I loved Nnedi Okorafor's novella Binti and had only the small and very minor niggle that the story was a bit plain and resolved rather too easily. MI loved Nnedi Okorafor's novella Binti and had only the small and very minor niggle that the story was a bit plain and resolved rather too easily. Minor niggle to me at least, other readers thought different about that, and apparently so did the author herself - if there is one thing that it is impossible to say about Binti's sequel Home, then that it presents its reader with pat and easy solution. In fact, it leaves us with so many narrative threads dangling (not to mention ending on a cliffhanger) that one cannot help but suspect some kind of Hegelian dialectics at work here: If Binti presented a bold and simply stated thesis, then Home is the antithesis to that, negating and dismantling every apparent certainty established in the first novella.
This makes Home an unsettling and occasionally outright uncomfortable reading experience which is far removed from the exuberance of Binti. It is no less fascinating however, the world building continues to be jaw-droppingly bizarre, and the character of Binti only becomes enriched when we learn that the events of the first novella did not pass her by without leaving a trace, something she has to struggle with during her time at Oomza Uni and which leads her to return home where she plans to make a pilgrimage in order to cleanse herself. The pilgrimage however, turns out to be not the one was she was expecting and in the course of it she - and the readers - discover a third culture besides the Khoush and the Himba, along with some reveals about Binti's and her world's past.
There really should be a third novella which harmonizes everything into a synthesis, and I find myself hoping that it will be released very soon. Great stuff, and I really need to read more by Nnedi Okorafor....more
"Doing interesting things with genre" might be the motto for this issue - but then I guess, it is for most of issues of this magazine.
Grace Seybold's"Doing interesting things with genre" might be the motto for this issue - but then I guess, it is for most of issues of this magazine.
Grace Seybold's "Gravity's Edge" gives us what is in many ways a very traditional Planetary Romance, in others.... not so much. That starts with the interesting but mostly unexplained world building (possibly this is part of a series?), continues with an all-female cast and the moral ambiguity of the ending.
Jeremy Sim's “The Last Dinosaur Rider of Benessa County” is a very traditional Western... with dinosaurs. And yep, you read that right.
This is one of those issues where Beneath Ceaseless Skies takes its claim of being a "Magazine of Literare Adventure Fantasy very literal; and while neither of the stories may be particularly deep or moving they're both a hell of a lot of fun to read....more
I rather enjoyed the first season of this interesting mash-up between paranormal Fantasy and spy novel, in spite of its somewhat annoying tendency toI rather enjoyed the first season of this interesting mash-up between paranormal Fantasy and spy novel, in spite of its somewhat annoying tendency to pull its punches every time anything even faintly resembling a big showdown or a major reveal came in sight. In consequence, we start into Season Two with dozens of dangling threads from the previous season and, quite unsurpringly, none are taken up in the season opener. Well, almost none, for we do meet an old acquaintance which we weren't really expecting to see again, at least not this soon.... but let's avoid spoilers.
Awakening sends Seasons Two off with an explosive opening, and - as has been a constant through all instalments of this series so far - is great fun, whetting the reader's appetite for more magic and espionage mayhem in 1970's Prague....more
A highly informative book on Schubert's famous song cycle (the greatest piece of classical music ever, as far as I'm concerned) by the eminent BritishA highly informative book on Schubert's famous song cycle (the greatest piece of classical music ever, as far as I'm concerned) by the eminent British singer Ian Bostridge. I admit I'd have preferred if he'd delved a bit deeper into the musicological side of things, but he makes up for that by putting his historical education to excellent use and presenting the reader with a wealth of information on not only Schubert's life and times but also on the broader context of early 19th century Austria.
Bostridge proceeds song by song and has something interesting to say about each of them, on a very wide range of subjects - whether he interprets Wilhelm Müller's poetry, takes a look at a song's structure, places it in a biographical context, considers possible political implications or elucidates it from his extensive experience of performing the cycle. This is no deep analysis and is not meant to be; rather it is someone who loves Schubert's songs and knows them intimately chatting about them in an almost conversational tone. I assume that there probably is not very much new here for the Schubert expert but for the layman it is a treasure trove of both information and insight. The author is not afraid to go off on a tangent, either, and his frequent digressions are just as rewarding as when he is staying on subject. The book contains many illustrations, too, although that part did not come across too well in my Kindle edition. As, judging by other reviews, the book is quite beautifully designed, too, I'm regretting a bit that I did not invest in a hardcover version, but the book was well worth it for the written content alone and is recommended to everyone who wants to explore the background of Schubert's Winterreise in more depth than the liner notes of a CD generally provide....more