Some years ago, I made a conscious effort to switch my home genre from hard SF to fantasy. Fantasy had more women writing in it,Oh my yes. Oh MY yes.
Some years ago, I made a conscious effort to switch my home genre from hard SF to fantasy. Fantasy had more women writing in it, and it seemed to be growing and developing as a genre, while SF stagnated. There seemed to be far fewer fantasy books where women existed only as prizes, as nonsentients, as set dressing, as motivation for the Man to do Manly Things for Manly Reasons. There were fewer (though still many, sadly) fantasy books where queer people and brown people just didn't exist. There was heart in fantasy, too, that hard SF seemed to have lost.
At first it was rough, trading spaceships for dragons. But I adjusted.
But this book. This book is everything I once hoped to find in hard SF and gave up on ever seeing there. It's smart and fun and imaginative and there's enough science to make you salivate. The characters are real people, the future comes in all colors, and queerness appears to be standard-issue. The technology and science affect society and politics. People remain people, but the world has changed.
And this book is good. It's compelling, it's twisty, it's smart. (Yes, okay, there was a point at like 60% in where I went, "Okay, that's it, that's one twist too many," but I got better.) I read it in a day. (After waiting several days to start it because it begins in my least favorite place: Right Before Everything Goes to Hell. But it's all up from there.) And I finished it wanting more. (And realized it's basically just the setup, and I'm not sure the rest of the series can follow through on the promise of this one. But I'm looking forward to finding out.)
And at the end there was a delightful bonus waiting for me. Most SF books are other genres filtered through an SF lens. Action adventure (but in space)! Court intrigue (but with clones)! Mystery (but with robots)! Literary fiction (but by Philip K. Dick)! It took me until the last 10% of this book to see what genre it's blended with, and once I did, I loved it even more. (view spoiler)[It's a romance, a romance between an AI and someone who genuinely believes she's incapable of love and has put so much distance between herself and her feelings she can't remember where she put them. (In other words, a romance between my two favorite kinds of people.) And that's something I hardly ever saw in SF in the bad old days (romance is for girls, don't you know). I love it. (hide spoiler)]
Basically, this was awesome and satisfying and made me happy in a way SF hasn't in years. Yes, please, thank you.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I stopped reading you a while back, when it seemed like you were floundering and had no clue what to do with your series and it wDear Janet Evanovich,
I stopped reading you a while back, when it seemed like you were floundering and had no clue what to do with your series and it was really getting pretty embarrassing. But this week I've needed something that was all candy, no brain, and you were there. And - well. It seems like you've found something to do with your series. But it's obvious that you don't understand what that is.
I know! I know it can be hard to pay attention to all the subtleties, the subtext of what you're writing. I know it's easy to miss things. That's why we have friends who read our books and help us see the things we don't.
Except apparently you don't have very observant friends. So I'm going to help you out.
Here's the thing: I know you think you're writing a protracted love triangle, but in fact, you are writing a threesome. There. Doesn't that make more sense?
It's totally understandable that you got to this point. It's hard to write an extended love triangle; for one thing, after about the first three books, your readers tend to be snapping, "Oh my god, would you just CHOOSE?" at the character who is in the middle, or else, "Oh my god, GET OVER IT" at everyone (or both!). Also, in your case, you had two choices: either you could take the route that ends up with Morelli and Ranger killing each other (hint: not really appropriate for your neck of the genre) or you could take the route that ends up with Morelli and Ranger kind of buddies. Except then they start working together. To protect Stephanie. And also spending a lot of time, you know, bonding. Over their mutual craziness, to be all het up over a woman who is, frankly, a walking Bermuda Triangle with a strange addiction to pastry. (I mean, she's funny, no doubt, but more in the oh-my-god-no way.) And then they're sort of handing off Stephanie and negotiating the boundaries of their relationships with her and - do you see where this is headed?
Maybe you don't! Maybe you totally don't. So I will help out. This is another one of those decision points, and here you can go one of four routes:
1. Kill either Ranger or Morelli. (Hint: not really appropriate for your neck of the genre.)
2. Have Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger come to an arrangement, which would probably look something like: Stephanie lives with Morelli but sleeps over at Ranger's occasionally and what happens there in no way counts as cheating.
3. Have Stephanie choose Morelli, which I think is where you're trying to go, except you've written yourself into a corner on this one. Ranger is a big part of her life, and she's demonstrated many times she can't be around him and not want him, so that kind of leaves you nowhere.
4. Have Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger hop into bed with each other and see how it goes. (Hint: it will be hot. Also, you're obviously really tired of writing het sex scenes now; this will give you many new avenues to explore.)
I myself would go for option 4. You could also consider option 2, although I think there's less opportunity for a) hilarity and b) hotness there.
Note: I believe I am the only person on the face of the earth who hated this book. If you liked it, this review will annoy you. Also, be advised thatNote: I believe I am the only person on the face of the earth who hated this book. If you liked it, this review will annoy you. Also, be advised that there will be spoilers for what we might loosely term the plot in what follows.
This book suffers from three main problems:
1. A fascinating world that gets built in the first few pages and then utterly abandoned in favor of
2. An amazingly unengaging, unbelievable romance between a typical Bujold guy and
The thing is, this is actually a solid fantasy world; it had the potential to be as interesting as the one Bujold created in The Curse of Chalion, and maybe in future books it will be. But here, the world gets shunted aside so that 85% of the book can be about the Great Romance. Which is not all that great, in my opinion, or even tolerable.
Look. I love romance FF. But I'm not a good romance reader; I tend to choke on emotion, and an author has to be good to get me seriously invested in a relationship. But. But. Even if I loved romances, I think I'd choke on this one.
Our heroine, Fawn, a hideously naive and very young farmgirl, meets and falls (intensely, world-endingly, OMG GREATEST PASSION OF ALL TIME) in love with the hero during a week in which she: is jilted, leaves home and everything she has ever known, is violently abducted, is nearly raped, and is made to miscarry by a creature she'd believed was just a myth. Among, you know, other notable events. Most people would be too distracted by these events to breathe, never mind fall in love.
And our hero, Dag - intelligent, highly talented, much older and more knowledgeable and talented than Fawn, with a Tragic Past and a Great Lost Love - meets and falls in love with Fawn despite a) having steadfastly refused all romance since the Great Lost Love, b) being emotionally distant and embittered, c) having absolutely nothing in common with Fawn, and d) being old enough and smart enough to know better. For a person like Dag to fall in love - well, I could buy it, but it would have to take months or years, not days. There'd need to be some build, is my point, and not just a shortcut to heat coiling in his belly at her touch.
And Fawn - she's adorable, cheerful, industrious, sweet, resilient, essentially flawless, and utterly uninteresting. In other words: hello, Mary Sue! I think I first suspected that she was a Mary Sue when, in the first couple of pages, I was told that she has long, lovely, bouncing curls even though she has been living rough. I have curly hair. Trust me when I tell you that after a few nights of sleeping in haystacks and a few days of hard travel, it would be a giant matted mess attractive only to birds seeking a nesting spot. Only Mary Sues have hair that stays gorgeous under such circumstances. But, look, I'm not just judging her on the hair. Fawn has so many other traits (Industry despite major illness! Open-mindedness despite being raised in an utterly closed-minded culture! Cheerful acceptance of everything! Adored by all who meet her!) that make her Mary Sue that I'm saddened that Bujold, who has created fabulous characters, wrote her.
This book does display Bujold's very competent writing. And I have a vague, distant hope that a future volume of the series will explain the weird romance - maybe it's unnatural or magical in origin? But, basically, reading this, I found myself wishing Bujold would just write some terrible AU Spock/original female character and post it on fanfiction.net so she could get this out of her system.
If you can buy into the romance, you'll love this book. If you can't, you'll want to stab something while you read this, because the romance is all this book is. I can't, in good conscience, recommend this for anyone, but I will say that many people seem to love it. Just - oh my god, so very much not for me. ...more
This is a fun, light book that, to me, is a little too much with the romance and a little too light on the plot. The characters are absolutely awesomeThis is a fun, light book that, to me, is a little too much with the romance and a little too light on the plot. The characters are absolutely awesome, though - Flip alone makes the book worth reading - and Willis's deft hand with humor (why, why oh why does she spend so much time writing things that aren't funny when she does funny this well?) makes it well worth not just reading but owning.
Plus, there are recalcitrant sheep. Who doesn't want to read a book with recalcitrant sheep?...more
This is probably the best of Heyer's Regency romances, although I'm not an expert. (I'm, um, not that much of a romance fan. I actually prefer her mysThis is probably the best of Heyer's Regency romances, although I'm not an expert. (I'm, um, not that much of a romance fan. I actually prefer her mystery stories.) In some ways, it's very Heyer - the strangely effete hero, the standard dialog style, the rampant and seriously off-putting (thought period appropriate, or at least acceptable) prejudices and stereotypes, all that. In other ways, this one transcends Heyer's usual form; the heroine is much more fun than usual, and so is the plot.
This is the only keeper I've found of her romances. ...more