It makes me angry because no matter how hard I try, I cannot forget what I've done to get here. Zan is able to forget. I'm not. How can I pity her wh
It makes me angry because no matter how hard I try, I cannot forget what I've done to get here. Zan is able to forget. I'm not. How can I pity her when she gets to start over? It's me who has to feel what happened. It's me who carries the burden. It's me who carries on while she flails about like an empty-headed child driven to one purpose. I have to feel because I can shutter it away, box it up like something that happened to someone else. She can't. She never could.
When you understand what the world is, you have two choices: Become a part of that world and perpetuate that system forever and ever, unto the next generation. Or fight it, and break it, and build something new.
The former is safer, and easier. The latter is scarier, because who is to say what you build will be any better?
But living in servitude is not living. Slavery ensures one's existence, but there is no future in it.
Zan and I believed in the future.
The Stars Are Legion begins with the awakening of Zan, a woman with no memory. She may not know who she is, but she knows she has a burning purpose and a possibly not trustworthy sister, Jayd--who is probably not her sister, but who is her ally and partner in this revolutionary experiment. We're dumped headfirst into Zan's mission to throw herself and an army at an impenetrable world-or-maybe-a-ship, while Jayd attempts a desperate gambit of diplomatic strategy. The consequences of these two threads result in a story that turns this space opera into something more interesting than an outsmarting-the-enemy caper.
This book was so good that I was two chapters away from the end before I even noticed it was written in present tense (which I often find grating). It's a space opera that focuses on internal revolution and systems, on memory and cycles and recycling and survival. It draws upon fantasy and anthropology and mythology. It's fascinating on multiple levels, and I was so happy that I had just read Ed Yong's I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, because I was primed to enjoy what was going on with symbiosis and all that. The reason I picked this up immediately, actually, was because of the bioships, because I love bioships, and I was absolutely not disappointed by how Hurley used her bioships.
And, relatedly, there's quite a bit of potential body horror and general bodily squeamishness in this book. (view spoiler)[Lots of things casually mentioned as being made out of human skin. Lots of dead bodies. Lots of horrific pregnancies of things that are not what we consider human. Uterine transplants. Quite a bit of gore. Some ritualistic flesh taking and cannibalism. Etc. But, as the book really drums home, EVERYTHING IS ONE IN THIS WORLD and it's not that gross okay. (hide spoiler)] It made absolute sense with the worldbuilding and Hurley's project here, so I found all that really embedded in the story.
But at the core of this story are two women caught in a complicated relationship while they attempt to enable a revolution, and then the friendships forged between Zan and the three women she somewhat reluctantly gathers as allies and traveling companions in her attempt to fulfill her mission. GOOD BOOK. May it win many awards and inspire masses of SFF writers....more
Definitely not standalone, but a lushly imaginative follow-up to Binti. I'm kind of stressed on Binti's behalf; she's still working through her traumaDefinitely not standalone, but a lushly imaginative follow-up to Binti. I'm kind of stressed on Binti's behalf; she's still working through her trauma from the first novella, and when she returns home for a hopefully beneficial spiritual pilgrimage, her community is hostile to her, her choices, and her new transformed self. She continues to straddle cultures and find her own way to survive as a harmonizer, and Okorafor throws a couple new curveballs her way that had me very engaged. I'm a bit :/ about the cliffhanger-y ending, because I struggle with installment reading, but I'm still buying the next novella the day it's released, because Binti. And Okwu. I love them and want them to forge a collaborative way forward....more
Strange, funny, self-conscious, slippery. Aching in both good ways and uncomfortable ways; I often wanted to avert my eyes or cringe. I wanted a littlStrange, funny, self-conscious, slippery. Aching in both good ways and uncomfortable ways; I often wanted to avert my eyes or cringe. I wanted a little more brute force behind the metafictional aspect, though that's just me, and sometimes the tediousness of drug use (purposefully depicted, sure) was too much. And, also, apocalypses and making out with Matt Dillon are not things that generally would compel me toward a book, but I really liked both of those here.
Overall, I thought it was well-executed, if not my thing. I have fond feelings, though, and I hope it does well in the Tournament of Books--but it'll take an underdog miracle to beat The Underground Railroad in the first round....more
An imaginative and epic love story (reincarnated soulmates) with a hard-won HEA in the final section. I can't personally speak to the accuracy and senAn imaginative and epic love story (reincarnated soulmates) with a hard-won HEA in the final section. I can't personally speak to the accuracy and sensitivity in the depiction of each of the creative historical settings that Murphy uses, but I appreciated the diversity of settings and the details that went into breathing life into each each complicated social/historical situation--something I didn't realize until I reached the final section set in the future and I found myself excited to see how Murphy would develop her science-fictional situation. There was some intensely aching emotional movements in each twist of the story, too, but I often bounced off the dramatic & sometimes flowery prose. I'm not big into the soulmates thing--I like romances more for the relationship-negotiation, whereas in this book, relationships were secondary to the literal physical survival of our star-crossed protagonists and their love--but I thought Murphy did a good job with her connections and ultimately creating that HEA....more
Two outcasts: one a budding witch, one a budding tech genius. One fated future: their continued existence and intertwined lives will lead to the destrTwo outcasts: one a budding witch, one a budding tech genius. One fated future: their continued existence and intertwined lives will lead to the destruction of the world.
I've bounced off Anders's short fiction before, and I bounced off a lot of this book, too, due to personal tastes. I found so many of the details so obnoxiously twee and grating, and I am generally uninterested in magic assholes or tech assholes, and I found the characters, even Patricia and Laurence, to be too shallow and undynamic for my tastes.
But I liked quite a bit, including the see-saw uneven tone, which I found charming and kept me on my toes. I really and especially liked the beginning portion of the book, covering the two children's childhoods, which struck me as very Lemony Snicket-y: bleak and melodramatic, one-dimensional adult authority figures and irredeemably awful peers, plus their middle school guidance counselor is actually a trained assassin who experienced a vision of how Patricia and Laurence will lead to global destruction, but since his guild has outlawed the killing of children, his hands are tied, professionally, and he has to try to stop them in more underhanded ways. The bitter laughs, the unrealistic and screaming unfairness woven into all the forces shaping Patricia's and Laurence's childhoods...I thought that was all unique, interesting, and compelling. I enjoyed reading that first section so much. The rest of the book, though, not so much. At least not until that ending, which I really liked: firm with just enough ambiguity and hope for the future.
And I loved the birds. Especially in that last chapter.
But I wanted something deeper, thematically. I'm not saying, "Bleh, love, who cares?" but...I guess I was hoping for something more emotionally or intellectually complicated. Or at least characters with more depth. ...more
Chiang is the sort of writer where, when there's a story of his I don't "get" or like, I still look forward to reading what other readers/reviewers goChiang is the sort of writer where, when there's a story of his I don't "get" or like, I still look forward to reading what other readers/reviewers got out of said story. So thanks, Goodreads reviewers, for all the interesting commentary on "Understand," which I had found dull, despite my affection for the term "gestalt."
Most of Chiang's stories I like, though, and a lot of them I love. They're elegant and provoking and deeply developed. They reward rereading, which was great, because I wanted to read this collection in order to reread "Story of Your Life" before (and, as it turns out, again after) seeing Arrival. (The film was beautiful and affirming and did the original story credit while still being its own lovely separate experience.) In addition to the wise and graceful "Story of Your Life," the story "Hell Is the Absence of God" is another longtime SFF favorite of mine, and it was good to revisit almost a decade after I first read it, when the world seems even more Old Testament than ever.
The idea of certainty, and how that affects human behavior, is one of the things that interests me most in Chiang's work: predestination and free will, what-if-God-were-an-objective-truth, what self-delusions are necessary in order for us to function as we have before, how we weird humans unravel when a switch is flipped from uncertainty to certainty. He explores this in a lot of these stories, and I really enjoyed how they illuminated each other that way. (Throw "What's Expected of Us" into the mix, too, though it's a later story.)
ANYWAY. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single-author short story collection that operates on this high of a level both on knowledge & interest in science/speculation and on knowledge & interest in the human condition in all its complexities, and that is this easy and accessible to read. The two aforementioned favorite stories were, I thought, the strongest in the book, but there was brilliance in each story.
