Ramped up to 4 by the gorgeous illustrations, because the story is really short and little more than a 3 - deserving to belong in a magazine or collecRamped up to 4 by the gorgeous illustrations, because the story is really short and little more than a 3 - deserving to belong in a magazine or collection, but not really a full meal in itself.
Also, like many, I was distracted by all the hype about the kiss illustration. So much was said about it that it became unwillingly the focal point of the story, which doesn't really work with the way the rest of the narrative goes....more
It's hard to rate this book. As the first volume in a trilogy, it's burdened down by a lot of ground building: lots of exposition, lots of names, lotsIt's hard to rate this book. As the first volume in a trilogy, it's burdened down by a lot of ground building: lots of exposition, lots of names, lots of culture, lots of magic, and what I imagine will be most problematic for some: lots of gender. There's a consent culture of vegetarian ritualistic cannibals with five genders, a patriarchal one with three, and a matriarchal slave society with two, and this is counting only the major players.
I know it didn't bother me (other authors: more of this, please!) but you could spot the points where a character would stop their train of thought and explain the basics of their own culture to themselves. I understand, though, that those sudden expositions were to facilitate the readers and trying to prevent white cis straight blindness. I'm sure some people could have finished this novel convinced that everyone was white and straight, otherwise.
And the end of all these "lot"s is a story that, while interesting, is mostly ground work for what comes later. Characters run to and fro, mostly with very little agency, which they start acquiring by the end. They get lots of questions and very little in answers. They get buffeted by the currents in the plans and plots of others. But they're also very interesting characters, and I'm curious to see what happens next....more
Most of the stories in this collection come from the author's blog, and they are short but good fairy tale retellings.
The little jewel in this book iMost of the stories in this collection come from the author's blog, and they are short but good fairy tale retellings.
The little jewel in this book is however the novella Boar & Apples, a version of Snow White quite different from any other I've encountered, poetical and at the same time -in typical Ursula Vernon style - practical to a fault.
This is a wonderful comic based on a book I love. The art style is compelling and it's roughness really fits the general theme and locations of the stThis is a wonderful comic based on a book I love. The art style is compelling and it's roughness really fits the general theme and locations of the story - mainly a rocky desert, in this first volume. Heather Larkin lends a cinematic style to the narration and while yes, there are differences between the comic and the book, none of it goes against the spirit of the original tale....more
I guess this wanted to be a shout-out to retro science fiction, but it seemed more like a right-wing racist screed.
The basic plot is: the US are coolI guess this wanted to be a shout-out to retro science fiction, but it seemed more like a right-wing racist screed.
The basic plot is: the US are cool and advanced, Europe sucks, and the Chinese want to steal the US remote-controlled robots. Yellow peril - in space!
It's more likely that the Chinese built the damn things, because they have the microelectronic factories now and it's quite likely they will still do in the future. So even if everyone forgot that the cold war ended decades ago, and even in the improbable eventuality that they didn't know how to make a robot themselves, they could just steal one on the ground. The end....more
This is basically the origin story a 12-year old might make up for their D&D character: overinvolved with itself, grandiose, with copious amount oThis is basically the origin story a 12-year old might make up for their D&D character: overinvolved with itself, grandiose, with copious amount of splatter, and frankly banal. It doesn't help that, of the two talking women in the story, one gets slaughtered and the other both slaughtered AND fridged. I don't really care if this is tie-in fiction for a franchise, it's ridiculous that this was nominated for a Hugo award....more
Most of the pieces in this collection deal with growing up with the Doctor (or Captain Jack, who features a whole lot in the first part of the book).Most of the pieces in this collection deal with growing up with the Doctor (or Captain Jack, who features a whole lot in the first part of the book). There's nothing wrong with writing an essay as your personal life story, but when they make up the majority of your book they all tend to become very similar after a while, variations on the same riff. I would've liked more variety, both in content and in form.
I especially liked "A kiss from Romana" and "Hey Mickey, you're so fine". The latter is a very good take on the character of the same name; while he's hardly my favourite, this piece did make me reconsider Mickey a lot, also considering some of the writing/editorial choices made behind the camera. ...more
A great collection of essays by an author who is not afraid to be provocative and intense, both when it comes to the subject of writing and living asA great collection of essays by an author who is not afraid to be provocative and intense, both when it comes to the subject of writing and living as an author, and on more general themes like racism, sexism, inequality and representation.
Closing the book is the Hugo-winning essay that gives the name to the collection (and let me tell you, it's a well deserved award). "We Have Always Fought" explores the dangers of the fake narrative that keeps erasing women and other cultural minorities from history, and how it reshapes the world around us.
Minor niggles, which is why this is a 4 star rating rather than a 5: most of these are originally blog posts, and as such usually come shorter than your average essay; adding to this that many themes and expressions are recurrent, often in subsequent posts, it can become a bit overwhelming when reading it all in a row. ...more
I had already read most of these stories separately, so reading them again together was like visiting a distant country for the second time: though thI had already read most of these stories separately, so reading them again together was like visiting a distant country for the second time: though the overall panorama has not changed, some things have moved, some have changed, some touch you in different ways.
I will leave judging the poetry to someone else, as that is not really my usual field. I liked Tsukayama Park better than Mechagirl, though.
The short stories are great and raw and powerful, though the recurrence of the autobiographical themes is definitely more noticeable once you line them in a row, rather than reading them years apart. Killswitch, the Baku, Story No. 6, and The girl with two skins are the strongest of the lot for me.
The real gem of this collection is however the short novella Silently and very fast, a story set in the far future and inside the shared mind of a woman and an artificial intelligence. It touches all the themes of emergence of conscience, knowledge of self, identity, ego, sex, gender, memory, myth, family, and what any of those things even mean in the shared mind-world inside of yourself....more
This is a wonderful anthology, and a perfect starting place for those who want to delve into the writings of Catherynne Valente without committing toThis is a wonderful anthology, and a perfect starting place for those who want to delve into the writings of Catherynne Valente without committing to a full novel.
