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Books read, early November

Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School Chapter 23. In which the unification of character arcs begins….

Marie Brennan, Turning Darkness Into Light. This is doing a thing I wish I saw more, which is telling more stories in the same world but in a different time period. I really like that, showing how a world can change in small and large ways, how there are always more stories–and this one is an academic’s story, albeit one with adventure around the edges, but the shape of it is very different than in the Lady Trent books. I had fun with it.

Stephen L. Carter, Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster. Carter is writing about his grandmother here, so there is a lot more focus on who Eunice Hunton Carter was as a person and less on the trial with Lucky Luciano than I expected. It was still an interesting biography and well worth reading as a portrait of a woman doing things that were unusual for her time but not unheard-of.

Aliette de Bodard, Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight. I loved the elements of family relationships and melancholy that threaded through these different settings. Though they were not all related stories, there was a cohesive feel to reading this collection that I really enjoyed.

K.A. Doore, The Impossible Contract. Discussed elsewhere.

Paul Krueger, Steel Crow Saga. This was a giant brick of fun. While Krueger’s media influences are written in the blurb on the front–Pokemon! Avatar: the Last Airbender!–they are jumping-off points rather than elements he’s going to copy whole-heartedly, and the way he’s thinking about magic and culture is not exactly like anything else I’ve read. These elements definitely ramify in his characters in ways I liked a whole lot–the length felt like a feature, not a bug.

Yoon Ha Lee, Revenant Gun. Ramification and consequence and the end of a trilogy. The plot twist in how this particular end is accomplished was pretty cool once I got to it, and also the protagonist having to live with fallout in multiple ways.

Nnedi Okorafor, Tana Ford, and James Devlin, LaGuardia. This comic features alien plants and human families and immigration law and all sorts of cool things. And I actually did appreciate the art, yes, even me, even non-visual me.

Julian Rubinstein, Ballad of the Whisky Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. You know how people talk about some books and shows and etc. as competence porn, enjoyable just for watching someone do what they do well? This…is the opposite of that. This is a true crime book that is staggering for how few people do anything even remotely competently, and how it just…keeps…going. There is a semi-pro hockey player criminal in the wreckage of immediately post-Communist Hungary and…how did any of this keep working? Lack of resources is a hell of a trip, wow. Wow. What even happened here. Train wreck. No literal trains wrecked but that may be the only thing that didn’t get screwed up. I am aghast. And yes, I kept reading.

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities and Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters. Two essay collections, separated by over a decade–the latter is the newer one, and it’s still struggling toward hope. Both of them are dealing with hope as a struggle, and I needed them both. Both brief, both filled with thoughtful, pithy takes. Reading them back-to-back was interesting, too….

Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. This is one of the most harrowing books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a beautiful novel about the effects of PTSD on three generations of a Vietnamese immigrant family. Brace yourself and read it when you’re in a good place if you’re going to read it at all–it’s incredibly well done, and I’m glad it exists, but it was a gut punch.

Peter Watts, Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor. Discussed elsewhere.

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