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Reviews: Erin Bow, Jeff VanderMeer, Susan R. Matthews, Meljean Brook, Samuel R. Delany
Angel of Destruction (Jurisdiction, #3), by Susan R. Matthews
book cover: Angel of Destruction (Jurisdiction, #3)This book is so mystifying. I mean, on one level, it's perfectly competent milsf with all the markers: interest in ship movements, and rank, and vectors. On the other hand: WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE READING THIS?

Because a normal reader doesn't start with book three, they start with book one. And if you read An Exchange of Hostages, you got to about one third of the way through, went "HOLY SHIT, NOPE" and nope-octopused out of there as fast as your eight legs would carry you, or you went "HOLY SHIT YES" and bought the next five books. And this book will appeal to the first group.

So, if you are in the second group, and are reading The Jurisdiction series for the further fucked-up adventures of Andrej Koscuisko, there's nothing for you here. Koscuisko technically does appear in one scene, but it's a walk-on role which could have been done by an extra.

If you... don't want to read about self-loathing torturer who platonically kisses his slave-soldiers a lot, you can read this book? It has none of that?

What this book is actually about: [spoilers removed]

What is learned in this book about the Jurisdiction universe, which you might want to know if you skip it: [spoilers removed]

xpost of this review originally published on goodreads Sun, 08 Jan 2017.

Riveted (Iron Seas, #3), by Meljean Brook
book cover: Riveted (Iron Seas, #3)I just want to note that, according to the text, both of the protagonists are much less pale than they are portrayed on the cover, and instead of looking Default Steampunk Bosoms, Annika is notorious for loving to wear bright colours that don't match, and whatever the frick shape of clothes she can sew, nevermind if an Elizabethan collar doesn't go with her harem pants. David is also badly disfigured on one side of his face and uses assistive prosthetics for his disability, not sassy-monocle-wearing.

This book is fun because Annika has no sense of heteronormativity because she was raised by wolves lesbians, and has to keep her secret lesbian village secret, but is kind of bad at it. David just wants to know his dead mom's secret (she was raised by lesbians too), and investigate volcanoes.

Kudos for fairly good depictions of arctic exploration, and I think Brook was traumatised by accounts of what happen to dogs in historical exploration, because she has written robo-dogs to protect any actual sled-dogs from being hurt.

Then there's the machinations of the villain who is kind of Evil Jules Verne.

xpost of this review originally published on goodreads Tue, 03 Jan 2017.

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1), by Jeff VanderMeer
book cover: Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)What if: Lovecraft, but instead of the dark secret at the heart of madness being racism, it was ECOLOGY?

Which is dismissive, but I actually think it's pretty impressive. Lots of people try to write modern fiction in Lovecraft's mold, but if you leave out the creeping Victorian fear that racial superiority might not be within their possession, it comes off a bit toothless, and if you put it in, then uh. You're super gross.

So I think substituting in ECOLOGY is kind of clever?

OTOH, I don't really like Lovecraft that much.

xpost of this review originally published on goodreads Mon, 26 Dec 2016.

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, by Samuel R. Delany
book cover: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of SandHaving read several different blurbs for this book that seemed to have been mistaken about major events in this book, I am not optimistic about my own ability to comprehend it.

This books takes place in the unimaginably far future, in an indescribably immense galactic economy. Rat Korga is neurologically disabled to make him a cog in the economic machine. Marq Dyeth is a male woman who works as an Industrial Diplomat, a job which seems to entail interstellar travel. They meet, have sex, explore Marq's world, and are separated.

This description of the events of the book misses the point entirely, which is... hard to say. On one level, it is about encountering otherness; socially, linguistically, biologically, erotically, and about the impossibility of truly knowing the other. On some other level, it's about imagining worlds built on principles utterly unlike anything the reader can have encountered.

The writing reminds me of Tiptree, and of SF writers of the seventies who were deliberately trying to write something different, that didn't come from what came before. (This book was published 1985, so.)

xpost of this review originally published on goodreads Tue, 06 Dec 2016.

The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace, #2), by Erin Bow
book cover: The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace, #2)Not the sequel I had imagined, but satisfying nonetheless.

xpost of this review originally published on goodreads Thu, 24 Nov 2016.

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I feel like Delaney was constantly trying to find further shores, and I love his attempts to do so.

Yes. If there's someone who's doing that now, they're hard to find.

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