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Achaean Book Club May: The Last Unicorn

KietKiet Member Posts: 3,263 @@ - Legendary Achaean
Welcome to the third month of the Achaean Book Club! We had a tie for what book to read this month, so obviously my vote was the tiebreaker because I'm running this, dwi.

The book for this month is The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. As usual, Goodreads has a variety of places to buy it from in both physical and ebook form.

Thread Rules:

  • Book club #2 will run from May 1st to May 31st.
  • Discuss as much as you want a soon as you want, but use spoiler tags for anything that contains, well, spoilers! If spoilers are specific to a chapter/location in the book, note that outside the spoiler itself.
  • While this thread is active, we'll be voting on next month's book. Feel free to discuss that, too. The books this time are mostly the same as last time + 1 to replace the winner.

Starting questions for discussion (but feel free to discuss whatever comes to mind, or post quotes you like, or ask questions if you're lost).

  • One of the major themes of the book is the question of what is real and what isn't. How is reality defined and perceived in the novel?
  • The story is set up in a classical fairy tale structure, but how closely does it model fairy tales? How does it deviate?
  • How does the fantasy of the story serve to comment on our actual real world?
  • What themes do unicorns usually portray, and how many of those apply to this story? In what way? Does the unicorn in this story differ in any way from the classical myth?
  • What are the basic themes of the book you're picking up on, and how do you feel about them?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill.
Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment--find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

Ombria in Shadow, Patricia A. McKillip

Ombria is a place heaped with history -- and secrets. There is a buried city beneath it inhabited by ghosts, accessible only through magical passages and long-forgotten doorways. When the Prince of Ombria dies suddenly, his wicked great-aunt Domina Pearl seizes power by becoming regent to the prince's young son, Kyel. Minutes after the prince's death, Domina kicks Lydea, the prince's longtime mistress, out into the streets to die. But she is saved by a strange girl named Mag, a supposed waxling created by a powerful sorceress who lives underneath the city. With the help of Mag and the prince's bastard nephew, a strange, silver-eyed man obsessed with drawing, Lydea tries to save Kyel and somehow defeat Domina.

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change - their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance–and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.

Parable of the Sower
, Octavia E. Butler

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

Achaean Book Club May: The Last Unicorn 12 votes

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
MathonwyBrenex 2 votes
The Handmaid's Tale
KyrraAesgarZenii 3 votes
Ombria in Shadow
The Left Hand of Darkness
Jozlyn 1 vote
Never Let Me go
TruaxReysonTysandr 3 votes
Parable of the Sower
KresslackJafin 2 votes
A Wizard of Earthsea
Elipise 1 vote


  • KyrraKyrra AustraliaMember Posts: 4,941 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    The Handmaid's Tale
    My very battered 3rd edition that I bought secondhand about 18 years ago and is still very loved.

    Some years later, I spent $200 on a deluxe copy that was a replication of the original script which is incredibly different to what got published. I’m so excited to be reading through this again. 

    (D.M.A.): Cooper says, "Kyrra is either the most innocent person in the world, or the girl who uses the most innuendo seemingly unintentionally but really on purpose."

  • KietKiet Member Posts: 3,263 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    That's cute, you still read paper books!
  • AithneAithne Member Posts: 2
    I am too late to the party for this, but I will poke in again next week for the next one, because fun.
  • KietKiet Member Posts: 3,263 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I'm actually gonna extend the time for this one to June 15th, since I know a few people are reading it but haven't really finished yet, and that includes me! Our previous ones were 1.5 months too, I just made this one one month since it was shorter.
  • NazihkNazihk Member Posts: 993 @ - Epic Achaean
    For the next book club, I think it might be nice to choose an entirely new slate of books instead of keeping the same slate that's made it through three rounds without being picked.

    I've got some suggestions for this that I'll throw out sometime tomorrow, when I have the time to write a few sentences about them.
  • KietKiet Member Posts: 3,263 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I considered that too, it might be a good idea! I might keep the ones that consistently get high votes, but not the 0/1 voters.
  • KietKiet Member Posts: 3,263 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Actually, if people have suggestions for books they want to read, feel free to post them here!

    Try to keep them under 500 pages (under 400 is ideal, given we want many people to read it), not too niche, and stuff that you think would appeal to the kind of person that plays Achaea.
  • CyrCyr Member Posts: 175 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
    Lord of Light and/or Eye of Cat by Roger Zelazny (you could also potentially do Nine Princes in Amber to start the chronicles of amber but the other two are standalone and in my opinion better)
    One I haven't read, but have heard raves about is The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu

    Dunn tells you, "I hate you."
    (Party): You say, "Bad plan coming right up."
  • AithneAithne Member Posts: 2
    I can handily devour a book by the 15th. I just need to finish the two I'm reading right now before starting it.
  • TruaxTruax Member Posts: 272 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    Never Let Me go
    Kiet said:
    I'm actually gonna extend the time for this one to June 15th, since I know a few people are reading it but haven't really finished yet, and that includes me! Our previous ones were 1.5 months too, I just made this one one month since it was shorter.
    Cool! I saw this thread. Downloaded it last night. Checked the date again, and sadfaced. Thanks for extending it!
  • KresslackKresslack Florida, United StatesMember Posts: 6,694 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Parable of the Sower
    Just picked this up as well. My first time reading it, and since it's a holiday in the States work is slow enough I might be able to finish it tonight.
  • JozlynJozlyn out of here.Member Posts: 1,086 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    The Left Hand of Darkness
     yes, sir.
  • KresslackKresslack Florida, United StatesMember Posts: 6,694 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Parable of the Sower
    Jozlyn said:
    Takes one to know one!
  • NazihkNazihk Member Posts: 993 @ - Epic Achaean
    Ninefox Gambit is one that I was going to suggest. 

    Another one is The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It's about a near-future America where prolonged drought has essentially destroyed American civilization in the west/midwest. The continual water worries down here in Texas always make me think of this book.

    The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajuniemi is another I'd consider. Weird, but good.
  • ExelethrilExelethril Member Posts: 3,360 @@ - Legendary Achaean


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  • TysandrTysandr Member Posts: 494 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    Never Let Me go
    I loved The Intelligent Investor, it's so old hat.

    The Quantum Thief was interesting. Some areas of weak writing but interesting story.
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

  • ReysonReyson Member Posts: 813 @ - Epic Achaean
    Never Let Me go
    For the record, Never Let Me Go is a wonderful book, but The Remains of the Day is where it's at. Such crushing nostalgia.  
  • ZemeZeme Member Posts: 6
    Image result for stiff mary roach summary 
    Not sure if anyone is into to science non-fiction writing but Mary Roach is hilarious. Her writing is anecdotal and research based and I am about to start reading this one (a bit morbid maybe) but i think it will be good. Just finished her book, "Packing for Mars"

  • TelinusTelinus Member Posts: 337 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    Image result for mirror dreams book
    Would suggest 100% if you haven't read it.
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