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Books read, early July

Daniel Abraham, A Shadow in Summer. Reread. I had forgotten how this starts with the trope from every abusive fantasy school and then spits in its face. I had forgotten how it ramps up the beginning of this thing. I’m going to reread the whole thing, eventually, but this: yes, this is a good start.

David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. They don’t let me pick the titles for these things, or I would have called it @#%&%$ Proto-Indo-Europeans, How Do They Work. But this was good too I guess. Lots of stuff about what we know about Proto-Indo-European and the people who spoke it and how to figure out things about animal domestication. I enjoyed it a lot.

Aldous Huxley, On the Margin: Notes and Essays. Kindle. Gosh, he was willing to just lean into his opinions, wrong or not. Mostly quite wrong, with the perspective of a hundred years. Just thoroughly, enthusiastically wrong, in very readable prose.

DaVaun Sanders, Sharise B. Moore, et al, eds., Fiyah Issue 19. Kindle. The first two stories of this issue were the stand-outs for me, in very different ways. I liked the non-traditional shape of “To Rest, and to Create,” by L.A. Knight; I liked that the conflict mostly predated the story and that the shape of the story was mostly the realization that it was okay not to be wracked with conflict now. And “Meditations on Sun-Ra’s Bassism” by Yah Yah Scholfield was a more traditional shape of science fiction story but with different cultural references than this shape of story usually has, and I liked that too.

Danna Staaf, Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods. Short, pithy, full of lots of squid taxonomy and archaeology. Squids have a fairly similar organ for direction sense to ours, did you know that? which means that squid could have a balance disorder similar to one of mine, which I find companionable.

Amy Stewart, Miss Kopp Investigates. Discussed elsewhere.

Tasha Suri, The Jasmine Throne. Lush and full and lots of hard choices and people struggling with fantasy worlds full of unknown consequences. So much fun with this.

Rebecca Wragg Sykes, Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art. A long and thorough look at what we know about our Neanderthal cousins and how they did things in various aspects of life and development, very cool stuff.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, et al, eds. Uncanny Magazine Issue 41. Kindle. My favorite thing in this lovely issue was Octavia Cade’s poem, and I can’t wait to share it with you in August.

Nghi Vo, The Chosen and the Beautiful. In case you hadn’t heard the press about this one, it’s a retelling of The Great Gatsby with fantasy elements, and frankly I am not sure our neighbor Scott deserved it, but he got it anyway, thank you copyright term expiration. There’s papercutting magic, there’s literally demon rum (well, demoniac), there’s Jordan Baker getting dimension of her own, there’s Vo deciding that she wants her own set of metaphors and just going out and making some, and it’s lovely, as I said far lovelier, I think, than the original possibly deserved.

Helene Wecker, The Hidden Palace. The sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, and it is very very sequel-y, so really read the other one first, but just like the first one it had that very compelling nature, the quality that made curling up with it the thing I most wanted to do while I was reading it. Early twentieth century cultural clashes and combinations, yes please, so magical even in addition to the magic.

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