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review 2018-04-30 17:05
SF-with-an-Agenda: "The Stars Are Legion" by Kameron Hurley
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley

The lack of recognition for female SF writers appears to be particularly acute for what's known as 'hard science fiction', i.e. science fiction that pays fairly close attention to scientific plausibility, and that seeks to break as few physical laws as possible (in an ideal universe, perhaps, none). Other subdomains of SF have a better acceptance of female authorship -- for example, Lois McMaster Bujold has made wonderful inroads into space opera with her Vorkosigan series, and it's hard to think about time-travel fiction without bringing to mind Connie Willis' books exploring the London Blitz through time travel. And yet there's still the idea around that women don't, or can't, or shouldn't write hard SF, which is a nonsense. I've started actively seeking out hard SF by female writers, and there's some tremendously good stuff there.

 

For a literature of the future, SF still has some fairly reactionary attitudes at times.

 

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2018-01-21 00:13
The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley (reread)
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley

Still a pretty awesome book, although not quite as great the second time around. I think I was just in the perfect head space to read it initially. The reread did help in picking up explanations about the world that weren't as obvious the first time around. And I felt like things picked up once we encountered Casamir, the tinker/engineer who thinks Zan is mad because she believes there's an outside.

 

Original review here.

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text 2018-01-20 19:19
2017 Year in Review: Stats
Shadowhouse Fall - Daniel José Older
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
A Conspiracy in Belgravia (The Lady Sherlock Series) - Sherry Thomas
Food of the Gods: A Rupert Wong Novel - Cassandra Khaw
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin
Clean Room Vol. 3: Waiting for the Stars to Fall - Gail Simone,Jon Davis-Hunt
Did anyone else end up with a broken counter on the Goodreads stats page? I know they had an issue with the date read field earlier in the year. While that eventually worked itself out, my total for 2017 is way off. The states page claims over 100, but the list is really only 79.
 
My breakdown of the 79 "books" I finished in 2017:

anthologies: 0
collections: 0
Adult novels: 50
YA novels: 8
MG novels: 0
graphic novels: 1
art book: 0
comic omnibus: 15
magazine issues: 0
children's books: 2
nonfiction: 3
 
I make a demographics list every year as a way of giving myself the opportunity to think about who I've read and how I can do better.
 
Across all categories:
  Written by Women: 53 (67%, down from 72% in 2016)
  Written by POC: 29 (37%, up from 17% in 2016)
  Written by Transgender authors: 5 (6%, up from 1% in 2016) 
  Written by Non-binary authors: 2 (3%, up from 1% in 2016)
 
While this looks like a large improvement from last year, I should note that this is not unique authors, but total across all my reading. I went on Cassandra Khaw and Daniel José Older benders this fall that account for a lot of my non-white reading. I also went on a Courtney Milan bender in January that is helping inflate the written by women category. 
 
My favorite book from 2017 were really hard to select! It was a great reading year, but I narrowed it down to 10. Please don't ask me to order them as that's clearly an impossible task. They should all appear in the banner at the top, but here's a list, alphabetically:
 
 
I reviewed all 79 titles read in 2017, which is really more than I expected. Not all those reviews are great, but in terms of quantity, I beat my expectations. 
 
My favorite new-to-me author of 2017 is Cassandra Khaw. She's talented and her range includes (nay, celebrates!) splatterpunk. 
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text 2017-11-26 16:07
Square 10 Task - 5 Favourite Books this Year
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett
On a Red Station, Drifting - Aliette de Bodard
Forest of Memory - Mary Robinette Kowal

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. 

–OR–

Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

I'm afraid I can't really do the second part because most of my chosen books are ebooks. 

 

It was also pretty tough to figure out what should make the cut. I stuck mostly with my higher-rated books and ones that have stuck with me or led me to try out more of the author's work.

