Books read, early May

Charlie Jane Anders, Six Months, Three Days, Five Others. This is a slim collection, and every story in it is engaging. I had no desire to skim even the ones I’ve read before. Definitely worth having.

Daniel M. Bensen, Junction. This is a very modern version of a very classic SF thing. There is a portal to an alien world, and the humans in the story have to navigate the alien biosphere. Lots of interesting creatures here, and also a different set of group dynamics than the ’80s standard for this type of thing. A fun read.

Stephanie Burgis, The Boy Who Learned to Dream. Kindle. This is a short story that I belatedly realized is set, not in the universe of Stephanie’s stuff that I’ve enjoyed already, but in the universe of Stephanie’s stuff that is still on my to-read pile. It was fun and appealing but probably better once you’ve read the appropriate series…so I want to hurry up.

CJ Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher, Alliance Rising. A new installment in this series, and I had fun with it. It did point out to me how substantially men are the default in Cherryh’s work as a whole–random receptionist, bartender, passerby, all skew far more male than humanity does. It ended up feeling very weird in that way. But I still had fun with the space station politics.

Lynne Kelly, Song for a Whale. A Deaf girl gets fascinated with a whale whose song is different from other whales’, and goes into some Pretty Wacky Hijinks to try to get to where she can (legitimately scientifically) communicate with him. This is not science fiction, it’s fiction about a scientist, albeit a very young scientist. And also her gran. Which I like a lot.

Robert MacFarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. I suppose “and on a boat” would be an unwieldy subtitle, and yet the ancient pathways MacFarlane is retracing are mostly rather than all walking paths. Still, this is chatty and interesting and thoughtful and inspiring. I like MacFarlane’s work so far.

Mary Oliver, Thirst. This is a volume of grief upon the death of her partner. There are some lovely things in it, but I feel it’s not something to go into unprepared for a lot of loss and a lot of eternity. Sometimes that’s just what you need, and sometimes it’s far too much. (Sometimes both.)

Andrew Reeves, Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis. This is about American watersheds, particularly the Mississippi watershed, and what can be done, is being done, needs to be done about invasive carp species. It’s frustrating and illuminating and generally an interesting book, but you have to have a pretty high carp tolerance.

Chris Santiago, Tula. I heard this poet at a live event and put his collection on my list to read. He’s a Filipino-Minnesotan poet who draws a lot on family experience for his poems. I recommend seeing him live if you can, but the collection was worth reading also.

Bogi Takács, Algorithmic Shapeshifting. Discussed elsewhere.

Lavie Tidhar, Unholy Land. Discussed elsewhere.

Troy L. Wiggins, DaVaun Sanders, and Brandon O’Brien, eds., Fiyah Issue 10. The theme of this issue is hair, and it’s handled in a really strong variety of ways. This is one of the things that Fiyah can do that other publications just can’t do, and I value them so much for it.

G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King. I know, I know, people get to write what they want to write, what they get paid to write, all sorts of things…and Ms. Marvel is lovely, but…I am so glad, so very very glad, that G. Willow Wilson wanted to write another novel. This one is historical, set at the very end of Muslim structural presence in Spain, and its characters are vivid and lovable and loving and flawed and so much fun to spend time with.

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