Copperplate City isn’t that different than any other American metropolis. There are parks, a lake (admitteOriginal review posted on The Book Smugglers
Copperplate City isn’t that different than any other American metropolis. There are parks, a lake (admittedly a very stinky and goose-poop polluted lake), a middle school, a police force, pizza parlors, regular places of business… you get the picture.
The only difference is, Copperplate City is protected by a superhero.
The impervious, undefeated, high-flying and super strong Captain Stupendous has protected the denizens of Copperplate City for decades without fail – or aging. He has defeated maniacal villains and their dastardly inventions; he’s saved children from abductions with a perfect success record; he’s protected local industries and kept the city in one piece. It’s no wonder, then, that kids like Vincent Wu are obsessed with the Captain – heck, there are four fan clubs devoted to Stupendous in the city alone! (Vincent is the president of the only club that doesn’t suck, the Captain Stupendous Fan Club, period. No “Official” – that’s a lame club.)
But one day, everything changes. Captain Stupendous is missing from action after having a very hard time defeating the newest villain on the block: Professor Mayhem, who has an indestructible giant robot at his disposal. It turns out that Captain Stupendous isn’t who Vincent (or anyone, for that matter) thinks he is. He’s not even a he at all – he’s actually Vincent’s crush, the surly teenaged Polly Winnicott-Lee.
With the obsessed Professor Mayhem on the loose, the future of Copperplate City and the safety of his friends and family rest on Vincent’s admittedly undersized shoulders. But can he train the new Captain Stupendous in time to save the day?
Holy indestructible alloy, Captain Stupendous! Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities is fun. The debut novel from Mike Jung, this beautifully illustrated young YA/upper MG superhero adventure manages to balance comedy, action, and pre/adolescent frustration perfectly. Most importantly, though the book is written simply in terms of structure, vocabulary, and overall direction, it never condescends to its audience and actually subverts and tackles some pitfalls of the superhero fiction subgenre head-on. While many superheros pass on the cape and cowl from one generation to the next – similar to Polly’s position here, as she’s the only person around when the old Stupendous dies – the twist in Geeks is more science fictional and deeply subversive, when you think about it. I mean, a surly biracial teenage girl is the manliest, buffest, clean-cut, most revered Superman-riffing superhero of all time? HOW COOL IS THAT? [Sidenote: The reveal that Polly has assumed the mantle as Stupendous be a slight spoiler, but as you find that out within the first few chapters, and I think it’s a huge, integral part of this book, I don’t care and I’m choosing to talk about it.] This assumed role as Stupendous raises all sorts of other important questions, most immediately about personal choice.
See, Polly has no choice in her new role as Captain Stupendous – she just happened to be there at the right time (not unlike Hal Jordan) and finds the responsibility of becoming the world’s most iconic hero foisted upon her. But unlike Green Lantern, Polly’s dilemma has the added pathos of being a really young teenager – and not just any teenager, but one who has survived a Stupendous rescue and has her own form of PTSD to grapple with. (Not to mention the fact that when she uses her own science fictional power, she doesn’t become a superheroine version of Polly – she becomes a square-jawed, all-American beefy adult dude.) When she reveals her secret identity to Vincent and his friends Max and George, they don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be Stupendous – but I very much love and appreciate the careful consideration that Jung examines in Polly’s conflicted and hurt feelings at becoming Captain Stupendous (especially since the role comes from an authority figure that Polly trusts and respects).
This raises a secondary really interesting discussion of choice – because this story could have (and would have) been completely different if Jung chose to tell it from a slightly different perspective. Because as much as I’ve talked about Polly, Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities is not Polly’s story. It’s also not the story of football player Max assuming the role as a great manly superhero. Nor is it the story of quintessential scrawny and overlooked geek becoming the world’s greatest superhero.
No, it’s the story of Vincent Wu – who, ok, is the quintessential scrawny and overlooked geek – but he stays himself and relies on his smarts and knowledge of Stupendous, his trust in his friends and the people he cares about to train the world’s greatest superhero, and thus save the day. That is really, superbly, stupendously awesome. I love that Vincent is the hero of this tale, and that he grapples with his own insecurities and his frustration that no one listens to him or takes him seriously. When Vincent lashes out or gets worked up, readers can sympathize, empathize, with his vexation. I also love that Geeks is the story of Vincent growing up – or at least understanding that others aren’t always against him or not taking him seriously. There are some truly touching moments in the book with Vincent’s parents individually, as well as with his mother’s boyfriend, Bobby.
Which brings me to the next awesome point about Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities – the wonderful diversity of all of the characters within. Mike Jung – a voice in the We Need Diverse Books movement – does a fantastic job of integrating characters of different backgrounds in a way that is representative of the actual diverse world we live in. Vincent Wu is bi-racial (Asian and Caucasian parents), as is other main character Polly Winnicott-Lee. One of Vincent’s friends, George has a mother who is bisexual, and other parents are divorced or separated and dating other people, while stil being in functional relationships with their families. I love that all of this is just a matter of course, because you know, that’s the way it is in the real world.
And that’s to say nothing of the actual action and plotting of the story itself! Which is quite good. I love the idea of alien creatures or some science fictional explanation for the actual physical body of Captain Stupendous; similarly, I appreciate that the origin story is familiar (it came from outer space!) and accessible. There isn’t much new ground treading in this book, but that’s part of the charm – it’s a familiar story with familiar superhero tropes, but with enough subversive character and perspective twists to make it that much more memorable.
I certainly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read what Mike Jung comes up with next. ...more
Carlos Delacruz is an agent with the New York Council of the Dead who can be often found working alongside hisOriginally posted on The Book Smugglers
Carlos Delacruz is an agent with the New York Council of the Dead who can be often found working alongside his ghostly partner trying to maintain peace between the dead and the living and protecting the entrada to the underworld. Brooklyn is his domain, where he goes hunting when he is told and where he has found a measure of peace and companionship amongst those who know what he is if not who he is.
For Carlos is an inbetweener, someone not entirely dead but also not entirely alive either, his skin an unhealthy shade of grey, his body as cold as a corpse, his heart barely beating. Half-resurrected from a death he doesn’t completely recall suffering, he also has no recollection of his actual life: his name has been given to him by his now friends, his mission in life a gift that keeps him going.
