Tag Archives: SF/F

New to the Stacks: 2020

Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez, Garcia Gabriel
The Shore of Women by Sargent, Pamela – read
When Will There Be Good News? by Atkinson, Kate – read
The Book of Joan by Yuknavitch, Lidia
Out of mesopotamia by Salar, Abdoh
In Search Of The Lost Chord: 1967 And The Hippie Idea by Goldberg, Danny
To Hold Up the Sky by Liu, Cixin
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by O’Connor, Flannery- read
The Wives of Henry Oades by Moran, Johanna- read
Spirits and Thieves by Rhodes, Morgan – read
The Rush’s Edge by Smith, Ginger – read
The women’s revolution, Russia 1905-1917 by Cox, Judy – read
George Orwell Illustrated by Smith, David
Marx’s Capital by Smith, David -read
The Fire Next Time by Baldwin, James
Sex in the world of myth by Leeming, David Adams
The goddess by Leeming, David Adams
The conspiracy trial of the Chicago Seven by Schultz, John
A People’s History of the United States by Zinn, Howard – reading
The Weight of Ink by Kadish, Rachel – read
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Clarke, Susanna
Thinking in Pictures by Grandin, Temple
My Beloved World by Sotomayor, Sonia
The Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut, Kurt
Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology by Reynolds, Richard – read
The Relentless Moon by Kowal, Mary Robinette
The Language Of The Night by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self by Golomb, Elan
Watchmen as literature by Van Ness, Sara J.- read
Parable of the Sower by Butler, Octavia E.
Junk City by Boilard, Jon -read
The Music Book by Osborn, Karen – read
Back to the wine jug by Taylor, Joe
Watchmen by Moore, Alan – read
The Nickel Boys by Whitehead, Colson – read
The Water Dancer by Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Dark mirror by Gellman, Barton – read
Playing in the Dark by Morrison, Toni
Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene by Ehrman, Bart D.
Berkeley at War: The 1960s by Rorabaugh, W.J.
Things that can and cannot be said by Roy, Arundhati – read
Cinderella Liberator by Solnit, Rebecca – read
Berkeley: The Student Revolt by Draper, Hal – read
The Books of Earthsea by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Robert Duncan in San Francisco by Rumaker, Michael -read
History as mystery by Parenti, Michael – read
Feminisms redux by Edited by Warhol-Down, Robyn and Herndl, Diane Price
American Audacity: In Defense of Literary Daring by Giraldi, William
A Book of Book Lists by Johnson, Alex – read
Becoming Superman by Straczynski, J. Michael
Howl on Trial by Morgan, Bill and Peters, Nancy Joyce – read
Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century by Franklin, H. Bruce
Legends edited by Silverberg, Robert – read
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Calvino, Italo
Why I Read by Lesser, Wendy
Side Life by Toutonghi, Steve – read
This is how You Lose the Time War by El-Mohtar, Amal and Gladstone, Max
The Future of Another Timeline by Newitz, Annalee – read
Gideon the Ninth by Muir, Tamsyn – read
Sixteenth Watch by Cole, Myke – read
The City In The Middle Of The Night by Anders, Charlie Jane – read
The Lost War by Anderson, Justin – read
Small days and nights by Tishani, Doshi – read
The Shadow King by Mengiste, Maaza – read
Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World by Deja, Andreas

To Do List: The Rush’s Edge

The Rush’s Edge by Ginger Smith

Title: The Rush’s Edge
Author: Ginger Smith
Twitter:  @GSmithauthor
Published: 2020
ISBN-13: 9780857668646
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Twitter:  @angryrobotbooks

Publisher’s Blurb:   Halvor Cullen was built to be a hero. But he’s never felt like one.

As a gene-spliced, tech-enhanced ‘VAT’ super soldier, Hal was made to fight hard and burn out young, then spend the short remainder of his life forever chasing an elusive adrenaline rush. Thankfully his best friend and former commander is determined to prevent that from happening by keeping Hal busy salvaging crashed spaceships along the Spiral’s Edge.

But when a new member joins their crew, and a mysterious sphere they bring aboard the ship unleashes an alien presence, Hal’s desires and malfunctions threaten to bring them all to the point of destruction…

The Rush’s Edge is a great SF quest/opera/family/romance novel.  Debut author Ginger Smith gifts readers with an adventure story which delves into the meanings of humanity and morality.

Full review to come.

