starlady: (bibliophile)
What I'm Reading
Wicked City by Alaya Dawn Johnson - The second Zephyr Hollis book and the last ADJ book I haven't read. She needs to write more! I just started this, so no comments yet other than that I stand by my observation about Zephyr being in denial about who she is.

Shriek by Jeff VanderMeer - I loved the Southern Reach, and this is more obviously weird fantasy than those books, which has its pluses and minuses, but I love it so far, particularly the fact that it focuses on a sibling relationship.

What I've Read
Whoops, I've built up quite a backlog. Here goes!

Charles Soule et al, She-Hulk vol. 2 - Apparently this was always meant to be as short as it was. Siiiiiggh I would read many more volumes of this kind of thing, the "how X thing or Y institution or Z non-superhero person is affected by a world of superheroes" thing is honestly more interesting to me than many superhero stories. A+, will totally seek out more Charles Soule comics in the future. Has anyone read Letter 44?

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Honor - The newest Kaylin book, and with this, I have read all but one of Michelle Sagara West's novels (except the Sundered books, which I honestly found unreadable). I enjoyed it very much, I continue to enjoy Kaylin's growth as a person and the exploits of her motley crew (found family ftw), and I am looking forward to the next book on multiple levels, not the least of which is: Aerians!

Diane Duane, Interim Errantry - This is "the Young Wizards volume 9.5," and since it's been a few years since I read A Wizard of Mars, I'd forgotten a little how much I love Duane's writing and the Young Wizards in general. The bit in the Halloween story where Dairine is a Jedi, for example--perfection. And all the characters I've loved for so long getting to do things that are slightly less "stereotypical plot diagram," particularly in the novella in the collection, Lifeboats, which I adored. (Also, how married are Tom and Carl in Lifeboats? Super married.) In many ways these three stories were like the best kind of fanfic, which expands a slice of the canon beyond what we get to see in the actual published works. I can't wait for Games Wizards Play.

Martha Wells, Razor's Edge - Martha Wells wrote the last novel in the old Star Wars expanded universe, and it's about Princess Leia, set between ANH and ESB. I liked it a lot (particularly semicompetent!Luke, lol), and you know, I love Star Wars. You can put that on my tombstone. I also love Martha Wells' writing, and I'm psyched to read more of her books. (Even her SGA tie-in novels, because in the year of our lord 2K16 I am not going to apologize for enjoying tie-in novels.)

Diana Wynne Jones, Dogsbody - More DWJ! More terrible parents and parental figures! More plucky heroines and brilliant writing! I feel like I understood this book, which is told from the perspective of a star who gets reborn as a dog, which probably means I'm missing things. The ending felt abrupt, but also completely neat and tidy; it was brilliant and painful and great.

Gillen/McKelvie, The Wicked & the Divine vols. 1 & 2 - My dear sibling introduced this to me with "This is what American Gods wanted to be," and I stand by that assessment. The art is beautiful, the story interesting, the concepts compelling, but I have to say the characters mostly left me cold. That said, I'll still keep reading, because I want to find out what happens after the Shocking Twist!™ at the end of the second volume.

Kelly Sue DeConnick et al., Bitch Planet vol. 1 - I feel like most people have probably heard of this comic by now, with its non-compliant women and its smart take on exploitation tropes and intersectionality. I liked it; like The Handmaid's Tale, it seems both a bit too plausible for comfort and also in many ways a story about what's happening now, as well as a near-future fantasy.

Noelle Stevenson et al., Lumberjanes vol. 1 - This was so great! As a Girl Scout, I got an extra kick out of the story of a bunch of young Lumberjanes at summer camp, I loved it, and I need to read more of it. (I also loved the little in-jokes of the palindromes in the cave, ngl, and also the camp chief's name and appearance. AUGH, it's so good!)

