Posted on Leave a comment

Books read, late September

Daniel Abraham, A Betrayal in Winter. Reread. One of the things I notice about Daniel’s stuff is that he has actual witty lines in the place where lesser fantasy writers really hope that their lines are witty. The pacing of the wit is exactly the same, but the success level is so much higher. I feel like on the reread, the andat are a huge slow-moving backdrop against which the humans dart about. But slow-moving is not the same as stationary, and that’s fun to watch knowing where it’s all going, how he put it together.

Bae Myung-Hoon, Tower. Short science fiction satire, translated from Korean. Good if you like that sort of thing, which I do.

Casey Blair, Tales from a Magical Teashop. Kindle. Most of these are vignettes rather than stories, and I think Casey’s thinking about what kind of magical teas and tisanes would need clear consent evolved as she was writing them. To me, this is a side work compared to the trilogy, but if what you’re looking for is vibes, this is very vibesy.

Amy Brady and Tajja Isen, eds., The World As We Knew It: Dispatches From a Changing Climate. An essay collection with a successfully diverse set of viewpoints on current observations of changing climate, not just “there’s my best friend and my next door neighbor, that’s diverse!” Lots to observe here, and most of it quite well-observed.

Octavia Butler, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Bloodchild. Rereads. Short stories first: I tell myself, when I pick out a short story collection, that I can’t just reread Bloodchild every time. Which results in me not rereading Bloodchild very much at all, it had been years and I had forgotten how much the collection rests on the first two stories. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the rest, but they’re less substantial. But then, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night” is a story of my heart, so everything is going to pale next to that. Still love it. So much. I’m going to finish the Lilith’s Brood series, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. The first two are…a lot. Gosh they are a lot. Major consent issues–deliberately so, but still–and most characters are jerks, in ways that, again, are deliberate and understandable, but there’s only so much time I can spend with that before I need a break.

C.J. Cherryh, Angel With the Sword and Forty Thousand in Gehenna. The latter a reread. The former was slight and dated–I can see why it’s not one of hers that has stayed well-known–but still a fun read. I’m not sure I would describe the latter as a “fun read” at all. I nearly quit at the first gang rape. I’m still not sure that wouldn’t have been a better life choice. Damn there was a lot of casual sexual violence in the SFF I grew up on. I found the abandoned colony/symbiotic alien relationship theme interesting to read next to the Butlers for several reasons, and the ending is not as hopeless as I thought it was when I was a teenager, but…it’s still some pretty grim stuff. I also think that we’d handle the nonverbal characters completely differently today, but Cherryh’s version was probably considerably above the average for its era.

Davinia Evans, Notorious Sorcerer. I read this in a previous manuscript form, and it’s such a delight to see its final incarnation, full of travel between planes and magical ingredients and complicated relationships. Highly recommended.

Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, The King’s Revenge: Charles II and the Greatest Manhunt in British History. There was more of the stuff I didn’t want and less of the stuff I did, in this book–less of “here’s what happened to the people who were on the hook for killing Charles I” and more of “here’s the backstory about killing Charles I, which…since I already possess a book called The Trial of Charles I, thanks, yes, am on board. But not everyone is; it’s probably useful.

Elizabeth Lim, The Dragon’s Promise. Sequel, and it’s worth starting with the first one, because this is definitely its consequences exploding in all directions. Great fun, though.

Hugh Ryan, The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison. Prisons: they’ve basically never been good! But sometimes knowing the details of how and why something has gone horribly awry is really socially useful–especially for social context on what the penalties have been for not conforming in various ways. A hard read but worth knowing.

Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner, eds., Apex Issue 133. Kindle. My favorite story from this issue was one I’ve used the most content warnings with in any short fiction I’ve recommended. This is a hard issue. This is a very emotional issue.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, et al, eds. Uncanny Magazine Issue 48. Kindle. I make a policy of not reviewing things I’m in, and I’m in this.

Ruth Ware, The It Girl. This is a combination college novel and thriller. It does really well at the shaky uncertain social ground that is the beginning of one’s first year at university, and the juxtaposition of that with the thriller element is excellent if you like that sort of thing. I occasionally do like that sort of thing. So.

Django Wexler, Blood of the Chosen. Second in a series, and I don’t recommend starting with it, but there’s a lot of page-turning action going on here–if you already read the first book, there’s more.

F. C. Yee, The Dawn of Yangchen. I don’t read a lot of tie-in fiction, but I am still all-in for Yee’s Avatar: The Last Airbender books. This one introduces us to a new past Avatar, an Air Nomad with an extremely strong connection to her past memories. Good times, fun use of the preexisting worldbuilding and enough of Yee’s own elements to keep it interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *