I am glad Kameron Hurley is a writer in this world. I think she is a top-notch essayist and thinker. I think her prosecraft is top 25%.
That said, thisI am glad Kameron Hurley is a writer in this world. I think she is a top-notch essayist and thinker. I think her prosecraft is top 25%.
That said, this is my fourth novel and I think I'm done reading novels by her, because: 1) as a reader, I really prefer to have at least one sympathetic character in a story 2) I don't like body horror 3) The story trajectories are mostly "stuff is fucked up. But wait! It gets worse!"
This one features an amnesiac killer, a ruthless killer, a psychopathic killer, and, uh, a slightly-less-lethal but broken house-elf creature who gives birth to toothy, doll-headed eel-things on the regular.
Almost everyone is pregnant the whole time. Or giving birth. Or wearing their wombs on their heads like a hat.
The plot is dynastic struggle, entropy, and rot. The setting is squodgy and biological, with a lot of climbing through jeffries-tube sized arteries and scab-covered doors and rotting flesh.
It may be an acquired taste, is what I'm saying.
Read if: You have enjoyed Hurley's other books and don't mind set-dressings made of viscera and monsters and worlds full of damaged killers.
Skip if: People walking around with their placentas falling out makes you feel ooky.
Read instead: Octavia Butler's Dawn, which has much more nuanced mothering weirdnesses....more
Carla Kelly writes a bunch of what she calls "Dukeless Regencies", where the people are just ordinary, usually middle-class folks with jobs. This is nCarla Kelly writes a bunch of what she calls "Dukeless Regencies", where the people are just ordinary, usually middle-class folks with jobs. This is not that, there is a duke in the mix, bubt it's very much built in the world where people worry about paying bills and experience real things like roasting hops and accepting social status gaps.
This one is unusual in that it tackles PTSD, alcoholism, and traumatic brain injury, without trying to sell us on any miraculous cures or sudden changes of personality. People have stuff they gotta live with, and work around, and that's just the way it is.
I was a bit worried when I realized it was set up as a love-triangle story. It's not my favorite genre, as it usually comes with a lot of crap about deciding with your heart instead of your head, but this one neatly inverted my expectations. No one in this story is a villian, but lots of people have some growing up to do.
I'm always going to be a sucker for romance heroines who acknowledge they have feelings and then don't bother to disclose them to irrelevant parties. It's just so satisfying to watch them get on with their lives instead of pining
Read if: You like a sweet romance, in both senses of the word. There's nothing here to bring a blush to the cheek.
Skip if: Your romance catnip is strictly enemies-to-lovers or something with high conflict.
I may have finally discovered a way I can read comics/graphic novels, and I'm super excited. I do make the old college try at reading comics, but it hI may have finally discovered a way I can read comics/graphic novels, and I'm super excited. I do make the old college try at reading comics, but it has always been difficult for me to track the flow of action, of words, to marry the images and text togther at the right time. But this kindle comic thing! It's pretty awesome. I get just one panel at a time, and so it's much easier for me to track and follow. Exciting!
This book is beautiful. The art is on a textured paper, and it's sketchy and very hand-drawn looking. The technology conceptions are amazing, novel and interesting, very much more Jules Verne than Jacques Costeau. The story is compelling and I read the whole volume in one go and was disappointed that it ended. There's a locked room mystery, a saboteur, and some creepy hijinks going on, and our lead is going to get to the bottom of it, because it's her dad that's dead. She is steely-eyed, extremely competent, and yet also she feels very brittle. There are a lot of currents in her life and she is not in control of all of them.
Read if: You like beautiful undersea paintings, you are fond of mysteries, you are going to wander off and rewatch The Abyss again.
Skip if: You want super-polished computery art.
Also read: Rachel Rising for that same feeling of escalating tension....more
This is one of a thematic cluster of books that I think of as "Crap I'm a Collaborator! Time to Decolonize My Mind." The protagonists are people who mThis is one of a thematic cluster of books that I think of as "Crap I'm a Collaborator! Time to Decolonize My Mind." The protagonists are people who made rational choices and have been caught up in the machineries of an empire (see series title), but have figured out for one reason or another that this is not going to end super well, and now they are working on figuring out what their loyalties are. Other examples include All Systems Red, Bound by Blood and Sand, Sorceror to the Crown, City of Stairs, Grace of Kings, and A Seditious Affair (and more).
Lee has done some interesting worldbuilding that involves consensus belief -- you can see the beginnings of some of these ideas in their short stories, but because it is less condensed, this novel also allows us some moments of breathing space between esoteric mathematical/calendrical/scheming thoughts that helped me a lot.
I think my favorite character was a heretic with a passionate fondness for pastries. It was such a humanizing touch, and also she seemed very smart, and it's always nice when Our Team has someone competent to push against, not just overwhelming odds.
It was a horror show of bodies, but somehow, it was obviously distressing to our characters, and therefore I found it less creepy than it is when an unproblematic field of mutilated corpses.
The central conflict has to do with a mildly heterodox young officer and her possession by a brilliant mad general. How much is her? How much is him? Why is he full of the crazy? What isn't he telling her? etc.
Also, there's an excellent secret society that took me half the book to twig to, and it's delightful, seriously.
Read if: You like games as teaching exercises, calendars as belief systems, and ghosts as memory shards.
Skip if: You don't like your space opera on the thinky side.
Also read: Yoon Ha Lee's short stories, because they are excellent....more