Feb. 22nd, 2015

ase: Book icon (Books 3)
Stories of the Raksura, Volume One (Martha Wells) (2014): What the cover says: less than novel-length stories set in the world of Wells' Raksura novels. "The Falling World" is one of the adventures of Indigo Cloud court, some time after The Siren Seas. A party led by Jade is lost on a trading trip, and a rescue is lead by Moon and Stone. "The Tale of Indigo and Cloud" covers a kidnapping which shaped later relationships between the renamed Indigo Cloud court and Emerald Twilight. It's a pretty serious history story, but also a story about Raksuran politics, as shaped by Aeriat and Arbora psychology and biology. If you like that sort of worldbuilding detail, you'll really enjoy the story. "The Forest Boy" is a story about young Moon, from an outsider PoV, and also about the bitter fruits of jealousy, which I found surprisingly moving. Chime's transformation is covered in "Adaptation".

Saga, Volume 4 (Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples) (2014): I was a little over-excited for this, which wasn't helped by the plot of these issues. The tropes in play were not the tropes I love. Spoiler-cut. ) Volume Five is still on the to-buy list, but it's been downgraded in urgency.

Finished a back-to-back reread of Leckie's Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. AS is a middle novel, oh yes. I encourage readers to consider it in light of Cherryh's Foreigner series, where the narrator is not exactly unreliable, but questions the validity of his interpretations of everything in agonizing detail. There's this extrapolation from fiddly micro-events to the macro impact on the two-species planetary political scene. Breq is an unreliable narrator, with a trick of focusing on exactly what is in front of her and not cluing the reader into the wider context. Spoilers, and lots of speculation. )

Walk to the End of the World (Suzy McKee Charnas) (1974): One of those '70s dystopias where war and technology have destroyed the world, with cannibalism, and explicit descriptions of what happens to the bodies. I can see how the nuanced elucidation of the white males' racism and misogyny, alongside the institutionalized drug use (oh, the '70s) and casual homosexuality propelled this novel to a retrospective Tiptree, while being nauseated by the experience of reading about the horrific abuse of women, and did I mention the cannibalism?

(Tangentially, marijuana is not a hallucinogen. Unless the nuclear fallout caused some really interesting mutagenesis. Yes, it's a minor thing to notice, but the implication of hallucination-by-hash is the sort of detail that throws me out of the story.)

The worldbuilding is satisfyingly elaborate, while being right up there with The Handmaid's Tale for upsetting character-sanctioned sexual assault and related horrific human rights abuses. It's useful to read, as a complex well-executed story, and as part of the tradition of feminist science fiction, but it was full-on dystopia with barely the faintest spark of a better future.

The Wizard Hunters (Martha Wells) (2004): Fantasy novel, first in a trilogy.

Wells has this very direct approach to what could be very dark situations which can be extremely entertaining. Lots of snark in the middle of dramatic action sequences, lots of action relative to contemplation and internal cogitation, and this expectation that people can work together, even when they meet in the middle of a firefight. Or maybe that's especially when they meet mid-fight.

Cut for space, limited spoilers. )

This is Wells in awesome compulsively readable mode. I had a vague idea I'd pause between The Wizard Hunters and its sequel, The Ships of Air, to read the earlier Ile-Rien novels I'd picked up at the library. Then I read the first chapter of the next novel online. And the second. And... as soon as I could, I went back to the library to check out The Ships of Air.

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