Published in 1960, Trouble With Lichen is a very-focused slice of science fiction that zooms in on the reasoning-out-the-implications process of a sciPublished in 1960, Trouble With Lichen is a very-focused slice of science fiction that zooms in on the reasoning-out-the-implications process of a scientific discovery. In this case, two biochemists concurrently discover an anti-aging property in a rare type of lichen, and their thoughts about the societal consequences lead them on two initially diverting--though eventually combining--paths forward. There's a lot of interesting women-centric analysis (rich white women-centric--no intersectionality here except in unpleasant ways, a couple annoying racial references in particular) in a way that definitely felt representative of the 50s-to-60s transition of feminism, and I appreciated the way Wyndham incorporated the media's role in interpreting and guiding the consequences of the discovery. ...more
In summary: the universe is made of math, controlled belief systems, and death. A lot of death. These three things are very intricately connected.
AndIn summary: the universe is made of math, controlled belief systems, and death. A lot of death. These three things are very intricately connected.
And by "universe" I may mean "empire."
Ninefox Gambit was challenging, in a satisfying if often frustrating way. I've enjoyed some of Yoon Ha Lee's short SFF in the past, and I knew that even if Lee went over my head with military tactics and warfare and math, he still wrote excellent characters and the kind of vivid, lovely prose that's hard to find in SFF.
And I wasn't disappointed, not by either the prose or the characters, and neither was I disappointed with the whole going-over-my-head thing. That expected incomprehensibility turned out to be one of the most interesting aspects of the book. Phoebe Salzman-Cohen's review at Strange Horizons blew open my mind almost as much as the book itself. If you want to conquer a book by understanding every piece of the world it conveys, to be on equal footing with the characters inside it, you may not be an ideal reader for Ninefox Gambit. But there's still a lot that's rewarding, worth pushing through the initial frustration: there's amazingness in the unfolding politics and twisty characters and the shifting scope of the book and the games it plays. There were ways that conventionality of pieces of the plot irritated me, but the execution of said plotting was so rich in inventive detail that I couldn't stay irritated for long. ...more
I want to review this properly when I'm not in the middle of packing and moving, but in short: believe the hype (but if you don't like YA, you won't lI want to review this properly when I'm not in the middle of packing and moving, but in short: believe the hype (but if you don't like YA, you won't like this, it is very much YA), yes there are gigantic sea monsters and a teenage girl who trains them and a group of pirates who abduct her and a f/f relationship and an adorable & deadly sea monster named Bao but who seems to mostly be called "little shit" and he is basically the most important male character. The book so very smartly & so very solidly swerves away from the potential grossness of the tropes it deploys, and it very much looks at concepts like complicity and agency in nuanced ways--through a teenager's eyes.
The plot is bloody, the characters are crunchy, the treatment of issues is chewy, and the first thing I did after finishing this book was rush to the computer so I could look up when the sequel will be published....more
Physics, ground down to its most basic parts, was nothing more than the study of energy: where the energy was, where the energy was not, and how the
Physics, ground down to its most basic parts, was nothing more than the study of energy: where the energy was, where the energy was not, and how the energy flowed.
Humans were the same. All human interactions were nothing more than the flow of power from one to another. Whatever emotions other people professed to feel for one another--love, hate, empathy--they were nothing to that unconscious awareness of power. Crack any of those sentiments open and find inside only the dark core of a power differential informing it, defining it, giving it strength.
Slow-burning but cinematically vivid. It felt very old-fashioned, and never quite nuanced or believable enough, but there was magic in the sureness of the unfolding of everything; I think the fact I loved the last few pages, loved the emotions and uncertainties it stirred up, was what secured a three-star rating when otherwise, I found the book a little too irritating in its construction.
The book's primary downfall was how frustrating and unsatisfying it was at a character level. The vast majority of characters (aside from the hyper-intelligent trickster conman poor little rich blond boy whose feet and body are both lovingly described as pale and slender, excuse my vomit over the objectified vulnerability--and p.s. I'm sure there's a page for that archetype on TV Tropes, in the Pimpernel/Wimsey vein). But, nearly unforgivably, the POV characters were irritatingly single-minded, leaving huge blindsides to the plot machinations going on, and what avenues they chose not to consider in their attempts at problem-solving or at interrogation were never believably delineated. Like, they nonsensically both choose to dismiss the most interesting/complicated/nuanced/intelligent options of whatever they're evaluating/theorizing/working to solve--and these are two women who are supposed to be very smart--and the only reason seemed to not broaden their minds was to keep delaying the plot. I needed smarter POV characters than that. The twists were far too heavy-handed for my taste, as well, which also contributed to my feelings of OMFG BE SMARTER, THE AUTHOR KEEPS STATING THAT YOU'RE SMART, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE WHAT'S GOING ON HERE????