Up until now Carlos has never truly questioned his job or how he has become what he is. But then one mission leads him to meet someone like him, another inbetweener with a dangerous plan, someone he ends up killing on the job. That death comes back to haunt him just as his loneliness becomes a sharp knife that constantly pierces his soul: what would they have said to each other had they had a chance?
But then he comes to know others like him. One of them is Sasha, the sister of the man he just killed and the woman he becomes desperately attracted to. The other is a sorcerer with a plan that could bring down the invisible walls between the living and the dead. An infestation of ngks threatening to destroy Mama Esther, one of Carlos’ best friends is only the cherry on top of a mountain of problems Carlos is about to face.
Half-Resurrection Blues is Daniel José Older’s first novel and the start of the Bone Street Rumba series. The writing, the humour, the main character’s deeply felt sense of loneliness and the diversity of the world are praiseworthy. When it comes to the writing, Half-Resurrection Blues somehow manages to be both poetic and completely down-to-earth – Carlos is a fan of poetry and often finds himself waxing (incredibly cheesy) poetic:
I want to take that face in my hands and put my own face against it and let our connecting faces be the fulcrum that swings our two bodies together and let the winter night guide our combined life forces into an intimate tangle that obliterates all our fears and regrets, but instead I just smile and offer her my arm.
…at the same time that he does not hold back on the fucks and shits and every inbetween (ha) thing.
It’s a heady combination that works really well because Carlos’ speaking patterns are also very much inbetween: at times it sounds out-of-place and outdated and at times contemporary. I often wondered when did Carlos first die, a mystery yet to be solved and I would not be surprised if he wasn’t alive in the sixties or seventies. He is also, in the vein of much of UF’s main heroes and heroines, a smart-ass, snarky and ultimately funny narrator. I loved his voice.
With regards to the plot and the world-building, Half-Resurrection Blues has a supernatural procedural mystery at its centre which unfolds slowly and gives chance to a myriad of characters to be brought into the fold. Most of them are not-white, might I add, and complicated elements of racism appear here and there, never taking centre stage but never out of sight either.
I think my favourite scene in the entire novel is when most of the secondary cast surrounds an injured Carlos (the circumstances of said injury is a moment that literally made me cheer out loud. It was, shall we say, a result of a deserved grievance): a paramedic, a surgeon, a santero and a snarky teenager working together to save his ass.
In the midst of all the positive aspects – and I did really enjoy, nay, I loved this novel – there is one not so positive thing that I must remark on: the portrayal of Carlos’ love interest, Sasha. Half-Resurrection Blues feels like a very male world ( a lot more male characters in comparison) but there are well-written women present and accounted for like Mother Esther and Kya.
Sasha however is woefully under-developed even though she occupies Carlos’ mind through most of the novel. From the moment he sees her (in a photograph), she becomes nothing more than a vessel for his gaze: a vessel for his lust to start with, then a vessel for his love, his guilt, his shame, eventually his seed and toward the ending she even becomes the villain’s vessel. Sasha has little agency and even the key moments shared between Carlos and her are mostly off-page – there is a scene where they sit down to have a conversation that could have helped in creating a better idea of who Sasha is but the scene is literally Carlos telling us “we talked all night.” At the end of it, he is in love and I don’t know why.
This is all the more lamentable because there were glimpses into what I can only describe as a fucking amazing woman but they only came through Carlos’ gaze.
In spite of that, Half-Resurrection Blues is a solid, fun debut that I thoroughly enjoyed and absolutely recommend. Can’t wait for the sequel: here’s hoping for more, better Sasha. ...more
Down a path into the darkest heart of a forest, lies a glass coffin and in it sleeps a cursed prince with horns onReview posted on The Book Smugglers
Down a path into the darkest heart of a forest, lies a glass coffin and in it sleeps a cursed prince with horns on his head. As far as anyone knows, through countless generations, he’d always been there, forever asleep. No matter how many times people tried, or what anyone did – or how many kisses were pressed to the glass by both boys and girls – he never woke up.
But this is only one tale amongst many in the strange town of Fairfold, where humans and fae exist side by side in an uneasy truce of unspoken rules. For there is also the tale of Ben and how he was blessed with the gift of music – a blessing that turns into a curse. And the tale of Jack, a changeling swapped by his mother for protection and adopted by his human parents. And most important of all, there’s tale of Hazel, the girl-who-would-be-knight.
Fairfold’s inhabitants are protected if they follow certain precepts but sometimes, townsfolk go missing or go crazy. But no one will mention any of that in Fairfold, because the town thrives as long as the tourists keep coming to see the horned boy.
But something else lies deep in the darkest part of the forest and it’s growing stronger and stronger.
…And then one day the sleeping boy is awakened from his cursed slumber and no one knows why or how.
Except for Hazel and her beloved brother Ben.
This is a book of lies and lost memories. This is a book of tales and curses and love. This is Holly Black doing what she does best: with gorgeous prose that flows beautifully, complicated female characters and a story of back and forth, The Darkest Part of the Forest is the author’s newest book and an elaborate modern fairytale that subverts genre expectations.
Hazel is the narrator, as unreliable as it can be. Without spoiling the details of the story, much of The Darkest Part of the Forest delves into Hazel’s personality, sense of self-awareness and her memories – those that she suppressed and those she doesn’t know she has.
The storytelling builds around Hazel’s central relationships. First and foremost, the one between her and her brother Ben. Theirs is that type of loving, close relationship that at some point derailed because of an unhealthy mixture of secrets, shame, guilt and jealousy. It’s as complicated and complex as it can be and all the more engaging because of that. There is also Jack, the boy she loves and whom she never expects to love her back. Another thing that Holly Black does really well (see: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown) is the exploration of one’s deepest desires, the attraction to danger and darkness and the lure of immortality. The relationship with immortal beings is also present and accounted for here, all the more important because of the story’s main pairings: Hazel and Jack; and Ben and the boy whose love declaration at a Time of Danger is the cheesiest, most happy-making thing in the entire novel.
Finally, there is Hazel’s relationship with herself.
Hazel’s narrative goes back and forth between past and present, revealing aspects of her life little by little as though she is afraid to let even herself know or remember the things she has done and felt. There are sides of herself that she is not aware of (oh, the fae and their bargains and curses). Discovering those, unveiling the Mysteries of Hazel and how amazingly courageous she is are what make the story (Night Hazel! Knight Hazel!) but also what sometimes, breaks it. There is a storytelling choice that keeps things from the reader for as long as possible – if I will be honest, it was at times frustrating because it felt forced. In parallel, even though I loved Hazel (just as she was), the representation of her emotional make-up was more told than she shown, with unfortunate heavy-handiness.
