starlady: Peggy in her hat with her back turned under the SSR logo (agent carter)
What I'm Reading
Well, kind of several different things including She-Hulk vol 2, and also none--I've been trying to get some reading done in Japanese, which takes a while and which means that I haven't been reading English books.

What I've Read
Jason Latour et al, Spider-Gwen Nos. 1-5 (2015) - So my friend B told me about this series when she came to visit me this year, it was for sale on Comixology, I bought it, and I loved it. Originally a throwaway concept in a multiverse event, Spider-Gwen (now webspinning again under the name Radioactive Spider-Gwen, post-Secret Wars) follows Gwen Stacey as she deals with the emotional trauma of Peter Parker's death and the problems of being the Spiderwoman in a New York that has no time for heroes…complicated by the fact that her dad is the police detective in charge of her case. I think I said on Twitter that the NYPD doing what the mayor says is the least believable thing about the comic; Gwen is great (though the art is pretty terrible), and I loved her sarcastic responses to the world, her problems with her friends/ex-bandmates in the wake of the changes in her life, and the glimpses we get of a villain-version of Matt Murdoch. Probably one of my favorite comics this year, ngl.

Charles Soule et al., She-Hulk vol. 1 (2014) - Cancelled too soon, this series follows She-Hulk as she struggles to set up an independent law practice and deal with being a superhero on the side. Soule has a legal background himself, and he's a great writer, so it's no surprise that the story and the character and the cases she takes are all top-notch, and that there's some interesting questions about what the law means and what it does floating around in the background. These stellar qualities are almost enough to make up for the fact that the art is frequently godawful; the covers are always the best thing about each issue. Still, I'm looking forward to the second, final volume, which I have waiting on my iPad.

Garth Nix, Newt's Emerald (2015) - Garth Nix does a Regency romance with magic, complete with cross-dressing, pining, and enough social engagements to satisfy even the ghost of Georgette Heyer. I loved it from start to finish and I would read a dozen more books set in this world, the end.

Garth Nix, To Hold the Bridge (2015) - This collects basically all the short stories Nix has written since Across the Wall and Other Stories, with the exception of the Sir Fitz and Master Hereward tales, and it opens with the eponymous Old Kingdom novella. All of the stories are excellent, though the publication of some of them evidently intersected with the period in which I was heavily into anthologies, as about half of them turned out to be ones with which I was already familiar. The one about the surfer boy vampire hunter is still one of my favorites.

Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale (2015) - The Night Vale novel! Listeners, I enjoyed it quite a lot; it has remarkably few of the first novel problems you might expect, and all in all it did a very good job of carving out an experience that was still recognizably Night Vale weird but was also demonstrably different from the podcast in a way that took advantage of the medium. (The final chapter!) Bring on the next one!

James Tiptree Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air (1985) - Quite a good book, and probably as happy an ending as Tiptree could have written. On to the short stories.

What I'll Read Next
I have a pile of books I want to read before the end of the year, and doubtless I won't finish all of them. I would have to read 10 books in the next two weeks to tie my 2011 record of 87 books and 11 to beat it, which may or may not be doable, but on the other hand if I knock out a bunch of my comics backlog is probably possible. Wish me luck!
starlady: Galadriel in Caras Galadhon, with an ornate letter "G" (galadriel is a G)
Which is to say, it's a normal Wednesday around here. I wonder if in future my students will better understand how I feel about history thanks to #Hamiltunes?

What I'm Reading
James Tiptree, Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air (1982) - Tiptree's second novel about a motley group of people who show up to view the passage of a nova front on a very isolated planet. I'm about 25% in and already the outlines of the inevitable doomed ending are becoming clear, but it's good--compelling, with interesting worldbuilding, and things move along tautly.

What I've Read
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy (2015) - Well, I loved it, but I think in some ways the first two books are still my favorite. Structurally, the pivot in this book I think comes a bit late, and a lot of the definitive action is reported by Breq rather than actually participated in by her, but these are in the end minor complaints--the same awesome things happening and crunchy thinking about identity and empire are here in spades, and all in all the book was great.

Aliette de Bodard, The House of Shattered Wings (2015) - A novel of postapocalyptic Paris, with the twist that the Great War was caused by warring Houses headed by Fallen angels; decades later, Vietnamese former Immortal Phillipe runs into a newly fallen angel, Isabelle, and is taken with her into House Silverspires, formerly led by Morningstar himself and now just struggling to hold on. I've liked everything I've read by de Bodard, and I liked this book quite a lot; I think her writing has gotten even stronger, and the whole concept is the sort of thing that really tickles my hindbrain where my Catholic worldview will never be fully extirpated. That said, more of actual Paris next time, please! 

Diana Wynne Jones, Witch Week (1982) - A Chrestomanci book set in a world very close to ours but not and following the misadventures of a motley crew of students from class 6B (at least in this edition) at Larwood School, whose lives all get decidedly complicated when someone writes a note to their teacher saying that someone in the class is a witch. Jones is hilarious when she wants to be, and the humor in this book is pretty freaking black, but I was struggling not to burst into laughter on my train repeatedly even though it's definitely on the slighter end in terms of thematic material. (It's a real gem of plotting, though.) I loved it.

Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (2006) - It's been a while since I've read biography, and I absolutely devoured this one, about the long and frankly pretty tortured life of the woman who was James Tiptree, Jr. This old post by [personal profile] coffeeandink gets at a lot of what I thought made the biography so good--Phillips is very clear-eyed but sympathetic to just about everyone, and she explains Tiptree to the readers in a way that makes it clear that she was all too human and all too trapped by her constraints, self-imposed and otherwise.

Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce, eds., Letters to Tiptree (2015) - It's the centenary of Tiptree's birth this year, and this is the book that started it all for me. The bulk of it is letters from contemporary SFF writers to Tiptree, and it's sometimes painful going, given everything that's happened in the field over the last year. I also think some of the letter writers misread the Phillips biography in ways that were necessary and productive for them. But all in all, it was a really interesting work, and it accomplished its goal of making me want to read Tiptree.

Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke (2011) - This is, ultimately, a painful and necessary and brilliant novel about the costs of imperialism and the impossible choices forced on people by colonialism. Ghosh does an excellent job bringing the free trade mania of the British and American traders to life (just as horrific and incomprehensible as the gold fever of the Spanish in the 16thC), and he succeeds as well at reanimating the strange vanished world of Canton in a prior age.

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