I have read most of the stories in this anthology before and, on a second read, they don't come as strong or shocking, but more like long-time friends or forgotten lovers with which to share a drink and a memory or two.
White lines on a green field is among my favourites. Even though in my country we do not share the American collective frenzy when it comes to varsity and football and school pride, we still do know of it from film and TV, and it conjures the image of a golden America from a past that never was.
The bread we eat in dreams, Fade to white, The wolves of Brooklyn are other strong ones who get better on a re-read.
Of the new (for me) pieces, I particularly loved Aeromaus, The Room, The Blueberry Queen of Wiscasset.
I won't talk of the poetry, as I don't have the instruments (or the interest) for it, but I thought What the Dragon said to be the best of the bunch....more
3.5 stars really, for two reasons that really amount to one.
The essays themselves vary from the exceptionally good to the simple but important insight3.5 stars really, for two reasons that really amount to one.
The essays themselves vary from the exceptionally good to the simple but important insight into the mind of the author as a writer, or a fan, or a person. It is an enormous job to wade through a long-lived blog, especially from a prolific author as Valente, to select a limited number of items that not only stand up by themselves, but together also offer a solid representation of her complete work both in theme and depth.
Now for the negative note: the book is riddled with typos, and the graphic design is basic even for an essay collection. Since most of the material in this book is available for free offline (only 3 articles do not come from her blog or a guest post) this collection is mostly retreading on old ground if you've been following Cat online for a while, and for 15$ I would have at least expected a little more editorial work to polish it all up....more
**spoiler alert** There are so many things I don't like about this book that I'm not even sure where to start.
First, the minor: I found out about thi**spoiler alert** There are so many things I don't like about this book that I'm not even sure where to start.
First, the minor: I found out about this book because of several illustrations that Kate Beaton made for it. Most of the articles about these illustrations fail to mention that they do not appear in the end product.
Second, the characters. Only a couple of them are more or less fleshed out, and the main character isn't among them. The rest is pretty much cardboard stock. Jo is the best friend, Rob is the geek, Brayden is the suspicious love interest, Sutton is the creepy villain, all other adults are mostly unhelpful. Jimmy and Odessa get some development only because of the virus that ages them, and their reaction to it.
Mia, the protagonist, is an egregious case of uninteresting flaw and genre-unsavvy. Yes, she fell down a well when she was little; then she overcame her fear of it by becoming a national-level swimmer. This is mentioned over and over but is never really relevant to the story, never becomes an obstacle, and is never tied (if not really really loosely) to the main plot. Then, she falls in love with a new guy at her school just the day before the lethal virus spreads. The guy is extremely suspicious, is seen talking with the main villain, and keeps on apologizing for things he hasn't done yet. So when he asks "Do you trust me?", of course Mia replies "YES", because she's never seen a movie or read a book in her life. Girl, I get it, you're in mad insta-love, but seriously? It's called "sudden but inevitable betrayal" for a reason.
Third, the plot: 80% of this book is about getting to this Cave, where in two densely filled chapters we're told about all the interesting stuff, which could have easily been a couple books into themselves. Yes, this is Mia's personal trip where she overcomes her fear of water and claustrophobia (which she repeatedly tells us she already overcame, so what?), but when the flashback is more interest than the main story, something's wrong.
Which leads us neatly into the last gripe, which is that this books ends on a cliffhanger. And not even a "this chapter closes and another one opens" kind, or even a "how are our heroes going to escape certain death?". No, the bad guys find the magical well, the main characters jump into it, Mia remembers something she had forgotten, they get to the other side -all of this in one page- and the book ends. Cut down with a guillotine right when it was getting interesting.
If there's a sequel coming out, I'm definitely not buying that. If this was supposed to stand alone on its own... Well, no....more
I'm all for stretching the definition of speculative fiction and FSF as far as it can. However, apart from theWhy is this even nominated for a Hugo?
I'm all for stretching the definition of speculative fiction and FSF as far as it can. However, apart from the last couple lines, this could all simply just be historical fiction, with no fantastical elements whatsoever, not even on the verge of fantastical realism.
Mind, it's not a bad story, but I certainly would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been expecting for a fantastical element to turn up somehow....more
I absolutely love Freddy! Though nominally this book is about Kitty - her predicament, her coming to London, her getting tangled up in other people'sI absolutely love Freddy! Though nominally this book is about Kitty - her predicament, her coming to London, her getting tangled up in other people's problems - none of this would happen, or get resolved in any satisfactory way, without the quiet, simple, and unassuming help of a character who, normally, would be relegated to the sidelines, being the helpful best friend or that guy in the background.
The story is simple at best, all marriage plots and society complications, but Freddy and the rest of the cast make this a really delightful read....more
This book is a fun, fast read but as, other commenters have said, the best word to describe it would probably be "cute". The plot is set into an alterThis book is a fun, fast read but as, other commenters have said, the best word to describe it would probably be "cute". The plot is set into an alternate-history regency with magic, and is pretty much a fast-paced action romp with simple but relatable characters.
The most distracting issues is that, because of its macguffin nature, one of the main plot points (the main character disguises herself as a man, and could be disgraced if discovered) never really amounts to much of a credible threat, since everyone she meets who can see through her glamour is basically OK with it, is willing to keep her secret, and/or subtly (or not so subtly) encourages it. The villain, too, could have been given a bit more of a backstory and motivation, as she is basically little more than a cardboard figure necessary to set the plot in motion.
Apart from that, it's a nice if not wholly original story, and a good way to spend an afternoon....more