Summary of “A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • Police procedure / mystery mixture well done
  • Steampunk cool, world building works, “does not go overboard”
  • Great diversity: racism, cultural appropriation covered as topics
  • Multilayered narrative, good plottwists
  • Setting great, previous novellas tie into the world/larger universe cool
  • Characters really cool, “I just love Fatma as a character, she’s just so stubborn”
  • Woman in a world of men cool
  • Siti is awesome
  • “I love H. the most”; strong personality, relatable
  • “I love U., he sounds like a great guy”
  • Characters very well done
  • Historical, not taking place in the present, wonderful
  • Critical view of colonialism, the Empire, great –> in the middle of things
  • Timeline cool, background of mysticism, fighting back, decolonialisation, different reactions in connection to the loss of power of colonialism
  • Queer rep. great, healthy relationship with realistic fights, “cute”
  • Star-crossed lovers (supernatural touch)
  • Cultural representation accurate, insults correct, everyday language fitting
  • inaccurate idea of pledging one’s service to a family; connection to the otherworld, scary, djinns creepy in Islam: “they can come to our world but we can’t come to theirs”
  • Fluffy djnn ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
  • Faster pacing at the end good
  • Hard-boiled detective with soft side but with great, diverse representation was nice
  • Humour great, slightly absurdist
  • Role that religion great, peaceful co-existance nice
  • Linguistic awareness great; “oh your English is really good”
  • Fashion bit great, fashion as a battle suit
  • “F. is such a cool person, I just wanna hang out with her”
  • Transformation into an angel a bit random
  • Bypassing the curse through clues was smart
  • Curse: forgetting about the seal was great, how they managed to remember it was great, nice investigation twist
  • Everybody actually came back, that was nice
  • Would make a great series, cinematography, would need to be made by Egyptians in Egypt but probably would not happen
  • Audiobook is great
  • F. policing the supernatural is hilarious
  • Mixture of genres great
  • Ending 100% wholesome
  • Queer acceptance nice
  • Djimn non-binary great, can take on various genders
  • Set in the past but all the futuristic bits fun, not typical 20th century, alternate history with magic
  • Feminist / empowerment content
  • F. fights a patriarchal world and fights for her place in it, battles sexism, “felt very natural”
  • Diplomacy great
  • German delegation / Kaiser hilarious

What we discussed:

  • Villain clear ver early on sadly
  • Pacing at the beginning off
  • “Jumping the shark” ending; steampunk mecha surprise attacking Kairo, all cool characters prepare for a final bossfight, deus ex machina villain, pacing off / too much at the ending
  • Lots of steampunk stereotypes and tropes; steampunk for of an aesthetic (style over substance?) and it holds true for this book
  • Too many details in one short book, maybe two books? –> not having known the novellas before
  • So many exclamation marks 😀
  • Plot sometimes unclear because of plethora of details
  • Pacing off in general, sometimes hard to stay immersed
  • Lots of swordfighting, bit ridiculous when there are guns, but it’s also cool
  • Police does very little paperwork, could have more interrogation / police procedure, H. is doing the paperwork for F.
  • Timeline quite condensed
  • Summit: not many Arabic countries mentioned, weird
  • More people from neighbouring countries needed, feels weird that they’re ignored
  • Transculturality could be expanded, more magical creatures could be explored
  • “I would love a spin off”
  • Villain part of the story became unrealistic comedy
  • “I’ll forgive you. She’s such a Karen” :D:D:D:D:D:D
  • “It would have been funny, had Fatma been the villain”

Ratings:

  • 4/5 “great read for a steampunk novel, well written, I hope there are going to be more sequel, investigation part great”
  • 4/5 fluffy djinns “I love that it was historical and intersectional even though parts could be improved, I hope there will be more books”
  • 4/5 ninja, despite the inaccuracies, really enjoyable, different cultures and religions depicted well
  • 4.5/5 in a basket “had a lot of fun, would love more”
  • 3.5/5 “good idea, fun, too much in one book, I love the characters”, –> “three fluffy djinns and half a puppy”
  • 4/5 “just had fun”
  • 4/5 bowler hats
  • 3/5 “I loved the world building and the aesthetics”, prodigy detective bit conventional
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Summary Rice

Things we liked about the book:

  • Psychological dimension interesting; existential crisis of Louis, mortality
  • Philosophical dimension interesting
  • Louis unwillingly funny, not always serious and creepy
  • Hella gay
  • Practical language
  • Only having one person to rely on / trust; Louis / Lestat difference nice
  • Louis heavily dislikes him but mourns him
  • Setting, clichee Gothic-ness of it all
  • Vibes are great, atmosphere, darkness
  • Transformation of stereotypes, debunking garlic, but still sleep in coffins
  • “the whole on drugs feeling of it” is enjoyable
  • Things escalate quickly, guilty pleasure watching it
  • Claudia angelic ethereal creature (innocence, doll) vs. her mean spirit
  • Transformation throughout the novel
  • Claudia a very tragic character (inspired by Anne Rice’s real daughter)
  • Extremes of morality portrayed: nihilism vs. hedonism, existentialism, moral conflicts galore
  • Louis fun emo vampire
  • Framing device really cool, interviewer too scared, Louis can’t stop talking
  • Louis’ dady issues are hilarious
  • Power and control fascinating
  • Red flags everybody!!!!
  • Part 1 great, part 2 meh
  • Language nice, poetic, creates a vivid sense of place and atmosphere
  • Beautiful language, monologues: “that’s the drama I want from a vampire”
  • We want blood!
  • Genre-defining book
  • Time fascinating
  • Lack of morality fascinating
  • Le Fanu as a blueprint: also super toxic
  • Your own conscience worse than anything else

Things we discussed:

  • Infuriating ending: “make me a vampire” after hours of drama and trauma
  • Excessively long descriptions or dialogues, could’ve been cut
  • Europe part too short, Eastern Europe artifical, nothing felt authentic, nothing added up
  • Racism / slavery depiction terrible, great deconstruction in the new series
  • Very (terribly) white
  • Lestat’s obsession with Louis weird; turned him because of his money; toxic
  • Lestat’s father story weird
  • Lestat lonely, too proud to be honest, no healthy relationship in this entire book
  • Relationship with Claudia is really icky
  • Claudia seems much more mature, calls her “lover”, sooo problematic, pedophilia much????
  • Claudia terribly sexualized, disgusting

How would you rate the book?

  • 3/5 teeth because of morality
  • 3/5 some parts enjoyable/funny
  • 3/5 bit boring at times, language nice, no good characters, “I just like the villains”
  • 3.5/5 childsize coffins
  • 3.5/5 bites
  • 2.5/5 “this one’s too much for me”
  • 3.5/5 philosophical depression, also for a book from 1976 despite all the problematic bits quite nice and gay
  • 3/5 easy to read, not hard to read
  • 4/5 world shattering
  • 3/5 “I wish it was not from Louis’ perspective”

Masked Ball Oct 31 & New Schedule

Hi everyone,

If you’d like to sign up for the Masked Ball, please book yourself a ticket via Eventbrite and carefully read through the information provided: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bonn-speculative-fiction-group-masked-ball-tickets-423927317017

Please bring 2€, your own cutlery/plate/glass, a negative COVID test with you. If you like, you can bring veggie / vegan snacks. 🙂 Please come in costume and with a mask.

There will be dancing, tarot readings, general merrymaking and ghosts. Be prepared to encounter creepy creatures!

We might need to change the November Movie Monday plan at some point as the release date for 1899 isn’t out yet!

Masked Ball October 31

You can sign up for the Ball NOW and until October 27:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bonn-speculative-fiction-group-masked-ball-tickets-423927317017

Please be aware that:

– You need a negative COVID test

– You need to bring the 2€ entry fee for drinks

– You need to bring your own glass/plate & cutlery

– You need to be masked & in costume

– Optional: bring vegan or veggie snacks for everyone to share

There will be Ceilidh dancing, Tarot readings, and a lot of fun. Please be aware that there might be ghosts, vampires, and other creepy creatures lurking in the dark!

The event takes place in Room 1.006 in the Celtic Department which is at the other end of the main building basically. If you’re standing at Sinn & Leffers & you’re looking at the main building, you will notice a small entryway that leads you into Etscheidhof. Turn right, there is a glass door, proceed to the first floor, turn right again. You’re not in Narnia, you’ve found our Samhain Masked Ball!

The event is limited to 50 participants. Please only register if you plan on coming and if you can no longer make it, please deregister so your spot is free again!

Reread a BSFG Meeting Summary

What we talked about 🙂

  • “An Absoluteley Remarkable Thing” by Hank Green: “did not feel science fiction-y”, contemporary, YA-ish, really cool
  • “Rule of Wolves” by Leigh Bardugo: “cannot for the life of me finish it”, other person also did not really like it, especially the ending
  • “Good Omens” by Pratchett / Gaiman: “I really liked it, it’s hilarious”, really similar to “Hitchhiker’s Guide”
  • “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: retelling of H.G. Well’s “Island”, interesting take, Mexico & politics important and interesting, major plottwist predictable but entertaining, romance-vibes
  • “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo: so much trauma, dark academia, too dark, Yale part confusing for non-Yale people

Other books we talked about:

  • “Dante and Aristotle discover the Secrets of the Universe”: really sweet friendship to romance; “they’re so precious”; sequel also enjoyable, better than part one according to one person
  • “Atlas Six” not a recommendation: characters unlikeable, predictable, bit like “The Secret History” (Tartt) but failed to create characters that you cared for
  • “Babel” by Kuang: Oxford dark academia, none of us had read it yet, but we’re interested
  • “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backmann: funny, bankrobbery gone wrong, also a Netflix show, mental health issues, “most surprising read this far”
  • “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green: non-fiction, touching, wonderful audiobook read by John himself
  • “Carrie Soto Is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid: entertaining about a professional tennis player, “I just liked a book about tennis, what is going on”, well written, brandnew
  • “Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” + other Reid novels: wonderful
  • “Daisy Jones and the Six” audiobook can be recommended
  • “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: “I loved the movie and wanted to read the book”, creepy enough for scaring kids, delightful, fun

Summary Tolkien (first in person meeting since 2020!)

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • Great world building (imagination + execution)
  • Simplicity is alluring, not too complicated like other Arda works
  • More approachable than LOTR
  • Perfect amount of adventure
  • Songs in audiobook great
  • Tolkien illustrations in one edition great
  • Narrative perspective: present narrator, feeling of listening to the story (childhood memories of being read to)
  • Fast pacing nice
  • Going back to the beginning was nice, Hobbit as the foundation of the fantasy genre today
  • Andy Serkis audiobook is great
  • Children’s book but epic world becomes tangible, scary yet safe for children
  • Mixture of dark bits and funny bits great
  • Feels very organic: starts in Shire and ends in an epic battle
  • Bilbo is great
  • Home a fascinating concept in the novel
  • Bilbo a “blundering idiot” in the beginning, great character growth
  • Bilbo craves adventure but also craves the tranquility and comfort of his home
  • Bilbo encountering Gollum fascinating
  • Riddles are great
  • Battles in the story are not always with weapons: battles of wit, riddles, mysteries
  • Quest of dragon slaying (influential for fantasy genre) but the protagonist is only a thief on paper, fails his quest, “just steals a few random bits”, “technically Bilbo wasn’t necessary”, “knocked out” in final battle, making fun of epic narratives
  • Hobbit a safe narrative
  • “We should reestablish riddle culture” “Noooooo”
  • Hobbit ties in well with LOTR etc but very different in story, tone
  • unique, enjoyable
  • Balin & Bilbo friendship great
  • rereading it is great
  • no romance plot was great
  • whimsy, fun

What we discussed:

  • “dusty”, aged okay-ish
  • “they were already oldfashioned when they were released”, not modern (enough)
  • dwarves one-dimensional: one group, lost potential, dwarves helpless all the time (saved by Bilbo and Gandalf all the time), not enough agency
  • Dwarves caricatures: old one, young ones, royal ones, fat one (oof)
  • Pacing did not work at first for some
  • “genuinly terrified” at parts (Gollum, spiders)
  • encountering the Hobbit in the theatre: terrified of the jumpscare dragon
  • Dragonslayer bit super lazy storytelling; deus ex machina: backstory in movies actually better
  • Dwarves and diaspora: coded as Jewish, problematic
  • Dwarves calling Bilbo The Hobbit all the time annoying
  • Too many names in the Tolkienverse
  • number of women in Tolkien limited

Rating “The Hobbit”:

  • 9 / 10 rings given to men
  • 9 / 10 “hobbits because I like hobbits”
  • 9/10 dwarves
  • 5/5 just a comfort read
  • 5/5 enjoyable
  • 4.5/5 frog-like Gollums of the animated movie
  • 4.5/5 Arkenstone, greatful book exists
  • 5/5 very good and cosy comforting book

Other books we talked about:

  • Joe Abercrombie “The Trouble with Peace”: more people should talk about his books, amazing characters, all set in the same world
  • Becky Chambers “Prayer for the Crown Shy”: like a warm hug, wholesome, great sequel
  • Reading more Tolkien extra: “Galadriel has been through some shit”, dark, broken, fascinating
  • “Fahrenheit 451”: nice, fascinating

Summary Susanna Clarke “Piranesi”

What we enjoyed about the book:

  • weird fiction unexpected, reminded Miéville and Vandermeer
  • riddle-like structure of weird fiction enjoyable
  • first person narrative cool
  • smart read
  • weirdness enjoyable
  • setting wonderful
  • House fascinating, described well, “I could really imagine it”
  • refreshing environment
  • incredible world building
  • immersive despite the confusion
  • beautifully written
  • protagonist has a fascinating way of thinking
  • aesthetics of it brilliant, statues
  • dark academia feel
  • unique experience reading it
  • unreliable narrator
  • puzzle
  • reader was involved from the very beginning
  • who can you trust? journey entries could be made up
  • memory loss
  • who is the villain? who is the good person?
  • “mystery made me want to keep reading”
  • cult is the reason why he was there
  • reverse portal-quest fascinating
  • full of surprises
  • connection to pseudo-primary world really nice and surprising
  • similiar to crime novels: suspense
  • rereading it rewarding
  • could be a great computer game (aesthetics would be great, game play might be a bit frustrating)
  • movie would be great too
  • mysterious
  • ending needed to be processed
  • so many interpretations possible
  • book takes a philosophical turn, makes you think
  • interesting to compare it with “Jonathan Strange”
  • ideas and environment were great
  • narrative style + different layers added to the beauty of the book for some
  • writing style was great
  • ideas are high quality
  • infinity and style of house great
  • What is the house? different reality, portal, house of concepts (= statues), ocean inside the house a bit more metaphorical (= ocean of ideas); various interpretations: a) different reality or b) Narnia-like “Wood between the Worlds”, c) Plato Cave Reference, Ideas TM, d) Piranesi Italian artist drawing prisons (google him!!!)
  • Piranesi free in the house when memory loss has occured but it is still a prison???

What we discussed:

  • stylistic execution could be better and too many layers of narration, bit too much?
  • Matthew did not get his happy ending or ending
  • “conflicted about the ending”, felt a bit rushed
  • why would a police officer travel to another world to find a missing person? different profession would’ve been more fitting
  • magic system meh
  • pacing until the Other shows up was off, too slow going in the beginning, too long build-up
  • “struggled with the first pages”, conjunction of tides, super confused
  • closure missing in the end: what is the house? is it magical? still confusing but also part of the charm
  • antagonist kinda like a Disney villain, gullible narrator
  • would’ve liked to know more about the cult
  • so much potential for more background info

How we rated the book:

  • 5/5 journal entries, “enjoyed reading the whole book”
  • 5/5 even though not finished reading
  • 4.5/5 stars, torn between Goodreads 4 or 5 stars reading
  • 5/5 statues, unreliable narrator, aesthetics, fascinating
  • 3.5-4/5 stars “if I think about it a bit longer, it will be 4 stars”; “the longer I think about it, the more ideas I have, the better my ratings get”

Other books we talked about

  • “Jonathan Strange” cool, series really good, hard to read
  • “Amongst our Weapons” by Ben Aaronovitch: enjoyable, nice Monthy Python reference –> first novel called “Rivers of London”
  • TJ Klune “Cerulean Sea”, “Whispering Sea”
  • “The Hollow Places” by Kingfisher: horror, reminds one a bit of “Piranesi”, different weird dimension, very self-aware and full of intertextual references
  • “Daughter of the Moon Godness” by Sue Lynn Tan: great magical world building based on Chinese mythology, political intrigue, adventure, “really like the protagonist”
  • “Kindred” by Octavia Butler: time-travelling Black woman, slavery, shocking, violent, “several trigger warnings”
  • “Empire of the Vampire” by Jay Kristoff: “Name of the WInd” + “Interview with a Vampire”, not like Twilight, “very bloody, very smutty”
  • “The Half Life of Valery K” by Natasha Pulley: if you liked HBO’s “Chernobyl”, pick this book up!
  • “She Who Became The Sun”: retelling; fantasy; transgresses gender norms and roles; morally grey characters