The explanation for her behaviour when it came to how she related to boys for example, was presented as a mathematical equation: starting with X and after Y happened it inevitably and neatly led to Z. Rather than a messy emotional state of mind that could be interpreted, I was left with what felt masticated hand-holding.
In spite of those criticisms, The Darkest Part of the Forest is a great, beautifully written tale that explores guilt, secrets, relationships, courage, fate and choices extremely well. Plus, boys kissing, girls kicking ass and a Monster With a Heart. All in all, a perfect start to 2015. ...more
Written in free verse, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir of her childhood, a collection of passages about growing up between her faWritten in free verse, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir of her childhood, a collection of passages about growing up between her father’s Ohio and her mother’s South Carolina in the sixties and then eventually moving part of the family to New York. It’s been published as a middle grade memoir but it lends itself well to all audiences.
I am not a huge fan of poetry and as such I tend to avoid books in verse which is why it took me so long to get to this. It wasn’t until the book won the National Book Award1 a couple of weeks ago that I decided to give it a go. I am glad I did for Brown Girl Dreaming is wonderful…
…and its wonderfulness is manifold.
These chronicles navigate freely and with ease the waters of both history and story. The former in the way that, Jacqueline, as a young child, witnesses not only the acute differences –at a deeply personal level as well as at the social, universal sphere – between the South Carolina of her early childhood and the New York of her early teens always in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. The latter comes with the writing itself as intimate, painful as well as joyful memories turn into something special in the hands of a capable, talented storyteller.
Storytelling is in fact, a huge part of the young girl’s life: in Brown Girl Dreaming, it is made clear that the author has always been passionate about stories, about invention and creativity even as her learning difficulties are scrutinised by raw memories laid bare in front of our eyes.
Of those raw memories there are quite a few: carefully constructed verses of remembered loss, grief and separations abound. Just as abundant though, as those moments of joy, of happiness, of bonding and love. From Jacqueline’s grandparental family in the south to her closeness with her brothers and sister and her best friend (forever) Maria, it is all there with such incredible verve that the connection happens between not only the living, breathing people within the pages but between them and us. It was delightful beyond compare to reach the ending to find real photographs of Jacqueline Woodson’s family and to be able to put a face to those names.
Brown Girl Dreaming is an excellent book on its own and as an exceedingly moving memoir. That said, its importance as a book aimed at children cannot be underestimated either for everything that it is: a brown girl dreaming. Every single part of that sentence – brown girl dreaming – is vital.
So, this is my first ever encounter with the works of Lois McMaster Bujold and I fear it was probably the wrTRIGGER WARNING: Sexual Assault
So, this is my first ever encounter with the works of Lois McMaster Bujold and I fear it was probably the wrong place to start. Shards of Honor is, as far as I understand, the author’s first book, the one that starts the Vorkosigan Saga even though it takes place before the main character of the series, Miles, is even born ( Shards is the story of how his parents met).
First of all: It is of utmost important to note that, unlike many readers, I have come to read this novel without the strong influence or expectations of having read any of the other (purportedly much better) novels in the series.
Please bear with me as I try to organise my jumbled thoughts on this book. As for the good: I like this brand of Romantic Military Science Fiction; I was interested in the mix of plotlines that are divided between the conflict and differences of Barrayar and the Beta Colony such as they are and the romance between Barrayar’s Aral Vorkosigan and Beta’s Cordelia Naismith. I like the two characters’ and their slow burning (well, more or less) romance. Above all, I loved the sturdy, practical character of Cordelia who is both the main character and sole viewpoint narrator. It is Cordelia’s narrative that kept me going – I liked her voice (even though it made me laugh that she, as well as many characters in the novel, saw her as a more “mature”, old character when she is only 34) and her non-frills attitude and enjoyed very much to see her save the day multiple times.
With that said, I was wholly…unmoved by the novel. In a really strange way, it felt longer than it actually was and parts of it were extremely boring even though the high stakes nature of the plot – in fact the transition between the time Cordelia and Aral meet and their next encounter was awkward to the extreme.
I thought at least one plot development to be disturbing and off-putting in its execution: the super prolonged torture, sexual assault that Cordelia suffers in the middle of the novel which serves nothing at all apart from being a lazy way of showing how Horribly Villainous, the villain is. It was a harrowing scene for the main character but which felt weirdly hollow in the development of said character; all the more disturbing was how the aftermath of that attack was explored at length but only when it came to one of her abusers. He himself was also a victim but the fact that he managed to break free of his conditioning ONLY to save the heroine of this novel made me very uneasy. This appeared to me as not only a throwback to Old Skool Bodice-Ripper Romance but also to Old School Science Fiction in which the female characters Suffer Sexual Perils For Being Female.
Finally, we have Aral's HONOR: And that is the extent of his character development.
Which brings me to my last point. The romantic relationship and its sudden development required a lot of suspension of disbelief. The plausibility (or lack of) of it plays a huge part because you have to believe that a character like Aral – supposedly this SUPER honoured man with a top level position – would start SHARING SECRETS within a couple of days of meeting an enemy. OK, so we are talking about survival as he and Cordelia are Trekking For Their Lives but still. He asks her to marry him after knowing her for five days and in spite of the fact such a sudden, spur-of-the-moment relationship is against the beliefs of his culture and its social mores. I am all for Love Conquers All but….five days?
Is this the product of its own time? Do the stories in the series get better? Will I read the Miles books? I think so, or else Thea will never forgive me.
You know, rereading books is a funny thing.
I am a huge fan of Miles Vorkosigan. I love his voice, his clever thinking, his father’s honor and his mother’s wry humor, and his blending of Betan and Barrayan morals. Miles is and I think will always be one of my favorite characters in the canon of science fiction (or even fiction, overall) and I firmly stand by that statement.
That said, when it comes to Shards of Honor… Ana’s not wrong. Upon rereading this particular Cordelia adventure – I adore Cordelia, by the way – it doesn’t really stand up to the test of time. And a lot of that is because of the shitty sexual assault (which DOES 100% seem like a reflection of this particular era of old school sci fi), and because when i try to approach this book without the inevitability of Miles in my mind, Aral and the romance do fall somewhat… flat.
