Science Fiction London

We meet on the first Saturday of the month at 1:30 PM Eastern Time to discuss the selected topic, which could be a science fiction book, short story, movie, TV show, or theme. Detailed information on topic selection, meeting times and locations can be found on the meetings page.

Our upcoming topics

July 6, 2024

The Atrocity Archives

by Charles Stross

Presented by Doug M.

Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob's under a desk restoring lost data. His world was dull and safe - but then he went and got Noticed.

Now, Bob is up to his neck in spy-craft, parallel universes, dimension-hopping terrorists, monstrous elder gods and the end of the world. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than a full system reboot to sort this mess out . . .

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

August 3, 2024

The Power

by Naomi Alderman

Presented by Margot B.

In The Power, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family.

But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power: they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets. From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, The Power is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

September 7, 2024

NB This meeting has two topics. 

To Be Taught If Fortunate

by Becky Chambers

Presented by Terry B.

In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the galaxy transform themselves. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth. As such, human beings are at last able to explore exoplanets long suspected to harbour life. Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to explore four planets, 15 light years away. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Fearing they may be forgotten, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in hope that someone back home is listening...

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

The Folk of the Fringe

by Orson Scott Card

Presented by Mark A.

In Orson Scott Card's classic apocalyptic science fiction novel The Folk of the Fringe, only a few nuclear weapons fell in America--the weapons that destroyed the nation were biological and, ultimately, cultural.

But in the chaos, the famine, the plague, there existed a few pockets of order. The strongest of them was the state of Deseret, formed from the vestiges of Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. The climate has changed. The Great Salt Lake has filled up to prehistoric levels. But there, on the fringes, brave, hardworking pioneers are making the desert bloom again.

A civilization cannot be reclaimed by powerful organizations, or even by great men alone. It must be renewed by individual men and women, one by one, working together to make a community, a nation, a new America.

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

October 5, 2024

The Last Murder at the End of the World

by Stuart Turton

Presented by Mark A.

Agatha Christie meets SF. Solve the murder to save what's left of the world.

Outside the island there is nothing: the world was destroyed by a fog that swept the planet, killing anyone it touched.

On the island: it is idyllic. One hundred and twenty-two villagers and three scientists, living in peaceful harmony. The villagers are content to fish, farm and feast, to obey their nightly curfew, to do what they're told by the scientists.

Until, to the horror of the islanders, one of their beloved scientists is found brutally stabbed to death. And then they learn that the murder has triggered a lowering of the security system around the island, the only thing that was keeping the fog at bay. If the murder isn't solved within 107 hours, the fog will smother the island―and everyone on it.

But the security system has also wiped everyone's memories of exactly what happened the night before, which means that someone on the island is a murderer―and they don't even know it.

And the clock is ticking.

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

November 2, 2024

The Course of Empire

by Eric Flint & K.D. Wentworth

Presented by Albert A.

Earth has been conquered by the Jao a species as inscrutable to humanity as humanity is to them. An uneasy detente has been achieved such that an impasse is unavoidable. A cruel Jao viceroy determined to drown all opposition in blood and a reckless human resistance equally determined to provoke him face off.

But dangerous imminent realities demand the cooperation of both species without which the consequences are unthinkable to both. From the heart of their empire a young Jao prince of impeccable and illustrious provenance, intellectually gifted and with a penchant for unorthodox thinking is dispatched to Earth. Humanity too offers up its own aristocratic prodigy forged in the fires of unimaginable loss and sharpened by post conquest diplomacy. First Daughter to her defeated people she must navigate the dangerous currents of Jao/human politics and look beyond them.

Two scions, one Jao, the other human must forge a new co-existential paradigm for their peoples future but between them lies recalcitrant inward looking forces without scruples determined to maintain the status quo. Success will unite Jao strength with human ingenuity in a marriage that may withstand a terrifying unsane enemy and launch both species into an era of wonders, failure will spell their catastrophic doom.

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

December 7, 2024

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Presented by Mark A. and Stephanie H.

Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order–all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. 

“A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine” (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history’s keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. 

Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.

January 4, 2025

M3GAN

by Gérard Johnstone

Presented by Margot B.

Brilliant toy-company roboticist Gemma (Allison Williams) designs M3GAN, a life-like artificial intelligence doll programmed to be a child's greatest companion and a parent's greatest ally. When her eight-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), is orphaned, Gemma becomes her guardian.

Unsure of how to suddenly become a parent, Gemma decides to pair her M3GAN prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems — a decision that will have unexpected consequences when the robot becomes violently overprotective of her new friend.

Availability The film will be shown at the meeting.

February 1, 2025

Babel, or The Necessity of Violence 

by R. F. Kuang

Presented by JD D.

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel.

Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.

For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide…

Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? 

Availability Available from the London Public Library or from book stores e.g. Chapters/Indigo or Amazon or local used book shops.