To Do List: The Shore of Women

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargeant

Title: The Shore of Women
Author: Pamela Sargent
Published: 2014 (originally published 1986)
ISBN-13: 9781480497382
Publisher: Open Road Media

Publisher’s Blurb: A dystopian tale of a power struggle between the sexes in the post-nuclear future, perfect for readers of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin.

After a nuclear holocaust, women rule the world. Using advanced technology, they’ve expelled men from their vast walled cities to roam the countryside in primitive bands, bringing them back only for the purpose of loveless reproduction under the guise of powerful goddesses.

When one young woman, Birana, questions her society’s deception, she finds herself exiled among the very men she has been taught to scorn. She crosses paths with a hunter, Arvil, and the two grow close as they evade the ever-threatening female forces and the savage wilderness men. Their love just might mend their fractured world—if they manage to survive.

Hailed as “one of the genre’s best writers” by the Washington Post Book World, Pamela Sargent is the author of numerous novels, including Earthseed and Venus of Dreams. The winner of the Nebula and Locus awards, she has also coauthored several Star Trek novels with George Zebrowski.

A dear friend knowing my proclivity for all things feminist in SF/F took some of his hard got by money and bought the ebook for me.

Things in 1986, when it was written, were much different than 2020, when I read it.  But I’m still appalled The Shore of Women would be considered feminist.  My review is part of a larger project I have in mind considering the treatment of women in books I’ve recently read, both in LitFic and SF/F.

Writing: Life Gets in the Way

It’s all a bit much right now.  I know you know.  Everything is in constant flux as though 2020 is the biggest, twistiest roller coaster morphing at every turn into something worse.  Nothing fits any more and all we can do is try to hang on and not fall off.

It’s not easy for me to admit my reading and writing have fallen into an abyss of 2020 proportions.  Rectifying it feels Sisyphean.  But every once in a while, something happens which drives me to the keyboard, ’cause I gotta share it.

From what I’m reading,  ConZealand was an epic cluster of celebrating old white male authors both living and dead.  A gross old white man who fancies himself a bestselling author couldn’t be bothered to learn how to pronounce the names of Hugo award finalists, and turned the ceremony into a “let’s talk about me” nightmare.  SF/F twitter is pretty lit up about this.

It’s heartbreaking, and infuriating, to hear about this year after year after year.  I left fandom once because of the gatekeeping, but I’m back now, and since I don’t give a fuck anymore about what the keepers think they’re doing I’m going to do my thing.   This latest fiasco made me decide to work harder on getting my writing jam on and to lift up the really excellent work I consume.

The pain I see from those given such utter disrespect at the Hugos sent me running to FIYAH Literary Magazine screaming, “Take my money!”

FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction

Partway through issue #13 and … FIYAH, I’m glad I met you.

On Reading: 3 November 2019

Sunday nights tend to be when I catch up on reading email.  It’s a way of putting off Monday as long as I can.  Tidbits get posted to Facebook as I read along, but it occurred to me that my very own blog would be a better place for such ponderings.  So here’s the first of what’s sure to be a randomly timed post about things I found to be interesting.

Gaping Void Culture Design Group

Hugh MacLeod‘s art has always resonated with me.

Gaping Void Culture Design’s work also resonates with me, mostly because it’s a common sense approach to leadership in business.
This is a gem from the past week:

“So maybe this is a good way of figuring out that you’ve finally ‘made it’- suddenly everything is terribly dull and tedious.

“Be grateful that you’re still struggling…”

If the conversations you’re having about ideas are still interesting, and you’re wrestling with your own approach to creativity, be grateful. It seems counter-intuitive, but there is satisfaction in the struggle even when you’re tired of everything and just don’t want to anymore. Keep on.

Tor.com posted ‘s intro to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019.  Reading it thrilled me because the ages old #LitFic vs. genre argument is heated, old and tired.  The combatants don’t care to read each other’s work, they just want to hurl bullying insults over an arbitrary line.  Reading good work is enjoyable and doesn’t need to be labelled.

“Why waste time drawing boundaries and performing ancient arguments and erecting dead horses and beating straw men and enacting coldness and smugness when you could be reading and salivating and standing and yelling and crying and learning and experiencing narrative pleasure and wonder and joy? Why, when you can do those things, would you do anything else?”

In other words, just read damn it!