So let’s tackle the latter issue: inevitability. It’s hard for me to divorce myself from expectation (of Miles) and focus only on this solo story as it stands on its own. I suspect people who know Miles, who have an understanding of Barrayans and Betans and the nuances of these different societies will be more interested in Shards of Honor than someone coming in fresh. (For background, I started with the Young Miles anthology and worked my way forward through The Mountains of Mourning before going back to read Shards of Honor and Barrayar.) But divorce myself from expectation I must, and through the lens of encountering this world for the first time… yeah, I see where Ana is coming from. Aral is overly preoccupied with HONOR! The romance that unfolds is fast – because the audience already knows it will happen – although I would argue that the building attraction and relationship between Cordelia and Aral is a nice slow burn. I do very much like that both Cordelia and Aral are older protagonists with their own past histories and baggage (er, well, Aral mostly) – and I love that they go across their own cultural and societal norms to be together. Even if it is a little unbelievable.
Mostly, I love Shards of Honor because of Cordelia. She’s funny and smart, as well as both empathetic and pragmatic (she has no hesitation or problem firing when she knows she has to fire, for example). There’s a particular scene where she and Aral are talking about the nature of command and management and she glibly says that she’s able to deal with annoyance better than most, which undoubtedly has helped her own standing as an officer – and that is one of the reasons why she’s so damn awesome. I love that Cordelia is the hero of these stories, that her voice is the defining narrative viewpoint for the pre-Miles books, and I know I said I wouldn’t do it but you can really see that Miles gets his gumption and cleverness from his awesome mother.
These praises said… there are negatives, too. The sexual assault scene is particularly awful and absolutely reads as old school ‘torture the woman in the way evil male villains torture women.’ Beyond that, the plot is also weirdly protracted and unfocused – granted, the focus here is on the relationship between the two protagonists, but given how so many of the other stories in Miles’ universe have a true central conflict and sense of pacing, I’m surprised at how loose and lacking urgency Shards of Honor is upon rereading.
Ultimately, I’m torn. I always recommend that people start with The Warrior’s Apprentice (in Young Miles) or Cordelia’s Honor (Shards of Honor and Barrayar) if they prefer a female protagonist but… now I’m rethinking that recommendation. Maybe I need to reread Barrayar to make the final decision.
(P.S. Ana, there WILL be blood if you do not give Miles a try before giving up.)
Staying alive on backwater mining planet Thanda is no small feat – least of all a teenage girl completely on her own. Alone or not,Essie has a secret.
Staying alive on backwater mining planet Thanda is no small feat – least of all a teenage girl completely on her own. Alone or not, Essie manages to hobble together a living by her winnings in cage fights and her smarts with her droids and stitched-together tech. For the most part, she’s happy. Or she’s too tired to be happy; call it what you will.
But she’s still got a secret that could, one day, tear the galaxy apart.
That day comes when a strange ship crashes on Thanda, bearing a single pilot – an off-worlder named Dane, with an agenda of his own. Essie reluctantly agrees to help Dane with his ship repairs for the novelty and challenge of the experience, but quickly discovers that Dane is not at all who he appears. With her hidden past and true identity – the long lost heir to the empire, crown princess Snow of Windsong – exposed, Essie must make a choice. To escape her captors and resume her life of anonymity amongst the distant stars, or live up to her late mother’s legacy and do the right thing for her people and the galaxy.
I’m of two minds when it comes to Stitching Snow. The debut novel from R.C. Lewis, this reimagining of the Snow White is fairly fast and loose, but maintains the basic suite of tropes – e.g. there is an heir princess, a power-hungry stepmother, a poisoning of sorts, and a handsome prince. Unlike the Disney version of the tale, however, Stitching Snow places the focus squarely on Snow (that is, Essie in this version): a more active approach on the displaced princess’s perspective and experience. Unlike other traditional iterations of the fable which tend to portray a more passive Snow White, this science fictional version is an engineer and a tinkerer as well as a cage-fighter; she’s also worked hard to keep her identity secret, to stave off the more aggressive men of the mining colony, and maintain her independence. Essie’s characterization is brilliant throughout the book, managing to be tough without being abrasive, and vulnerable without being a pushover. It’s nice to read a levelheaded heroine (especially in YA SFF), who takes calculated risks but understands the importance of pragmatism. I’ve always felt that there’s an element of fear to Snow White – Snow’s terror at being murdered by the huntsman and caught by her stepmother – and in Stitching Snow, Essie’s fear of discovery or of being in a position where she cannot control the situation is a defining, palpable characteristic.
In the vein of pragmatism and tropes, at the onset of Sttching Snow (and indeed for most of the novel), R.C. Lewis does a fantastic job of taking certain key YA paranormal/SFF staples and ever-so-slightly twisting them. There’s the tough-as-nails heroine, for example, who happens to be a (beautiful) escaped princess who is making her way on a rough planet thanks to her mad science skills. She, of course, runs into a questing stranger who is obviously gorgeous, dangerous, and on a secret mission. The two are inevitably involved, romantically, as these things go in the trope-laden world that is softball YA SFF… Except that in Stitching Snow, key things are a little bit different. Essie is NOT head over heels in love with Dane after first setting eyes on him – she does not crave his touch immediately, nor does she romanticize the fact that he abducts her against her will. She’s pissed, she tries to escape, and there aren’t countless pages dedicated to Essie’s fluttering heartbeat every time Dane brushes by her. I appreciate that very much, jaded reader of YA SFF that I am. I liked that it takes time to develop these romantic inclinations between the two characters, and that cheese is (for the most part) kept to a minimum. It’s actually a fascinating exercise – are the tropes ok even if you’ve read them a million times before, or is it the telling that matters? If you change a few key details – the heroine doesn’t instantly fall in love with the hero – does that make the tropes bearable?
In the case of Stitching Snow…yes and no. While I enjoyed the slower building relationships between characters, ultimately these small twists to a very tried and tired trope-laden story still leaves you with a tried and tired trope-laden story. No matter how you cut it, this is still the story of an exceptional, beautiful princess who saves her kingdom with her exceptional, beautiful prince. On the subject of Dane, by the way, it’s incredibly irritating that he’s so much better at Essie at combat and that he gets to teach her how to improve her rough cage-fighting skills (did this bother anyone else?!), which are fine for someone self taught but never an obstacle for him. He’s also a tad too-good-to-be true, and despite the slow-building romance, Dane comes off as a stock, two-dimensional character who is there for requisite plot development points.
