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austinchapman

in libris

Read much. Talk little.

Currently reading

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Eleven
Joe Abercrombie, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Jonathan Strahan
Progress: 208/507 pages
Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals
Dominic Lieven
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. A: Middle Ages
Stephen Greenblatt, Alfred David, James Simpson, M.H. Abrams
Progress: 367/543 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 208 out of 507 pages.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Eleven - Joe Abercrombie, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Jonathan Strahan

Slow, as usual, because I have work and I'm too tired to read for long at night. But here's what I've read this week in this book (I do read a great deal of comic books and graphic novels too, by the way, but I find it too cumbersome to review them...):

 

You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay, by Alyssa Wong. 4 stars. This is an engrossing dark-fantasy western about a kid discovering a lot of disturbing and thrilling things about his parentage and personal powers. Great job exploiting the mythic potential of the ideas swirling around this story.

 

A Salvaging of Ghosts, by Aliette de Bodard. 4 stars. This is one of her Ship stories, about as good as they usually are. Also, as usual, it's got a neat sci-fi concept around which the story revolves (so, it meets that classic definition of science fiction), which is simultaneously fascinating and revolting. I really need to read her Aztec altnerate history / fantasy trilogy, because I'm sure it's going to be just as thrilling and disturbing as these Ship stories.

 

Even the Crumbs Were Delicious, by Daryl Gregory. 3 stars. I still can't really enjoy stories about drug addicts, even when I can see good things in them. I had that problem with a couple of great Philip K. Dick novels and can't seem to get over it. The concept is interesting, namely that, in the near future, you can use "chemjet" printers to "print" edible drugs (a couple of characters get ridiculously high by eating the wallpaper of a druggie's house!). But, as happens in druggie stories, the happenings are too absurd for my liking.

 

Number Nine Moon, by Alex Irvine. 5 stars. 10 stars, even. My god, this story was good. The whole thing, in plot and character, is solidly traditional, and it's even a problem-solver sci-fi story! So Golden Age. But that's not what makes it so good (there's plenty of trash in the "Golden Age", believe it or not). Irvine uses highly traditional devices to carefully, nay, meticulously, lay out his themes and expand a close (even claustrophobic) story into something that applies universally -- all without preaching or even for a moment taking his narrative eyes off the little picture. Astounding.

 

Things With Beards, by Sam J. Miller. 5 stars. Not quite so traditional, but the callback to the '30s is strong. In particular, see Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". Miller tells a story about gay men in the '80s when AIDS was just coming into the public consciousness and was entirely misunderstood. A couple of these men had worked for scientists in Antarctica and come back with a mysterious monster inside of them. When they come back to America, they find that the monsters inside them aren't the only internal monsters... Miller's story will make you feel your own monster slithering about.