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austinchapman

in libris

Read much. Talk little.

Currently reading

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 384 out of 507 pages.

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

Here we go again -- one day I'll finish this thing!

 

Successor, Usurper, Replacement, by Alice Sola Kim. 4 stars. A group of twenty-something writers gather for a party in a vaguely apocalyptic setting. When a mysterious stranger enters their company, their worlds really do end. The author's style is evocative of the twenty-something anxieties, and the storytelling of the writers is interesting and relevant for the thematic development of the story. I felt a bit remote from it, though, so I can't quite rate it a 5.

 

Laws of Night and Silk, by Seth Dickinson. 4 stars. This was the opposite of remote; in fact, it's emotionally exhausting. Dickinson's prose never lets it up -- it's provocative and dense with meaning. The setting is a brilliantly rendered high-fantasy war, but the perspective is as personal as it can get. I really enjoyed this, even though it wore me out just to read 20 pages.

 

Touring With the Alien, by Carolyn Ives Gilman. 5 stars. Gilman is a veteran author, and it shows here. She tells a story that feels entirely natural, and it moves forward at an unhurried pace. The patient reader will find here a depth not dizzying or overwhelming but humane. As the main character drives an alien and his human "handler" across the country in an RV, she learns a lot about humanity, and I think I learned a bit too.

 

The Great Detective, by Delia Sherman. 4 stars. A well-written Sherlock-Holmes mystery in a steampunk London, this is a fun read but pretty predictable and without any real insights or challenges. The impressively deployed faux Victorian style saved this one from being a 3.

 

Everyone From Themis Sends Letters Home, by Genevieve Valentine. 3 stars. I wanted to like this one, especially because of the way that its world opened up. However, I felt that its epistolary structure was awkwardly used. This made it sometimes annoying to read. It gets points for an interesting concept, though.

 

Those Shadows Laugh, by Geoff Ryman. 4 stars. Maybe 5. The story started out only mildly interesting to me. A business traveler goes to a kind of paradise island made up only of women who seem to be perfect in every way. She befriends one of them and falls in love with their utopian society. I suddenly became more interested when I realized that this story makes the reader reflect on utopian literature and his/her own desires when confronted with impossible utopias. That's when I felt that this story had something important to say about science fiction and fantasy.

 

Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar. 5 stars. An utterly beguiling fairy tale, this story of two female fairy-tale prototypes never stops being interesting. The two collide in the middle of this very carefully constructed tale and have an awakening about their social status as prototypes... then they figure a way out. It's a thought-provoking subversion of male-perspective storytelling, both in the realm of fairy tales and even in the realm of classic problem-solver stories.

 

[edit] It may take even longer than I'd thought to finish this book because, being the Trekkie that I am, I'm going to buy the new Star Trek: Discovery novel and read it ASAP, come Wednesday. [/edit]