And then there are the other important factors in the novel: the overarching conflict, the worldbuilding, the villains and their motivations, and the science fictional aspects of the book with Essie’s tech. See, Essie ran away from home because her mother died, her father is a despotic tyrant king, aided by his new queen – the evil stepmother – who pretends to be a witch, but who really is an accomplished poisoner and at the forefront of technological age-reversal advancement. There’s a larger thread of conflict here throughout the galaxy as the Windsong royals are apparently poisoning parts of the populace, seeding pockets of unrest and chaos to continue a bogus war and maintain power. The theory is interesting, but as it’s never really explored in any depth or with any convincing rationale, I had trouble buying into the premise. Further, the villains in this piece come across as one-note sketches – there’s glimpses of a conflicted relationship between Essie and her father, but it goes nowhere (sadly). Similarly, the pacing of the book is remarkably lopsided, with the first two thirds of the novel solidly restrained, but the last third of the book frantically rushed.
And finally, the science fiction. Essie is an engineer and a tinkerer – she likes taking things apart and putting them back together in better, more creative ways. R.C. Lewis does a good job of building Essie’s character and establishing her competence and smarts, but sadly does the handwavey “this is science stuff, guys” thing by referring to all of Essie’s tinkering as “stitching” (like sewing, with “patches” and loose stitches holding technology together). I can’t help but wish there was something a little more tactile here, instead of a weak analogy to sewing.
Ultimately, Stitching Snow is an OK novel. It’s not the best YA Science Fiction book I’ve ever read, but it’s certainly not the worst. A middle-of-the-pack, moderately entertaining but ultimately forgettable book....more
During China’s Cultural Revolution, young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie watches her father be executed in the name of progress in front of her vAna’s Take:
During China’s Cultural Revolution, young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie watches her father be executed in the name of progress in front of her very eyes. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.
A few years after that she is co-opted to participate on a top secret governmental project that ostensibly studies satellites. The truth is something else (and out there).
In the near future, nanoscientist Wang Miao is asked – by a multinational military-police task force – to infiltrate a seemingly innocuous scientists club. He starts playing a virtual reality game named Three Body and becomes increasingly obsessed with it. The game follows the rise and fall of a civilization – let’s call it Trisolaris – over and over again as its players try to solve an abstract problem that has befuddled scientists for centuries: how to predict how three objects will orbit each other in a repeating pattern? The potential solution to that problem is essential to save the Trisolarians and to win the game.
And then the countdown starts.
Written by Cixin Liu and translated into English by Ken Liu, The Three-Body Problem is – and you have to forgive me the cliché – a tour-de-force. The story goes back and forth in time, following two main characters and bridging all the aforementioned disparate plotlines into a cohesive whole that blew my mind away.
Because The Three-Body Problem is exciting as it is thought-provoking. As a science nerd as well as a puzzle enthusiast, I gobbled this book up like it was a box of Lindt chocolates. It is not immediately obvious what exactly is at stake here, the revelations happening with every twist and turn, as the story progresses and as the connection between the different elements become clear – or every time Wang entered Three Body and played a round. The evolution of this story is phenomenal, especially how it connects history, hard science and sociology in a readable, engaging way.
Then we have the basic premise of the novel which is based on two principles: one, that first contact between civilizations doesn’t need to happen in actuality for things to change; and two, that an encounter with an alien race will not end well because why would it? Those two are the foundation on which the author has written this tome.
With the cat out of the bag – yes, this is a novel about aliens, or rather, about first contact – the question becomes what Will Happen Next, as humans find themselves in separate sides of this pending war: some welcoming our new overlords, others wanting to fight to the very end. Even those factions are not as evenly split as that, within each of those there are One of the most impacting things about The Three-Body Problem is how the utterly personal, how one small independent action by one person can impact the lives of so many. Ye Wenjie’s decisions are completely and absolutely understandable as they are completely and absolutely unforgivable. And every single one of her actions can be traced back to that opening moment in the novel.
If Ye Wenjie is a fantastic character, the same cannot (unfortunately) be said about the remaining characters. Wang Miao for example never becomes more than “eyes” – through him we see everything that is happening but he is never fleshed out enough to become an entity on his own.
It is possible to argue though that the main character of the novel is not one single person. Rather, the main character is Earth – or, humanity as a collective. That’s who or what we are to root for (or against, depending on where you stand when it comes to appreciating how much our planet is worth). That’s another fabulous side of The Three-Body Problem as it’s almost a choose-your-own-adventure: you can choose sides and play this game any way you want.
With all that said, the book does have a few structural problems. There is a lot of info-dump but I was happy to give those a pass given their fascinating content. The exposition though, was quite clumsy. At one point a major character says, literally in the middle of a stand-off, “let me tell you what happened in the past” and proceeds to tell another character What Happened Then.
Finally, there is the question of the added translator’s notes at end of each chapter rather than as footnotes or at the end of the novel. This might sound incredibly nit-picking but the placement of those notes at the end of each chapter was intrusive as it broke the flow of the story as one has to stop and read them – with such a placement it became a matter of having to read them rather than choosing to read them because it felt like one would inevitably miss a piece of VIP information if not reading them there and then.
But those are minor criticisms because The Three-Body Problem is easily one of the best books I read this year. I enthusiastically recommend it. The sequel cannot come soon enough.
I confess that, initially, I was not particularly excited about The Three-Body Problem.
The book’s synopsis (and frankly, package) isn’t very grabbing, and although there were many glowing author blurbs attached to the title, the story sounded incredibly broad and hard to get excited about or truly fathom. But then trusted folks – mainly, dear Ana – told me to give it a try, that I would love it, etc.
I’m glad I listened. Let me put it this way: The Three-Body Problem is the best science fiction novel I’ve read in 2014. It might be the best novel I’ve read in 2014, period.
The story is thus: During the frenzied height of the Cultural Revolution, a university student watches as her professor father is murdered by the zealous Red Guard. Booted from her own physics research, Ye Wenjie is sent to a remote countryside observation station where she eventually begins her work anew, under the careful watch of the government.
