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Books read, late February

B. B. Alston, Amari and the Night Brothers. This MG fantasy is great fun and has a strong sense of family and place. On the large and blurry line between traditional fantasy and superhero story, I expect this to appeal to lots of readers. It certainly did to me.

Mike Brooks, The Black Coast. Discussed elsewhere.

Kari Byron, Crash Test Girl. This feels to me more like Life Lessons From Auntie Kari than traditional memoir. I enjoyed getting a little more feel for one of the people I liked to watch on Mythbusters all those years, but I felt more glad that she’d learned the lessons she listed than particularly enlightened on my own account.

Aliette de Bodard, Fireheart Tiger. When I saw this compared to Howl’s Moving Castle on the back, I thought, oh right, with the fire spirit. But it’s that and learning to value oneself, which is pretty great. I read this all in one gulp, snuggled up on the couch with my dog. Great fun, very sweet.

Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. I had thought about a lot of the issues in this book separately, but sometimes it’s useful to come across a book that encourages you to think of them all together, that gives sort of a directionality. I think a lot of us nerds are hypothetically aware of how algorithms can reinforce bias, but watching the examples in action was extremely useful anyway.

Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. This collection of stories is less gloriously weird than her more recent The Office of Historical Corrections, but her eye for human relationships is no less sharp. I like the direction she’s going, but I also like where she’s been.

Paul Farmer, Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History. Beautifully accomplished examination of why ebola was so much worse in some parts of West Africa than in others. Farmer is very smart about poverty and public health. He’s compassionate and involved and has zero patience for exoticization or victim-blaming. Not a fun book, but a really good one all the same.

Angela Mi Young Hur, Folklorn. Discussed elsewhere.

John McPhee, The Patch. Scraps of essay about various things. The first half is mostly sports-themed, which is a thing McPhee does well, but I’m not always that keen (despite being a sports fan in various directions myself). But the second half is his collected short essays, and there are such lovely gems in that bunch. I do wish that the date of publication had been given for each, because sometimes that context would have been lovely. But I was glad to dance through these.

Wendy Moore, No Man’s Land. An interesting account of woman-staffed hospitals during the First World War. One of the things this made me think about was trying to figure out why some people were amenable to taking in data about something they had decided was impossible (women running a hospital, in this case) and some just did not want to see what was in front of their eyes. I’ll be thinking about that for some time ahead, I expect–and the specific stories of the doctors, nurses, and orderlies was lovely and in some places quite touching.

Nnedi Okorafor, Remote Control. An interesting fantastical exploration of community and relationship, another novella I gulped right down in one sitting.

Karen Osborne, Engines of Oblivion. Discussed elsewhere.

C.L. Polk, Soulstar. Wow, the end to this trilogy, wow. The number of ways that humans make each other’s lives difficult just snowballs here, it is wall to wall human foible…sometimes in an incredibly sweet and caring way that takes its time to an adult relationship. Sometimes in a way where even the people closest to each other can disappoint…but also can come through for each other. WHEW. THIS TRILOGY. YAY.

Django Wexler, Siege of Rage and Ruin. This is also the end of a trilogy, but in a very different way. This one has been structured to follow the same characters throughout, and the theme comes through very strongly here. Changing what you think a happy ending means can be really important. Glad to see it.

Aliya Whiteley, Skyward Inn. Discussed elsewhere.

1 thought on “Books read, late February

  1. I give up. WP ate my comment! Do read this one,
    For Charlie Stross’s take on a different aspect of the tech vs society question
    I’d be surprised if you don’t copy a takeaway pullquote or 3 for your notebook!

    McPhee: my take. I liked it too. The golf ball caper!

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