Given our collective frustration with the election/current administration/ongoing hot mess of the US right now, I figured that some good old 80s feminGiven our collective frustration with the election/current administration/ongoing hot mess of the US right now, I figured that some good old 80s feminist sci-fi would soothe my soul. The back of this one promised to cure what ails me, with its post-apocalyptic, toss those foolish men out of our cities, sisterhood surviving 4-evah vibe going on.
This is the tale of a young woman raised in the technologically advanced city of the future where education and stewardship of humanity are valued goals, and a young man raised with a spear in his hand in the wilds beyond the city walls. After an apocalypse of some sort (it was the 80s, so one would assume nukes were involved), humanity eventually scraped themselves up, built some nice places to live, then kicked the men out to fend for themselves since they were the ones that blew everything up in the first place. Women live in utopian peace and bland prosperity, where the worst thing to happen is that scientific innovation seems to have stagnated somewhere around the time that extended lifespan and carefree excellent health were achieved. The now feral menfolk live in brutal caveman tribes out in the wilderness, kill each other over campsites or a good hunk of meat, and are indoctrinated to worship the image of the Goddess to keep them tractable. It's a setup ripe to explore the basic urges of humanity, the essence of social conditioning and how it manipulates all of us, and maybe even the biology of love.
Oh Ms Sargent, what have you done here?
'The Shore of Women' unfortunately reads like a very early work where an author has an excellent idea and then not quite the craft to carry it off. All the young scientist women of the city are Mean Girls (tm) that almost literally tell our heroine "you can't sit with us" due to her bizarre interest in the liberal arts (Writers? Eww!). Each of these women are in philosophic lock-step with each other, and while that may be the point of the lack of societal innovation, it makes for a whole pile of indistinguishably one-dimensional characters. Even after she gets booted from the city and is eventually forced to question the society in which she was raised, her struggle is to resist change, not overcome it, making her an obnoxiously passive heroine. By the time our 2 main characters consummate the lust he's been conditioned to desire and has been nudging her to accept (which is exactly as Nice Guy (tm) creepy pressuring as it sounds), she gets to learn that sex with men is a whole new ecstasy that's never been possible before in her whole bland, safe, stifling lesbian life. Seriously. The final nail in the coffin is that despite her educated and worldly upbringing in contrast to his practical and simplistic caveman mindset, these two characters have the same narrative voice, and I don't particularly care what happens to either one....more
the urban fantasy shelves at the bookstore are pretty full lately, and separating out something unique from the piles of same-ol can be pretty tricky.the urban fantasy shelves at the bookstore are pretty full lately, and separating out something unique from the piles of same-ol can be pretty tricky.
this is most definitely not the same-ol stuff.
the world as we knew it is dead and gone. after a group of people who'd been studying magic were the only ones able to save the population of earth from a mass uprising of murderous ghosts, that group became the church of truth and supplanted all the world's religions. Chess grew up in a world protected by this new church, doesn't remember the way things were "before truth", and now works as a church witch banishing stray ghosts. she's in with her drug dealer by a whole lot of debt, so she really can't refuse when he asks her to take care of a haunting at one of his business sites rather out of her usual jurisdiction.
wait, drug dealer? yes, Chess is a bombed-out junkie, carrying a pharmacy in a plastic baggie in her work bag. like most junkies, she's jonesing frequently, she's secretive about her habits, and she doesn't apologize to everyone about being f'ed up. it's easy to create a villain or a slimy side-character with this dossier, but the deft way Kane handles the writing makes this an engaging, likable, sympathetic character. she's nicely talented and tough as nails, but deeply flawed and imperfect. you believe that bad things could happen to her, and fervently hope she escapes them.
very well done, and well worth checking out the sequel. ...more
yeah, well, that's done-ish. i'm not so much a fan of books that end at chapter breaks, rather than at plot resolutions. not really a classic cliffhanyeah, well, that's done-ish. i'm not so much a fan of books that end at chapter breaks, rather than at plot resolutions. not really a classic cliffhanger, in that nobody is left literally dangling in a life-or-death situation, but still.
Hocking is one of the poster children for the occasional announcements that traditional publishing is dead. she moves tons of copies of her paranormal/SF on amazon, typically giving away the first one, and charging only a couple bucks for the rest in the series - as far as i know, she does not write stand-alone novels. though i'm an assured ebook convert, and i certainly snap up my fair share of freebies, this is my first go-round with her work. i can certainly see where the attraction is here: 'hollowland' starts off with a bang, and the snappy pace doesn't let up until well over halfway through the book. this zombie-apocalypse tale is action-packed, whisking you along from danger to danger with a reasonably likable main character who suffers real loss (a necessity in a horror/post-apocalyptic tale). if it managed to sustain that level of fun peril, it would easily be a 3* or more book, but i'm a subscriber to the distraction theory, i.e., do not allow any shenanigans to distract me from the good parts. a groan-worthy forced romance with an insipid side character is a distraction from the story. adopting a pet starving/abused lion off the side of the road (that of course only likes the heroine), is eye-rollingly silly, no matter how badass you try to make it sound. distractions are the things that jar me out of the world the author is creating, and show me the rough parts in the machinery, and there are too many to be found here.