Many years later, in the near future, prominent physicists are killing themselves – all are tied to an organization called Frontiers of Science. A scientist named Wang Miao is asked to join the club in order to get to the root of the deaths, when he stumbles across a virtual game called Three Body… and weird shit starts to go down.
I don’t want to spoil the particulars of The Three-Body Problem, because there are many different revelations that coalesce and crescendo throughout the text – these are best discovered and realized on one’s own. (In fact, I kind of hate that the book description reveals that the strange world of Three Body is actually a representation of alien world Trisolaris, and the extremes it faces with its tri-solar environment. But that’s just me.) What you need to know is this:
The Three-Body Problem is a book that is, like its namesake virtual game, rich with nuance and detail. It’s a story about first contact between humanity and an intelligent, doomed alien species in the strangest possible way; but more than that, it’s a human story about the flawed people who make decisions that ripple outward and change the course of time and history. This is a science fiction novel, but it’s also a story about the changing narrative of history, really – at one point in the book a story is told about an adult who explains to a child that the pictured people are not heroes or villains; they are history. On a much larger, metatextual level, this analogy holds true for Ye Wenjie, Yang Dong, Wang Miao, Captain Shi Qiang, and the whole assorted cast of the novel. This is a visionary look at history and the narratives that people impose and write over space and time.
The Three-Body Problem is told told from a Chinese perspective, set during and after the Cultural Revolution. As Ana says, Ye Wenjie is forever changed – her heart frozen over – after watching her father’s death at the hands of the Red Guard. This is an integral part of her growth and decisions as a character. Beyond Ye Wenjie, however, The Three-Body Problem shows the profound impact that the Cultural Revolution had on scientific accomplishment and progress, on social, economic and interpersonal relationships from the smallest particle, to the grandest extrasolar levels. Again, the roots of this story lie in history – specifically Chinese history, but also on a grander scale of interaction and reaction of beings (and unstable bodies) that circle and coincide with each other.
The Three-Body Problem is a hard science fiction novel, rife with exposition. This has the potential to be very good, or very bad. You do not need to be a physicist to read or enjoy this book, but if you do not like science, math, puzzles, or lengthy discussion about such things, you might not be as fond of this book as Ana or I. As for me? I loved the lessons in transmission of energy and broadcasting signals, the chaos and possible stability of three suns, the potential applications of nanotechnology and interstellar possibilities. Oh, I should also say The Three-Body Problem is a weird book – from the first time you enter Three Body, read the chants of de-hy-drate and meet the various philosophers, scientists, and emperors who make their own cameos, you’ll see just how weird the book can be. But it’s a beautiful, enchanting, dreamlike weird. And I mean that in the best way – it’s been a while since I’ve been fully blown away by true originality in SFF (that sounds so jaded, but it’s true). The Three-Body Problem is wonderfully, memorably different. And I loved that.
The Three-Body Problem has some issues with clunkiness. I’m not sure if that is translation or syntax, or if it’s just a poor editorial choice to include footnotes throughout the text in the manner of an academic paper. I like that there are notes from excellent translator Ken Liu throughout the book; I am less enamored with the fact that these are represented as footnotes that interrupt the flow of reading. I agree that had these comments come in the form of end-of-chapter notes (see Losers in Space by John Barnes, for instance), the reading experience of The Three-Body Problem would have been improved.
That said…the book is so damn awesome, I really cannot find other fault.
For me, it’s a Top 10 book of the year – and I absolutely, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically recommend it to all....more
Warning: spoilers for Ancillary Justice. If you haven’t read the first book yet (OMG WHY NOT), avert your eyes right now.
It’s probably notWarning: spoilers for Ancillary Justice. If you haven’t read the first book yet (OMG WHY NOT), avert your eyes right now.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that all SFF eyes are on this book right now. Given the immense success of Ancillary Justice – it won all the major awards and yes, this includes a rare Book Smugglers Double Ten Review – I bet everybody is thinking: will the sequel be as good as the first novel?
Well, the answer is a resounding HELL YES.
From a plotting perspective, Ancillary Sword is at first glance, a rather straightforward affair. The story picks up where we left off at the end of Ancillary Justice with The Lord of the Radch still at war with herself and Breq as a newly-minted ship captain on her way to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn’s sister lives. At the station, Breq gets involved with the station’s day-to-day management and with the petty – and not so petty – relationships between its different sections. At the end of the day though, Breq is there to make amends – to atone for what she did to her beloved Lieutenant Awn.
The first thing to note about Ancillary Sword is how it has a largely linear narrative and a very limited point of view. One of the most important aspects of Ancillary Justice was its alternating narrative between the now and the then, with the latter offering a taste of what it was like for Breq to have its consciousness split between multiple viewpoints. This is all but gone in Ancillary Sword and all we are left with is the Breq from now – the Breq that needs to come to terms with the fact that she is now a one-bodied ancillary (an ongoing journey started 20 years prior to the events in Ancillary Justice). She is occasionally able to experience multiple-bodied viewpoints that the ship Mercy of Kalr shares with her (and Ann Leckie continues to handle that head-hoping with aplomb) but those moments are brief and almost too elusive and end up amplifying Breq’s sense of separateness.
This is perhaps the most striking thing about Ancillary Sword: how it manages to be a deeply personal, emotional book without losing track of any of the larger issues that continue to be explored here. Breq is an AI, not human – and it’s interesting that the sense of her being not-entirely human really hit me more strongly here in this second book, ironically, just as Breq becomes more and more human. Although one could – and should – make the argument that the AIs and the ancillaries and the ships in this series are not completely separate, emotionless beings. The moments that resonate the most are in fact, the ones when these supposedly unemotional beings show they have a remarkable sense of compassion, justice and feeling than the supposedly civilised Radchaai should have and in fact, are said to be the only ones to have.
This is one of the strongest ongoing themes in these books: the examination of what it means to be a Citizen, what it means to be civilised, with a confrontation of internalised assumptions and prejudices from both a personal and social point of view.
That all of this happens whilst Breq not only investigates threats from aliens as well as from internal forces within the empire but also confronts aspects of the Radchaai that include the hidden truths of exploitation and slavery of different peoples? It’s basically genius. GENIUS, I say, because the narrative might be linear, might be reduced to mostly Breq’s one point of view but it still captures SO MUCH, in a complex way that is, at the end of the day, also incredibly fun.
