Travis's Reviews > Report from Planet Midnight

Report from Planet Midnight by Nalo Hopkinson
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bookshelves: speculative-fiction, short-stories, sci-fi, fantasy, non-fiction

This is sort of an odd mix of things: two short stories, a transcript of a speech (with an introduction and after comments), and an interview. My thoughts in order:

"Message in a Bottle" (short story): I don't think it lives up to the hype of the one sentence teaser on the back of the book, but it is an interesting sort of variant on a time travel story. Part of what makes it work well is that it isn't obviously a story about time travel. Also, having a first person narrator who is skeptical about the idea deflects the usual concerns about how time travel is inherently self-defeating. The objective of the time traveler reminds me very much of a story by Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Author of the Acacia Seeds"; since Hopkinson praises Le Guin in the interview later in the book, I'd be surprised if this wasn't part of the inspiration for this story.

"Report from Planet Midnight" (speech transcript): I was completely unaware of the "RaceFail '09" thing Hopkinson was reacting to here, but it seems a bit similar to the more recent "Sick Puppies" fiasco, or maybe a bit like "Gamer Gate", so I kind of get what it is about. I do wonder how the speech played with the audience at large, beyond the negative reactions she talks about receiving in her intro; to me the sort of performance art aspect of it seems a bit strange and uncomfortable, even as someone who agrees with her arguments, but then I'm not the sort of person who would be interested in attending a conference on Fantasy writing or listening to people give speeches on it.

"Shift" (short story): a good story with an interesting and distinctive style. It feels a bit odd that the primary characters in both stories in this volume are male, though that is balanced in this story by having women play pivotal roles. I am a bit annoyed by Ariel being female, since in my understanding the character in The Tempest is male (though apparently Ariel is referred to with masculine pronouns twice in the script, so it is less certain than it could be).

"Correcting the Balance" (interview): this covers a lot of ground and is fairly interesting. I especially like her take on magical realism as literature where "the supernatural elements are conceits that don't have to be followed through as rigorously as we demand from fantasy"; that seems an accurate assessment to me.

Part of why I picked up this book is because I had previously read another volume in this Outspoken Author's series, The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson. Another part is that I sort of recognized the name, Nalo Hopkinson, and because I do try to read books that aren't just by straight white men. After reviewing the inverted timeline bibliography at the back of the book, I realized that I had previously read two of her stories, "Greedy Choke Puppy" and "The Smile on the Face" in two different volumes of Year's Best Fantasy. Beyond that, I think I have seen here name frequently in the context of anthologies, editing, and critical commentary.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 24, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 25, 2018 – Shelved
November 25, 2018 – Shelved as: speculative-fiction
November 25, 2018 – Shelved as: short-stories
November 25, 2018 – Shelved as: sci-fi
November 25, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
November 25, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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