first read somewhere in 1991 or 2 or 3, 5 stars then, and still amazingly powerful now.
when i first read this at 14 or 15 or so, it was more than a lifirst read somewhere in 1991 or 2 or 3, 5 stars then, and still amazingly powerful now.
when i first read this at 14 or 15 or so, it was more than a little transgressive. it was sort of about sex, in a way that felt very frank and intimate (voyeuristic?). it's still sort of about sex, but maybe more about permission and choice and alienation (both literal and figurative). 'Dawn' is an uncomfortable book. at its heart, it's about choices that are no choice at all - if you want to live, you must choose to do so under an unlivable compromise of yourself. there are no easy answers, there's only a struggle to do the best you can while not giving away any essential parts of yourself. the main character is intensely real, full of flesh-and-blood energy, deeply relatable though you will never find yourself completely in her situation.
the blurb on the back of my 1980something copy makes it sound more salaciously pulp than it actually is, and my blurb here makes it sound more coldly intellectual than it actually is, so ignore us both. it's a provoking thought experiment that's simultaneously a gripping yarn, well worth snapping up....more
one of the oddest repeating themes in the current trend of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit is for the heroine to be an ordinary teenager, wanderingone of the oddest repeating themes in the current trend of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit is for the heroine to be an ordinary teenager, wandering through this brave new world of awful with only a vague sense of "huh." horrors pass before her eyes with barely a shrugged shoulder, because "that's the way it's always been," making her inevitable participation in rebellion later in the book that much more inexplicable.
so mad bonus points to Griffin for writing a tale where most all of the characters have been actually impacted by the world being destroyed. Araby Worth, an inventor's daughter, has lived with a population-slaughtering plague since earliest childhood. she's lost both family and way of life, and she's rather shell-shocked, drugging herself into oblivion and wishing for something to change. the apocalypse here is real and visceral and immediate, not some distant "before times" memory, with touches of actual horror instead of gratuitous gore. there are occasional brilliant tiny "what if?" moments ("we'd been wearing masks for so long that i read a smile by looking at someone's eyes") that add wonderful depth to this slim story. if all that weren't enough, Griffin should be teaching a master class in how to do the de rigueur angsty love triangle properly: both male characters are interesting, well-developed, and differ by a lot more than just the color of their hair.
so why only 3 stars? the end, my dears, is a trainwreck. after clipping along as a solid 4-star read throughout, the last 10% or so just thoroughly derails. (view spoiler)[we're subjected to several chapters of aimless running for our lives, in which Araby's innate passivity (the world acts on her far more often than she charts her own course) finally crosses over into annoying. both boys feel the need to display their "rightness" so that we're left with back-to-back moments of true love with the other guy. and worst of all, the book ends so abruptly that if i'd been reading it as an e-book, i would have assumed the file was incomplete. the story would have been nicely self-contained, yet i can only assume it's being stretched out into a sequel/series. (hide spoiler)]...more
review for the first 3 of DP Francis' Horngate Witches books:
amazon had the kindle editions of this UF series on super sale a while back, so snapped ureview for the first 3 of DP Francis' Horngate Witches books:
amazon had the kindle editions of this UF series on super sale a while back, so snapped up all 3 rather than just one to test drive this new author. what can i say, the snappy back-of-book blurbs sucked me in.
Max is a defensive warrior, magically bound to serve the head witch of the Horngate coven. she didn't exactly choose to be a bonded servant, and she justifiably has a chip on her shoulder about it, but the magical bindings make her a phenomenally tough and formidable badass, so there is that. these first 3 novels tell the story of the beginning of the end of our modern world (seriously), which is a nice departure from the standard UF detective tale.
pros: interesting situation in an interesting world - this series gets full marks for coming up with a new story, and became something utterly not what i was originally expecting. it starts off pretty formulaic, with a leather-clad tuff chick slinging sarcasm and guns through a mundane modern world that doesn't know the truth about the real existence of Things Which Go Bump In The Night (tm). from there, it detours right off the standard map. demonic angels deliver messages from elder gods about the coming destruction of the earth, and the demands that witches sign themselves up as on-board with the plan. wild magic erupts from mountains and changes the face of central california into a dark fairyland. practitioners walk the abyss between the worlds to end up in a city crafted entirely of shadows ruled by a cadre of shapeshifting mages. there's a lot of fantastic (in both senses of the word) ideas in here.
cons: the writing and the characters. the first two books should have been brutally hacked by a surgical editor and merged into a single novel - each of the first two feels like set-up for the real story, and nobody needs 2 full books to do that. the writing occasionally shifts from stilted to choppy, though it does get better in later books (and massive clever bonus points for explaining away some unusual dialogue choices as an intentional character trait in book 2). the characters are mostly one-dimensional ideas rather than living, breathing, messy contradictions - don't just tell me "i'm so conflicted about this," girl, actually BE conflicted.
a word of warning - each of these 3 (yes, including the last one), ends on a semi-cliffhanger. while the main plot line is mostly resolved within each installment, a new problem rears its head just a few chapters before the end of each book, which is how i ended up reading all 3 in a row....more