I could list a few criticisms: perhaps there is some unnecessary, repetitious considerations from Breq. Perhaps, the question of slavery was more heavy-handed than necessary (or perhaps not, some things should be faced HEAD-ON after all). THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH BROODING SEIVARDEN. But to me, those are minor flaws in an otherwise perfect book. Once more with feeling: ALL THE AWARDS. And also a top 10 spot for me.
Please allow me a brief moment to be incredibly unprofessional and fangirly because holy effing crap. Ancillary Sword, you are amazing.
I have to add my voice to Ana’s, singing the praises of both Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword and marveling awestruck and stupefied by Ann Leckie’s writing prowess. Holy effing crap.
Can I take a step back and examine the text in context? As Ana says, Ancillary Justice won ALL the awards last year – taking home the Nebula Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Locus Award, and the Hugo Award. This is success on a near unprecedented scale, especially for a debut full-length novel. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of expectation when it comes to follow-up novel Ancillary Sword. How could anything top the glorious mind-bending, challenging, award-winning marvel that is Ancillary Justice?
Perhaps Ancillary Sword doesn’t quite live up to the same rush, the same unexpected in-your-face challenge that Ancillary Justice posed – but it’s still an amazing, thrilling, provocative novel that forces readers to question their own humanity. And I loved it. OH, how I loved it.
In Ancillary Sword, Breq – the Artificial Intelligence that was once grand starship Justice of Toren, brought low to a single body, hungry for vengeance – has been given its own command and her own mission by none other than Anaander Mianaai, Lord of the Radch. On her new ship, the Mercy of Kalr, Breq makes quick use of power as Captain as it sets course for a distant star system in an “uncivilized” part of the galaxy. There are conflicts aplenty in Ancillary Sword as Breq deals with administering its power on its new ship (without becoming too enmeshed in the consciousness of said ship), the inter-personal tensions of the Radch and the Lord of the Radch’s own splintering consciousness, the tensions and conditions of colonized people on a distant planet (a parallel to the enslavement and former forced ancillary procurement of conquered peoples), and the appearance of a new external threat that can challenge Radchaii hegemony.
Needless to say, there’s a LOT going on in Ancillary Sword. And yet, for all of these plot threads, this second book is one that is extraordinarily intimate. As Ana says, a large part of this is because we are now with Breq as it is now, without the alternating narrative into the past. We, readers, are entreated to Breq’s current thoughts and feelings, its emotions and burning sense of justice and understanding of anger as it deals with tensions both personal and interstellar. It’s also kind of funny, because though Ancillary Sword is a much more intimate book, it’s also one that illuminates just how different Breq is – not quite human, but a far cry from the conscienceless killer robots, or the anthropomorphized human-like androids of science fiction’s past. Breq is… Breq. The development of this particular character and its struggles – I particularly want to call attention to Breq’s reluctance to entwine fully with its new ship, and Breq’s treatment of Lord of the Radch ancillary Tisarwat – are the driving factors that make Ancillary Sword so successful and resonant. At least they are in my mind.
On the plotting and overall trilogy arc-moving front, Ancillary Sword is, admittedly, a bit weaker than its predecessor. There are plot threads aplenty in this second book, but there’s also a bit of heavy-handedness (particularly when it comes to the effects of colonialism in space), and a sense of in-between-ness as there are so many stories to be resolved in the next book.
These quibbles are but footnotes, though, to a truly spectacular sophomore novel. I loved Ancillary Sword, truly, madly, deeply. It is absolutely a top 10 pick for me this year, deserving of all the awards, and all of the praise.
Do yourself a favor and read it immediately, Citizen.
There is going to be a sequel to Hunting Monsters coming out in the summer! We are so happy about it, can't wait to share with the world. More about iThere is going to be a sequel to Hunting Monsters coming out in the summer! We are so happy about it, can't wait to share with the world. More about it...more
Imagine Bulikov, a city that was once a commanding stronghold of Gods and Goddess, where impossibly tall buildings sOnce upon a time. In illo tempore.
Imagine Bulikov, a city that was once a commanding stronghold of Gods and Goddess, where impossibly tall buildings shone in the skyline, from where a people ruled the world it had conquered by the grace of those Divinities.
Imagine that city now, where events in living memory have transformed its very core, its once powerful people subjugated by one of its very own enslaved colonies, forbidden to study and learn their own history, their Divinities killed and those beautiful buildings literally disappeared before their very eyes.
Imagine Saypur, that risen colony, once a poverty-stricken backwater, denied power, agency and the grace of gods, now a geopolitical power with the necessary technology to take over the world. The once conquered has become the conqueror and the “once upon a time” becomes “what happens next.” Imagine a narrative that takes exactly that revolution, examines it from the bottom up, placing the people it affects, on both sides, at centre stage. Imagine a narrative that says not only that the “now” is being written in front of our very eyes but also that the once upon a time was not actually, a perfect fairytale with a happily ever after.
That imagined world is the setting for City of Stairs: a book that takes complex themes like colonialism, oppression, religion and systems of belief and weaves them into a story that is part fantasy noir, part murder investigation, peppered with humour and tragedy, hope and adventure, magic and twists, with female characters of all ages who lead the story and develop strong bonds of friendship with each other, in which most characters are people of colour, and where cultural, social and religious history are at centre stage and holy shit, was this book good. It ostensibly starts as a murder investigation when Shara Divani, a super-spy, diplomat and amateur historian from Saypur arrives in Bulikov and is plonked – along with the reader – into this multi-layered world of hidden truths, twisted narratives and supposedly dead divinities.
And it feels like it was almost inevitable that I’d fall in love with this book and especially with Shara, because how could I not – hello, super-spy, diplomat, amateur historian – given the depth and intricacy of the narrative built around her? Shara is truly and really from Saypur and as such is a person with her idiosyncrasies and someone who isn’t completely immune to the beliefs of her own people. But she is also someone who has been away, who has visited other places and learned other truths– torn between what she has always known, what she has been told and what she has effectively learned in the years since she has been exiled from her own home for political reasons.
Truth and knowledge will set you free, Shara’s journey tells us and in a book that shows the way that censorship, forgotten history and prohibited knowledge impact the very fabric of reality and the lives of the people who live in Bulikov. And because nothing in this world comes without consequences anything that affects Bulikov also affects Saypur because of course it does, since this a multifaceted, realistic, intricate co-dependent system.