 

1. The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

This one was a no-brainer. I keep telling everyone I know to read it because it was awesome. It's basically pure escapist fun and it was like a breath of fresh air after Frederik Pohl's Gateway which I was reading at the same time. It was also the first novel that I read by Kameron Hurley and I've been slowly working through her back catalogue. It's basically a story about a bunch of people who live in dying worldships trying to find a way to gather enough resources to keep going. It's a fun adventure romp, basically. And the best part is that there are no whiny males who beat up women in front of little kids and justify it to themselves with a bunch of pathetic psychobabble (see Gateway). Don't get me wrong; these aren't all nice, peaceful people. But it was a nice break from the patriarchal norm.

My review of The Stars are Legion.

 

2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This was a reread but I liked it so much I went out a bought my own copy of the author's preferred text. Neil Gaiman doesn't always work for me in the sense that although I usually like his books, I frequently don't love them. This one works for me though. I like the creepiness and the Marquis de Carabas.

My review of Neverwhere.

 

3. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

This first book in Dunnett's Lymond series was well-constructed and riveting. Not an easy read, but still pretty awesome. I'm including this because I'm slowly working my way through the series and so far the first has been the best (ok, so I've only read 2 of the 6 books so far). Lymond is a great example of a protagonist who's almost too awful to like but does actually have redeeming depths. I need to get back to this series, actually.

My review of The Game of Kings.

 

4. On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

This novella was my introduction to Aliette de Bodard's writing and a great atmospheric read. It was a kind of family drama, really, which isn't usually my cup of tea, but this world with its far-future Vietnamese empire was just neat. Plus throw in a faltering AI, politics, and a slow-burn narrative... Aliette de Bodard seems to like to create science fiction and fantasy worlds with unusual settings. Here we have a futuristic Dai Viet Empire, and in one of the other series of hers that I'm reading, the books take place in the Aztec Empire.

My review of On a Red Station, Drifting.

 

5. Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

This was another read that just clicked for me, and it was also my first introduction to Mary Robinette Kowal's writing. It was a creepy and thought-provoking tale of a woman who drops off the grid in a hyper-connected world when she's kidnapped by a man whom she surprises tranquilizing a deer. A lot of questioning of how much we can take data for granted and did I mention it was really creepy?

 

So...three sci fis, an urban fantasy, and a historical fiction. I guess I really do like science fiction. :)

 

Some honourable mentions:

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben This popular science book with its descriptions of how trees in a forest communicate and share resources was so close to making the cut but I went with Forest of Memory instead. I do think a society that could actually communicate with its forests and negotiate with them would just be downright cool, and so I still say this should be mandatory reading for science fiction writers.

 

There's also a bunch of stuff about how trees that don't grow up in a mature forest get short-changed in how their wood develops because they aren't forced to grow slowly. The book explains it better. Go read the book.

 

My review for The Hidden Life of Trees.

 

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini This was a great concise overview of the issues that have set back women’s rights, societal expectations, and health. It was an interesting read, and I used it to find more interesting reads via the references it makes. I've even started to go down a bit of a rabbit hole because those books have led to other books which have led to yet other books right down to my current read, Alas, Poor Darwin.

 

I thought it was so good that I bought a copy for my shelf and ended up with two copies because Canada Post was so slow that the first copy took two and a half months to get to me. Still haven't figured out what to do with the extra copy.

 

My review for Inferior.

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review 2017-11-23 19:23
Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Infidel - Kameron Hurley

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha #2

 

How to explain Infidel? We find Nyx, the former bel Dame, sort of bounty hunter, sometimes on security detail, even more down on her luck, with a smaller, even crappier team and driven to go against more rogues from the bel Dame council. The bel Dames are the government-sanctioned bounty hunters who hunt down runaways from the Front. A couple of countries have spent several centuries at war and still haven't gotten to the point where they're just throwing rocks at each other. It's a kind of dark, twisted, shoot 'em adventure romp, and Nyx still hasn't learned how to shoot.

 

I'd call it fun if it weren't so dark, so I'm not sure what to call it. If this sounds like any of the Festive Squares, please let me know.

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