H/t to Austin Kleon for pointing out Jeff Bridges does photography:

Review: Shadow Ops: Breach Zone

Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

Title: Shadow Ops:  Breach Zone
Author: Myke Cole
Published: 2014
ISBN-13: 9780425256374
Publisher: Ace (now Penguin Random House)
Twitter: @MykeCole
Publisher’s Blurb:  In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

Shadow Ops:  Breach Zone is book 3/3 in the Shadow Ops series

This series is a mess.  At first I thought it was because Mil SF isn’t my thing.  But then I like John Scalzi’s writing just fine.

Because I enjoyed Cole’s Sacred Throne trilogy so much (third one due in October, 2019) I had hopes for Shadow Ops.  What I will say, emphatically, is Cole has grown a great deal as a writer.  Heloise is the hero we’ve all been waiting for.

To recap, Control Point saw Oscar Britton make some of the most bone-headed, selfish decisions ever in the history of everything.  It’s in this book that Scylla is unleashed on the world.  We know in no uncertain terms, she is the most dangerous and evil creature in this world, and Britton has freed her for his own selfish reason.

Book 2, Fortress Frontier, introduces us to Alan Bookbinder, a Pentagon paper-pusher who Manifests a power no one else has and is sent to the Forward Operating Base in the Source until everything goes to hell and he ends up the commanding officer.  Oscar Britton is a bit player.

And now we come to Book 3, Breach Zone.  It’s all come together, in one big horrifying pornographic death frenzy in Manhattan.  Harlequin, a secondary character in the previous books who’s always played it by the rules, because rules are what separate the good guys from the bad, is put in charge of the defense.

Now Brigadier General Bookbinder is stuck on a US Coast Guard cutter, whose lunch is getting eaten by water goblins and leviathans, has to find his way to Harlequin’s base of operations to use Bookbinder’s unique magical power.

Oscar Britton doesn’t show up until very late in the book, still being let off the heinous thing he did in book 1.  The epitome of the misunderstood hero.  The monster he unleashed is leading an army of monsters to demolish Manhattan.  Scylla wants to start the new world order.

And just to make sure we understand why this is personal for Harlequin, intermittent flashbacks from six years before set the scene.  The romantic scene, of course.

All the complicated politics weight in.  Street gangs, loyal to no one scoff when asked to join the good fight.  Politicians and career officers want to use force against everything.  And, in typical fashion, only Harlequin and those on the front lines actually understand why fire power won’t work, only magic will.

There’s barely any mention of the Indian part of the Source, and Bookbinder’s experiences trying to save the US FOB.  Murica is truly on its own.

Then, bugles blaring, Oscar Britton arrives, makes a pretty little speech and everyone shows up to fight and save the day.  Peace, justice and the American way.

Or something …

Sacred Thrones is light years better from this.  I’ll call this a cautionary tale about back catalogues.  Cole’s worth reading, but this series isn’t.

Review: Hugo Award Winner The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Title: The Obelisk Gate
Author:  N. K. Jemisin
Published: 2016
ISBN-13: 9780316229285
Publisher: Orbit Books
Twitter: @nkjemisin
Publisher’s Blurb: The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

As I read The Obelisk Gate, it became deeply personal, often driving tears to well up as I felt the searing pain of bullies, including parents whose lives can only be understood in retrospect.  Nassun’s search for identity and her confusing relationship with her father reminded me of my own confusing relationships. What matter the details, save that Nassun’s search for the warm glow of love she’d once felt transferred to another father figure?  Nassun finds herself the smartest, most talented in her small class, and one mistake nearly undoes the entire sense of community she’s found. It is a lifetime hard task to come to terms with one’s self and the way others react. And it can be brutal, as it proves to be for Nassun.  She, at least, has the orogene power within her to make it stop. Karma’s a bitch baby.

The Obelisk Gate is a coming together.  Factions find each other, comms welcome new citizens, old friends are reunited.  And yet, The Obelisk Gate is about division.  Factions find each other but begin plotting their war against other factions, the new citizens in comms cause disruption and new lines are drawn.

At its core The Obelisk Gate is about politics.  Political identity of the orogenes, who are welcomed with open arms in Castrima.  Family identity as Essun’s daughter, Nassun, wrestles with who her parents are and what that means to an eleven-year-old girl.  “Good” Guardian vs. “Not so Good” Guardian, but who determines good? Stone Eaters trying to set agendas. And a narrator who, it is revealed, plays an all too godly hand in Essun’s part in powering the obelisk gate, and catching the moon.

Nowhere is safe, everyone is struggling to dig in and survive the Season which, thanks to Alabaster’s creation of the Rift in The Fifth Season, will be the longest in history, lasting thousands of years.

