Books read, late March

Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up At the Crater School, Chapters 13-15. Kindle. This is quite episodic, but the episodes are fun, they’re literally kids having fun in a boarding school setting but also Mars. And on it goes. Don’t start in the middle, there’s literally no reason to.

Tobias Buckell, Necahual. Kindle. The way I report what I read is a little weird, but short stories that are individual ebooks get listed in my booklog as individual ebooks, so here this one is: colonialism on an alien planet, a soldier who learns unexpected things about empire.

C.J. Cherryh, Emergence. The latest Atevi book, the latest chunk of story carved off the giant story that is this series. This is really no longer a set of individual books, it’s ongoing story the way soap opera is ongoing story, except about alien-human politics. I love it and am fond of reading the latest installment even though I don’t usually like serials, and I have friends I gossip with about the characters. I’d love to have more friends like that if you want to join that number, but…it’s a lot of investment, I do admit. And I get frustrated with some threads submerged, but they do come around again, and…more great-grandmother! more Kyo!…okay, okay.

Rupert Christensen, Paris Babylon: The Story of the Paris Commune. You know how I often say “does what it says on the tin”? This spends about 3/4 of the book talking about lead-up to the Paris Commune, doing only sort of what it says on the tin. And I see why, and it’s sort of interesting, but…Paris Commune. Really interesting. Not just in its surrounding and more-imperial bits. Lots of decadence here. I have gotten past the point of thinking that if I learn more about post-Revolutionary French government it will make sense. Now I just keep learning more about the fractal nonsense, and this is another piece of that.

George Eliot, The Lifted Veil. Kindle. This is definitely not the first George Eliot you should read. (Middlemarch, you should read Middlemarch, in fact if you do read Middlemarch there is a serious chance that you will become permanently slightly wistful that you are not reading Middlemarch again AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE.) This is a very weird little novella that has sort of the…Lydgate family dynamics without the balance of the rest of Middlemarch…plus a weird Victorian run at a speculative element. It fascinates me when the Victorians do that, but not necessarily in a good way, unless you discovered that you loved George Eliot, which…I did when reading…yes…Middlemarch. But I was on a plane and did not want to commit, so…gosh, what an odd novella this is.

Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic for Small Change. Two-layered historical novel, interesting angles of history and characterization and relationship, related to her other novel Redwood and Wildfire but it’s not necessary to read that one to get this one. Satisfying and fun with poignant parts.

Matthew Kressel, The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye. Kindle. Another short one in ebook format, a far-far future thing where everyone is learning something, just not necessarily what they thought. (And currently free. -ed)

Kei Miller, The Last Warner Woman. A Jamaican novel about foresight and caregiving and how we tell stories. I liked the beginning of it, but I am really kind of exhausted with books that collapse into violent misogyny even if the tone is not violently misogynist, so…be forewarned, I guess. Sigh.

George O’Connor, Olympians: Hermes: Tales of the Trickster. Discussed elsewhere.

Sofi Oksanen, Norma. Deeply weird book about hair and trafficking and magic. The American cover makes it look very sweet and dreamy, and…Lord, is it not that. It is noir magic with hair salons and a great many of you probably need that weirdness who would not have seen it in the pastels of the cover art. It looks princessy. It is very, very not princessy.

Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre, Monsters Beware!. Discussed elsewhere.

Timothy Snyder, Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine. This is a bizarre and interesting book. I think one of the things I loved about it was the sense of feeling of interwar Poland it gave. What was it actually like to be in Poland between the two world wars. (“Interwar” is probably a misnomer, because Poland was not really interconflict at any point, at least not emotionally reliably so.) I get very defensive of how historians write about Poland in that period, because some of them act like Poland could have…somehow magically not been on plains between Germany and Russia? And this gets into Poland: trying to deal with Ukraine having some sense of what on earth was going on in Ukraine during the Ukrainian Famine. Which is horrific, and this is a very difficult book. And yet also gonzo-weird, because Poland: they were basically like your group of friends, they had a bunch of mathematicians, some modern artists, a few classically trained musicians but not enough to make an ensemble coherently, a couple of people with horses, and they were like, right, this is who we’ve got, we’ve got to deal with authoritarians now from several angles, who’s gonna do it, I guess we’ll send the Cubist dude in? okay? because it’s not like any of us has commando training or something? And some historians are like, Poles, haha so stupid why did they send a Cubist to try to deal with the authoritarians, hahaha! But look, when you’ve got a hammer, you hammer in the morning, and when you’ve got a Cubist and the Ukrainian Famine, you don’t shrug and say sorry Ukrainians I guess, you try with the bloody Cubist, it’s not like it would have been better if he’d been representational by inclination, and this is that book, in all its very weird and incredibly upsetting glory. (This has been your Marissa Feels Strongly About Interwar Poland Report Of The Day. Tune in later. There will be another. Who knows when. Used bookstores spit these things out for me.)

Jonathan Strahan, ed., Infinity Wars. An anthology of far-future hard SF, at varying degrees of emotional remove, and you can basically map how the story will work for me by how far the emotional remove is.

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