My new medication did... not work. That's kinda an understatement: my chest felt tight after walking, like my heart rate wanted to go up, couldn't, and was fighting against that.
I had to lie down for a long time, and am not using it again until I can talk to my cardiologist on Monday.
That being said, I am also exhausted: I need a break from longer works so I'll be reading novelettes and short stories until I go to sleep.
It's that time of year again, when I'm reading my way through the Hugo nominations in preparation for voting, and this is one of the books that is up for Best Novella even though I'm not completely convinced that it actually fits the bill as either SF or Fantasy. The most you can say about River of Teeth is that it's alternate history, of which more shortly, though it still hits more genre buttons than some things that have been nominated in recent years...
Anyway, onto the plot - the basic premise is that, back in the mid-1800's, there was a plan to import hippos to the US which understandably failed to come to anything. In River of Teeth, that plan went full steam ahead and there was also work done to dam up part of the Mississippi when some of those hippos escaped and went feral. In case you weren't aware, hippos are very aggressive and dangerous animals and definitely not something you want to be messing with, though here they also serve a major role as replacements for horses in a part of the world that is significantly swampy.
Anyway, our story starts with our protagonist getting commissioned to 'deal with' the feral hippos and to do so he comes up with an ambitious plan, involving the need to recruit himself a group of miscreants and blow stuff up. Naturally, since this is essentially a western, there's a suitably oily villain who is a) responsible for crushing our protagonists' dreams previously and b) has a devious scheme of his own. Hijinks ensue.
River of Teeth is entertaining enough, with well-drawn characters that made me keep turning the page, but I'm not sure it entertained me enough to either vote for it in the Hugos or continue to read further in this series (since there's at least one sequel, Taste of Marrow).
Basically, if hippos had been imported into America in the 1800s as a potential livestock animal, what would it have been like? This is based on an actual proposal that didn't quite take off as well as it does in this alternative history series. The characters are unique and not the usual "straight (implied) white cis-gender protagonist" cast. I found the second book, Taste of Marrow, to have a bit of a plot hole or perhaps I just missed a bit somewhere, but otherwise great series so far. Hoping for more!
From Taste of Marrow:
"Alone and lonely ain't the same thing at all... You of all people should know that. And even if they were the same - you would think that being alone and retired would be no different from feeling alone in your job. But you'd be wrong."
"You kill the first one, and it's not as bad as you thought it would be. You kill the second one, and it's not better, not exactly. But it's more not-so-bad. You kill the third one and you realize that you're good at it... You start to get a reputation, and you realize that people think you're great at it. You start to take real pride in your work. You start to make real damn money... You dream about contracts and you start tasting your own poisons to get a feel for how they land in the gut, and you love it. And then you're doing it because you love it, and you think you've really found your calling. You're so fucking good at this... So you keep on mixing poisons and blasting vault doors open until you could do it in your sleep. And then one day, some kid shows up at your door and says that they've heard you're the best in the business, and you think - am I? ...You realize... that you're only doing the job because you're good at it. That you only love it because you're good at it. You realize that somewhere along the way, you forgot that you're killing people. You don't feel a goddamn ounce of the remorse that your mother's preacher said you'd feel if you ever took another life - you just feel bored... You feel bored by the murders. And you wonder who you are, that you can say that about yourself - that you're bored by the murders."