But the book's plot/situation is intriguing--thieving con-men (possible terrorists?) sneak aboard a secret government spaceship, and then the ship starts losing its mind--and I found satisfaction on the plot level. And I think I'll still give the sequel a try....more
This review is purposely vague, in order to avoid spoilers for the first book in this sequence (also, don't read the summary of this book if don't wanThis review is purposely vague, in order to avoid spoilers for the first book in this sequence (also, don't read the summary of this book if don't want spoilers!), BUT I think it's possible--if not exactly recommended--to read this book first, before Europe in Autumn: events in the books coincide, eventually, and the books take on the same problems from different angles.
ANYWAY. This series is appealing for how it so gamely incorporates both low-tech and high-tech espionage, and for its deep understanding of power and powerlessness in political actors. There's a submersive quality in the world-building that reminded me a lot of the Southern Reach trilogy: questions are only answered in their own time, and the details that build up end up being more than just the sum of their parts.
Borders are paramount in this world that Hutchinson has built, and reading this in the final days before the UK's EU referendum, I paid close attention to the dazzling kaleidoscopic array of geopolitical speculation that Hutchinson plays with. (Also, he plays with Eurovision, jsyk.) In a very good way, this series reflects a vital component of the kind of science fiction I find most compelling: it's very much a product of its time. It couldn't have been written at any other time but NOW, and in doing so, it forces questions about consequences of the choices we make: the borders we choose to cross, the borders we defend (and who we're defending against), the borders we build, the borders we tear down. Hutchinson doesn't answer these questions and isn't explicitly/overtly/didacticly partisan in his approach. (Though, yes, I smiled wryly at the characters' surprise that the Americans didn't react to a paradigm-breaking development in geopolitical relations with a preemptive nuclear strike. Thanks for the optimism, Hutchinson!)...more
Unfurls slowly but steadily. Hutchinson's elegant style in constructing this book, in constructing this world, made this a rewarding and thoughtful reUnfurls slowly but steadily. Hutchinson's elegant style in constructing this book, in constructing this world, made this a rewarding and thoughtful read that holds up its own among both spy thrillers and science fiction novels. It's obscure when it needs to be, and witty but not over-indulgently so. This is science fiction among multiple axes of science, and I was particularly pleased it was, very prominently, political science fiction....more
Twenty years ago, Breq was still the Artificial Intelligence that ran a massive troop carrier, the JustiSolidly fun and thought-provoking space opera.
Twenty years ago, Breq was still the Artificial Intelligence that ran a massive troop carrier, the Justice of Torren. Now, she's the sole remaining segment of that AI, and here on an icy, hostile planet, she's outside of the empire's gaze as she stolidly progresses on a secret mission of her own. But then she discovers the dying body of someone she used to know--someone who had once served as her lieutenant, a couple thousand years ago, and then was present for a pivotal point in history before disappearing. Someone who shouldn't be alive still, someone who shouldn't be on this planet, and someone who is going to make Breq's mission very much harder.
Aside from the initial friction of juggling names and worldbuilding cues in my mind (which lasted a couple chapters, for me), this was a rather deliciously effortless reading experience. Leckie uses a really neat technique of often writing in something like first-person omniscient POV, given the nature of the multi-bodied AIs, and there was zero laboriousness to following along and enjoying watching that technique at work. Everything Leckie did with fractured selfhood was intriguing and exciting and thoughtful, and that filtered down to all of her other themes and plotlines, especially dealing with empire unity and colonization. GOOD STUFF.
The gender stuff ("she" and other "female" identified words as the default person linguistic signifier, namely) was less radical than I expected it'd be. It still relentlessly assumed a binary gender system and left no space for nongenderedness. But I liked the confrontational experience of all those female linguistic signifiers. ...more
Whenever I first start reading Octavia E. Butler, I worry that my brain isn't big enough to fully understand where she's going. By the end, however, IWhenever I first start reading Octavia E. Butler, I worry that my brain isn't big enough to fully understand where she's going. By the end, however, I worry that my heart isn't big enough to encompass the multi-faceted emotional impact of that destination: that the terrible, awful things happening--and the wonderful, miraculous things happening that are basically the same as the terrible, awful things--are going to rock me too much and leave me so disconcerted and maybe too much adrift.
To recap the first book the trilogy: aliens rescue lone human survivors upon the destruction of Earth after a war nearly wipes out all of humanity, but it's at the cost of human-human fertility: any human who wants kids will have a construct child, blending alien and human. (As you might imagine, humans don't take this well.)
