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2014 Book Club Discussions > May 2014: Hollow World - Final Discussion (with Spoilers)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (tenaciousreader) | 301 comments Let us know what you think now that you have finished the book! No spoiler tags needed here.

message 2: by Joel (new)

Joel (deliriumtrigger) | 312 comments I loved the direction Sullivan went - the philosophical pieces, the moral dilemmas, the creativity of the world and the story. Any odd details you have to overlook or minor plot hiccups were more than overridden by the excellent story and the trials of Ellis.

My review is here for anyone who wants to look through it - maybe my longest review yet. I admit openly that the book was not perfect, not always the most tight on details; but I had no problem with suspension of belief in those places, no problem letting the story go and accepting things for how they were in the name of enjoying it.

message 3: by Kasey (new)

Kasey Cocoa (kaseycocoa) | 3 comments I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. For me it was one of the better books I've read in a long time. It was easy to gloss over the tiny mistakes because as a whole it is very well written. I found it easy to connect with the characters, and adore the individually. For me the world building was spectacular, with all the right details in all the right places. I also liked how Sullivan moved the plot pace right up to the very end.

message 4: by Brian (last edited May 03, 2014 03:30PM) (new)

Brian Anderson I thought it was great. But it's Sullivan, so I expected it to be.

message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Hey, got a question for you guys. When you talk to others about the book and mention Pax, do you use he/him or she/her or something else compeltely?

message 6: by Brian (new)

Brian Anderson Shle and shler...like yevo! :)

message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather (penguininspace) | 2 comments I really enjoyed this book! Actually, I liked it much more than I expected because I went into it thinking the concept was overdone, there's probably nothing really *new* about the book... But wow, I was wrong. I loved every second, despite my initial dislike of Ellis.

Also, I referred to Pax as him when telling a friend about the book. While reading, I also imagined him (see, doing it again!) as male albeit with no defining "male" characteristics. It's weird how that works.

message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Thanks Brian and Heather. One of the reasons why I ask is it is a huge point of discussion in my house. My wife insists on calling Pax "him" and I call Pax "her." It might have something to do with what sex you gravitate toward. A good friend of mine who happens to be gay also thinks of Pax as a "him."

message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian Anderson Michael wrote: "Thanks Brian and Heather. One of the reasons why I ask is it is a huge point of discussion in my house. My wife insists on calling Pax "him" and I call Pax "her." It might have something to do with..."
All kidding aside, I didn't give it much thought before. But I tend to use "him" instinctively. It seems more gender neutral than her (as silly as that may sound).

message 10: by Clare (new)

Clare (clareb21) | 3 comments I tend to refer to Pax as 'him' mainly based on the way 'he' dresses in suits and a bowler hat. Not saying women can't dress that way but certainly the cover art looks more male. It really is interesting though and you have to make a choice otherwise referring to all of them as 'it'.

message 11: by Eric (new)

Eric Schmitt | 2 comments I also enjoyed the book. The gender pronoun challenge with all of the Hollow World residents definitely added a bit of 'flavor' to make it that much more interesting.

What really stood out to me was the thoughtful introspective look at what happens when humanity is allowed into a form of paradise. We spend so much time striving for a 'perfect' world, no one really thinks about what happens when we achieve it. Well done!

message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments @Brian - thanks for the feedback

@Clare - that's the way Robin feels.

@Eric - thanks! One thing very different between Hollow World and our world is the % of free time. Here we spend most of our waking hours doing "what we have to" rather than "what we want to." Some lucky people like me have those two things be the same. But with so much free time on the hands of Hollow World people, how much harder is it to occupy your time? My wife always says she doesn't want immortality as she would get bored, and I can kinda understand where she is coming from.

message 13: by Clare (last edited May 09, 2014 07:34AM) (new)

Clare (clareb21) | 3 comments I was thinking more about the gender question and I think it also comes down to Warren describing Pax and the others as 'ken dolls'. Whenever I read a book I tend to think of the other characters the way the central character does, and Ellis struggles to see Pax as anything other than a man even though he knows that he isn't. I suppose it could be like being told someone you're attracted to is a close relative and then it being proven that they're actually not. You would know that they're not related to you but it would always be an idea that would put you off.

