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reviewed Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Nghi Vo: Siren Queen (Hardcover, 2022, Tordotcom) 3 stars

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic. "No maids, no …

Razor Sharp Magic Realism

4 stars

I generally enjoyed this, but not as much as I hoped I would gives how much I love Nghi Vo. That’s not to say this was bad compared to their other works, just that the characters didn’t grab me nearly as much. I felt the true strengths here were the setting, an early 20th century Hollywood where the magical realism is so honed in, most of the time it almost feels like poetic analogies of reality. I think this time period is under represented in fiction, at least in my sampling, and I found it refreshing; especially with queer representation, we were always here, just beyond the sight of society.

The main character was well developed, I could sympathize with their motives, and their decisions followed their persona. I just don’t relate to people that are reckless while having it all, which of course is an oversimplification because at what …

Karen Traviss: Crossing the Line (2004, EOS) 4 stars

Shan Frankland forever abandoned the world she knew to come to the rescue of a …

Crossing the Line

4 stars

It kept very much to the themes of the original: genocide, greed, betrayal, and the sheer amount of damage a few bad-faith actors can do in a system not designed to account for them

Finished just in time for #SFFBookClub sequels month 😅

R.F. Kuang: Babel (2022, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, …

Babel

5 stars

Content warning I don't think I can review this without some vague spoilers

Babel (EBook, 2022, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History …

Content warning First Interlude of Book 5

Babel (EBook, 2022, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History …

Edit: This quote was actually from another book I’m reading. See the quote from In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado for proper context. Sorry!

There was an idea somewhere in this book (early on perhaps?) that talked about the etymology of archive or archivist, how it’s an act of policy, governance, power. Even though I can’t recall the quote since I didn’t get a chance to write it down, it’s been a recurring haunting; sometimes insidious, other times ethereal and fascinating. The idea isn’t new, but peering under the hood into the history of the word and then filtering that through real historical context gives it more verisimilitude (more than this even, but words fail me) in my mind. #SFFBookClub

R.F. Kuang: Babel (2022, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal. 1828. Robin Swift, …

Sonia Nimr, Marcia Lynx Qualey: Wondrous Journeys In Strange Lands (Paperback, 2020, Interlink) 3 stars

Award-winning historical fantasy and literary folktale. Winner of the presigious Etisalat award.

In a tent …

Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands

3 stars

This is a belated #SFFBookClub read for me, as I finally was able to get my library's only copy of this book.

Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands reads like a set of short stories in a travelogue, where each chapter in this book felt like its own self-contained adventure. Most loose ends for each story get (almost too) neatly tied off before the next, and Qamar felt to me emotionally as almost a different character each time around. All of this together made the book feel a little shallow to me, as most of what I got out of it thematically was just a desire for travel.

The in-world "Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands" book connects both Qamar's parents as well as Qamar with other characters, especially given that we find out that there's only a half-dozen copies of it made, but it felt underused. By the end, it seemed …

Sequoia Nagamatsu: How High We Go in the Dark (Hardcover, 2022, William Morrow) 4 stars

Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work …

How High We Go in the Dark

5 stars

I read this for the #SFFBookClub January book pick. How High We Go in the Dark is a collection of interconnected short stories dealing with death, grief, and remembrance in the face of overwhelming death and a pandemic. Despite getting very dark, I was surprised at the amount of hopefulness to be found in the face of all of this.

It was interesting to me that this collection had been started much earlier and the Arctic plague was a later detail to tie everything together. Personally, I feel really appreciative of authors exploring their own pandemic-related feelings like this; they're certainly not often comfortable feelings, but it certainly helps me personally, much more than the avoidance and blinders song and dance that feels on repeat everywhere else in my life.

It's hard for me to evaluate this book as a whole. I deeply enjoyed the structural setup, and seeing background …

Sequoia Nagamatsu: How High We Go in the Dark (Hardcover, 2022, William Morrow) 4 stars

Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work …

How High We Go in the Dark

4 stars

A series of bleak, gritty glimpses of what's in store for us over the next few decades.

The tone is lightened a bit here and there with injections of optimism, but I think it works against itself a little when the optimism feels unwarranted.

The way that the characters from the different stories are linked reminds me a bit of Cloud Atlas (although I only saw the movie (sorry)).

#SFFBookClub

Sonia Nimr, Marcia Lynx Qualey: Wondrous Journeys In Strange Lands (Paperback, 2020, Interlink) 3 stars

Award-winning historical fantasy and literary folktale. Winner of the presigious Etisalat award.

In a tent …

Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands

3 stars

I enjoyed the setting, and some of the substories were compelling, but as a whole it was too rambling and incohesive for me.

I feel like it would have worked better as a series of stories about different people from the same village or whatever instead of repeatedly being like "despite being in the middle of this incredibly urgent life crisis, the main character decides to spend six months teaching an older woman to fold laundry" or "despite having a very bad outcome two chapters ago, the main character decides to engage in exactly the same dangerous behavior with no additional precautions"

#SFFBookClub