City of Stairs is just shy of utter perfection for two reasons. The second half comes with several moments of clunky exposition in marked contrast with the sophisticated first half of the novel. It actually dangerously veers toward “idiot lecture” i.e. let’s make sure our readers understand exactly what we are doing here.
The other reason regards Sigrud, a secondary character who is the stereotypical Brawny Invincible Tortured Hero With a Hidden Past that is almost out of place with his Aragorn-like storyline in the middle of what is an otherwise refreshing take on Fantasy. Thankfully, he never completely overshadows Shara’s spotlight.
Finally, it behoves me to say that when it comes to the examination of the relationship between faith and power City of Stairs is, thematically speaking, cousin to other recent books that I have also loved: N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead. All three are highly recommended and City of Stairs, in spite of the criticisms above, is a Notable Read 2014 and a possible contender for a top 10 spot. ...more
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In Real Life, this new graphic novel written by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang is full of them. InThe road to hell is paved with good intentions. In Real Life, this new graphic novel written by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang is full of them. In its heartfelt introduction, Cory Doctorow says that In Real Life is about game and economics, about the – political, economical, social – choices that we make on a daily basis and their consequences. About how social media and the Internet can potentially shape and change the world.
The book portrays how Anda – the shy and lonely main character trying to fit in at her new school – starts playing Coarsegold Online, a MMRPG (for the non-initiated: massively-multiplayer role playing game) and gets involved with the real-life consequences of playing it.
There are, I think, three aspects of the novel worth exploring. First of all, the clear and welcomed feminist message of the book. Anda starts playing it after a school visit by one of the game’s organisers who talks about the rise of female gamers, the problems encountered by them (sexism, misogyny) ending with a call-to-arms in which girls are specifically invited to play with female avatars.* The idea is that Coarsegold Online provides a welcoming and safe environment in which to do so. The story then follows Anda as she becomes more confident and develops relationships with other female gamers as well as other girls at her own school. This part of the book? Wonderful.
Also great: Anda’s journey toward self-awareness and a larger comprehension about the complicated world at large. Whilst gaming, she becomes involved with Gold Farming. In the book, she befriends two other characters: one of them co-opts Anda into killing in-game gold famers (an illegal practice within the game); the other is a gold farmer himself, who turns out to be a poor kid from China, working in extremely poor conditions in a gold farming factory. This prompts Anda into realising the consequences of what she does on her side of the Atlantic, how it impacts other people then eventually spiralling into political activism. Whilst I appreciated very much Anda’s personal journey of self-awareness, I have serious misgivings about how this is actually dealt with in the book, which brings me to the third aspect of the novel I’d like to expand on – the one that made me angry and a little bit horrified.
Now, Gold Farming is a real-life economic phenomenon in which players (often located at third world countries) can collect in-game valuable objects to sell them to other players (often in first world countries) for real money. This has rippling effects within gaming – leading to extreme prejudice against non-English speaking players as well as outside gaming: it has been reported that Gold Farming has become not only a lucrative business but one that usually involves extremely poor working conditions and exploitation of underprivileged workers.
Needless to say, this is an extremely complex topic and I find it that depicting and addressing it with any real depth would have been difficult to start with in any scenario, but within a short graphic novel with less than 200 pages and exclusively from the perspective of a privileged American character? Probably not the best idea ever.
This is how this plays out in In Real Life:
Anda befriends Raymond – a 16-year-old Chinese kid who barely speaks English and works at a gold farming factory. Cue to a clumsy dialogue in which Raymond tells Anda everything about his terrible circumstances: he works the night shift for 12 hours every night because his family doesn’t have money to send him to college (the alternative would be to work at a zipper factory, which is worse). He hurt his back lifting boxes at his previous job and since the gold farming factory doesn’t offer medical insurance, he sometimes have to excuse himself to go to the bathroom so he can lie on the floor a little while and rest – he has a friend who has good hands and offers massages in exchange for cigarettes.
CUE TO ANDA’S ANGST.
Not Raymond’s, Anda’s. It’s her duty to protect him, so she will do everything to save him from his terrible life, to his eternal gratitude. And despite being a young kid herself and knowing nothing of the world or Raymond’s real circumstances, she decides to research. So SHE finds about local doctors he could go to and tell him to go to his coworkers and tell everyone they need to demand health care together or they will go on strike. This leads to Raymond getting fired.
CUE TO ANDA’S ANGST.
Not Raymond’s, Anda’s. Anda lying in her comfortable bed saying how the world is a cruel place. How it was HER FAULT FOR MAKING HIM BELIEVE THINGS WOULD BE OK.
She then decides to get up and do more. She puts together a team of other privileged players, then:
“I don’t know what is like to live in China and I don’t know what’s like to be a gold farmer but I do know what’s like to a kid who loves video games. If you would give me a chance, I will do anything to help you get him back. If you really care about him, you will help me spread this message”.
The message is something she wrote, a call to action to other Chinese workers so they CAN FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS. Which they do. And everything is ok in the world and Anda is HAILED as the hero who stands up for what is right.
In the end, Raymond comes back. With a brand new Avatar, looking like prince charming, speaking almost perfect English, saying how things are better at his old job and how he was offered a new, better job by a random guy at an Internet café. The end. Everything is ok now.
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
I understand the author’s intentions and completely sympathise with and admire them. I think there is a lot that is worth of praise here including the beautiful artwork by Jen Wang. However, as explored above, I don’t think those intentions were communicated well into the book. I felt utterly uncomfortable (to put it very mildly) about the depiction of the Chinese characters’ plight and the lack of viewpoint from their perspective – the stress on Anda’s feelings rather than Raymond’s about his own situation is problematic to the extreme and reeks, REEKS of white saviour complex and American superiority (cue me rolling my eyes when Anda was all horrified at the lack of proper health insurance in China when in America things are not exactly rainbows and ponies, are they.) In addition, this extremely complex situation has been simplified to the extreme with the throwaway ending.
*Fucked-up fact about the world we live in: Cory Doctorow can write anything and criticise male gamers all he wants and he will probably get little to no flack for it. Meanwhile, Anita Sarkeesian puts forth the same message and criticisms and is attacked, humiliated and threatened ↩...more