The % of free time you talk about was really interesting as well. I must admit that although dragging myself into work every morning is an effort, I think I would go nuts if I didn't work. What reason is there to get up in the morning if you don't have to? I can see your concept of the future working in a way but I think it would be such a massive culture shock that people would have to be almost counselled through it at first, I can imagine there would be a lot of depression and a feeling of a lack of purpose. Maybe that's where the Hive Project idea came in, if everyone is connected then they are all important and part of something bigger...?

message 14: by Matt (new)

Matt Hageman Loved the book. Now up to 6 amazing books I've read by Sullivan. Every time I find myself amazed again.

This book was fast paced but also had some really sweet insight on the future. It says in the authors note that there isn't really a market for this type of book, but I don't see why because I know many would enjoy it.

Pax is a male. Only started seeing it differently when he was with Ellis. Maybe it was the hat, but I think it was Ellis' thoughts at the beginning towards Pax. The character just seemed more male than female.

Anyway I'm excited to buy the first of the Rhune (or is that the first book) trilogy the second it comes out. According to Goodreads, Sullivan is my 2nd most read author and there's a reason I keep picking up his books.

message 15: by Michael (last edited May 12, 2014 08:09AM) (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Clare - yes that is another reason why Robin asserts that to her Pax is a man. I guess for me, the reason I think of Pax as a woman is the types of emotions expressed and the empathy for others. Men can seem insensitive at times (or maybe that's just me). Pax seems to care more for others than himself and that I attribute to women more then men.

I do think people in Hollow World struggle just as you mentioned. Why bother getting up? How will today be different than the last. I think it is why Pax has to work with so many people. And yes, I do think that is part of the reason for the Hive project...to make people feel a part of a larger whole.

message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Thanks Matt! If you know of several who would enjoy it...by all means get the word out! I do think it is a much smaller market than epic fantasy, but I don't write a book based on it's market...I write it because it is a book I want to read.

Thanks for weighing in on the gender of Pax.

I'm excited about Rhune as well. I'm doing my final edits on book #3 then it will be time to have others take a look. Robin will be the first, and I know she is chomping at the bit.

message 17: by Clare (new)

Clare (clareb21) | 3 comments Michael - This is going down a slightly different tangent but as we have no basis for how we would associate a genderless human, it's interesting to look at different gender roles in the animal kingdom.


I think this really questions how we look at males and females. Still not sure where I'd put Pax though, maybe 'he' would be a yellow throated side-blotched lizard hehe.

message 18: by Karl (new)

Karl | 7 comments Well done Michael. While it did take me a little while to get through it (didn't keep me up until 2am), I really enjoyed it.

I'm one of the biggest Time-Travel critics around, but I just loved how it wasn't about that at all. It was more about individuality, relationships, humanity, & love for mine. I also love the way Ellis takes the piss out of his own time-machine, which was a good touch.

I loved how bold you were with such sensitive topics, and how well balanced the book was for a standalone.

Pax was male for me, as pretty much all of the 'baldies' were. Perhaps it's something to do with the lack of hair, or the choice of attire. It may sound a little sexist, but I can't remember any of them wearing skirts/dresses...but perhaps I'm just simple like that.

My full review is here for those interested.

I for one will be dancing outside on the next rain day :P

message 19: by Katri (last edited May 15, 2014 02:09PM) (new)

Katri (mirieh) | 1 comments I liked the book. It had really interesting concepts and I was expecting something completely different. Eric had an interesting point that "look at what happens when humanity is allowed into a form of paradise". I guess it is quite common that we don't necessary want what we seek.