This book is set many years later, and it follows Akin, Lilith's son, when he is kidnapped by human resisters.
Akin is such a compelling protagonist; he belongs everywhere and fits in nowhere, and with not a lot of resources, he has to continually save himself--that self that is both Oankali and human--in a tricky balancing act. He has to keep asserting, to others mostly, that because he is Oankali doesn't mean he can't be human, and vice versa. That just because he is a baby (and later, child and young adult) doesn't mean he is not-a-full-person, doesn't mean he's not-mature. Akin blurs a lot of lines, and his comfort in himself and his discomfort in the world are really evocative.
This book also continues the interesting thematic work about freedom and consent and survival, and it leaves me as despairing as ever about the Human Contradiction: "[i]ntelligence at the service of hierarchical behavior."
I read the first book in this trilogy, about a year and a half ago, but the focus of this second book is different, and I found no problem grasping this world and these characters. Actually, for readers like me, who might get impatient with Butler's writing when at its most exposition-by-dialogue bare-bones state, waiting between the two books probably made it a better reading experience. I think it's possible to read this book first and still enjoy it, but I wouldn't recommend it that way....more
My Real Children is a dual fictional-biography. It's the story of Trish/a, a schoolteacher who agreed to a terrible marriage proposal from a man who wMy Real Children is a dual fictional-biography. It's the story of Trish/a, a schoolteacher who agreed to a terrible marriage proposal from a man who wrote her beautiful letters and how she lived to regret and overcome it, and it's the story of Pat, a schoolteacher who broke her own heart by turning down a marriage proposal from a man who wrote her beautiful letters and how she overcame it and survived to find love elsewhere. The catch is that Trish and Pat are the same person: Patricia, an elderly woman with dementia who does not know which of these two lives she remembers--that she's still experiencing--is real.
The primary speculative fiction angle is the alternate history (neither of the timelines is our real world), and not so much the alternative lives, I thought. The bulk of the book is describing these two lives in turn. I found all the mundane life stuff so immersive, but I acknowledge that it may not be what a reader is expecting from the book's premise. Though, really, the book was at its heart-tugging best when the ghost lives bled through for the reader, if not actually for Patricia, but Walton was satisfyingly judicious in her use of those resonating echoes. Also, as someone dealing with Alzheimer's in her own family, I had my heart broken into pieces by Patricia's struggles, both as a caretaker for her mother and when she develops dementia herself.
What I liked most about the book--what I loved about it, actually--was the ending.
I really like endings that are firm but ambiguous, one last bounce on a trampoline before launching out of my sight. So I enjoyed this one. I read it really ambiguously, and I liked it that way. (view spoiler)[I didn't think Patricia literally had to choose one life, that she had to choose one timeline to die in. That she needed to do so was nothing but her own supposition ("Maybe God, or something, wanted her to choose between them, make one of them real"). Especially as neither of the timelines maps to our actual world, the final line of the book suggests to me that she's holding both of those worlds, both of those choices--the choice of now, or the choice of never--as true. That both reflect who she is, that both are the right choice. And her fragmented sense of self feels an elegiac peace in that: "She wouldn't have been the person her life had made her if she could have made any other answer." (hide spoiler)]
I did spend some of my reading time frustrated, however. I disliked that Mark had no redeeming qualities, and that Bee had no bad ones. Neither of them felt very believable, especially Bee and their family life, where they faced only external obstacles, no internal and interpersonal ones. In general, everything to do with sexuality felt so flat; I think that's partially just Walton's writing style, the distance and the lack of physicality, but it felt like a noticeable absence/handwaving when it was supposed to matter to Patricia's happiness or lack thereof. The children were at least complicated characters, even if one set of them was far more interesting to read about. The worlds of each timeline felt too flatly opposed at times, and here I had believability issues, too. Like, I'm cynical, and I struggled to believe that the whole Seven Wonders appeal would work (since when do people resorting to this level of violence actually universally agree to hold some things sacred??), or that the peaceful world had so little terrorism. This was a problem when believing in the worlds seemed like a pretty important thing for this book to really be really successful. Less THIS or THAT, less political diametrics would have kept me believing in the worlds as worlds rather than as too-obvious constructs.