We follow Nassun on the road with her father, Jija, going to a place he is convinced will cure her of her orogeny and return his little girl to him.  His resentful anger gets in the way of their relationship, his narcissism does not allow him to see Nassun is right in front of him and doesn’t want to be cured.  Her power is big, and she’s dedicated to learning everything she can about using it. Even after giving him a warning, showing him just how strong her power is and what she can do with it, Jija is still determined to make her into his ideal daughter.  Things don’t go well for Jija, and Nassun has no regrets

In Castrima, Essun gets pulled into the politics of the comm.  Seeking consensus and advice, Ykka is trying to keep human prejudices from becoming deathly problems.  Suspicion builds as Essun’s self-control frays around the edges. Alabaster holds the key knowledge Essun needs to reshape the world and give everyone a chance to survive.

And a very changed Schaffa is at the comm, Found Moon, where Nassun ends up.  His role with Essun, when she was Daya, is mirrored in his relationship with Nassun.  Only now, he expresses regret for the many horrible things did in the name of the Fulcrum.  In his work with the orogenes at Found Moon, and most especially with Nassun, he sets about making amends.

The Obelisk Gate is big and complex, dark and intense.  Just as The Fifth Season was filled with bigotry and violence, so too is The Obelisk Gate.  Orogeny stands as the proxy for all the ‘ism’s we face in our lives; sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, all of them.  And under the stress of the Season, fractures become breaks.

At the equator, Nassun, Schaffa, and their group which includes at least one stone eater.  In the south, Essun and her group introduced to us in The Fifth Season.  Thousands of years of history come into play, new elements are introduced, and identity politics rise to a fevered pitch.  One comm wants to absorb every resource it can while on raids. Castrima will have none of it. Stone eaters circle each other, and Nassun and Essun.

Alabaster’s final words for Essun are, “First a network, then the Gate.  Don’t rust it up, Essun. Inno and I didn’t love you for nothing.” While saving Castrima, she understands what he means, and as Castrima packs up to move northward into a now vacant comm which will support them for years, Essun knows how to do what she needs to do.

It is Nassun who has the last word.  “Tell me how to bring the moon home.”  In The Stone Sky, it will be up to mother and daughter to catch the moon, settle the rivalries, and stop the Seasons.  It will be an epic battle. Just as deep and intense as the preceding books. Just as complicated, and as simple as catching the moon.

Review: Shadow Ops: Control Point

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Title: Shadow Ops:  Control Point
Author: Myke Cole
Published: 2012
ISBN-13: 9781937007249
Publisher: Ace (now Penguin Random House)
Twitter: @MykeCole
Publisher’s Blurb: Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar’s government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.

Shadow Ops:  Control Point is 1/3 in the Shadow Ops series.

“They want me to kill a child,” is the opening line in Shadow Ops:  Control Point, which just sucked me in.  That is a “wait, WTF is going on here” first line if I’ve ever read one.

And it just spins out of control, fast and furious from there.  Control Point blazes hot, and scorches anyone in its path.  It’s hard to keep track of what’s going on, and who’s doing what.  Oh, and who’s the bad guy … no wait … good … no wait …

Oscar Britton has the rug yanked out from beneath him too many times, and after a while it gets tiresome.  I feel sorry for the guy, he has to cope with so much immediate change it fucks with his decision making process at every turn.  Everything he thought he knew and a life time of training are called into question the second he manifests a magical power he doesn’t understand and is forbidden by the government.

All the flip-flopping isn’t necessarily Britton’s fault, he’s just written that way.  Honestly, it’s hard to have much faith in Britton, the government (contractor or otherwise), anyone who says they know how to help or fix things (except maybe for the token good guy Goblin called Marty).

At every turn, Britton is put in situations which cause him to question everything all at once, again.  It gets to be a bit much.  Maybe having a bomb implanted in his heart just causes Britton to make extremely bad decisions which lead to even more death and destruction until almost everything he’s come to depend on is gone, or dead.

And we, the readers, are left hanging in an unfinished story about a man in search of his own redemption.  Shadow Ops:  Fortress Frontier, here I come.

 

 

New to the Stacks: More Hamilton and Mythology

Earth by David Brin
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott
The Transparent Society by David Brin
Early Irish Myths and Saga

Earth by David Brin
Coraline by Neil Gaiman ~ read
Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott ~ read
The Transparent Society by David Brin
Early Irish Myths and Sagas