My native language has same personal pronoun for both genders, so it didn't even occur to me that I should decide genre for Pax. Pax is just Pax. Pax is adorable. Ellis on the other hand... I didn't like him. Maybe it was because of his thoughts about God and how he didn't really understand what was happening around him though it was pretty obvious.. Was Ellis refusing to accept the truth? I tried to understand him but just couldn't... Maybe the culture he was from was more alien to me than Hollow World's.

message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Thanks Clare - that was really interesting.

message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Hey Karl, I'm glad you enjoyed the read. Yes there were a lot of sensitive subjects to explore - but that is one of the reason I was really pulled to the project. And thanks for writing a review. I'm off to read it right now.

message 22: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Thanks Katri. Glad you liked Pax...and I can totally understand not relating to Ellis - he is a character designed so that some were and some aren't.

message 23: by Matt (new)

Matt S | 6 comments Just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will recommend to others. Really liked the pace, plot, world and thought-provoking topics.

Thanks for writing it Michael! I'm mostly a fantasy reader but haven't actually read your Riyria books yet, will have to bump them up the list.

Oh and I also found myself thinking of Pax as a gender neutral 'he'...interesting how that works.

message 24: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Thanks Matt. I'm go glad you enjoyed the read. If you want to check out Riyria for no cost, and just a little investment of time, try the short stories I have on audible...they are free. If you don't like listening to audio books, I'll be more than happy to send you ebook versions if you send me a message with your email address.

Just click on the cover to go to the page. If you don't listen to audio books, I'll send you an ebook if you shoot me your email. I hope you'll check them out, and if you do, please let me know what you think.

message 25: by Matt (last edited May 19, 2014 08:36PM) (new)

Matt S | 6 comments Thanks Michael, I'll check out the audio book for Viscount and the Witch. I normally read on kindle so will shoot you an email as well (edit: I found it free on amazon.ca).

I have read Unfettered and enjoyed The Jester, one of my favourites from that anthology!

message 26: by Justin (new)

Justin  (junky8687) | 27 comments Just finished and very much enjoyed it. I usually don't read that much sci-fi, but this book pulled me in from the beginning. I definitely liked how there was a scientific feel to the time travel.

I didn't really associate a gender with Pax. I viewed the 'baldies' as an almost entirely separate race where there were no genders. With that being said, I could see how Pax could be viewed as both a male or a female depending on which situation you were in.

Michael - Any plans to revisit Hollow World? There seems like so much more to explore in this universe, and I would enjoy reading more of it.

message 27: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Ahern | 3 comments I enjoyed the read! And I appreciate the discussion on gender. I didn't think about Pax as a male or female but I would probably have to use masculine pronouns for Pax if I were to choose.

I thought it was interesting to read about Sol and her perspective (note the feminine pronoun). I enjoyed her perspective on God and the future and realizing the unknown. I'll have to think a little more on it… Also, the geomancers as male? I haven't had time to think too much about what Hollow World says about gender until I read these posts, but it's an interesting topic.

message 28: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Hey Matt, I'm so glad you read and enjoyed Unfettered. It was a daunting task to write a short story that would sit alongside works by such masters of the genre. I'm glad my submission met with your approval.

message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Hey Justin,

I have a great many stories that have sprung to mind after finishing Hollow World, and I really do want to visit them. The jury is still out as to whether it will make sense to do so. Hollow World was a gamble, and that gamble has definitely paid off, but should I spend my time on more of that or something else? It's always difficult to decide such things. I have more stories to write than I have time left so I have to balance the pros and cons of each project. It's only been a few months since the book was officially released, so I think it is a bit early to decide too much at this point.

message 30: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 140 comments Hey Patrick...Sol is a fascinating character, and I would like to see more of her if I do write future books. It would be interesting seeing her and Pax together. Likewise the Geomancers are another group that I would like to see more of. It would be interesting to see a Geo that isn't quite as confident or capable and how that would play out.

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