Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone is space opera on a grand scale with a seemingly all-powerful Empress, a giant pirate with fur and a tail, space monks, massive fleets of spaceships and the pilots who can merge with them, be-weaponed machine-people, people made entirely of nanomaterials, souls in The Cloud…you get the picture. Scope! Sense of wonder! Homage to Journey to the West! Plus there are Space Lesbians, including the main point of view character, a too-powerful, morally ambiguous tech billionaire from the near future of our world named Vivian Liao. The novel feels very of this moment to me, and comments throughout on our present, as speculative fiction should.
Unhistoric Acts: An Imperfect Social State (Clorinda Cathcart’s Circle Book 15) by L.A. Hall was as delightful as this series always is. We’ve now moved well beyond the original series in time, so much so that babies born in the first series are now marrying and having babies of their own. It’s very satisfying watching the large cast of characters continue with old social connections as well as make new ones, and to see how the progress of history is affecting them and their lives.
Miss Moriarty, I Presume? (The Lady Sherlock Series Book 6) by Sherry Thomas continues the Moriarty plotline, easily guessed from the title, but has some interesting complications worked in, showing the complex machinations of those living in his orbit as well as Charlotte Holmes’ and Mrs. Watson’s efforts to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s a fairly torturous plot this time, that surprised me a couple of times. I’m ready for the next one in the series!
Subtle Blood: Will Darling Adventures Series, Book 3 by K.J. Charles was a delight, first upping the ante from the previous two books, then nicely tying up the arcs of mystery plot, romance, and secondary character arcs. I continue to enjoy the post-World War One, 1920s setting inordinately and even though this is the end of a trilogy, I am hoping Charles will revisit these characters.
The Assassins of Thasalon by Lois McMaster Bujold is the tenth, I think, in the Penric and Desdemona series; unlike the rest of the series, it’s novel length. As always with Bujold, I enjoyed the characters, and the plot twists and turns. I’m looking forward to the most recent novella.
The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord was my TBR Challenge book for the month.
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong is truly excellent and I highly recommend it. It’s about Hong’s Asian American experience in both general and particular, told through her life as a poet. I made particular note of how racism affects the writer and their writing, as well as reader experiences of that writing.
Publishers treated the ethnic story as the “single story,” which Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defines as follows: “Create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
And Much of Lahiri’s fiction complies with the MFA orthodoxy of show, don’t tell, which allows the reader to step into the character’s pain without having to, as Susan Sontag writes, locate their own privilege “on the same map” as the character’s suffering…Because the character’s inner thoughts are evacuated, the reader can get behind the cockpit of the character’s consciousness and cinematically see what the character sees without being disturbed by incessant editorializing….Innocence is, as Bernstein writes, not just an “absence of knowledge” but “an active state of repelling knowledge,” embroiled in the statement, “Well, I don’t see race” where I eclipses the seeing. Innocence is both a privilege and a cognitive handicap, a sheltered unknowingness that, once protracted into adulthood, hardens into entitlement.