But like with the Small Change trilogy, Walton does such an beautiful job with demonstrating that History Is Made Of People, which is something I find heartening to remember and ruminate over. It was a rewarding book for me, even if it wasn't always successful or always what I wanted it to be....more
Gripping and supple. In a post-pandemic world (or, really, a world where the new normal is constantly pandemic), a young woman named Inez is brutallyGripping and supple. In a post-pandemic world (or, really, a world where the new normal is constantly pandemic), a young woman named Inez is brutally familiar with selling her body: she was a child prostitute, and now she's a frequent medical test subject. It's a bleak life, subject to forces both maddeningly bureaucratic and frighteningly lawless, but Inez is immune to every and any disease that can be thrown at her, so surviving is what she's good at. She falls in with some fringe reproductive/genetic technology outlaws, and after a client backs out, Inez finds herself responsible for the product of a successful experiment: her own clone.
The core of the story is the relationship between Inez and her daughter/clone, Ani. For all of the terrors that form the backdrop of this book, what hooked me the most were Inez's fears for Ani, her guilt and anxieties about her parenting skills and Ani's potential to repeat Inez's mistakes, her hunger for Ani to thrive, and her despair over the gulf of incomprehension between the two of them. It's a mother-daughter thing, really, and sometimes, what made me ache the most was Inez's anxieties over normal girlhood and teenager stuff, and how she didn't know how ordinary the two of them really were. Throughout it all, Inez's love and fear for Ani are palpable.
The first person POV was really enjoyable. I found Inez so compelling. Her driving principle is "See what happens," and I found this openness and engaged-ness on Inez's part irresistible. Dibbell displays a good sense of control at the sentence-level of her prose, knowing when to understate, when to get emotion across with punctuation ("I agree!" was a favorite line of mine), when to let Inez's humor and secrets shine through
There was narrative stuff that sometimes bothered me. I suspended my disbelief for Rauden's initial tons-of-exposition-by-dialogue simply because it was so frenetic and so obvious and so silly and because Inez's reactions were all wonderful and interesting, but a lot of the world-building never cohered completely for me. Some of the narrative repetition became more tedious than rhythmic (except for counting Ani's age; I forgive anything that builds up that kind of emotional nerve). And I'm just never a huge fan of those foreshadowing anvils, even if they did make complete sense for the conceit of Inez's narration. Sometimes, the language was too on-the-nose for my taste, throwing me out of the story world that had otherwise kinda consumed me: like, Inez being called "I," and the admittedly playful jokes about subject/object sentence diagrams. Definitely enjoyed the thematic work going on, but it was a bit too clean for my tastes at times. I liked the book best when it was being messy and less explicit and all I had to hang on to was Inez's reaction. I believed her, believed in her, from beginning to end, and so the narrative and world-building nitpicks I had mattered far less because of that.
I thought a lot about Orphan Black and C4's Utopia while reading this, as well as the mother-child relationship in Room. ...more
Wow, I may never sleep again after this. This was intense and layered. I've enjoyed a lot of Valentine's short SFF and thought Persona was good if not for me. But I wanted to read this because I wondered if it'd echo my very favorite of her stories, "A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones", which is about space travel and survival and connection and loneliness and home. And, well, Dream Houses is totally about all those things, too, but its emotional range and its tone and its protagonist are in a whole other galaxy, metaphorically speaking.
This was dark and had some of the most beautiful, moving descriptions of music that I've ever read. It went there, to the dark places I dreaded it would, and not only did it go there, it lingered there....more
Oh hey excellent successor to The Sparrow. Do you like your first contact sci-fi to feature alien children and mystics and scientists? Do you like thoOh hey excellent successor to The Sparrow. Do you like your first contact sci-fi to feature alien children and mystics and scientists? Do you like thoughtful cultural analyses? Do you like Slytherclaws as protagonists? Do you like characters motivated by immutable philosophies? (And can you handle a lot of philosophical musing?) If so, you might like Dark Orbit.
I really liked the worldbuilding, the characters, and the fact that it's social science fiction that plays a bit with hard sciences, too. I did not like how the story concluded so vaguely; the wrap-up kind of hurried through revelations and then the major ethical problem of the book was NOT resolved and kind of referenced in a "Well, that'll be an interesting day when THAT is decided! But that's not today, so!" way, which was really, really disappointing.
Also, I'm now totally obsessed with beminding. ("To be true to one's self, one must be true to all others.")
I'd be interested in reading critiques about how disability and mental illnesses were handled in this book....more