Becky Cloonan et all, Gotham Academy vol. 1 - I've liked Becky Cloonan's work for a while, and this was exactly the kind of story I like, as I said above, following as it does a group of misfit students at Gotham City's most prestigious private school and inventing some old history for the city, as well as featuring an independent take on its present. Also, important to note, the Batman in here isn't the full-on manpain Batman, which makes the whole thing more palatable--there's darkness, but there's also light, and most important of all, I love Olive and Maps and would read many more volumes about them.

Gillen/McKelvie, Phonogram vol. 1 - This feels like a dry run for The Wicked & the Divine, and given that it was about an obnoxious dude, I was mostly into it for the liner notes. Who knew so many people had so many feelings about Britpop.

Octavia Butler, Bloodchild (2nd ed.) - This is the late Octavia Butler's only (and entire) short fiction collection. Xenogenesis, fraught parent/child relationships, taboo subjects--Butler was great, and reading the back of the book talk about her in the present tense is still a wrench.

Gail Simone et al., Wonder Woman: The Circle - This volume collects Simone's first issues on Wonder Woman, telling the story of Diana's attempt to save her mother from the DC-equivalent of HYDRA Nazis invading Themiscyra, mostly. It was good! I like Diana and her friends and her sense of honor! I am still going to drink in the Batman vs Superman movie!

What I'll Read Next
Who knows. Hopefully a lot of it.
starlady: Anna Maria from PoTC at the helm: "bring me that horizon" (bring me that horizon)
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003. [1978]

I read this for [livejournal.com profile] calico_reaction's February book club; I'm only…nine days late. In my defense, I can only say that it's as harrowing as it is excellent. ETA:[livejournal.com profile] calico_reaction's review is here. /eta

The plot of Kindred is both simple and (I'd wager) familiar to many readers of sff: In 1976, black woman Dana Franklin is repeatedly brought back in time and space from her home in California to Maryland from 1819 to the 1830s so that she can save the life of white slaveowner Rufus, who is her many times removed ancestor; if she doesn't save him (and as Rufus grows up, Dana is increasingly tempted not to save him), she will kill not only herself but all the members of her family. What she has to do to ensure her own existence gets progressively more horrible even as she progressively loses her distance from the time she visits in every way; Dana quickly becomes a de facto slave, instead of a woman pretending to be a slave, and winds up countenancing some of the worst sorts of things that happened under slavery to make sure that she stays alive, through time, to go back to them.

Cut because it's long )

ETA: Rereading what I've written, I see that I've mostly failed to address the book's real subject matter; as calico_reaction notes, despite the overlay of time travel Kindred is essentially historical fiction about (the experience of) being a slave, and that's what makes the book so harrowing, and at times horrifying: Butler doesn't spare Dana and the reader, since Dana experiences or witnesses almost the entire gamut of violence to which slaves were subjected by their white masters and white society. But equally importantly, Butler also writes the slaves on the Weylin plantation with whom Dana connects as fully fleshed human beings making impossible choices and doing their best in impossible circumstances; people like Sally and Carrie and Nigel and Alice are far more sympathetic than Rufus or even Kevin, and deservedly so. Kevin in particular can never fully understand what Dana experiences, even though he knows what happened intellectually, which…neatly encapsulates the dilemma of being an "ally", or so it seems to me (quote marks because I dislike that word in this context). But I think another of this book's triumphs is precisely that it illustrates that, that Kevin remains on the outside even in the C19th, that it's Dana's experience and Dana's choices with which the reader sympathizes to an excruciating extent, that it's her story rather than his or Rufus's, that it's her experience of slavery that we are made to grapple with. To a contemporary reader it's a hugely discomforting book to read (and Butler actually implicitly discusses why in-text, when Dana mentions having to modify her direct 1970s prose to fit the more florid 1820s style when she writes Rufus's letters), which is unquestionably a good thing; slavery is an experience no contemporary reader will ever have, but whose legacy in the form of racism and the systems of oppression that structure our society is still very much present. And Dana's story forces the reader to confront that too.

I don't know; I feel like I'm speaking from ignorance here, and that I've said more than enough. It's definitely time to go to bed. /eta

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July 2017

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