 pp.): A rising-star female FBI agent stumbles into 19th century where she has to deal with  class, gender, and a serial killer on the loose.
T 12 Mar
Ahmed Saadawi, Frankenstein in Baghdad (288 pp.): Winner of the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, this science-fictional parable explores the meaning of life--and death--in U.S.-occupied Baghdad.
T 9 Apr
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Illuminae (608 pp.): The first novel in a YA trilogy, this fast-reading, epistolary fan-favorite deals with alien invasion, corporate corruption, rogue AIs, and young love in 2575.
T 14 May
Larry Marder, Beanworld Omnibus (608 pp.): This graphic novel collects the complete Beanworld issues #1 - #21, delightful, bizarre, and unique adventures in a realm of "ecological fantasy."
T 11 Jun
Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (368 pp.): One of the enduring works of "The Golden Age of SF," this era-spanning, post-nuclear holocaust novel explores the relations between science and religion, the definition of human, and the nature of history itself.
T 9 Jul
N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (512 pp.): A novel The New York Times called "intricate and extraordinary," this 2016 Hugo winner powerfully imagines the end of the world.
T 13 Aug
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaimin, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (432 pp.): San Francisco Chronicle: "Reads like the Book of Revelation, rewritten by Monty Python."
T 10 Sep
H.P. Lovcraft, H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction (480 pp.): Haunting works from the "eldritch" imagination of the master contributor to Weird Tales. Our discussion selections:  “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Horror at Red Rock,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” and “The Dunwich Horror.”
T 8 Oct
Book selection meeting! Please come ready to suggest books for the group to read. If you wish, bring a copy of each suggested book and/or bring reviews. Please check in advance to make sure that the books you suggest are available. In case our selection discussion takes less than our two-hour allotment, anyone who wants to can bring copies of a short-short story for us to read together and chew on. If you can't make the meeting but want to make a recommendation, please send it to our email list (FantasySF@umich.edu).
T 13 Nov
Stephen King, 11/22/63 (880 pp.): Can a high school English teacher from Maine pass through a time portal into a new life fifty years earlier in Texas and stop the assassination of JFK?

If you want to send an electronic message to this Reading Group, please address FantasySF@umich.edu. If you want to see this message on the World Wide Web, please point your browser at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~esrabkin/fsftsched.html. If you want to add your name to the mail group or make suggestions or inquiries, please contact Eric Rabkin by e-mail (esrabkin@umich.edu).

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This page was last updated on Saturday, 13-Oct-2018.