I really liked the first John Cleaver trilogy, and I knew this novella served as a bridge to the next one, but I did not know that it's not actually aI really liked the first John Cleaver trilogy, and I knew this novella served as a bridge to the next one, but I did not know that it's not actually about John Cleaver, oops. Instead, we get the POV of one of the demons! A very sad demon who eats memories, who becomes attached to the wife of a man whose memories he ate (he doesn't kill people, simply drinks their memories after they're dead). It's a fairly short novella (more of a novelette, really), but it makes you feel for poor Elijah fairly quickly. There are some lovely musings on death, memory, and human connection, and also there are demons....more
In Nova, Samuel R. Delany's classic science fiction novel, a captain recruits a ragtag group of misfits to go on an impossible mission: fly directly tIn Nova, Samuel R. Delany's classic science fiction novel, a captain recruits a ragtag group of misfits to go on an impossible mission: fly directly through a nova in order to harvest a massive amount of energy that will destabilize the economy or something and stick it to his nemesis. It's a rollicking space adventure! Well, it's in space, at least. There's a little adventure? Sometimes there is rollick.
Although the book opens on a character called the Mouse, he's basically the Ishmael of the story, and the coolest thing about him is his sensory-syrynx, an instrument that plays all five senses (kind of like that thing in the original series finale of Futurama). There's also Katin, who spends the whole novel talking about how he's trying to write a novel but he doesn't know what to write about, which gives the book some cute meta-commentary, especially since in this world the novel is a lost, dead art form. Dan has already been through a nova once before and came out blind and deaf in a horrifying way. And then there are these two other guys who have birds on their shoulders or something and speak in alternating dialogue.
But the real story is about Lorq, who gets a huge flashback chapter early on explaining how he came to know some rich siblings named Prince and Ruby, the former with a cyborg arm he's very sensitive about and the latter with...being hot, I guess. It's a race to see who can fuck each other's shit up first!
Delany's worldbuilding is massive, as he imagines centuries of human development and space expansion. The intricate details are fun, but I especially enjoyed various long monologues opining about the state of things, as they helped form a larger picture of what the world is like and how it relates to our own. Katin in particular is alternately nostalgic for and disdainful of the twentieth century, which offers a point of comparison.
Overall, though, I just didn't...care about anything, really? There are some great moments, and Prince makes for a good nemesis (he has a pretty amazing villain monologue at one point), but most of the time I didn't really know what the fuck was going on and why. Despite a clear goal of Get to the Nova set up in the first chapter, the plot meanders a lot, and I couldn't get into it. It's got a vibrant, lush narrative voice, but one that's mildly impenetrable. By the end, I thought the book was okay (and goddamn, what a cheeky fucking ending), but the style wasn't my thing....more
Nimona is a cute, fun-loving, murder-loving shapeshifter. Ballister is a grumpy, robot-armed, science-loving supervillain. They do crime!
I've loved NoNimona is a cute, fun-loving, murder-loving shapeshifter. Ballister is a grumpy, robot-armed, science-loving supervillain. They do crime!
I've loved Noelle Stevenson's art style and her sense of humor for years, and Nimona collects her long-running webcomic in glorious book form. You want a sharp, distinctive art style for a variety of body shapes and skin colors? You got it! You want character-based humor that's silly without being absurd? You got it!
The fantasy world of Nimona makes no sense—it's a medieval-inspired setting yet there's plenty of modern technology—but that's part of its charm. I love how well it actually works. Stevenson overlays a lot of modern sensibilities onto the historical (you know, "historical") narrative and it feels right; that's just the kind of world these people live in. There are dragons and knights and there are also television reporters. It's fun!
On the second page of the book, Nimona turns into a shark and yells, "I'M A SHARK!" and that tells you everything you need to know about Nimona. She's the best, endearing as all hell, even when she's complaining that Ballister won't kill people. Especially when she's complaining that Ballister won't kill people. I loved Nimona, but I found Ballister to be the most compelling character in the book, a very conflicted supervillain who has a complicated relationship and history with the town's resident hero, Sir Goldenloin. Goldenloin seems like a simple enough character at first, but he's also got layers, and all three main players become more interesting and complex over the course of the story.
Page after page—this is a page-turner—I found myself smiling at practically everything, be it Nimona's wacky shapeshifting, her playful antagonism of Ballister, fun action sequences, betrayals and darkness and tragedy and pain wait I did not sign up for this. Stevenson foreshadows early on that things may not be as sunny as they seem, and the shift to a more serious narrative happens with ease. While I think I wanted a bit more from the ending, the epilogue does put a lovely coda on the series. (And I know I have been complaining about how much I want books to be stand-alone but ugh I want more don't go away from me I just met you even though most people have been hanging out with you for years.)
Nimona is an excellent combination of funny and feels, and definitely worth your time....more
The God Engines is not your typical Scalzi, which I knew going in. The characters aren't quippy, there's a mildly explicit sex scene, and although theThe God Engines is not your typical Scalzi, which I knew going in. The characters aren't quippy, there's a mildly explicit sex scene, and although there are spaceships, it's more fantasy than science fiction (and there's some elements of horror as well). Because these spaceships, as the title implies, run on gods. Enslaved gods. Captain Tephe has issues with the troublesome god running his ship, but he's chosen—because of his extreme faith—to go on a secret mission for His Lord, where he learns, well, secret things. The God Engines is a very dark take on gods and faith, but, like typical Scalzi, it's a good, fast-paced read. It's almost exclusively male, though: the only women who show up are nameless antagonists, and one character's gender is not identified so they could be a woman (as I initially read but then decided to imagine as a man to see if that would make the novella almost exclusively male after all). Maybe it was a deliberate choice, to represent the male-dominated clergy. In any case, it was neat to see Scalzi outside of his comfort zone....more